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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - It is “crystal clear” some revellers were unable follow social distancing rules, police in England have said, after authorities introduced the most significant relaxation of lockdown rules since the start of the Covid-19 outbreak.
Across England, crowds of revellers were pictured in central London and in the northern cities like Newcastle and Leeds as restaurants, pubs and businesses like hairdressers opened for the first time in over three months.
After a shift in the southern city of Southampton, the chairman of the Police Federation John Apter said it was plain to see that some would not follow the country’s rule of maintaining one-meter social distancing.
He added that he had dealt with a number of anti-social incidents during the night.
The day, dubbed “Super Saturday”, marked a major step towards returning to normal life in England as outdoor gyms, children’s playgrounds, libraries, cinemas, museums and galleries were also among the places allowed to reopen.
Religious services were also reopened and weddings returned with up to 30 guests.
Despite the clear examples of rule-breaking, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the vast majority had followed the rules.
“I think that from what I've seen, although there's some pictures to the contrary, very, very largely people have acted responsibly,” Mr Hancock told Sky News.
“It was really good to see people out and about and largely, very largely social distancing," he added.
The UK government and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson have faced stark criticism over their handling of the coronavirus crisis.
The country has been one of the hardest hit in the word by the pandemic which has resulted in more than 44,000 deaths and 284,000 confirmed cases.
On Sunday, a further 18 people who tested positive for coronavirus died in hospital in England, NHS England said.
The figures did not include the other nations in the United Kingdom: Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland which also have their own rules for relaxing lockdown measures.
Before the new rules came into effect, Mr Johnson and government experts urged people to stick to the rules to avoid creating a second wave of coronavirus cases.
Speaking on Friday, chief medical advisor Chris Whitty said the next step to relax the lockdown measures was not risk-free
"None of us believe, and I'm sure nobody watching this believes, this is a risk-free next step. It is absolutely not, that is why we have to be really serious about it,” he explained.
"There's no doubt these are environments whose principal job it is to bring people together, that's a great thing to do socially but it's also a great thing from the virus's point of view.
"Therefore, we do have to have a really clear and really disciplined approach to try and maintain social distancing whilst also enjoying pubs," he added.
One area where rules were not relaxed was Leicester where a spike in cases has resulted in a local lockdown.
Officials and experts have warned that the imposition of these kinds of local measures are likely to be necessary in other places in the future as authorities avoid a second wave of the disease.
The rise in cases in Leicester has been tied to outbreaks in the city’s food and clothing producers.
The Sunday Times reported allegations that workers in Leicester's Jaswal Fashions factory, making clothes for Boohoo brand Nasty Gal, were being paid as little as £3.50 an hour and operating without social distancing measures put in place during the coronavirus outbreak.
The findings have prompted an investigation by the National Crime Agency, with the allegations labelled "appalling" by the UK’s Home Secretary Priti Patel.
Nasty Gal told The Sunday Times the company would investigate the claims but said the factory was not a "direct supplier".
"Nasty Gal does not allow any of its suppliers to pay less than the minimum wage and has a zero-tolerance approach to incidences of modern slavery,” it said.
Updated: July 5, 2020 07:50 PM
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