Britons are promising to run riot this weekend and enjoy one last knees-up with friends before Boris Johnson's stringent new lockdown comes into force on Monday.
After spending three months in strict lockdown, millions of Britons had been attempting a return to relative normality.
Upon the government advice, they have flocked to pubs and restaurants to make the most of Eat Out to Help Out, jetted off on holiday and enjoyed long overdue catch-ups with loved ones.
But now many are being forced to cancel parties after last night's Downing Street press conference warned of a rapid increase in infections among people in their teens, 20s and 30s.
So social media users are now planning to throw parties and raves for one last heady weekend ahead of next week's clampdown.
Many are also questioning why the rules are being brought into force from Monday, asking, 'Is the virus on annual leave for the next five days?'
Social media users are now planning to throw parties and raves for one last heady weekend ahead of next week's clampdown
Sold out events across the Capital taking place this weekend include a bottomless brunch in the ballpit bar Ballie Ballerson in Soho.
Also sold out are the popular 'Sip n Stroke' parties in Shoreditch, brunch rooftop parties at Brixton's Prince of Wales, and 'London's original boat party' cruise along the Thames.
The Prime Minister yesterday effectively put Christmas celebrations on hold, as he warned that draconian new restrictions on gatherings of more than six people could be here for months - while chief medical officer Chris Whitty pointed the finger at 'Generation Z' for sparking a surge in cases.
Addressing the nation at the first No10 press conference since July, the PM said the spike in infections seen over the past week left him no choice but to tighten lockdown across England for the first time since March.
Mr Johnson warned that draconian new coronavirus restrictions could be here for months - as chief medical officer Chris Whitty pointed the finger at 'Generation Z' for sparking a surge in cases.
Addressing the nation at the first No10 press conference since July, the PM said the spike in infections seen over the past week left him no choice but to tighten lockdown across England for the first time since March. 'We must act,' he said.
He signalled that the 'rule of six' limit on how many people can socialise together will be in place for some time to come, after partying among the younger generation fuelled a sharp rise. Apart from a vaccine, he said the only other way out before Christmas was a 'moonshot' of introducing mass daily testing for everyone, but admitted that would require 'everything to come together'.
In a direct plea to young people, Mr Johnson said that they should consider their behaviour 'for the sake of your parents' and your grandparents' health'.
Prof Whitty said the numbers of coronavirus case have been increasing 'much more rapidly' over the past few days. While the numbers among older people and children remained 'flat', in other age groups there were 'rapid upticks'.
He said among 17 to 18 year-olds and 19 to 21 year-olds the numbers had gone up 'really quite steeply' since mid August. He said that data suggested that without action Britain would be on a path 'extremely similar' to France where the numbers have continued to rise - cautioning that the situation was likely to be perilous all the way through to Spring.
Government sources have voiced gloom about a 'difficult six months' to come. One official cautioned that it was not a scenario of 'a couple of weeks and we're back to where we were', saying the R number was 'clearly above one'.
From Monday it will be illegal to assemble in groups of seven or more anywhere in England, whether indoors or out.
The PM told the House of Commons that the spike in infections seen over the past week left him no choice but to act
The limit - sparked by concern that partying young people are fuelling a flare-up - is a dramatic reduction on the maximum of 30 put in place on July 4. It will be enforced by police with £100 fines, doubling on each repeat offence up to £3,200. Only schools, workplaces and a limited number of other locations will be exempt.
Boris Johnson was last night urged to think very carefully before imposing a new lockdown in response to a spike in virus cases.
Business leaders, MPs and scientists told the Prime Minister to consider other options first, with one think-tank warning a second shutdown would be 'catastrophic'.
Concern within government was prompted by figures on Sunday showing there had been 2,988 new infections in the previous 24 hours, the highest daily rate since May 22.
Monday's numbers were at a similar level, with an additional 2,948 positive cases up to 9am, a jump from the 1,175 reported on Saturday. The latest death toll of 30 was the highest in six weeks.
But Christopher Snowdon of the Institute of Economic Affairs said: 'With UK case numbers at a fraction of where they were back in March, a second lockdown would be catastrophic and should be avoided.
