Coronavirus: Police break up nearly 500 house parties despite lockdown

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 In this photo illustration, a letter from the British Prime Minster and HM Government Coronavirus leaflet are seen on display. A coronavirus letter from the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to be sent to every UK household urging the public to stay home. Around 30 million UK households will receive the Covid-19 letter, along with a leaflet about Coronavirus symptoms, guidelines and awareness. (Photo by Keith Mayhew / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Government leaflet advising people stay at home and avoid social interactions during the coronavirus crisis. (PA)

Despite government instructions to avoid social interactions during the coronavirus lockdown, police in Greater Manchester have been called out to nearly 500 house parties.

Between 25 March and 7 April, officers also had to deal with 166 street parties, 122 group gatherings for sporting activities and 173 gatherings in parks.

According to GMP, some parties featured DJs, fireworks and bouncy castles.

Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said: "We understand the desire people will have to spend time with family and friends over the Easter period.

The map shows the locations of various COVID-related gatherings in Greater Manchester. (Greater Manchester Police)
The map shows the locations of various COVID-related gatherings in Greater Manchester. (Greater Manchester Police)
A man walks past a public service sign on New Cathedral Street, Manchester as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
A man walks past a public service sign on New Cathedral Street, Manchester as the UK continues in lockdown. (PA)

"However it is vital that we follow the government guidelines.

"We must do this to protect ourselves, our families, our communities and the NHS by preventing the spread of this highly contagious infection.”

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The government is meeting on Thursday to discuss whether to extend the lockdown into May and are urging people to not be tempted to go out for the Easter weekend, which is predicted to be warm and sunny.

Echoing the government, Hopkins added: “I would encourage everyone to enjoy themselves at home with their loved ones but please don't socialise beyond the immediate people that you live with.

"Please don't participate in other social gatherings inside or outside, no matter how big or small.

"We are trying to engage, explain, and encourage everyone to follow the government guidance.

"However where people do not comply with the guidelines, we will use the legislative powers.

"We hope that such actions will not be necessary and the public will work with us during this challenging time."

The figures were released as the force launched an appeal, involving various personalities in Manchester, urging people to stay at home over the forthcoming Easter weekend.

Among those sending home-made video messages were Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford, his former team-mate Michael Carrick, Manchester City player Steph Houghton, Dan Brocklebank who plays vicar Billy in Coronation Street and Happy Mondays singer Shaun Ryder.

The compilation also includes similar appeals from local key workers such as police officers and staff, a nurse and a teacher.

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