Metropolitan Police officer have broken up crowds of drinkers in Soho and made arrests after pubs kicked rowdy revellers out at 10pm - two hours before the city is plunged into a Tier 2 lockdown.
The force ramped up efforts to patrol pubs for 'dangerous and reckless breaches' and said they were prepared to stop any signs of a boozy 'blow out' earlier tonight.
The warning comes on Londoners' final night of freedom ahead of tighter restrictions preventing multiple households meeting for a drink in the pub when the capital is moved into Tier Two at midnight.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist, the Met's lead for the Covid-19 crisis, told the Evening Standard: 'This is a critical moment in London's fight against this deadly virus.' More officers will take to the streets to put a stop to boozy gatherings that break the rule of six as well as to enforce the 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants.
Twist added: 'Frustratingly, we have seen a small number of dangerous and reckless breaches of the regulations and as the alert level in London increases, we are adopting our policing approach.
'Communities across London can therefore expect to see an increase in our efforts to deal with the most deliberate, harmful and flagrant breaches of regulations.'
But things escalated in London when drinkers were asked to leave before the curfew at 10pm. Crowds of protesters holding up banners gathered together in Soho. Police officers were pictured making arrests as they continued to monitor the situation.
Jeremy Corbyn's brother Piers - an activist and anti-vaxer - was pictured in Soho talking to police officers as revellers gathered together at the end of the night.
In other developments in the country's coronavirus battle:Almost a third of England's councils saw a drop in coronavirus infections last week amid calls for a second circuit-breaker lockdown and tightening restrictions across the country; SAGE member Professor Jeremy Farrar said the current base level of restrictions, which includes a 10pm curfew, were the 'worst of all worlds' as they inflicted economic damage while not going far enough to suppress the virus; Another SAGE adviser has suggested that a series of 'circuit breakers' could be needed, planned around school holidays, to get the outbreak under control; Wales is preparing to defy the PM by bringing in its own 'circuit breaker' lockdown - as an 'unenforceable' travel ban on English people from coronavirus hotspots travelling to Wales comes takes effect tonight; London is in its last day before Tier Two restrictions come into force, meaning around nine million people will be banned from mixing with other households indoors; Mr Raab said he took 'very seriously' allegations of a Russian disinformation campaign against the Oxford coronavirus vaccine, with pictures, memes and video clips depicting the British-made inoculation as dangerous.
More officers took to the streets to put a stop to boozy gatherings that break the rule of six as well as to enforce the 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants. Pictured, crowds in Soho as pubs closed at 10pm
A man was handcuffed and bundled into the back of a police van in Soho by police officers after the night descended into chaos when revellers were asked to go home
At it reached 10pm protesters held up signs and gathered together to protest the curfew and increasing restrictions
Jeremy Corbyn's brother Piers was pictured in Soho talking to police officers as revellers gathered together at the end of the night. Others stopped for selfies with the renowned activist
One man laughed as he was dragged away by police officers after joining a protest in Soho, London, against lockdown measures this evening
Police officers marched through Soho as they tried to break up illegal gatherings of more than six people in central London
Hundreds of people gathered together on the streets of Soho ahead of London's move into Tier 2 at midnight
A man and women were pictured sitting on the floor as two police officers spoke to them in Soho as pubs closed on Friday
Crowds jeered and shouted at police officers in Soho as pubs closed on Friday night. One teenager was pictured filming an officer with the camera light turned on on his phone
Two police officers wore disposable masks as they led one man away after revelers started shouting and jeering at the police
One person help up a sign that read: 'Shut up you fascist tories. No one tells me what time to go to bed'. Another was pictured holding what looked like a guitar
As the sun set drinkers bought rounds of pints to ensure they had enough to drink before the clock struck 10pm and they were told to leave
A couple sat on seating by a pub in Soho as they enjoyed a night out together before restrictions set in at midnight tonight
Police officers stood nearby venues as the time approached 10pm ready to enforce coronavirus restrictions after the curfew in Soho, London
Crowds of revellers teamed out of restaurants and bars at 10pm as the night ended. The crowds did not appear to be abiding by social distancing measures
Police officers stood in the middle of the street to monitor the situation and ensure it didn't escalate
Officers monitor drinkers ahead of the final night before London is plunged into a Tier Two lockdown. Revelers donned coats as they sat outside pubs in Soho earlier in the evening
Police officers tried to manage the crowds as revellers left the pubs and restaurants in Soho at 10pm this evening
People enjoy their drinks outside at a bar in Soho despite chilly temperatures because of the latest coronavirus rules in the capital of the UK
Further anger has stemmed from data revealing Devon, Oxford and Coventry all have higher coronavirus infection rates than London but will face no lockdown rules when the capital moves into Tier Two tomorrow. Pictured, a waiter brings customers' their drinks in Soho
Meanwhile, London's transport network could grind to a halt this weekend after mayor Sadiq Khan demanded a cash injection to keep it running. Khan was accused of 'playing games' today after claiming ministers are demanding he extends the congestion zone to get a £1billion bailout.
