Punters crowded out for one final late-night hurrah in pubs, bars and restaurants before new 10pm curfews kick in.
Wednesday night marked the last for boozers up and down the country before the fresh coronavirus restrictions hit for the foreseeable future.
England’s drinking spots will have to call last orders well before 10pm in new laws brought in by Boris Johnson to curb surging infection rates.
And it will put an indefinite end – for the foreseeable future – to a traditional British spectacle of punters standing outside pubs with pints.
Drinkers were spotted around the country enjoying a final late night out as strict rules taking effect from later this evening bring in 10pm closing times, and table-service only rules – ending queuing for the bar, and lingering outdoors with drinks unless customers are seated.
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The hospitality industry has slammed the new measures, as job losses and business closures mount for an industry struck hard by the pandemic.
The Prime Minister this week warned Brits to expect the restrictions to last at least six months, as the UK battles a second wave of the virus.
Pictures from London nightlife hot-spot Soho show revellers were eager to get their last orders in before the curfews take effect.
And punters queued outside pubs in Blackpool to get their last swills in before the law change.
Pictures from Soho show the entertainment district buzzing with people late into Wednesday evening.
The West End destination had closed entire streets to traffic this summer to allow its drinking and eating establishments to spill out into al fresco street dining.
It will be the last night, however, that people will be able to fill the streets of spots like Soho by standing with pints outside pubs, in a blow for the businesses’ tills relying on serving as many customers as possible while maintaining social distancing guidelines.
The common habit for pub-goers around the UK will be banned from Thursday, when all food and drink will have to be consumed sitting indoors and outdoors at venues.
Establishments selling food and drink to be taken off-site will still be allowed to do so – but customers will not be able to linger on their premises or outside.
The measures sparked critique from the frustrated hospitality sector in recent days – including complaints that the rules didn’t stop people returning to gather at private homes to drink.
Hospitality UK warned illegal house parties and raves that dogged the UK in summer would continue long after bars’ 10pm closing times.
Cases on Wednesday soared by 6,178 in a 24-hour period in the third highest daily increase ever during Britain’s lockdown.
Another 37 people died, bringing the official death toll across all settings to 41,862.
This week has marked a new milestone in Britain’s lockdown six months on, as measures begin ramping up once again just as the grim anniversary is marked and winter looms.
The hospitality sector from Thursday will be restricted to table service by law, along with the closing time curfews.
Retail staff will now have to wear masks while they serve from Monday – not just customers.
And staff and customers at all indoor hospitality venues – such as pubs and restaurants – will be ordered to wear masks by law, except when they are seated at a table to eat or drink.
The measures come on top of other fresh laws including the ‘rule of six’ limiting gatherings.
Millions more in vast swathes of England’s north are living under even harsher restrictions in local lockdowns, including forbidding households mixing at all.
You can find a breakdown of all the new rules you need to know here.