Brits flout ‘social distancing’ warnings as they hits pubs and clubs

Brits defied the government’s warnings as they hits pubs and nightclubs amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Revellers hit nightclubs across London, Newcastle and Manchester last night, despite scientists warning that ‘social distancing’ was necessary in a bid to quell the number of Covid-19 fatalities. 

Popworld in Essex told customers it would remain open on Fridays and Saturdays as normal, while Walkabout in Chelmsford assured part goers it would be business as usual, albeit with different opening hours. 

People enjoying an evening at a JD Wetherspoon in The Mile Castle, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne

People enjoying an evening at a JD Wetherspoon in The Mile Castle, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne

Popworld in Essex told customers it would remain open on Fridays and Saturdays as normal

Popworld in Essex told customers it would remain open on Fridays and Saturdays as normal

Drinkers were also seen in full swing at Cirque Le Soir in London and Walkabout Chelmsford, Essex. 

American actor William Shatner also held an audience with fans at the Hammersmith Apollo yesterday evening, after Boris Johnson addressed the nation. 

This comes as the government issued a stark warning to Britons, urging them to avoid social situations unless absolutely necessary.   

In a report, scientists warned that around 250,000 people would die in Britain as a result of the coronavirus outbreak unless more draconian measures are adopted to protect the population.

The Imperial College Covid-19 response team – which has been advising ministers – said that even with the ‘social distancing’ plans set out by the Government, the health system will be ‘overwhelmed many times over’.

In its latest report, it said the only ‘viable strategy’ was a Chinese-style policy of ‘suppression’ involving the social distancing of the entire population. 

In response, some of the Capital’s top clubs told customers they would close temporarily to protect public health. 

Ministry of Sound nightclub in the Capital last night announced it would temporarily close, as did Egg London and Fabric London.

Tourists try to get into a closed Temple Bar pub in Dublin on St. Patrick's Day

Tourists try to get into a closed Temple Bar pub in Dublin on St. Patrick’s Day

These chaps took to social media to defy the ban as they enjoyed pints in a pub

These chaps took to social media to defy the ban as they enjoyed pints in a pub 

These St Patrick's Day drinkers were out hitting the alcohol last night

These St Patrick's Day drinkers were out hitting the alcohol last night

These St Patrick’s Day drinkers were out hitting the alcohol last night  in Manchester 

People continued to hit the sauce for a 'girly night out' at a Wetherspoon last night

People continued to hit the sauce for a ‘girly night out’ at a Wetherspoon last night 

Wetherspoon at The Mile Castle in Newcastle was packed with drinkers last night

Wetherspoon at The Mile Castle in Newcastle was packed with drinkers last night 

The Prime Minister yesterday told Britons to work from home and avoid social gatherings where necessary.    

In a dramatic u-turn, Boris Johnson acknowledged that ‘drastic action’ was required to quell the spread of the deadly coronavirus which has killed 55 and infected more than 1,500 throughout the country.

Addressing the nation, the Prime Minister announced millions of the elderly and most vulnerable will need to ‘shield’ themselves from social contact and stay at home for three months from this weekend.  

The new measures – including bans on social gatherings – could need to stay in place for around 18 months until a vaccine becomes available, the Imperial College London researchers said.

Pressure is ramping up on the Government to help the hospitality industry as it faces a ‘dire’ situation during the coronavirus pandemic, with Boris Johnson’s approach condemned as ‘staggeringly reckless’.

Industry leaders have warned firms will go out of business without urgent state help to get through the next few months.

High-profile figures including chefs Simon Rimmer and Raymond Blanc have joined calls for the position to be made clear after the Prime Minister told people to stay away from bars and restaurants but stopped short of ordering entertainment venues to close.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has also warned most firms will not have the right cover allowing them to claim compensation if they are forced to shut.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday announced that the UK was going to war with the coronavirus – people were urged to work from home, not to socialise and to self-isolate if anyone in their house becomes ill

Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday announced that the UK was going to war with the coronavirus – people were urged to work from home, not to socialise and to self-isolate if anyone in their house becomes ill

UK authorities had confirmed 1,543 cases of the coronavirus and 55 deaths by yesterday. The true number of infected people is believed to be higher than 25,000

UK authorities had confirmed 1,543 cases of the coronavirus and 55 deaths by yesterday. The true number of infected people is believed to be higher than 25,000

Chancellor Rishi Sunak will set out a new package of support on Tuesday afternoon for businesses hit by the outbreak.

