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Covid lockdown England: People ignore rules on meeting and haircuts

UK News

Boris Johnson‘s cautious approach to easing restrictions quickly came under strain as lockdown-weary Britons jumped the gun on his road map and started mixing with friends. 

Coffee catch-ups in the park and outdoor sport remain banned until March – but after nearly a year of draconian Covid measures people took advantage of the recent good weather and defied the ‘stay at home’ order.

There have even been examples of haircuts seemingly happening in people’s homes, despite salons forced to shut until at least April 12 and indoor mixing until May 17.

Only yesterday the Prime Minister unveiled his four-phase blueprint to sweep away all Covid curbs in England by June 21 in a gradual loosening of the rules every five weeks if the data allows.

He hailed it a ‘one-way road to freedom’ but, defending the super-slow unlocking, said: ‘I won’t be buccaneering… with people’s lives, and nor will anybody in government.’ 

Despite the clear path through the crisis, members of the public itching to return to normality were today pictured preempting the roadmap.

People gather on Primrose Hill in London's Regent's Park amid the sunshine today despite the UK still under a strict 'stay at home' order

People gather on Primrose Hill in London’s Regent’s Park amid the sunshine today despite the UK still under a strict ‘stay at home’ order

Coffee catch-ups in the park and outdoor sport remains banned until March - but nevertheless took place amid the good weather

Coffee catch-ups in the park and outdoor sport remains banned until March – but nevertheless took place amid the good weather

At Bristol docks, crowds gathered by the waterside in the evening for a drink, leaving one person to ask: 'What are the police doing to enforce current Covid legislation?'

At Bristol docks, crowds gathered by the waterside in the evening for a drink, leaving one person to ask: ‘What are the police doing to enforce current Covid legislation?’

There have even been examples of haircuts seemingly happening in people’s homes, despite salons forced to shut until at least April 12 and indoor mixing until May 17

In London’s Regent’s Park today groups were seen sprawling on the grass or perching on park benches to sip coffee and chat. 

Seeing someone outside your household – with the exception of one other person for exercise, including rest – is banned until March 8 when people can meet with one person socially outside, paving the way for coffees and picnics.    

At Bristol docks, crowds gathered by the waterside in the evening for a drink, leaving one person to ask: ‘What are the police doing to enforce current Covid legislation?’ 

Members of the public also shared images of illegal football matches, in a sign that grassroots players are aching to get back on the pitch before March 29, when outdoor sport is pencilled to return.  

Such breaches happened both before in the days before the PM’s announcement as well as after he laid out the roadmap yesterday. 

Ministers’ gentle easing of lockdown will prioritise outdoor mixing first because coronavirus transmission is harder in the fresh air.

Indoor mixing of up to six people, or two households, is scheduled for May 17, although some indoor venues such as salons and non-essential retail will get the green light to reopen on April 12. 

However some Britons desperate for a trim have seemingly rode roughshod over this rollout and bragged about receiving home appointments. 

In Hackney on Sunday some allegedly broke into the tennis courts and started using the space

In Hackney on Sunday some allegedly broke into the tennis courts and started using the space 

In London's Regent's Park, groups were seen sprawling on the grass or perching on park benches to sip coffee and chat

In London’s Regent’s Park, groups were seen sprawling on the grass or perching on park benches to sip coffee and chat

Musicians in Manchester play their drums in a circle in a park - in breach of rules on gatherings

Musicians in Manchester play their drums in a circle in a park – in breach of rules on gatherings  

Rule-breakers face fines of £200 for a first offence, lowered to £100 if paid within a fortnight. It is £400 for the second offence, then doubling for each further offence up to a maximum of £6,400. 

Examples of fraying public compliance with restrictions has been a feature of all three national lockdowns – the first of which come into force nearly a year ago.  

Mr Johnson has said that his ‘Goldilocks’ strategy – not too fast, not too slow – to end lockdown was the right approach. 

A snap YouGov poll following the PM’s announcement yesterday found that almost half the population – 46 per cent – had struck the right pace.

Twenty-six per cent thought he was proceeding to quickly while only 16 per cent thought he was treading too tentatively. 

But he faces calls from lockdown-sceptic backbenchers to accelerate the roadmap if the vaccine rollout brings cases and hospitalisations down to a low level.

Tory MP Steve Baker, deputy chair of the Covid Recovery Group, branded the PM’s road map ‘a hammer blow to aviation, pubs, restaurants, hotels, gyms and pools, arts and entertainment’.

As well as the harm to the economy, people are also desperate to have social contact with loved ones. When people can hug their grandparents has become a totemic issue in the crisis and Health Secretary Matt Hancock has suggested this could come on May when indoor mixing is allowed.

Britain today recorded just 8,489 Covid cases in the lowest daily rise since October 2, while deaths are continuing to tumble with another 548 victims.

Department of Health data shows infections have fallen by 20 per cent on last Tuesday, when 10,625 positive tests were recorded. It follows a blip yesterday, which saw the first week-on-week increase in cases in six weeks.

Government statistics also reveal deaths have fallen by 30 per cent compared to seven days ago. Almost 800 lab-confirmed fatalities were added to the official toll this time last week.

Friends sit in the park in Hampstead Heath and chat amid the sunshine - despite lockdown requiring people to stay at home

Friends sit in the park in Hampstead Heath and chat amid the sunshine – despite lockdown requiring people to stay at home

A football match being played in Southwark, South London, on February 20. The police said they would look into the offence

A football match being played in Southwark, South London, on February 20. The police said they would look into the offence

Two women enjoy the sun on Primrose Hill, London, today amid the good weather

Two women enjoy the sun on Primrose Hill, London, today amid the good weather

A couple bring a rug to sit on in Regent's Park despite rules meaning Britons must only leave the home for essential purposes, such as exercise

A couple bring a rug to sit on in Regent’s Park despite rules meaning Britons must only leave the home for essential purposes, such as exercise

People sit on a park bench by the water in Hampstead Heath, North London, this afternoon

People sit on a park bench by the water in Hampstead Heath, North London, this afternoon

DailyMail Online


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