Young people took to the streets of Nottingham in fancy dress and drunk alcohol in large groups ahead of the implementation of Tier 3 restrictions.
The Government announced the city would be placed into the “very high” bracket from Friday at 12.01am – with rules coming into place such as a ban on buying alcohol from shops after 9pm.
In the market square in Nottingham city centre on Thursday evening, youngsters were seen posing for photographs dressed as minions from the film Despicable Me and chanting near police vehicles.
Nottinghamshire Police had issued a warning earlier on Thursday that they would have “no hesitation” in fining people deliberately flouting the rules.
Assistant Chief Constable Kate Meynell said: “The aim of the measures is to save lives and lessen the burden on the NHS – which is becoming increasingly stretched as we approach the time of annual winter pressures in hospitals. Positive action now will save lives.
“The people of Nottinghamshire have been incredibly supportive and patient with the national and local measures that have impacted on all our lives this year.
“Sadly there has been a minority of people who think the legislation doesn’t apply to them and we have been forced to take action, and in some cases hand out fines.
“In the last week we have given £10,000 fines to four people who organised parties with more than 30 people present as well as numerous £200 fines to people who wantonly broke the law.
“The new Tier 3 restrictions will mean greater limits on socialising across Nottinghamshire but it is important people continue to follow the rules.
“We will have no hesitation in fining people who flout the legislation with no regard for the impact their actions have on families and frontline key workers.”
Despite the warnings, many young people took to the streets on Thursday evening ahead of the Tier 3 restrictions, with some seemingly looking to celebrate Halloween two days early.
A few police vehicles were present in the city centre and an ambulance was also nearby.
At a media briefing on Thursday, Nottinghamshire County Council leader Kay Cutts told reporters the force had asked for the alcohol ban to be implemented to stop students partying.
Police have handed a number of £10,000 fines out in recent weeks, as both the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University said a deliberate flouting of coronavirus restrictions could result in exclusion.
Commenting on the alcohol ban, ACC Meynell said: “This is a welcome move following a number of gatherings and parties that our officers have had to disperse in recent weeks, in some cases leading to £10,000 fines for the organisers.
“It is completely unacceptable to have parties when there is a global pandemic that is costing lives.
“The legislation is clear that from tomorrow people in Nottinghamshire are not permitted to mix indoors or outdoors with anyone outside their household or support bubble, except in certain places like parks and play areas. It is really important that people respect and abide by this, and we know from experience that most people will.”
At the media briefing, Councillor Cutts said “young people don’t think they are ever going to catch anything” when asked why the alcohol ban had been put in place.
She told reporters: “What we feared might happen, and what the police feared might happen is people would go to the pub, they’d have a meal and they’d have some drinks and come out and go straight to the off-licence and buy a bottle and go and continue their partying elsewhere.
“We’re trying to stop that. That’s something which has been blighting a bit of Nottinghamshire… younger people don’t ever think they are going to catch anything.
“So that’s where that came from and we have supported them on that.”