Police break up London crowds on last night before Tier 2 coronavirus lockdown

Police made arrests in London as drinkers enjoyed a last night out before stricter coronavirus restrictions kicked in.

Officers were forced to break up crowds in the capital making the most of the last few hours before London was moved into Tier 2 of the Three Tier system, meaning a ban on mixing indoors with people from different households.

The new rules aimed at bringing down the Covid-19 infection rate started at midnight on Friday.

Two people were arrested in the popular drinking area Soho, central London, while some pubgoers remained on the streets after the 10pm curfew kicked in.

Revellers flocked to bars as the countdown started as groups sung in the street, seemingly in defiance against the measures about to be imposed.

Hospitality chiefs reacted in shock to the Tier 2 announcement, with industry bosses saying they would be "caught in the worst of all worlds" unless the decision was reversed.

Kate Nicholls, the chief executive of UK Hospitality, said: "Being moved into Tier 2 is a curse for businesses.

"They will be trapped in a no man's land of being open, but with severe restrictions that will significantly hit custom, all while unable to access the job support available in Tier 3."

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The British Beer and Pub Association called on the government to support pubs facing Tier 2 restrictions.

Boss Emma McClarkin said: "Tier Two restrictions will decimate pubs, brewers and their supply chains in these regions unless a proper package of support is given to them.

"All pubs are already particularly struggling due to the current restrictions of the 10pm curfew, Rule of Six and low consumer confidence exacerbated by low footfall caused by lack of tourists and commuters. These restrictions will leave most pubs fighting for their very survival.

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“Tier 2 measures mean pubs can remain open, but households cannot mix inside them. This completely kills our pubs’ business model making many of them totally unviable, yet under Tier 2 restrictions they are not eligible for any additional financial support from government, unlike in Tier 3 where additional support is provided."

The UK's coronavirus death toll rose by 136 on Friday, the fourth day in a row that fatalities have been over 100.

Cases have risen by 15,650 over the last 24 hours and a further 844 patients have been hospitalised with the virus.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist, leading the Metropolitan Police's response to coronavirus, said: "This is a critical moment in London's fight against this deadly virus and over the coming weeks I know the vast majority of Londoners will make the right decisions in order to keep themselves and their families safe.

"Frustratingly, we have seen a small number of dangerous and reckless breaches of the regulations.

"Communities across London can therefore expect to see an increase in our efforts to deal with the most deliberate, harmful and flagrant breaches of regulations.

"We will not hesitate to take action against those individuals or businesses who put people at risk."

A number of over areas also moved into Tier 2 restrictions on Saturday – Essex (apart from Southend and Thurrock), York, North East Derbyshire, Chesterfield, Erewash in Derbyshire, Elmbridge in Surrey and Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria.

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