Revellers hit the town for one last night of freedom before new 'rule of six' ...

Revellers up and down the country hit the town for one last night of freedom before the tough new 'rule of six' comes into force from Monday.   

Large groups of drinkers gathered at bars and restaurants in London, Nottingham, Manchester, Portsmouth and Leeds this evening to take advantage of their last few hours of freedom before the government tightens lockdown restrictions next week.

In London's West End, hundreds of drinkers could be seen singing along and dancing as a busker played a tune, with very few revellers paying attention to the government's social distancing measures.  

Under Boris Johnson's strict new measures, groups of more than six can be broken up by police who will be able to hand out £100 fines to those who flout the rules.

This will double on each repeat offence up to £3,200 and only schools, workplaces and a limited number of other locations will be exempt.

The move, introduced to tackle the rising spread of coronavirus, comes as a Government-led study yesterday suggested the reproduction 'R' rate could be as high as 1.7 in England. 

Tim Robson, the North East's representative on the national Pubwatch scheme, expected police officers would strictly monitor bars over the weekend to ensure they are operating safely.

LONDON: General view of people enjoying a night out in Soho, in London's West End. People have been warned against having a

LONDON: General view of people enjoying a night out in Soho, in London's West End. People have been warned against having a 'party weekend' as a former chief scientific adviser said the UK is 'on the edge of losing control' of coronavirus

LONDON: People enjoying a night out in Leicester Square in London's West End

LONDON: People enjoying a night out in Leicester Square in London's West End

NOTTINGHAM: Revellers flock to city centre bars to enjoy a night out before coronavirus rules change on Monday

NOTTINGHAM: Revellers flock to city centre bars to enjoy a night out before coronavirus rules change on Monday

MANCHESTER: Drinkers flock to bars and restaurants in Manchester to enjoy a night out before lockdown restrictions are tightened on Monday

MANCHESTER: Drinkers flock to bars and restaurants in Manchester to enjoy a night out before lockdown restrictions are tightened on Monday 

PORTSMOUTH: Hundreds of people enjoy a Saturday night on the town in the pubs and bars in Guildhall Walk in Portsmouth, Hampshire

PORTSMOUTH: Hundreds of people enjoy a Saturday night on the town in the pubs and bars in Guildhall Walk in Portsmouth, Hampshire

LEEDS: Revellers hit the bars in Leeds tonight before tougher new 'rule of six' comes into force from Monday

LEEDS: Revellers hit the bars in Leeds tonight before tougher new 'rule of six' comes into force from Monday 

He said: 'There is an anticipation that everyone is going to have a big last binge, but people are starting to get fearful and a lot of licensed premises have already been clamped down on by the police.'

Mr Robson, a former police officer, said it will be up to licensees to manage their premises and break up large groups from gathering together unsafely.

He added: 'There may be a rise in groups going out this weekend, but it will be probably to premises who don't have door supervision and control.'

Meanwhile Newcastle upon Tyne's director of public health Eugene Milne has said he did not think large numbers of people would go out for a big binge ahead of the tighter controls coming in. 

He told Tyne Tees TV News: 'At the opening of lockdown there was a real fear that that might happen in the city, and that didn't happen so I think we can trust people.

'The idea of the rule of six is to make it easier for people to know how to stick with the guidance and I think one of the big problems has been the guidance has progressively got so complicated, so specific to particular areas, that it becomes very confusing for everybody.'

Drinkers crowd outside the packed Paramount Wetherspoons in Manchester tonight before new lockdown restrictions are introduced on Monday

Drinkers crowd outside the packed Paramount Wetherspoons in Manchester tonight before new lockdown restrictions are introduced on Monday 

Revellers hit the streets in Leeds tonight for one last night of freedom before tougher new coronavirus lockdown measures come into force from Monday

Revellers hit the streets in Leeds tonight for one last night of freedom before tougher new coronavirus lockdown measures come into force from Monday 

General view of people enjoying a night out in Soho, in London's West End tonight, before new lockdown measures are introduced on Monday

General view of people enjoying a night out in Soho, in London's West End tonight, before new lockdown measures are introduced on Monday 

People sing and dance as they watch a street performer in Leicester Square, in London's West End

People sing and dance as they watch a street performer in Leicester Square, in London's West End

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the spike in infections justifies the Government's new 'rule of six', warning people 'the pandemic is not over'. 

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove today urged people to act 'in tune with' the rules this weekend ahead of the 'rule of six' coming into force or risk increasing the rate of spread of coronavirus.

He told BBC Breakfast: 'If people do behave in a way that is not really in line or in tune with the guidelines that have been put out then they are putting other people at risk.

'The reason why the country's police chiefs have said that they hope people behave with appropriate restraint this weekend is we do not want to see a further acceleration of the spread of the virus.'

Members of the public spend a night out in Central London, Britain tonight. The British government is due to implement new restrictions banning gatherings of six people from Monday

Members of the public spend a night out in Central London, Britain tonight. The British government is due to implement new restrictions banning gatherings of six people from Monday 

Members of the public spend a night out in Central London, Britain tonight. The British government is due to implement new restrictions banning gatherings of six people from Monday

Members of the public spend a night out in Central London, Britain tonight. The British government is due to implement new restrictions banning gatherings of six people from Monday

Members of the public spend a night out in Central London, Britain tonight. The British government is due to implement new restrictions banning gatherings of six people from Monday

Members of the public spend a night out in Central London, Britain tonight. The British government is due to implement new restrictions banning gatherings of six people from Monday

He denied that the Government was losing control of Covid-19. 'No. I don't accept that,' he said.  

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Mr Gove also rubbished claims that Chancellor

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