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Liverpool fans took advantage of the newly-opened pubs and bars on Wednesday night to witness the Premier League trophy lift ceremony.

It was a historic moment – all the more precious for waiting 30 years – but the celebrations took place against the backdrop of a different kind of history, that of learning to cope with a pandemic that is far from over.

Merseyside Police, Liverpool City Council, Liverpool FC and supporters group Spirit of Shankly made a unified plea for fans to watch the historic moment from the safety of their own homes – and not to gather at Anfield – due to the ongoing risk from coronavirus.

Countless fans listened, and stayed at home, while others booked tables at pubs in the city centre.

But hundreds still disregarded the warning completely and turned up near the stadium.

The city’s bars and pubs were put to the test as far as social distancing rules were concerned – and for the most part the post-lockdown system appeared to work.

There was a real party vibe around Concert Square, but no signs of trouble when the trophy lift took place. Fans marked by their red scarves and shirts mixed with others immaculately dressed for a normal night on the town.

Pubs and bars tried their best to implement health and safety rules, including hand sanitiser at the door, track and trace details taken and booking systems for tables.

As the evening wore on, and more and more people turned up, this became harder to enforce, and by the time Liverpool lifted the trophy, the doorways and Concert Square itself have become packed with largely good-natured revellers.

Fans celebrating at Hotel Anfield
Fans celebrating at Hotel Anfield

Songs could be heard on the streets, from the bars, and the pizza shops. Bells rang and the air was thick with red smoke.

The trophy lifting ceremony itself took place behind closed doors, attended only by the players, manager Jurgen Klopp and a handful of guests.

The careful social distancing was captured by Liverpool players’ wives, who wore face masks to attend the ceremony.

But when Jordan Henderson danced his way to the trophy lifting, there was a huge cheer in Liverpool’s city centre as fans joined in. “Allez, Allez, Allez” and “When the Saints come marching in” erupted as separate groups came together to hug and dance.

Outside Anfield, however, the night took a more ominous turn, as fans disregarded the warnings to turn up in crowds outside the stadium, which had its doors shut in a strictly monitored ceremony.

A relatively small number of fans swelled as the match came to an end, in anticipation of the trophy lifting ceremony. Police arrived too, in large numbers, and a dispersal order was issued, giving officers power to ban anyone from the area for 48 hours.

Helicopters could be heard flying overhead and the roads towards the Kop were closed.

Superintendent Dave Charnock, said: “We’re aware of the significant impact that anti-social behaviour can have on individuals and communities, and we will be targeting people we suspect of being involved in this type of behaviour in the area.

“To the vast majority of law-abiding members of the community and Liverpool fans, I just want to remind them that this order is not about bothering people going about their legitimate daily business.

“We would like to thank the vast majority of you who are adhering to the restrictions currently in place to protect the wider community as well as those who are continuing to keep an eye out for suspicious behaviour and reporting it to us.

“It has never been more important than now to ensure that we all follow government advice to ensure the safety of those living in Merseyside.”

Source: Sophie McCoid & Olivia Tobin| Liverpool Echo

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