He faced fury over suggestions the government made the move a condition of the latest extraordinary cash injection to keep Transport for London from grinding to a halt, amid fears that could happen as early as this weekend.
Further anger has stemmed from data revealing Devon, Oxford and Coventry all have higher coronavirus infection rates than London but will face no lockdown rules when the capital moves into Tier Two tomorrow.
Mayor Khan was accused of egging the Government on to toughen its stance in the capital.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Khan yesterday confirmed a ban on people meeting in indoor spaces will begin at midnight tonight in the city.
People sit outside Comptons pub in Soho as they enjoy drinks with friends before the level of restrictions increase in the capital at midnight
Metropolitan police officers are already out monitoring the behaviour of revellers enjoying an evening out in Soho
People enjoy their drinks outside at a bar in Soho, in the West End of London on October 16, 2020, as new restrictions on social gatherings and movement are set to come into force
Soho was packed with revellers making the most of the capital's final night in Tier 1 restrictions. Roads were covered in tables and chairs as customers were seated outside
A police van parked on the side of the road in Soho. Police officers are out in force tonight to ensure social distancing is maintained and other coronavirus rules are adhered to
Revellers wore coats and jackets to keep warm as they enjoyed drinks outside Bar Soho in the centre of the capital tonight
One pubs outdoor seating appeared to be completely full in Soho this evening as revellers headed into London for a few drinks with friends
The tough social distancing rule mirrors what is in place in Covid hotspots in the North of England, where the country's second wave is running rampant. Pictured, people enjoying a drink in Soho
The tough social distancing rule mirrors what is in place in Covid hotspots in the North of England, where the country's second wave is running rampant.
But London's infection rate is significantly lower than in those areas, and is below the average for the country as a whole, which is approximately 160 cases per 100,000.
It is lower even than other areas that don't have any extra rules at all, abiding only by social distancing and the rule of six, according to Department of Health statistics.
While the 32 boroughs of London recorded an average of 99 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people in the week up to October 10, the figure was 159 in Coventry and 154 in Oxford during the same period.
Not a single borough of London currently has an infection rate that high, with the 147 in Ealing the city's highest.
It stood at 146 per 100,000 in Bristol, in Bournemouth there were 139 cases per 100,000, in Bath 115 and in Devon - driven by an outbreak in the university city of Exeter, where the rate is nearly 400 - the average was 106.
All those areas are in the South of England which is not facing any regional restrictions like the Midlands, North West and North East are, where some areas with lower infection rates are locked down to protect them from nearby outbreaks.
London's west end was teaming with life as people headed out to enjoy a final night of drinking before toughter restrictions come into force tomorrow
People queued for access to a bar in China Town this evening. Those seated outside were forced to wear coats in the harsh autumn weather
A group of six are served their drinks as they sit outside a bar in Soho, London, on the final night before restrictions are ramped up in the capital
Tables and chairs are set up ahead of an expected busy night of drinking before Londoners are limited to socialising only in their households if sitting inside venues
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist, the Met's lead for the Covid-19 crisis, told the Evening Standard : 'This is a critical moment in London's fight against this deadly virus.' Pictured, police officers in Soho
Revelers are brought to an outside table as a waiter asked them to give their details for Track and Trace. The decision to place London into a Tier Two lockdown today sparked fears around 200,000 people in the city's centre could lose their jobs in hospitality this weekend
People gearing up for a busy night of drinking and eating in soho, London. The sale of outside heaters has skyrocketed as pub owners hope to turn their car parks into seating
Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Khan yesterday confirmed a ban on people meeting in indoor spaces will begin at midnight tonight in the city. Pictured, people enjoying an evening out in Soho
A barmaid hands out wine glasses as a group sits down outside a pub in Soho to enjoy a few drinks before the lockdown rules are worsened in London
The entire of London may be heading into lockdown earlier than other areas - most of which have had significantly higher infection rates before facing new rules - because outbreaks can spread faster between boroughs because the population moves around so much.
