The UK’s Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) has warned that it expects more than 5,000 illegal parties to take place across New Year weekend, despite ongoing COVID-19 restrictions. According to new research from the association, that means we could see “millions of people converging across the UK” between December 31 and January 3.
The NTIA has previously called for the UK government to relax the 11pm curfew on businesses such as pubs and restaurants, to allow people to celebrate New Year and discourage them from staging their own house parties or outdoor gatherings. “What they are going to learn very quickly is that people are not going to allow the government to curtail their New Year’s Eve celebrations,” NTIA CEO Michael Kill toldHuffPost UK earlier this month. “They will take it in their own hands and they will do what they need to do to have those celebrations.”
Already, the UK’s illegal rave scene has flourished during lockdown, with mass gatherings and parties taking place from London warehouses to rural Wales, as young people look for an alternative to clubbing amid a wave of venue closures. This comes in defiance of coronavirus regulations, and despite threats of £10,000 fines.
“I was so desperate for a night out,” one 20-year-old, who attended a rave in the first lockdown, told Dazed in November. “It is a bit selfish, but young people need some sort of social life; some sort of release. For me, that’s being in a space surrounded by people entranced in the music and moving together.”
While some of 2020’s illegal parties have gone pretty smoothly – with some residents even offering ravers cups of tea – others have seen a 20-year-old man die of an overdose, an 18-year-old woman raped, and multiple stabbings. Local police officers in Greater Manchester have reported that they were met with violence when they attempted to break up parties.
“There is a growing concern that New Year’s Eve is going to culminate in social unrest and will see a substantial number of illegal parties and mass gatherings following the closure of businesses at 11pm,” says Michael Kill, commenting on the NTIA’s new predictions. Because of this, he notes, there is: “a real risk of overwhelming the police and emergency services.”
“The government needs to consider ways in which to manage this grave situation – people will want to celebrate the end of 2020 in their own way, so ignoring the issue will not resolve what will be a significant car crash in every sense of the term.”
Revisit Dazed’s feature on what it’s like inside the UK’s illegal lockdown rave scene, here.