Pubs and restaurants will also be legally obliged to collect contact tracing information from customers. Before they were only asked to in government guidance. And Mr Johnson said the government was having to 'revise and review' the return of theatres and stadium events, with sports matches facing a 1,000 ceiling on attendance.
Mr Johnson said he was 'sorry' that larger households would not be able to meet up, as they would be above the six-person threshold. 'But as your PM I must do what it takes to stop the spread of the virus.'
The new rules follow a rise in cases from 12.5 per 100,000 people to 19.7 per 100,000 in the UK in the last week – with a particular rise in infections among young people.
Infections are most prevalent among the 19 to 21-year-old age group, with 54 cases per 100,000 people.
Mr Johnson told the No10 briefing that he knew the rules had become 'quite complicated and confusing' over the course of the crisis.
'We are responding, and we are simplifying and strengthening the rules, making them easier for everyone to understand,' he said.
He went on: 'This rule of six will of course throw up difficult cases, for example two whole households will no longer be able to meet if they would together exceed the limit of six people and I'm sorry about that, and I wish that we did not have to take this step.
'But as your Prime Minister, I must do what is necessary to stop the spread of the virus and to save lives. And of course we will keep the rule of six under constant review and only keep it in place as long as is necessary.'
Mr Johnson said that he has tasked the Cabinet with increasing enforcement of the rules, adding: 'In future, premises where people meet socially will be legally required to request the contact details of a member of every party, record and retain these details for 21 days and provide them to NHS Test and Trace, without delay, when required.'
The introduction of 'Covid-secure marshals' in town centres will also help to boost social distancing, he said.
And enforcement of quarantine rules for arrivals in the UK is also being increased.
Mr Johnson said the Government is 'working hard' to increase testing capacity to 500,000 a day by the end of October - and he said that the 'moonshot' was to introduce daily testing.From staying overnight with friends to meeting up for a kickabout in the park: Everything you CAN and CAN'T do when new Covid restrictions come into force on Monday
By Henry Martin for MailOnline
England will be subjected to new coronavirus restrictions on Monday following a spike in infections.
Boris Johnson said groups of more than six people would be banned from meeting, in what he called a 'rule of six'.
'I wish that we did not have to take this step, but as your prime minister, I must do what is necessary to stop the spread of the virus and to save lives,' he said.
'I will be absolutely clear. This is not, these measures are not, another national lockdown. The whole point is to avoid a second national lockdown,' he added.
The new rules will be enforced in England and will apply to indoor and outdoor gatherings, including homes, parks, pubs and restaurants.
Here, we outline exactly what the new restrictions, to be brought in on September 14, mean for those living in England...
What are the basics?
No more than six people will be permitted to gather in England - with a few exceptions, which include going to school, work, or 'exceptional life events'.
Breaking these new restrictions will mean fines of £100, doubling for each incident up to £3,200.
The law has been different to the official 'guidance' since July 4, which has been a source of confusion among some. Now, official rules are closer - yet not entirely in sync - with the state's advice.
Can I have friends over for a BBQ or go to a friend's birthday party?
No exception is made for these events, meaning the six person rule still applies to barbecues, birthday parties and similar gatherings.
While meeting five friends from five different households is legal, the guidance advises against it.
While meeting five friends from five different households is legal, the guidance advises against it
Can I stay overnight at my friends house?
Previous Government guidance advises that individuals and members of their household or support bubble should only stay overnight with their own household and one other household.
This can be in each other's homes or other accommodation, such as hotels or apartments.
The new measures have not specifically forbidden staying overnight, though the six person rule still applies.
What about outdoor raves?
Mass outdoor raves are not permitted by the current coronavirus restrictions.
Concerns have been raised over the holding of illicit raves in 'blatant contravention' of rules aimed at preventing the spread of coronavirus infection.
Chief medical officer Chris Whitty pointed the finger at 'Generation Z' for sparking a surge in cases.
In a direct plea to young people, Boris Johnson said that they should consider their behaviour 'for the