Drinkers have headed out in force before the 10pm curfew as a quarter of Britain is locked down - with residents banned from leaving Cardiff and Swansea unless they have a 'reasonable excuse'.
Punters were spotted descending on trendy Soho in the West End of London as well as in Leeds on a bitter evening across the UK.
One woman was pictured swigging prosecco from the bottle as a male companion smoked a cigarette and others shared a laugh as they strolled into town.
But households in the Welsh town of Llanelli were banned from entering each other's homes and gardens from 6pm, with the nation's two biggest cities of Cardiff and Swansea following suit. Residents are also banned from entering or leaving the areas without a 'reasonable excuse'.
It comes after lockdowns were already imposed in large swathes of the North East and North West of England. More than a quarter of the UK is under tighter restrictions, including half of the Welsh population.
Britain's coronavirus R rate could now be as high as 1.5, government scientific advisers warned on Friday after rises in all regions of the country
One woman was pictured swigging prosecco from the bottle as a male companion smoked a cigarette and another ran down the street without her shoes on
Meanwhile in Soho, in the West End of London, three women were pictured with their face coverings on the ground outside a bar
Crowds were out on Saturday night in trendy Soho in the West End of London ahead of the new curfew at 10pm
Three women smile as they take a selfie in Leeds as they head into town ahead of the new 10pm curfew introduced to slow the spread of the coronavirus
Public Health England data shows only a handful of London's 32 boroughs are now seeing a sustained rise in infections - including Redbridge, Hounslow, Barking and Dagenham and Enfield. The data is set to be updated on Friday, but gives an indication of which boroughs are struggling the most
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said there had been an 'acceleration of Covid-19 cases across the country, especially in the North West and the North East'.
In Burnley, 228 new cases were recorded in the seven days to September 23 - the equivalent of 256.4 per 100,000 people.
Burnley has the highest rate in England, up from 145.1 in the seven days to September 16.
Liverpool has the second highest rate, up from 131.1 to 243.8 with 1,214 new cases.
Knowsley is in third place, where the rate has risen from 132.6 to 241.9, with 365 new cases.
Other areas recording sharp increases in their seven-day rates include:Newcastle upon Tyne (up from 87.2 to 228.8, with 693 new cases) Pendle (up from 97.7 to 203.0 with 187 new cases) Sunderland (up from 78.9 to 180.0, with 500 new cases) Halton (up from 125.2 to 214.0 with 277 new cases) Sefton (up from 74.2 to 162.8, with 450 new cases)
'Working alongside our scientific and public health experts and local leaders, we are prepared to take swift and decisive action to reduce transmission of the virus and protect communities,' he said. 'I recognise the burden and impact these additional measures have on our daily lives but we must act collectively and quickly to bring down infections.'
Meanwhile London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the capital was at a 'very worrying topping point' with rising Covid-19 cases, NHS 111 calls, hospital admissions and patients in intensive care units.
Health chiefs are reportedly mulling over plans to make face masks compulsory in most places of work, in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus. Office workers are expected to be exempt from the measures when sitting, but will be required to wear a mask when in corridors, lifts or communal areas.
As cases continue to mount London has been placed on the national lockdown watchlist because of a spike in cases and hospital admissions, as the capital's R rate ticks up to between 1.2 and 1.5 - the same level seen in the North West, North East and the Midlands, which have all been stung by additional Covid-19 measures.
London mayor Mr Khan has already called for a ban on people mixing in each other's households, claiming in a conversation with the Prime Minister that 'if you go too late, we will be in a North East, North West, Birmingham-type situation'.
Meanwhile hundreds of students in Manchester have been ordered into isolation after 127 tested positive for the virus at the Birley campus and Cambridge Halls at Manchester Metropolitan University, as the rate of spread in the city climbs to 185.6 per 100,000 from 93.2 a week ago.
Number 10's expert panel SAGE also warned the reproductive rate of the virus may be as high as that for the UK overall. It is the advisory body's highest projection since it began tracking how quickly the disease was growing back in June and is slightly up on last week's estimate of 1.1 - 1.4.
If the R rate - the number of people each infected patient passes the disease on to - remains above one, then the outbreak will continue to grow and cases will keep surging, running the risk that local Covid-19 outbreaks spiral out of control into regional and even national problems.
As coronavirus infections mount in the UK:Boris Johnson's 10pm curfew was based on 'back of fag packet calculations' and not advocated by SAGE; The restrictions imposed in March could kill 75,000 in five years, including 31,000 deaths not related to Covid, according to documents submitted to SAGE; Unions call for in-person university classes to be suspended as 3,000 students are placed in lockdown; MailOnline analysis reveals Britain's outbreak began to surge after 'Super Saturday' reopening; Lighthouse lab in Wales meant to open in August and process thousands of tests still lies empty; Sadiq Khan calls for Londoners to be stopped from visiting friends and family.
