Watch: Large crowds gathered in Liverpool after pubs closed
The mayor of Liverpool has said pictures of large crowds gathering in the city hours before tough new COVID-19 regulations came into force “shame our city”.
Videos posted on social media showed a group of people dancing on Concert Square shortly after pubs were closed at the 10pm curfew, and two hours before the Tier 3 restrictions came into force.
One clip posted on Snapchat was captioned “Herd immunity, here we come”, while another video showed revellers singing together and appearing not to follow social distancing guidelines.
In footage of the incident apparently filmed from a nearby flat, a police car could be seen driving through a crowd while revellers banged their hands on the side of the vehicle.
Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson said the actions of some revellers was “unacceptable”.
He tweeted: “These pictures shame our city, attacking our brave police officers is unacceptable.
“Our health service is creaking, 300 in hospital and 30 people dead in week. Ignoring these facts is why we are in Tier 3 measures.”
These pictures Shame our City, attacking our brave Police Officers is unacceptable.Our Health Service is creaking,300 in Hospital&30 people dead in week 😱ignoring these facts is why we are in Tier 3 measures. https://t.co/WIW12AuAhr— Joe Anderson (@mayor_anderson) October 14, 2020
Downing Street condemned the “irresponsible” behaviour of the crowds.
The prime minister’s spokesman said: “In terms of what were the actions of a minority of people, I think you would have to judge it as irresponsible in the sense that we shouldn’t be doing anything that risks putting others in danger of catching the virus.”
The gathering came just before Liverpool was placed under the government’s new Tier 3 restrictions, which bans household mixing, except for in a limited number of public outdoor spaces such as parks.
Pubs have been forced to close unless they can operate as restaurants, and gyms, betting shops and casinos have also shut.
A witness who filmed the gathering in Liverpool, who chose to remain anonymous, described what they saw as "one of the most horrible sights that I’ve witnessed”.
Watch: How will England's three-tier local lockdown system work?
They told the Liverpool Echo: ”A large group of young partygoers who were defying every single social distancing rule imaginable attacked a police car on Concert Square.
"This event had a particularly big impact on me because it made clear that this second lockdown that Liverpool will find itself in from tomorrow will have the potential to unleash a very dangerous wave of riots and uprising of people that don’t believe in coronavirus restrictions.
“This video might just be the start."
Work and pensions secretary Thérèse Coffey described the scenes as “irresponsible and really disappointing”.
She told Times Radio: “I grew up in Liverpool. I know it is a great city. But frankly it is irresponsible behaviour.
“We are trying to help the city… I’m sure the mayor may want to consider more (measures) while we are also providing financial support.”
Merseyside Police said in a statement that the crowd were dispersed “quickly and safely”.
Liverpool has the third highest number of hospital admissions for COVID-19 patients in Europe, while more than 95% of the city's intensive care beds are currently occupied.
The city recorded 3,164 new COVID-19 cases in the seven days to 10 October – the equivalent of 635.3 cases per 100,000 people and an increase from 555 in the previous week.
The new measures came into effect at midnight and will be reviewed every 28 days.
Liverpool is currently the only area in the Tier 3 category.