The decision to place London into a Tier Two lockdown today sparked fears around 200,000 people in the city's centre could lose their jobs in hospitality this weekend. An industry spokesman warned the drastic restrictions would see a 'maximum squeeze on revenue and no support'.
It comes as Lancashire heads into Tier 3 - meaning pubs and bars will be required to close with restaurants only allowed to serve customers who also order 'substanial' meals. The county has its last night of freedom before the rules are put in place at midnight.
Lancashire joins Liverpool as the only areas in the top bracket, which means a ban on household mixing indoors and in gardens. Thousands of venues are expected to be closed from midnight tonight, with casinos, betting shops and car boot sales given another 48 hours' grace.
The Department of Health said there would be a £12million support package in Lancashire as well as more money for an economic recovery 'task force' over the next six months. Local sources claimed in total it could be worth £30million.
Meanwhile, sources close to Mr Khan said he was bravely resisting spreading the congestion zone to the North and South circulars, which would force up to three million citizens to pay £15 to use their cars.
But senior Tories raged that actually the mayor went to the Treasury with a 'begging bowl'.
They said he was told he needed to find some savings to help balance the books after years of mismanagement. They insisted it was up to him how the money was found.
It comes as Lancashire heads into Tier 3 - meaning pubs and bars will be required to close with restaurants only allowed to serve customers who also order 'substanial' meals. The county has its last night of freedom before the rules are put in place at midnight. Pictured, people having a drink on the promenade in Blackpool this evening
Lancashire joins Liverpool as the only areas in the top bracket, which means a ban on household mixing indoors and in gardens. Pictured, a barman serves drinks at a weatherspoons pub on the Blackpool promenade
A man wears a face mask against Covid-19 on the promenade in Blackpool, England. The Lancashire region will go into Tier 3 of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions from midnight
A senior Conservative source said: 'The fact of the matter is that he has been presented with a list of options. He is welcome to come up with his own.
'But he needs to say how he is going to make savings. Instead he is playing games in the media.'
They added: 'We have said how are you going to do it, these are some of the things you can do. He needs to find some ways of saving some money.'
The government has extended its emergency funding of TfL by two weeks to give more time to resolve the bitter wrangling over the huge sums needed to keep the transport system afloat.
The squabbling has been going on for months, with London Tory MPs increasingly frustrated about Transport Secretary Grant Shapps' refusal to take on the mayor's dire threats in public.
In May Mr Khan accepted a £1.6billion funding agreement with Government, which came with the condition of a hike in the congestion charge to £15. But he branded the injection a 'sticking plaster' and is calling for a £5.7billion long-term solution for the next 18 months.
However, government sources say they are determined that Mr Khan will not get a free pass after 'bankrupting' TfL with mismanagement during his tenure.
Tube and bus drivers have been warned that crucial transport services may stop running if the impasse is not broken over the coming days.
TfL staff have been given a Section 114 warning, meaning that London's transport system could cease to function as early as this weekend, according to LBC.
A City Hall source told MailOnline TfL cannot simply 'turn London's transport system off overnight'.
But former head of buses and surface transport at TfL Leon Daniels disagreed and warned services could be stopped in a worst-case scenario.
He told LBC: 'As it would be with any business if you can't pay your obligations, can't pay for staff or contracts, can't pay your energy bill then you have to bring it to a halt, and that's the situation we're in now.'
Both Government and the Mayor say they are working urgently to thrash out a solution, but are at loggerheads over the conditions.