Matt Hancock said the strict lockdown measures are in line with those seen in Leicester, where they have successfully quelled a surge in cases, and the West Midlands.
'This will be difficult news for the people living in these areas, profoundly affecting their daily lives,' he said. 'These decisions are not taken lightly, and such measures will be kept under review and in place no longer than they are necessary.'
Health chiefs are mulling over plans to impose face masks in offices, it has been reported.
The stricter measures would see white-collar workers not required to wear a mask when sitting, but needing to have one on when in corridors, lifts or communal spaces.
The rules will be part of a wider crackdown for indoor workspaces, where Public Health England data reveals 18 per cent of 729 respiratory disease outbreaks were recorded in the week to September 13. It also shows only five per cent occurred in food outlets, 45 per cent in care homes and 21 per cent in schools.
A Minister told the Daily Express: 'The rules are going to be widened. We have to accept that this is going to be a new way of living that will be around for some-time and get used to it.
'The fines do send a strong, clear message about how to behave.'
Further restrictions are also expected to be imposed nationwide in the coming weeks if the rule of six and 10pm curfew fails to stymie the number of new cases reported.
Local authorities have already started pursuing a ban on mixing in other households, with mounting calls for this measure to be rolled out to the whole of the UK over fears lessons are yet to be learnt from March.
The tightened restrictions come after a surge in cases in the areas. The latest seven-day Covid-19 rate in Leeds was found to be 113.3 per 100,000 people, according to Government figures, while Leeds director of public health Victoria Eaton said there was an 8.4 per cent positive test rate.
The seven-day rolling average in Blackpool has risen from 48.8 per 100,000 a week ago to 69.6 per 100,000 on Friday, the Government's coronavirus dashboard shows. The rate in Wigan has risen to 122.6 per 100,000 people, while in Stockport it is up to 77.4 per 100,000 people.
On Thursday, Cardiff Council leader Huw Thomas said the capital had seen 38.2 cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 people over the past five days. Swansea's rate is 49.8.
Over the past seven days Cardiff's positivity rate has hit 3.8 per cent, exceeding the Welsh Government's 'amber' threshold of 2.5 per cent - part of its 'traffic light road map' strategy for managing the pandemic.
Infectious disease modelling expert Professor Graham Medley, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) warned there would be 100 coronavirus deaths a day in a few weeks' time.
Professor Medley told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the new restrictions would not stop the deaths but would prevent the toll getting even higher.
'A level of 10,000 (cases) we are seeing now means that in three or four weeks we are going to see 100 deaths a day,' he said. 'In order to stop that process increasing again, then we need to make sure that that transmission comes down now because that doubling time will carry on. The things that we do now will not stop 100 people dying a day but they will stop that progressing much higher.'
The leader of Leeds city council, Judith Blake, said there was 'a lot of confusion' and 'a lack of clarity' this morning as the draconian rules came into force in the city.
She told BBC Breakfast: 'We know that the restrictions themselves won't just work on their own, it has to come as part of a whole raft of measures in the city.
'The important message that we know from other areas is there is a lot of confusion, a lack of clarity, particularly in areas where there are different rules in one borough and the next-door borough has another one. This has to be a wake-up call to people.
'If things carry on the way they are, then I can't see how the Government won't be forced to take more measures that have more of an impact on our lives, on our ability to go out and do the things we need to do to keep the economy going.'
Leeds' director of public health Ms Eaton told reporters last night that the spread of the virus is 'very dynamic' across the city and that it was 'clear we have very widespread community transmission'.
'We have high rates in some of our student areas which we have increased more recently. It's clearly not just an issue for student areas,' she said, before warning cases wererising in all age groups and that compliance with self-isolation rules was low.'
Pearl Findlay-James pictured with her father Patrick James
A daughter has been stranded in Wales due to coronavirus restrictions after she flew 9,500 miles from Australia to say goodbye to her father.
Pearl Findlay-James was allowed to leave the state of Victoria on compassionate grounds, and be at her father's bedside in Pembroke Dock, west Wales, but is now unable to get home.
She had already paid for a ticket to Melbourne at AUS$8,900 (£5,000) but, after the flight was cancelled, was forced to pay an additional AUS$4,000 (£2,200) for a new ticket to Sydney. She will have to spend a further AUS$3,000 (£1,600) on quarantine measures when she eventually returns home.
Her father, Patrick James, died four days after she arrived in the UK.
'My whole family are in Australia. My husband, my children and my 10 grandchildren. It's time to go home,' she said.
