Pictures of people partying in the streets of Liverpool just hours before tough new lockdown measures came into force have “shamed” the city, the mayor said.
The Liverpool region is the only area in England, so far, to be put into the “very high” COVID alert category, with the strict new measures coming into force on Wednesday.
As Liverpudlians poured out of pubs after the 10 p.m. curfew on Tuesday, there was a lively atmosphere on the city’s streets, as seen in videos posted on social media.
The city’s mayor, Joe Anderson, said: “These pictures shame our city. Attacking our brave police officers is unacceptable. Our health service is creaking, [with] 300 in hospital and 30 people dead in a week. Ignoring these facts is why we are in Tier 3 measures.”
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U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled a new three-tier system last week amid surging cases in parts of England, with most regions at the medium level, and millions of people in the English north and Midlands in the high level.
Local leaders in a number of northern regions are in talks with the government over moving to the very high level.
However, Liverpool is currently the only area in the highest category, which means shutting pubs, gyms, casinos and betting shops, as well as banning households from mixing.
Pubs serving “substantial” meals are allowed to stay open, which has led to a debate over what that actually means.
Local government secretary Robert Jenrick, attempting to clear up the confusion, said a Cornish pasty would meet the requirements only if it was served with fries or salad.
Keir Starmer, leader of the opposition Labour Party, has called for a two- to three-week national lockdown, described as a “circuit breaker,” to control the spread of the virus. The government’s own scientific advisers had recommended this but Johnson’s team chose the local tiered system instead.
Johnson defended the new system in Parliament on Wednesday, saying it would “avoid the misery of a national lockdown.”
“We want to put in the most stringent measures necessary in the places where the virus is surging in order to get it down where it is surging. That is the logical thing to do.”