Police were forced to deal with large crowds and illegal raves in London on New Year’s Eve.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, London Mayor Sadiq Khan and health experts had urged people not to gather amid a spike in coronavirus infections which has led to record infection rates and hospitalisations.
A total of 55,892 new infections were reported on Thursday, the highest yet, surpassing Tuesday’s 53,000 and the government also recorded 964 more deaths, taking the total number fatalities to 73,512.
But some people ignored the warnings, with images showing sizeable crowds in the capital, including those who took part in an anti-lockdown protest.
Watch: London fireworks display to welcome New Year
Officers were heard telling a crowd of anti-lockdown demonstrators to “go home” on the South Bank after they had gathered despite the capital being under the strictest Tier 4 restrictions.
Police also dealt with two illegal parties in east London.
Officers raided a rave of up to 100 people in Barking and Dagenham and found 1,000 bottles of alcohol.
The Met tweeted: “Enquiries will be ongoing at venue re organiser & post incident. Working with partners & local residents & cctv to review.
“By attending an Unlicensed Event you put yourself, others & your families & friends at risk. That then has consequences for those in the frontline.”
Police also shut down a party in London’s Royal Docks and found laughing gas canisters littered inside.
They added: “A large unlicensed music event has been shut down by officers tonight in Royal Docks.
“Arrests made and considerations being given for a £10,000 fine for breaches of Covid-19 legislation.”
A large unlicensed music event has been shut down by officers tonight in Royal Docks. Arrests made and considerations being given for a £10,000 fine for breaches of #COVID19 legislation. #HandsFaceSpace pic.twitter.com/p2wfTi66Xf
— Newham MPS | North East BCU (@MPSNewham) January 1, 2021
More than three-quarters of the country’s population were ordered to stay at home, as swathes of the country were plunged into Tier 4 on Thursday.
Another 22 million people in parts of the North East, North West, South West and Midlands were placed under lockdown measures in a bid to control infections.
People were warned they must ring in the New Year by staying at home and not mixing, with NHS England’s national medical director, Professor Stephen Powis, saying: “Covid loves a crowd.”
London welcomed 2021 with a dazzling light and fireworks show on the Thames, including tributes to the NHS and notable figures from the year of Covid-19.
As the BBC-televised display began, a male voice recited a poem which set the theme: “In the year of 2020 a new virus came our way; We knew what must be done and so to help we hid away.”
Amid the fireworks, several images filled the sky over the O2 Arena formed through the use of 300 drones, one of which showed the NHS logo in a love-heart while a child’s voice said: “Thank you NHS heroes”.
A later tribute came for BAME NHS workers – “so many of the nurses and doctors and consultants and cleaners, the helping hands guiding us through this storm”.
There was a special drone tribute for one of the more remarkable identities of 2020, Captain Tom Moore, who raised £33 million pounds by walking in his back garden.
Watch: The political U-turns and broken promises of 2020