Many have said while they understand the need to protect public health, the lack of an enforced shutdown means businesses cannot claim insurance, a move described by food critic Jay Rayner as ‘staggeringly reckless’.

He tweeted: ‘Let me add my voice to the justifiably outraged clamour of those furious at the govt for insisting hospitality and entertainment industries shut down without legally mandating them to do so, meaning they can’t claim insurance. Staggeringly reckless.’

Blanc claimed the hospitality industry is being ‘sacrificed’ and ‘battered’, accusing Mr Johnson of a lack of clear direction, while Rimmer said it will not take long for his sites to go out of business. 

He said businesses across the spectrum from ‘humble bistros’ to Michelin star establishments have been left ‘in… no man’s land’.

Another industry figure said a lack of clear financial help was effectively condemning the industry to death, while London Mayor Sadiq Khan urged the Government to follow the example of other countries by providing a clear financial aid package.

An ABI spokesman said: ‘Irrespective of whether or not the Government order closure of a business, the vast majority of firms won’t have purchased cover that will enable them to claim on their insurance to compensate for their business being closed by the Coronavirus.

‘Standard business interruption cover – the type the majority of businesses purchase – does not include forced closure by authorities.’

The British Beer and Pub Association has written to Mr Johnson, demanding urgent steps are taken to prevent mass job losses and permanent pub closures.

The association’s chief executive Emma McClarkin said the industry is facing ‘an existential crisis’ as a result of the new guidance, insisting thousands of jobs will be lost without financial help from the Government.

She said: ‘Forced pub closures without a meaningful support package will have a catastrophic financial and social impact.’

The letter calls for the Government to cancel all business rates payments for six months, as well as all tax payments including PAYE, VAT and corporation tax for pubs and hospitality businesses.

It also calls for the cancellation of beer duty payments for six months, and the postponement of the planned national minimum and living wage increases due in April.

Mr Khan told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: ‘What the Government has got to do is one of two things – either clarify and confirm it’s a ban so these businesses can claim for insurance or make sure these businesses are given some help, whether that’s cash flow issues, help with rates, with rent, with charges.’

At a press conference in Downing Street on Monday afternoon, Mr Johnson advised: ‘You should avoid pubs, clubs, theatres and other such social venues.’

Asked whether pubs, restaurants and theatres were being ordered to close, the Prime Minister said: ‘What we are doing is giving very strong advice that public venues such as theatres should no longer be visited.’

He said enforcement powers are there if needed, but added: ‘I don’t believe it will be necessary to use those powers.’

Mr Johnson added: ‘We are going to make sure that we do everything we can to give them the liquidity that they need.’

Carluccio’s chief executive Mark Jones said help must be put in place immediately.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘To do that to an industry without any fiscal support whatsoever condemns us to death effectively.’

Chief medical officer for England Chris Witty says the race to beating to coronavirus pandem is a 'marathon not a sprint'. Professor Witty is pictured arriving at the Cabinet Office in Whitehall on Monday

Chief medical officer for England Chris Witty says the race to beating to coronavirus pandem is a ‘marathon not a sprint’. Professor Witty is pictured arriving at the Cabinet Office in Whitehall on Monday

Mr Jones said ‘enormous state intervention’ is needed, adding: ‘We are days away from large-scale closures of restaurants throughout the UK.’

Caroline Norbury, chief executive of the Creative Industries Federation and Creative England, said the new advice was a ‘crippling blow to the UK’s creative industries’ which mean they may not be able to claim compensation for the ‘huge losses’ they face.

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said the guidance left the industry in ‘limbo with no recourse to insurance’, describing it as ‘catastrophic’ for businesses and jobs.

Danny Kwiatkowski, owner of The Rose in Bermondsey, south-east London, told the PA news agency he was ‘astounded’ at the lack of support for employees.

A Change.org petition calling for the Government to provide clear financial and practical support and to set out a timeline ‘so businesses can prepare logistically and rationally for times ahead’ had gained more than 73,000 signatures by Tuesday morning.  

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