THOUSANDS of young revellers have been celebrating long-awaited freedom from lockdown at raves and parties across the country.
But, as they toast their first steps back towards normality, police and health experts have pleaded for people to obey the rules over Easter.
🦠 Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates…
A beach bar selling takeaway beers on Cleethorpes promenade in Lincolnshire was ordered to close when long queues of thirsty punters formedCredit: MEN Media
Live DJs have blasted tunes through huge sound systems while hordes of carefree partygoers sink booze in the sunshine and into the early hours.
But punch-ups have broken out and police have had to disperse revellers at illegal gatherings for breaching social distancing rules.
Meanwhile, a beach bar selling takeaway beers was ordered to close when long queues of thirsty punters formed, some waiting in line for 40 minutes.
The nationwide knees-up follows last Monday’s easing of Covid restrictions in England, including the return of the rule-of-six outdoors.
The Government has also scrapped its stay at home message.
Pubs are patiently waiting to re-open their doors for outside service on April 12.
Revellers flocked to an illegal bash in Manchester city centreCredit: ASP
Sstudents were seen gathering in large groups for drinks and music in LeedsCredit: nb press ltd
A hurt lad was helped by pals in Leeds’ Hyde ParkCredit: nb press ltd
But in scorching weather earlier this week, the first beers of the year were pulled at a bar on Cleethorpes promenade in Lincolnshire.
It managed to open by operating a click and collect service outside, which owner Kash Pungi, 48, said was an exception to the rules.
But council licensing officers served a coronavirus notice ordering it to shut and fining him £1,000.
Kash brushed off the penalty as “worth paying” and kept on serving, daring officials to take him to court.
But with council bosses threatening to increase his fine to £4,000 or even £10,000, the dad decided to close yesterday.
Kash still kept drinkers’ hopes of outside pints alive by leaving a phone number customers could call to arrange beer collections.
‘BULLIED BY COUNCIL’
He said: “I have taken excellent legal advice and we 100 per cent believe that we are right and could open on Monday under the new regulations.
“I was happy to pay the £1,000 fine as we know we are right but I just couldn’t risk the fine escalating further to £4,000 and £10,000.
“That would bankrupt me and the council know that.
“It does feel as though we are being bullied by the council.
“They should be working together with us to help the town.”
Local John Addison, 39, said: “It’s rubbish. I can’t get a pint any more.
Owner Kash Pungi said opening his beach bar by operating a click and collect service outside was an exception to the rulesCredit: MEN Media
“I came down earlier in the week when the sun was out and couldn’t believe my luck when I saw the Beach Bar was open. All I had to do was text my order.
“It was great to sit on a bench and enjoy a lager in the hot weather for the first time this year. It really felt like lockdown was over.
“People have had enough of the cold weather and hiding indoors.”
Elsewhere, hundreds partied at an illegal rave with a DJ in Manchester city centre.
Videos showed buoyant youngsters dancing and drinking in Castlefield Bowl, an open-air pavilion, before police arrived to break it up just before midnight.
Specialist music gear and powerful speakers were taken to the impromptu party as young revellers were pictured getting up-close-and-personal and not wearing masks.
MOUNDS OF RUBBISH
Locals blasted some of the crowd for leaving behind mounds of rubbish, including beer cans and plastic bags.
There were also reports of glass bottles being thrown at police attempting to clear the site.
In Leeds, students were also seen gathering in large groups for drinks and music.
They partied at Hyde Park despite town hall chiefs closing two green spaces in the city after hundreds of descended on the recreation areas.
Police watched on as the 200-strong gathering gained pace, with officers telling locals they would only break it up if “something kicked off”.
In Leicestershire, desperate officers asked parents for help in keeping youngsters under control.
Hundreds partied at an illegal rave with a DJ in Manchester city centreCredit: ASP
Buoyant youngsters danced and drank in Castlefield Bowl, an open-air pavilionCredit: ASP
Young revellers were pictured getting up-close-and-personal and not wearing masksCredit: ASP
Police arrived to break it up just before midnightCredit: ASP
They tweeted: “As predicted we are busy between parks and busy with normal demand.
“We are having to take another child home who is drunk from a park.
“We have dedicated officers who are going from park to park to try and keep everything under control.
“We cannot sort this alone, we need your help.”
And a local councillor told those flocking to parks and beauty spots that they were “setting up another Covid-19 timebomb”.
Phil Knowles added: “The last thing we want to do is to spark off a new wave of infections in Harborough and go straight back to square one.”
Experts warned against people letting their guards down too soon.
Professor Lawrence Young, a virologist, said yesterday: “The virus is still out there and very infectious.
“While the risk of transmission is low in outdoor spaces, crowding together could result in some spread of the virus and it’s too easy to take liberties which we consider to be low risk but aren’t, e.g. close contact by hugging or popping inside to go to somebody else’s toilet.
“We need to hang on in there with the current restrictions for a bit longer — none of us want another lockdown.”
Meanwhile, visitors to one of England’s highest mountains have been blasted for leaving mounds of rubbish on the 3,117ft summit.
Young people partied at Hyde Park in Leeds despite town hall chiefs closing two green spaces in the cityCredit: nb press ltd
Police watched on as the 200-strong gathering gained paceCredit: nb press ltd
Beer bottles and food wrappers were found on Helvellyn’s peak on Monday by the Lake District’s Fell Top Assessor team.
National Park worker Jon Bennett, who has climbed the mountain 600 times, shamed the offenders by putting pictures of the mess online.
An exasperated Mr Bennett said: “Do the people who leave it looking like this really want to walk up themselves to find it full of litter?”
GOT a story? RING The Sun on 0207 782 4104 or WHATSAPP on 07423720250 or EMAIL [email protected]