Police break up hundreds of St Patrick’s day revellers breaking Covid rules after gathering in park to celebrate

POLICE have broken up hundreds of St Patrick's Day revellers who broke Covid rules while gathering in a park.

Students descended on Sefton Park in Liverpool to celebrate in the sun – despite the national lockdown currently in place.

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By the time they were moved on by cops, crowds who had a "blatant disregard" for rules had also left litter across the entire park. 

Footage shared on social media showed crowds drinking in the sun as they flouted Covid rules while celebrating St Patrick's Day.

Under currently lockdown restrictions, one person can meet with another from a different household – but no more than two people should be present.

Cops have now been granted additional powers to move people on in Liverpool's four parks if they suspect anti-social behaviour.

Merseyside Police tweeted this evening: "Police are in attendance after receiving reports of large groups of people gathering in Sefton Park this afternoon, Wednesday 17 March, to celebrate St Patricks Day."

Chief Inspector Karl Baldwin said: “Such blatant disregard of the Covid-19 regulations, which are in place to protect our communities, will not be tolerated by Merseyside Police.

“We are still in a national lockdown and large gatherings, either indoors or outdoors, are currently not permitted under the current rules which state that you can only mix outdoors with one other person outside your household or support bubble. 

“Now, more than ever, people should be taking heed of the regulations, so that infection rates can continue to drop, and we can meet the criteria necessary for easing lockdown in the upcoming weeks and months. 

“We know that adhering to the rules over the past year and not seeing family and friends has been really difficult but we all need to pull together and follow the rules as such reckless behaviour now will put any future easing of the lockdown rules in jeopardy. 

“We need to do everything we can to protect the public during this pandemic and, rest assured, police will not hesitate to take action when people show such blatant disregard for the rules as we are seeing in Sefton Park this afternoon. 

“We would urge people who are planning to go the park in large groups of multiple households this afternoon to think again as by flouting the rules in this way you not only risk catching and spreading coronavirus but also put yourself at risk receiving a substantial fine.” 

The dispersal zone created by Merseyside Police covers Sefton Park, as well as nearby Princes Park, Greenbank Park and Toxteth Park Cemetery and will run until 6am tomorrow.

Under the legislation, officers have the power to seize any item, including vehicles, used in the commission of anti-social behaviour.

What are the current lockdown rules?

On March 8, some aspects of England's lockdown rules changed as part of the ongoing roadmap.

Now, you can spend time in outdoor public spaces for recreation on your own, with your household or support bubble, or with one other person.

This means you can sit down for a drink or picnic.

You must continue to maintain social distance from those outside your household.

This is in addition to outdoor exercise, which is already permitted.

Liverpool Council's Cabinet Member for Health, Paul Brant, told the Liverpool Echo earlier: "The city has worked so hard to get the infection levels back down, and breaking the social distancing guidelines risks throwing away those hard won gains with a flash of recklessness. 

"This period before there is full rollout of the vaccine to all adults is the moment of maximum danger if we drop our guard.

"This has been a long hard winter for all of us, but we only have to look across to Paris to see how quickly a third wave of the virus can return.

"If you want to celebrate St Patrick's day, do it responsibly by following the rules."

The number of new UK Covid deaths today plunged by 80 per cent in a month as another 141 fatalities were recorded.

The daily rise is down by more than two thirds on the figure recorded on February 17, when 738 Covid deaths were confirmed.

Another 5,758 new cases of the bug were confirmed today – down 54 per cent on the 12,718 recorded four weeks ago.

Today's figures are also smaller than – although fairly similar to – the numbers logged a week ago today, when deaths grew by 190 and cases rose by 5,926.

It means a total of 4,274,579 have tested positive for the bug in Britain since the start of the pandemic, while 125,831 have died.

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