Boris Johnson warns coronavirus still out there as UK police break up parties

Aditi Khanna

London, Jun 26 (PTI) UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday urged the British public to continue to observe social distancing rules after several police officers suffered injuries as they broke up street parties over the last few days.

With the UK experiencing sunny weather this week, crowds were seen flocking in hordes to beaches and football fans turned out to celebrate Liverpool Football Club’s Premier League win on Thursday, the hottest day of the year so far.

Johnson warned that parts of the world which had taken too many “liberties” after lifting their lockdown, had suffered severe consequences of a second spike as a result and urged people to continue to follow the government guidance of staying away from gatherings.

'You may think you are not going to get it, that you're immortal and invincible and so on – and very likely that's true if you are a young person. But the bug you carry can kill elderly people particularly. It is still dangerous; the virus is still out there,' said Johnson.

'Some parts of the world – I won't name them – have got spikes, really serious spikes in instances of the disease, so it's crucial that people understand that on 4 July we get this right, that we do this in a balanced way, and we recognise the risks,' he said.

Earlier this week, he had set July 4 as the date for a substantial easing of the Covid-19 pandemic related lockdown rules, with restaurants, bars and cinemas allowed to reopen within Covid-secure settings due to the downward trajectory in the daily death toll from the deadly virus.

But even before that date, there have been a series of street parties across London, which has resulted in serious injuries for police officers who tried to break them up.

Scotland Yard chief Cressida Dick has said that her officers will crack down on such illegal gatherings.

“We will come and close them down,” she said, after a meeting with UK Home Secretary Priti Patel on Friday morning and hours after crowds at a street party in Notting Hill, west London, pelted her officers with objects.

“Just received comprehensive update from policing leadership on public order. Violence we are seeing is appalling. The police have my full backing in tackling criminality and enforcing the law – criminals will face consequences,” said Patel.

On Wednesday night, there were violent scenes in Brixton, south London, when crowds of youths injured 22 officers and vandalised police cars. Officers appeared to retreat when they were threatened with bottles, bats and what appeared to be a sword.

The Metropolitan Police said three officers suffered “really quite nasty injuries”, adding: “It was a really, really horrible incident for them to deal with, really vicious attacks by people using bottles, glasses and anything they could pick up.” Meanwhile, the UK recorded a further 186 deaths of people who had tested positive for coronavirus on Friday, with the total number to have died in the pandemic now standing at 43,414. The latest figures, released by the Department for Health and Social Care, showed a further 1,006 people had tested positive for the virus. PTI AK NSA