Pubs and bars packed as Brits enjoy last weekend of freedom before 'rule of six'

Pubs and bars across England were packed last night as Brits hit the town for one final blowout before the new ‘rule of six’.

Revellers rushed to beer gardens in London, Nottingham, Birmingham and Manchester ahead of the crackdown on socialising.

From Monday gatherings of more than six will be illegal and anyone caught breaking the rule could be slapped with a £100 fine.

Only schools, workplaces and a limited number of other locations will be exempt. 

People were warned against a weekend of partying before the restrictions come into force. However, pictures show people in towns and cities across the UK gathering in big groups and flouting social distancing guidelines.

Police in Manchester – where a local lockdown has been in force since July 30 – said they broke up a house party of 30 people in the early hours of Saturday.

Police fear a weekend of drunken carnage that could put pressure on the already strained emergency services.

John Apter, national chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, has urged people to avoid a ‘party weekend’, warning his officers will take action if necessary.

He said: ‘There is a real risk some members of the public will take advantage of the current situation and treat this weekend as a party weekend ahead of the tighter restrictions being introduced on Monday.

‘Alcohol and warm weather are not a good combination at the best of times.

‘Using the current situation as an opportunity and excuse to party would be incredibly irresponsible and put pressure not only on policing, but potentially on the ambulance service and NHS.

‘We are in the grip of a deadly pandemic and we have seen cases increasing over recent weeks. Policing is under pressure like never before, but my colleagues will give enforcement notices if they feel it’s appropriate, and we make no apology for doing so.’

A senior police representative in West Yorkshire has also voiced concerns that illegal raves are ‘getting out of hand’ in the area – despite organisers facing fines of up to £10,000.

Coronavirus cases in the UK have risen to the highest level since mid-May, with a total of 3,539 new cases recorded on Friday.

The R rate is now officially above 1 for the first time since March – meaning the virus is growing.

Areas in the Midlands and the North have seen the most dramatic rise in cases.

Birmingham, Sandwell and Solihul were hit with news of local lockdown restrictions on Friday, with a ban on households mixing coming into force on Tuesday.

Eight more virus hotspots are at risk of a local lockdown after being added to the government’s watchlist.

Newcastle, Sunderland, South Tyneside and Gateshead have all been designated ‘areas of enhanced support’ along with Leeds, which was previously already on the list as an ‘area of concern.’

Meanwhile, Hartlepool, Sheffield, Hertsmere and all of Merseyside are classed as ‘areas of concern’.

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