A sign warns pedestrians to 'maintain social distance' because of the coronavirus pandemic in Blackpool. It comes as the region is put into Tier 3 restrictions from midnight
A woman wears a face mask as she walks past a display rack featuring Christmas jumpers in Blackpool ahead of its move to Tier 3 restrictions
Pedestrians wear face masks and shields as they walk along the Blackpool promenade. Very few people appeared to visit the coastline amid rising coronavirus cases
A single Budweiser bottle was left on an outside bench on the Central Pier in Blackpool earlier today. From tomorrow all pubs and bars will be forced to close
During the peak of the crisis TfL's revenues dropped 95 per cent as people were instructed to work from home and footfall on carriages fell. It has risen slightly since lockdown was initially eased after the first wave, but today Mr Khan said passenger numbers will not return to pre-pandemic levels in the immediate future
A source close to Mr Khan told MailOnline: 'Conditions such as extending a £15 congestion charge to the North and South Circular and taking free travel away from children and older people would be totally unacceptable to the Mayor and he would not ask Londoners to accept them in these exceptionally difficult times.'
Extending the congestion zone to the North and South Circular would hit the pockets of millions of Londoners, and has also come under fire from Conservatives.
Tory mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey said the only reason such revenue raising measures were being floated was because of financial mismanagement by City Hall.
Mr Bailey said: 'Khan has near bankrupted TfL and hung a closed sign over London.'
A source close to Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has suggested the Government has set strict conditions in the event of any TfL bailout:
1. Expanding the congestion zone to the North and South circular.
The current congestion zone is marked by the inner London ring road and covers central London, including the City and West End.
If expanded to the North and South Circular, it will affect millions more people. The North Circular between Chiswick and Woolwich, stretching as North as Barnet. The South Circular stretches almost as far South as Streatham.
2. Taking away free travel for children and older people.
Currently children get free travel on London buses, while there is also a Freedom Pass for older people to get around the capital.
He added: 'Under no circumstances would I back an extension of the congestion charge zone, regardless of who proposes it...
'Any extension would hit hard working Londoners in the pocket and be a death knell for small businesses.'
Tory MP Bob Blackman told MailOnline: 'He's going with a begging bowl to the Treasury. He's wanting £5.6billion to keep TfL running over the next months.
'At which point, what? Is there a magic money tree? It is just ridiculous what he is asking for.'
TfL's finances have long been of concern, with the DfT reportedly drafting in KPMG to audit their accounts.
Mr Khan maintains that TfL's financial woes are down to plummeting passenger numbers during the pandemic.
During the peak of the crisis TfL's revenues dropped 95 per cent as people were instructed to work from home and footfall on carriages fell.
It has risen slightly since lockdown was initially eased after the first wave, but today Mr Khan said passenger numbers will not return to pre-pandemic levels in the immediate future.
He told LBC: 'I said back in May the deal we had for six months will be a sticking plaster, we need a sustainable deal.
'For the foreseeable future there will not be five million journeys on our Tube, five-and-a-half million on our buses.'
The Mayor added that the Government should not punish Londoners for 'doing the right thing' and avoiding public transport - especially when such conditions have not been imposed on private rail providers.
He said: 'The facts are that the Government gave the privatised rail operators 18 months funding with no strings attached, but is saying to TfL we'll give you a six-month deal with strings attached.'
Mr Khan's spokesman urged ministers to recognise that 'singling out Londoners for punishment is unacceptable and makes no economic sense'.
He added: 'We continue to discuss the next emergency funding package with Government and fight for a fair deal for London.'
His opposition was echoed by head of roads policy for the RAC Nicolas Lyes, who said: 'Expanding the Congestion Charge zone to the north and south circular areas would encompass a huge geographical area and would hit drivers and businesses hard in the pocket at the very worst time, with the pandemic severely impacting travel habits and finances.
'Drivers in London have already faced hikes in the existing Congestion Charge zone this year, as well as an increase in its hours of operation, so the introduction of further charges is totally unreasonable.'
Edmund King, AA president, said the furore over the congestion charge 'blows away once and for all any pretence that the charge is related to environmental improvement or reducing congestion'. 'It is simply a tax,' he added.
