Thousands in England party to celebrate the new year with no Covid restrictions


Tens of thousands enjoyed a night out to mark the end of 2021 with nightclubs, pubs and bars allowed to stay open in England despite a surge in Covid cases that saw a million infections in a week

Groups of friends mark the end of 2021 in Liverpool last night
Groups of friends mark the end of 2021 in Liverpool last night

Tens of thousands bade farewell to 2021 in large gatherings across England amid hopes that the nearly two year battle against Covid has turned for the better.

Last night people celebrated in pubs, restaurants and nightclubs which remained open despite a surge in infections.

Large queues built up around nightclubs in cities across England as partygoers hit the dancefloor as a troubled year came to a close.

Big Ben bonged again and fireworks returned to London as revellers across the country marked the start of 2022.

Although the traditional New Year’s display in the capital was scrapped, a smaller celebration using drones happened at midnight, with Big Ben ringing out 12 times.

In the past week more than a million people have tested positive for Covid and it is estimated that one in 25 people in England were infected in the days before Christmas.

Thousands queued outside the Depot Mayfield club in Manchester
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AFP via Getty Images)

This will inevitably lead to a wave of hospitalisations in the next month, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said, but added that new restrictions would be a “last resort”.

But NHS bosses have said that there has not yet been a swell in serious illness among elderly patients, which Chris Hopson, head of NHS providers, has branded “reassuring”.

Pictures from cities across England show partygoers celebrate with friends and family in a manner they were banned from 12 months ago.

As anticipated many made the trip to English cities from Wales and Scotland, where nightclubs were forced to shut.

Nightclubs in England were allowed to remain open, although this was not the case in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
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AFP via Getty Images)

Jake Cotter, Tyler Calder and Morgan Drewson travelled from Swansea to Bristol to party.

Jake said: “We’re all heading to Bristol because of cause Wales is in lockdown.

“We all want to go out and celebrate New Year’s Eve so we headed to the nearest place to use which is Bristol.”

Tyler added: “Considering all the regulations inside Wales in the clubs and pubs, the having to sit down and the table service, you can’t really have a good night out.

“The regulations are a bit ridiculous. I like watching football and if I could travel to Bristol on Saturday and watch the football but I can’t go to a nightclub at home.

Large groups gather in Leicester Square in central London last night
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Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

“If I stay at home I am effectively restricted to my own house.

“Given the fact that we are all 20, we are at that sort of party age, and it’s boring. We’ve had nearly two years of lockdown and if we have the opportunity to go to a rave or somewhere in England, we are going to go for it.

“We’ve missed out on some much already. We want to go out and do normal things and meet people.”

It was a quieter affair in Scotland, where Covid restrictions caused large event cancellations for the second straight year.

People donned fancy dress to celebrate New Year in St Ives
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Greg Martin / Cornwall Live)

Before Christmas, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon urged people to “stay at home as much as possible” during Hogmanay to limit Omicron’s spread.

But despite the rules, about 1,000 people of all ages climbed to the top of Edinburgh’s Calton Hill to make the traditional countdown to the bells at midnight.

Some people were not deterred by the cancelled events and instead chose to make the most of a scaled-down New Year, including

Eileen and Chris Chalmers from Dreghorn in Aryshire who had a few days extra holiday to use.

Revellers celebrate the New Year in Newcastle last night
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Tim Merry)

Mrs Chalmers said: “We specifically chose to visit Edinburgh and the site at Mortonhall, in our campervan, because the large scale festivities were cancelled. It seemed an ideal time to come to the city.”

It was also fairly subdued across Wales, which moved to Alert Level 2 on Boxing Day, mainly restricting the number of people who can meet in public events and settings, including reintroducing the rule of six in hospitality venues.

Hospitality bosses have urged consumers not to abandon pubs over Dry January as venues grapple with a “chasm of debt” caused by Covid restrictions and a stagnant Christmas.

Nightclubs were allowed to stay open despite a rise in new Covid cases
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AFP via Getty Images)

The coming weeks could be “the nail in the coffin” for thousands of pubs unless customers keep visiting, after the festive season saw venues lose money, business leaders have said.

Over December, which is usually one of the busiest months for hospitality, sales fell by as much as 60% for some pubs, according to leading trade body UKHospitality.

Tom Bott, founder of Signature Brew, a North London brewery, encouraged customers to continue supporting local venues by ordering food and non-alcoholic drink even if they are abstaining.

Revellers at Players Bar in Birmingham during New Year’s Eve celebrations
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PA)

Mr Bott said: “It does sort of feel like it doubles down on the pub industry’s worst month by also having a huge wave of people who don’t drink.

“For those who are doing Dry January, and I can completely see why a lot of people do, I would still urge them to meet up with their friends and go out to their local pub, restaurant, music venue, wherever else because those venues desperately need your support, whether you’re drinking an alcoholic beverage or not.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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