Government's 10pm curfew blamed for busy scenes in London on Thursday night

The government’s new 10pm curfew has come under fire after video footage showed crowds of people all heading home at the same time on Thursday night in what one Londoner described as the “busiest it's been for months”.

Boris Johnson announced a closing time of 10pm for bars and restaurants across England earlier this week as part of efforts to combat a second wave of coronavirus.

But critics had warned that the introduction of such a curfew would mean people concentrated onto public transport at a specific time — proving detrimental to efforts to curb the spread of the virus.

Their concerns appeared to be justified after footage emerged of hordes of people heading home in London at the same time on Thursday night.

Twitter user Kirsty Lewis, 24, from north-west London, posted a video of the moment people exited pubs and restaurants on Oxford Street with the caption: “10pm curfew just meant everyone rolling out onto the streets and onto the tubes at the same time and it was the busiest I’ve seen central London in months”.

She told the PA news agency: “I think most people were socially distanced, or at least trying to be, from other groups – but as you can see in the video that got a bit tricky and was a problem as they all tried to crowd onto tubes.

“I know that a lot of people were discussing going back to their houses or flats for more drinks instead, where they would have just usually stayed out in the bars or restaurants later.

“Also from the restaurant side of it, the owner of the place I went to seemed very upset having to turf people out… will have obviously limited his income.

“My friend and I actually walked to a tube station a couple of stops further away to try and avoid the main business so then it wasn’t as bad.”

Earlier this week Matt Twist, who is leading the Met Police response to the coronavirus pandemic, said: “The vast majority of Londoners have stuck to the rules and responded positively to the unprecedented situation we are in. We thank them for that.

“Throughout the last few months we have continued to step in where necessary to protect the public, even as the rules relaxed, with officers working hard to tackle challenging incidents such as unlicensed music events throughout the summer – sometimes facing extreme hostility and even violence. In many cases we worked proactively and successfully ahead these events to prevent them from happening in the first place.

“However, it is clear that there is a renewed need for everyone to do everything they can to minimise the risk of transmission of what is a potentially deadly disease - that means everyone following the rules.

“Our officers will help people do that and will explain to the public what those regulations are, however, they will also be firm and take appropriate action against those that simply refuse to follow the law and who are deliberately placing communities at risk.”

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