London coronavirus: Crowds of drinkers pack Soho before ‘rule of six’ limit comes into force – MyLondon



It has been a wild weekend for many Londoners, who were snapped partying through the night ahead of changes to Covid-19 restrictions.

Crowds flocked to the West End on Saturday night (September 12), to drink, sing and dance, just days before the ‘rule of six’ comes into effect.

As of Monday (September 14), it will be illegal to meet people you do not live with in a group larger than six – a new restriction in response the recent rise in coronavirus cases in the UK.

Police will have powers to enforce these limits, including the issuing of £100 fines, which can mount up to a maximum of £3,200 for further breaches.

Exemptions are granted, such as for work purposes, weddings and funerals, emergencies, or if you are meeting as a household or support bubble.

Social distancing seemed to be out the window (Image: Peter Summers/Getty Images)

And party-goers in London were making the most of their final few days of freedom, gathering around buskers in Leicester Square with little social distancing taking place.

Streets in Soho were filled with people sat in temporarily pedestrianised areas, which were created to encourage people to spend money in the West End district following months without any income for many bars and businesses.

A Covid-19 reminder appears to be unseen (Image: Peter Summers/Getty Images)

This comes just hours after nearly 3,500 Covid-19 cases were announced in the UK.

Over 3,000 cases were recorded for two days in a row across the nation, making it the first time since May that over 3,000 cases have been recorded on consecutive days in the UK.

Latest NHS England figures show that the R rate in London is between 1.1 and 1.3, meaning Covid-19 is spreading fast in the city again.

The growth rate reflects how quickly the number of infections is changing each day.

The R represents the number of people an infected person passes the virus onto on average.

So, if the R is is 0.5, 10 people would infect roughly five others.

These crowds would be expected in normal times (Image: Peter Summers/Getty Images)

This makes London one of the worst regions in England for the spread of coronavirus, with only the North East and Yorkshire topping this number.

And while the capital is yet to see a local lockdown, there are boroughs that have seen an alarming rise in cases as of recent.

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Redbridge has the highest seven-day rate in London with 36.4 cases per 100,000 residents, followed by Newham (34.5), Harrow (32.3) and Havering (32).

Data collected from September 2 to September 8 also revealed there were 83 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Hounslow, up from 53 the week before.

Hounslow is therefore seeing 30.6 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 residents – a huge jump from 19.5 in the seven days prior.

Groups spending Saturday night in Soho (Image: Peter Summers/Getty Images)

The estimated R rate across England is between 1 and 1.2 – just one figure which will have led to the new ‘rule of six’ across the country.

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Announcing the change in the first Downing Street coronavirus briefing since July, PM Boris Johnson said: “I want to be absolutely clear, these measures are not another national lockdown.

“The whole point of them is to avoid a second national lockdown.”

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