Crowds in Liverpool ahead of new measures shame the city, mayor says

Crowds of people dancing in Liverpool city centre as strict coronavirus restrictions were introduced have shamed the city, the mayor has said.

Merseyside Police said officers dispersed a large gathering in the Concert Square and Fleet Street area at 10pm on Tuesday, as bars shut their doors for the final time ahead of new Tier 3 measures, which came into force on Wednesday.

The city has seen a rapid rise in coronavirus infections, and intensive care capacity in its hospitals is reported to be over 90% full, with Covid-19 patients making up an increasing proportion of patients.

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Footage on social media showed large numbers of young people dancing in the street outside bars, and in one video a police car could be seen driving through a crowd while revellers banged their hands on the side of the vehicle.

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said on Twitter: "These pictures shame our city, attacking our brave police officers is unacceptable.

"Our health service is creaking, 300 in hospital and 30 people dead in week. Ignoring these facts is why we are in Tier 3 measures."

A police spokesman said: "Officers were deployed to the area immediately and a large crowd was dispersed quickly and safely.

"All businesses in the area have now closed and the incident has been stood down."

From Wednesday, Liverpool and the neighbouring five boroughs which make up the city region will be under Tier 3 coronavirus measures, which include the closure of bars, pubs which do not serve meals, gyms, betting shops and casinos.

Chief Superintendent Peter Costello said: "While we understand how the new rules which are due to be implemented on Wednesday are frustrating for some, we would continue to advise everyone to abide by them – including keeping social distancing – for the safety of everyone."

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey told Times Radio she was "saddened" by the pictures.

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She said: "I grew up in Liverpool. I know it is a great city. But frankly it is irresponsible behaviour.

"We are trying to help the city... I'm sure the mayor may want to consider more (measures) while we are also providing financial support."

City centre councillor Nick Small wrote on Twitter: "Idiots putting themselves, their friends, families and everyone else at risk, destroying jobs and our hospitality sector while they do it."

Other parts of the city appeared quiet as bar staff pulled their final pints ahead of the 10pm curfew.