The streets of Soho in central London were full of drinkers last night trying desperately to enjoy their first pints in bars in more than 100 days due to the blockade.
The clips posted online show joyful people celebrating and interacting closely with those around them.
However, the government had advised the British to continue staying one meter away from the others despite the reopening of bars and restaurants on Saturday 4th July.
One man, who crossed the busy streets, told Mirror Online: “Walking along old Compton Street felt like walking through a petri dish.
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“And this was around 4:30 pm. There aren’t many possibilities to socialize remotely, even just walking on the street.”
Another video shared online shows a man twerking against a car trying to navigate the crowd. The twerker is moved but the machine struggles to get past Soho while other drinkers move on the road.
In each video, police officers are seen but significantly more numerous than drinkers.
But police had warned that Saturday night would be as busy as New Year’s Eve for forces across England.
However, the bad scenes triggered a furious backlash on social media.
A shocked woman wrote on Twitter: “I just saw scenes if Soho pub … my heart goes to those health workers and their families who died in Covid to save the rest of us … disgusting disrespect. ”
And a man shared the video of the groups gathered on the streets, writing: “The Soho block is over”.
Another elated: “I just saw the scenes in Soho. It’s as if the health workers who risked their lives trying to deal with the pandemic were simply wasting time.”
And the Borough Market, also in the capital, was full of drinkers pictured sipping frothy pints. They too were piled on the street.
Experts predicted that pub goers would sink the staggering 15 million pints in 23,000 factories across England on Saturday alone. Some opened their doors at 6 am to meet demand.
But the prices of beer, wine, cider and spirits were raised as pubs, including Wetherspoons, were desperately trying to make up for lost business.
However, people queued to enter some pubs across England. There was a wait of about an hour just to enter The Regal, a Wetherspoon in Cambridge.
Meanwhile, emergency rooms have prepared themselves for a wave of alcohol-fed patients, installing tents outside hospitals to keep people socially out of the way while they wait.
Devon and Cornwall police said they received more than 1,000 reports, most of which were “related to the consumption of drinks,” while West Yorkshire police were called to “a safety concern” in a village pub near Bradford.
As the drink flowed and spirits flared, four people were arrested on Brentwood High Street in Essex. following a “disturbance”. In Nottinghamshire, some pub owners decided to close after antisocial behavior incidents.
However, in Leicester, where a local blockade was imposed due to a spike in coronavirus cases, police say there were “more officers on duty than on New Years Eve” – to keep people from trying to sneak out from the city to get to the pubs outside the block area.