'The UK is heading into its second wave and I'm worried this will make it even harder to get home.
'I've joked to my daughters - you better get ready to cook the Christmas turkey, because I don't know if I'm going to be there.
'I can take to my grave that I sat and held my dad while he went to God.
'Nobody can ever take that away from me, no matter what my journey is now.'
Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford has urged people in Cardiff to start behaving as though the new restrictions are in place, even though they do not come into force until Sunday evening.
He told LBC that police enforcement was the last resort, adding: 'If there are people who clearly deliberately flout the law you have to enforce.
'Yes, with fines if necessary. But for us that's the last resort, not the first resort. In Caerphilly (the first area in Wales to be locked down) we have had very, very good levels of co-operation. My experience is people are wanting to do the right thing.
The nation's health minister, Vaughan Gething warned the spiralling infections are comparable to the end of February where 'we ended large parts of NHS activity about two weeks later'.
He added: 'We have seen a sharp rise in cases in all of the areas where we are taking local restrictions and it is being driven by indoor household contact, so more people than should be in that household bubble going in and mixing.
'That has extended out into licensed premises as well, where again people are not following the rules.'
The latest data for Cardiff on the Government's dashboard shows the seven-day rolling average of cases surged to 21.9 per 100,000 on September 18, up from 11.6 a week ago. And in Swansea they have more than tripled from 6.4 per 100,000 on September 11 to 19.4 a week later.
Blackpool has been exempt from restrictions imposed in the rest of Lancashire until today, with the seaside resort now brought in line with its neighbours.
Scott Benton, Conservative MP for Blackpool South, said the area initially avoided restrictions as its infection rate was 23 cases per 100,000 but that by Wednesday this had surged to 63 cases per 100,000, still below the average for the whole of Lancashire but a significant rise.
Mr Benton said on Facebook: 'The rise in cases is particularly high in areas of north Blackpool and the evidence is that this is due to transmission within the community rather than as a result of tourism (this explains why our local infection rate has remained low in comparison to other areas in the North West despite visitors coming here all summer).
'It is vital that we take sensible steps now to reduce the rate of transmission which is why these new restrictions are being applied.
'Nobody wants a second full lockdown and that idea behind these new rules is to slow the spread of Covid-19 so that we do not end up in a position where a full lockdown has to be considered.'
Wigan is to have restrictions reimposed after they were first eased on August 26 as case numbers surge again. Stockport is also seeing restrictions reimposed after a ban on mixing in each other's households was lifted on September 2.
Health chiefs on Friday announced 6,874 more Covid-19 infections and 34 more deaths. The daily case toll is a record-high and takes the total number of cases to 423,237, although millions of Brits went undiagnosed during the first wave of the pandemic due the Government's lacklustre testing regime.
Government figures show the number of victims succumbing to the life-threatening infection now stands at 29 - 73 per cent higher than the average of 17 last Friday. But they are still a far-cry from the 1,000 being recorded each day during the darkest weeks of the crisis in March and April. But SAGE warned that the low numbers of deaths do not reflect how quickly the outbreak is growing.
Hospital admissions - another measure of how severe an outbreak is - have also risen again, with 314 newly-infected patients requiring NHS care in England on Wednesday - up from 183 the week before.
Meanwhile in Liverpool crowds took to the city centre to enjoy a night out with friends as the city so far avoids a local lockdown
And people also descended on the city centre in Birmingham (pictured) as they headed to a bar on a cold night in the country's second city
A man gives a woman a piggy-back (left) in Birmingham city centre as another crouches on the ground after going out for the night (right)
London is thought to be on the brink of a localised lockdown. Official government data shows the capital recorded 620 more cases of Covid-19 yesterday - twice as high as the rate last week
Covid-19 hospital admissions in the capital have tripled in a fortnight, with the seven-day average rising from 11 on September 2 to 33.4 by September 18. But the number of hospitalisations in the city is still a far cry from the 700-plus at the height of the pandemic in spring and only slightly higher than they were the start of July (around 25), when the country was deemed safe to reopen again
King's College London (KCL) scientists behind the COVID Symptom Tracker mobile app estimate there were at least 16,310 daily cases of the disease in the last week, more than double the 7,536 estimated last week
