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Revellers flaunt social distancing warnings on Belfast's last night out

As Belfast goes into lockdown, reckless revellers flaunt social distancing warnings and put lives at risk

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Revelers at Filthy McNastys on the Dublin as Cafes, pubs and restaurants have closed from Friday night - except for take-away food - to tackle coronavirus. Picture Sunday Life 20-03-2020

Revelers at Filthy McNastys on the Dublin as Cafes, pubs and restaurants have closed from Friday night - except for take-away food - to tackle coronavirus. Picture Sunday Life 20-03-2020

Revelers at Filthy McNastys on the Dublin as Cafes, pubs and restaurants have closed from Friday night - except for take-away food - to tackle coronavirus. Picture Sunday Life 20-03-2020

Revelers at Filthy McNastys on the Dublin as Cafes, pubs and restaurants have closed from Friday night - except for take-away food - to tackle coronavirus. Picture Sunday Life 20-03-2020

Revelers at Filthy McNastys on the Dublin as Cafes, pubs and restaurants have closed from Friday night - except for take-away food - to tackle coronavirus. Picture Sunday Life 20-03-2020

Revelers at Filthy McNastys on the Dublin as Cafes, pubs and restaurants have closed from Friday night - except for take-away food - to tackle coronavirus. Picture Sunday Life 20-03-2020

Revelers at Filthy McNastys on the Dublin as Cafes, pubs and restaurants have closed from Friday night - except for take-away food - to tackle coronavirus. Picture Sunday Life 20-03-2020

Reckless revellers risked lives on Friday night as they ignored Government advice to stay away from pubs and clubs despite grave warnings about coronavirus.

Parts of Belfast city centre were a ghost town in lockdown almost immediately after the Government announcement to close businesses and restrict gatherings.

But despite the warnings about social distancing, hundreds of partygoers flocked to the handful of bars and restaurants which ignored the Government advice.

Announcing the closure of bars, Prime Minister Boris Johnson had pleaded with people to avoid going out on Friday night.

"Some people may of course be tempted to go out ... But please don't," he said.

"You may think you are invincible, but there is no guarantee you will get mild symptoms, and you can still be a carrier of the disease and pass it on to others."

Young people were pictured spilling out of popular student bar Filthy McNasty's on the Dublin Road as well as a number of other establishments across the city - not doing anything legal but ignoring pleas from ministers and medics not to socialise.

Social media has been awash with pictures of young people gathering in parks and bars. End-of-school parties and anti-social behaviour by young people have been reported across Northern Ireland over the weekend.

On Friday, former investigative journalist-turned-screenwriter Declan Lawn (43)posted a picture on Twitter of a group of young people in Crawfordsburn Country Park ignoring the ban.

Posting a picture with the faces of the youngsters obscured, he said: "Massive group of kids - look like A-level students, maybe 100 of them - having a proper party at Helen's Bay right now. Took a pic but some might be U17 so here it is with faces blurred out.

"They just don't give a sh** though do they? They may do next week when their parents are in hospital. If one of these guys has the virus I reckon they all do by now!"

While most schools have been closed, some will be open for the children of key workers from Monday.

Students no longer in schools, after they were ordered to close, risk passing the virus on to more vulnerable groups like the elderly, so police have urged party participants to consider the wellbeing of others and follow official guidance.

The PSNI said: "Police are still receiving reports of anti-social behaviour and end-of-school parties. Review the advice of the Health Minister (Robin Swann, right), consider the health of others and adhere to the social distance practices outlined by the health department."

Last night at Millennium Park on Belfast's Oldpark Road police had to deal with over 30 young people causing anti-social behaviour after they managed to get themselves locked in the park.

There was growing anger last night at plans to hold a Sunday market at Nutt's Corner today with up to 250 stalls.

The SDLP's public health spokesman Justin McNulty said the decision for the market to proceed is "reckless and could potentially cost lives".

Prime Minister Boris Johnson last night warned that the coronavirus outbreak is "accelerating", as he urged people not to visit their parents on Mother's Day today.

In a stark message to the country, he said the NHS was in danger of being "overwhelmed" in the same way as the Italian healthcare system unless people heeded Government advice on "social distancing".

He said that while "everyone's strongest instinct" was to visit their mother on Mother's Day, the best single present they could give her was to stay away and spare her the risk of becoming infected. "This time the best thing is to ring her, video call her, Skype her, but to avoid any unnecessary physical contact or proximity," he said.

"And why? Because if your mother is elderly or vulnerable, I am afraid all the statistics show that she is much more likely to die from coronavirus."

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