Brits pile into Soho for pints with 'very little' social distancing as lockdown eases

Attila Kulcsar, a media communications manager, compared the celebrations in Soho this evening to 'VE Day' as pubs and restaurants finally reopened outdoors as lockdown restrictions ease

'Raucous' scenes played out in Soho, London, this evening as boozers reopened outside (Image: AFP via Getty Images)

Revellers in London have compared celebrations in Soho to "VE Day" as pubs and restaurants reopen outdoors for the first time in months today.

Attila Kulcsar, a media communications manager, said the crowds in the famous nightlife district felt "like a return to the 'real' Soho of the 1990s".

However, he warned there was 'very little' social distancing as 'raucous' scenes played out in Soho this evening.

Hordes of people flocked to Soho's Old Compton Street and neighbouring areas to enjoy al-fresco dining and drinks after coronavirus restrictions eased in England today.

Several West End streets were closed to traffic between 5pm and 11pm to create outdoor seating areas as part of measures to support hospitality businesses.

The jubilant celebrations have been compared to VE Day (Image: REUTERS)

Pictures and videos being shared online show people packed onto tables laden with food and drinks, while several dozen more stood on the streets cheering the first night of pubs and bars reopening.

Mr Kulcsar, 54, said: "Tonight's atmosphere beats the whole of last summer... it really is like how I imagine VE Day.

"It's almost like watching Hogarth paintings come to life in 2021. There is a wonderfully raucous hysteria everywhere. It's very celebratory.

A dog was seen sipping a man's beer in Soho as Brits celebrated their newfound freedom (Image: FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

"There is very little social distancing. A distinct sense that people feel the Covid restrictions have ended.

"There are lots of police around Soho as well as Covid Marshalls, but there is no word from them about social distancing... if anything they seem to be joining in the festivities."

Westminster City Council said it was aware of "isolated incidents of crowding" and that it was working with businesses to ensure they are operating "responsibly and safely in line with guidance".

A council spokesperson said: "We are pleased that visitors can return to the city and enjoy the shops and outdoor hospitality safely.

"We have implemented a range of measures across Westminster to enable social distancing, including additional footway space and barriers.

"We also have Covid Marshalls and city inspectors working across the city to help businesses support accessibility, social distancing and to respond to any issues."

Earlier in the day, shoppers hit the high streets as non essential stores reopened once more, while indoor gyms, swimming pools, nail salons and zoos also welcomed customers back.

Lawrence Young, a virologist and professor of molecular oncology at Warwick Medical School, described "a joyous day" but warned people should remain cautious.

He said: "The current reduction in cases and hospitalisations is not only due to the success of the vaccine rollout but also the impact of lockdown in preventing virus spread.

"So while taking the opportunity to enjoy shopping and outside hospitality, we must remain cautious - the virus is still out there and very infectious.

"We can't ignore what's going on in the rest of the world - every other day new variants are being reported and infection is rife."

The UK has administered more than 32 million first doses of the vaccine, with seven million receiving their second jab.


Source: The Daily Mirror


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