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) believes it has risen 60 per cent over the same time frame and that there are now 9,600 infections a day
Friday saw another 6,874 Covid-19 cases recorded, meaning the seven-day rolling average is 54 per cent higher than it was a week ago. MailOnline analysis shows this is the sixth consecutive day the average compared to the week before has risen
London Mayor Sadiq Khan pressed for more measures to be imposed to stop cases rising any more before Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a nation-wide 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants and encouraged working from home again. Pictured: Soho
Leeds is also expected to be hit with new restrictions from midnight, including 'more household restrictions' along the lines of those already in force across three of the West Yorkshire districts, because of a rise in cases
The most recent watchlist, published last Friday, included:
INTERVENTION (number of infections recorded up to September 15 for every 100,000 people living there)
BOLTON - 212.7
BLACKBURN WITH DARWEN - 122.9
OADBY AND WIGSTON - 119.2
HYNDBURN - 117.6
PRESTON - 105.1
WARRINGTON - 105.0
TAMESIDE - 103.5
Sunderland - 103.1
OLDHAM - 98.9
BIRMINGHAM - 98.0
BRADFORD - 97.5
LIVERPOOL - 95.8
WIRRAL - 95.6
BURNLEY - 93.8
KNOWSLEY - 92.9
ST HELENS - 91.6
BURY - 90.5
SALFORD - 88.8
LEICESTER - 86.7
SOUTH TYNESIDE - 86.5
ROCHDALE - 84.1
MANCHESTER - 83.6
GATESHEAD - 77.5
SOLIHULL - 77.2
SANDWELL - 72.1
NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE - 69.6
PENDLE - 61.3
HALTON - 60.7
KIRKLEES - 60.4
WOLVERHAMPTON - 60.3
CALDERDALE - 59.5
ROSSENDALE - 57.8
SOUTH RIBBLE - 52.5
SEFTON - 49.0
NORTH TYNESIDE - 48.5
WEST LANCASHIRE - 47.4
COUNTY DURHAM - 46.7
TRAFFORD - 45.7
CHORLEY - 35.1
WYRE - 34.2
FYLDE - 28.8
NORTHUMBERLAND - 24.7
LANCASTER - 22.9
RIBBLE VALLEY - 18.3
LEEDS - 75.5
BLABY - 65.7
STOCKPORT - 48.7
SELBY - 65.1
HARTLEPOOL - 55.8
SHEFFIELD - 53.7
SPELTHORNE - 53.4
CORBY - 50.8
MIDDLESBROUGH - 47.0
NORTHAMPTON - 42.6
SCARBOROUGH - 42.3
HERTSMERE - 37.4
PETERBOROUGH - 30.3
STOKE-ON-TRENT - 27.4
A weekly report by SAGE on Friday said that the R rate for the UK appears to be between 1.2 and 1.5, and is the same in England. These are the highest estimates the chief scientists have given since their regular updates began.
The R appears to be highest in London, the Midlands, North West and the North East, where it is thought to be at the same rate as the UK. This means each infected case passes it on to 1.2 to 1.5 others, or every 10 infect 12 or 15 more.
SAGE cautions, however, that its estimates of R are around three weeks out of date each time they are published, because they are calculated by watching how the numbers of positive tests and hospital cases change over time.
The advisory panel also says the growth rate has increased, and the outbreak may now be increasing in size by between four and eight per cent each day. Last week it said it was slightly lower at between three and seven per cent.
But it admitted outbreaks could be growing by as much as nine per cent each day in the South West.
The decision to put London on the national watchlist comes as a striking MailOnline map on Friday suggested that London's Covid-19 hotspots may be linked by the city's bustling underground network. Bexley, Bromley, Croydon, Kingston upon Thames, and Sutton — none of which have a Tube station — have the lowest infection rates across the entire city.
Council bosses in London met on Friday to confirm that the response to the capital's crisis would be escalated. No tougher measures will be imposed yet but health chiefs have pledged to boost testing capacity to control any flare-ups. Formal confirmation is expected to be announced later by Public Health England.
Official government figures show London recorded 620 more cases of Covid-19 yesterday - twice as high as the rate last week. But the capital's outbreak appears to have plateaued since spiking at the start of September, when taking into account separate data that analyses when positive samples were actually taken, not recorded. It can take suspected patients several days to get their test results back.
Hospital admissions in the capital have tripled in a fortnight, with the rolling average rising from 11 on September 2 to 34.7 by September 19. But the number is still a far cry from the 700-plus at the height of the pandemic in spring and only slightly higher than they were the start of July (around 25). For comparison, 13 times as many admissions were being recorded in March (425 on March 22) — before the national lockdown was imposed.
London Councils, a cross-party organisation which represents all 32 boroughs and the City of London, said the English capital was being placed on the national Covid-19 watchlist.
The list is divided between 'areas of intervention' which usually have local lockdown restrictions, areas of 'enhanced support', given more testing for example, and' areas of concern' that are closely monitored.
London Councils said no additional measures were being taken in the city but that 'the city's testing capacity is boosted so that Londoners have timely access to Covid-19 tests and the government must ensure that this is sustained