London clubbers yesterday flocked to one of the first rule-free live music events since the COVID-19 pandemic began last year, dancing through the night and rejoicing in human interaction as England lifted most COVID-19 restrictions at midnight.
Britain, which has one of the world’s highest death tolls from COVID-19, is facing a new wave of cases, but British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is lifting most restrictions in England in what some have dubbed “freedom day.”
Epidemiologists are generally skeptical that lifting restrictions is the right thing to do, but many young Britons have had enough of more than one-and-a-half years of lockdowns, and said they crave a party.
WARNING: Excessive consumption of alcohol can damage your health.
“I have not been allowed to dance for like what seems like forever,” said Georgia Pike, 31, at the Oval Space in Hackney, east London. “I want to dance, I want to hear live music, I want the vibe of being at a gig, of being around other people.”
However, beside the zest for fun, there was also clear concern about a wave of new cases — more than 50,000 per day across the UK.
“I am so excited — but it’s mixed with the sense of impending doom,” said Gary Cartmill, 26, outside the “00:01” event, which was organized to celebrate the return of live music.
Inside the club, revelers, some with pints in their hands, some simply elated by the music, danced through the night. Many hugged, some kissed, a few wore masks.
After rushing to vaccinate its population faster than almost all other European countries, Johnson’s government is betting that England can reopen, as fully vaccinated people are less likely to get seriously ill with COVID-19.
Promoters of the event, Rob Broadbent and Max Wheeler-Bowden, put up a video of themselves getting a COVID-19 test. They urged those told to isolate to do so.
They said they reduced the number of bands and the number of venues, and lost money on the event because fewer people than expected attended.
British society appears split on the restrictions: Some want tough rules to continue, as they fear the virus will keep killing people, but others have chafed at the most onerous restrictions in peacetime history.
Business owners — including nightclubs, travel companies and the hospitality industry — have been desperate to reopen the economy, while many students, young people and parents have quietly disregarded many of the most onerous rules.
Artists say the lockdown has been tough.
James Cox, the 32-year-old lead singer of Crows, a post-punk band playing at the Oval Space, said the last time he had performed live was on Halloween last year.
“Before this, I had a bit of apprehension that I was not going to like it because it’s been so long,” Cox said. “As soon as I stood on that stage and started soundchecking, I was like: ‘Oh yeah I do like this, I do love this. I was like: ‘This is my passion.’”
Twice a day Hong Kong’s virtually deserted airport fills with the sound of tearful goodbyes as residents fearful for their future under China’s increasingly authoritarian rule start a new life overseas, mostly in Britain. London flights tend to leave in the afternoon and late evening, and for a few hours it briefly feels like the COVID-19 pandemic no longer exists as the airport comes to life. Check-in desks fill up with crowds of passengers wheeling as much luggage as their tickets will permit. Accompanied by the loved ones they leave behind, the scenes are emotionally charged and shadowed by a palpable pall of
Ethiopia’s Afar region on Friday called on civilians to take up arms against rebels from neighboring Tigray, signaling a potential escalation in fighting that has already displaced tens of thousands this week. “Every Afar should protect their land with any means available, whether by guns, sticks or stones,” regional President Awol Arba said in an interview aired by regional state media. “No weapons can make us kneel down. We will win this war with our strong determination.” Tigrayan rebels launched operations in Afar last weekend, saying they were targeting pro-government troops massing along the two regions’ shared border. A government official said on
A man has confessed to defrauding Chinese-Canadian pop singer Kris Wu (吳亦凡) over a teenager’s accusation that he had sex with her when she was drunk, Beijing police said on Thursday. The announcement added a bizarre twist to a scandal that cost Wu endorsement contracts with brands including Porsche and Bulgari. The former member of South Korean boy band EXO has denied the accusation, which drew an outpouring of online support for the woman and criticism of Wu. On Friday, Louis Vuitton became the latest brand to end its contract with Wu. A man who saw rumors about the incident online contacted the woman
Buried in a long US indictment accusing China of a global cyberespionage campaign was a curious detail: Among the governments targeted by Chinese hackers was Cambodia, one of Beijing’s most loyal Asian allies. The target of the hack, which two sources with knowledge of the indictment said was the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, was also revealing: discussions between China and Cambodia over the use of the Mekong River, a new battleground for US and Chinese influence in Southeast Asia. Four Chinese — three security officials and a contract hacker — have been charged for attacks aimed at dozens