Pent-up Brits let loose Monday to celebrate pandemic restrictions easing, partying it up in nightclubs for what they have dubbed “Freedom Day” — even as new infections soared to the highest levels seen in months.
“I’m absolutely ecstatic,” Lorna Feeney, who was out celebrating at Bar Fibre, a club in Leeds, told the Associated Press.
“That’s my life, my soul — I love dancing. It bonds me. It’s amazing. It makes me feel so good.”
From midnight, laws in England requiring masks to be worn in shops and other indoor settings lapsed, along with capacity limits in bars and restaurants, and rules limiting the number of people who can socialize together.
At a nightclub in London, Kevin Ally told the Associated Press it’s “good to be back” on the dance floor — and he wasn’t worried about catching or spreading COVID-19.
“There’s zero concern,” he said. “The only concern is why we haven’t been here for a year and a half. It’s been a very long time since we’ve been out. It’s good to be back, and we’re here to dance.”
But health officials warned the care- and mask-free reveling could exacerbate already rising COVID-19 cases.
New infections topped 50,000 per day last week for the first time since January as the highly contagious Delta variant spreads.
Julian Tang, a clinical virologist at the University of Leicester, said nightclubs are the ideal environment for the spread of COVID-19 because people are in prolonged close contact with one another — and many of them are young people who have not been inoculated.
“That’s the perfect mixing vessel for the virus to spread and to even generate new variants,” he said.
“I can’t think of any realistic good scenario to come out of this strategy, I’m afraid,” Tang warned.
“I think it’s really a degree of how bad it’s going to be.”
In a sign that the country is not yet out of the woods, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is celebrating “Freedom Day” in COVID-19 exposure quarantine — after he came into contact with Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who on Saturday tested positive for the bug.
With Post wires