'It is highly ironic that this comes as many people are avoiding public transport due to Covid and some London boroughs have increased congestion with badly thought out road restrictions which are now causing a residents' revolt.
'Pushing through this excessive and socially regressive congestion tax which hits the poorest hardest will be a poll tax on wheels.'
Commuters wear face-masks during morning rush hour on the Victoria Line of the London Underground in central London today
Tube and bus passengers are rising, but Mr Khan said passenger numbers will not return to pre-pandemic levels in the immediate future
Coronavirus positive tests in London have increased dramatically since the beginning of September but changes in recent weeks suggest the rate of rise is slowing down, with a 37 per cent increase in the seven days to October 7, compared to the almost double 84 per cent in the third week of September
A TfL spokesman said: 'We continue to discuss our immediate funding requirements with the Government and hope these discussions can be concluded successfully soon, so we can help London through this next phase of the pandemic.
'We are doing what we can to minimise costs and aim to continue operating a full service across our network while our funding discussions continue.'
The Department for Transport refused to disclose the details of its funding offer but stressed that negotiations with the Mayor are underway.
A DfT spokesperson said: 'The Government continues to engage with Transport for London and the Mayor on the impacts of Covid-19 on TfL's finances.
'These discussions are ongoing and will ensure London has a safe, reliable network while delivering a fair deal to UK taxpayers.
'Discussions are underway, and it would be inappropriate to disclose further details at this stage.'
It comes as Department of Health statistics, released yesterday afternoon, show huge variations in infection rates within the capital, but all will face the same 'high' lockdown rules from midnight tonight.
Liverpool City Region is still the only part of the country in the toughest Tier Three restrictions, after cases surged
In Ealing and Richmond upon Thames, for example, there were more than 140 cases per 100,000 people in the most recent week where data is available for - this is the standard way of measuring a place's infection rate - while in Bexley the rate is just 69 per 100,000.
Almost a third of England's councils saw a drop in coronavirus infections last week amid calls for a second circuit-breaker lockdown and tightening restrictions across the country.
As many as 41 out of 149 councils recorded a fall in their Covid-19 infection rates in the week ending October 11, according to Public Health England's weekly surveillance report. For comparison, only two saw a dip last week.
And only eight registered a surge in cases of more than 50 per cent - more than 13 times less than the week before when 109 local authorities saw major spikes, suggesting the second wave may be slowing down.
The biggest dip was recorded in the city of Manchester - which the Government is threatening with a tier three lockdown - with a 22 per cent fall in infections from 557.8 to 433.8 cases per 100,000 people.
Southend-on-sea saw the second largest fall, with a 20.5 per cent dip from 42.6 to 33.9 cases per 100,000 people. Slough, outside London, came third with a 19 per cent drop in infections from 86.9 to 70.2 per 100,000.
But many areas still recorded rises in infections - although none saw rates double compared to the 52 areas that recorded this surge last week.
Matt Hancock's department yesterday claimed cases in the city are 'rising sharply' but local politicians have hit out at the decision to tar the whole city with the same brush.
Bob Blackman, the Tory MP for Harrow in west London - where cases are at around 121 per 100,000 people and where 304 people were diagnosed in the week to October 10 - said yesterday: '[Sadiq Khan] is going to be standing for re-election saying I am the mayor who closed London and threw the jobs under the train.
'I don't see that as a great approach. He's going to the Treasury with a begging bowl... It is ridiculous what he is asking for.
'Andy Burnham [Mayor of Manchester] is trying to protect and preserve Manchester, and understandably so. Sadiq Khan seems to want to take London into Tier Three. I don't know what the mad rush is to do it.'sonos sonos One (Gen 2) - Voice Controlled Smart Speaker with Amazon Alexa Built-in - Black read more
Bromley and Chislehurst MP Sir Bob Neill said the 'one-size-fits-all approach' for the capital was a mistake.
The senior Conservative told Sky News: 'I think it's a mistake. I think it's disproportionate for the whole of London.
'I can see some parts of London the test is met, but… there is a cluster of south-east and southern London boroughs where the rates are very much lower.'
Wimbledon MP Stephen Hammond said he was surprised that the Tier 2 measures were being imposed across the capital.
'Yes, London infections are rising but they are rising at different