What are they thinking? Thousands of runners line up for two half marathons


Britain may be on the cusp of a coronavirus outbreak with mass gatherings banned by the government from next weekend, however a number of large events went ahead as planned today despite the last 24 hours seeing the UK’s death toll from the virus double.

Liverpool’s half marathon and ten mile race saw around 6,000 participants turn out to run the course despite 14 coronavirus cases confirmed in the Merseyside region, eight of them in Liverpool. 

In Leeds the famous annual Otley run pub crawl, popular with Leeds University students, went ahead as usual with participants visiting up to sixteen individual bars on the route as the University cancels all physical lectures from Monday. 

In the south of the country, Bath Half, the city’s half marathon also went ahead with around 12,000 participants running the course despite warnings from Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse who said the event was ‘simply not worth the risk’. 

Liverpool's half marathon and ten mile race saw around 6,000 participants turn out to run the course today despite 14 coronavirus cases confirmed in the Merseyside region

Liverpool’s half marathon and ten mile race saw around 6,000 participants turn out to run the course today despite 14 coronavirus cases confirmed in the Merseyside region

Liverpool Half Marathon & 10 Mile runners in action on Sunday as the marathon goes ahead despite the number of coronavirus cases growing around the world

Liverpool Half Marathon & 10 Mile runners in action on Sunday as the marathon goes ahead despite the number of coronavirus cases growing around the world

Runners past each other in close proximity as they compete in the Liverpool Half Marathon on Sunday

Runners past each other in close proximity as they compete in the Liverpool Half Marathon on Sunday

A runner falls to the floor after the race as the marathon goes ahead despite 14 cases of coronavirus in the Merseyside area

A runner falls to the floor after the race as the marathon goes ahead despite 14 cases of coronavirus in the Merseyside area

Runners shake hands after the race. The event went ahead as planned today despite the last 24 hours seeing the UK's death toll double

Runners shake hands after the race. The event went ahead as planned today despite the last 24 hours seeing the UK’s death toll double

A man completes the Liverpool Half Marathon - after training for months many participants chose to turn up regardless of the risk posed by COVID-19

A man completes the Liverpool Half Marathon – after training for months many participants chose to turn up regardless of the risk posed by COVID-19

Earlier today crowds gathered at the Half Marathon start line in Liverpool, no runners appear to be wearing protective masks

Earlier today crowds gathered at the Half Marathon start line in Liverpool, no runners appear to be wearing protective masks

The MP wrote in a statement yesterday: ‘I am appealing to the organisers to cancel the event. The government itself made a U-turn on its policy last night but is only calling for mass events to be cancelled from next weekend.

‘This leaves a very worrying window of one week, precisely when infection is rising’.

Betsan Corkhill, a wellbeing coach for people with life threatening illness took to Twitter to voice her concern writing: ‘Not cancelling the Bath Half Marathon this Sunday shows an utter disrespect for vulnerable, immuno suppressed & elderly of the city. Not to mention the added burden on hospital, paramedics, GPs already working at capacity even before #Covid_19 hits the city.’

However London Marathon, the world’s biggest 26.2mile run, which attracts 45,000 racers from across the planet, will take place six months later than planned on October 4 after being postponed due to the virus. 

Manchester Marathon, the UK’s second-biggest run, has also been postponed, after organisers fretted about the ‘potential impacts’ of the pandemic on the event. 

In the south of the country, Bath Half, the city's half marathon also went ahead on Sunday with around 12,000 participants

In the south of the country, Bath Half, the city’s half marathon also went ahead on Sunday with around 12,000 participants

Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse called for the event to be cancelled as it was

Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse called for the event to be cancelled as it was ‘simply not worth the risk’

Runners make their way to the starting line of the Bath Half Marathon covering their face in the rain

Runners make their way to the starting line of the Bath Half Marathon covering their face in the rain

A runner covers her face as she takes part in the Bath Half marathon run in Bath, Britain, 15 March

A runner covers her face as she takes part in the Bath Half marathon run in Bath, Britain, 15 March

The Bath Half marathon was one of only a few sporting events to take place this weekend following cancellations to Premier League and English Football League soccer matches

The Bath Half marathon was one of only a few sporting events to take place this weekend following cancellations to Premier League and English Football League soccer matches

Runners wait at the starting line at the Bath Half Marathon, several covering their face in the rain

Runners wait at the starting line at the Bath Half Marathon, several covering their face in the rain

Runners in fancy dress during the race as the marathon goes ahead despite the number of coronavirus cases growing around the world

Runners in fancy dress during the race as the marathon goes ahead despite the number of coronavirus cases growing around the world

A man dresses as a Somerset cider bottle as he completes the Bath Half in drizzly conditions on Sunday ahead of the mass gathering ban next weekend

A man dresses as a Somerset cider bottle as he completes the Bath Half in drizzly conditions on Sunday ahead of the mass gathering ban next weekend

High five! A steward uses a foam hand to high five competitors as they pass on the course

High five! A steward uses a foam hand to high five competitors as they pass on the course

A runner wears a bandana over his mouth during the race as the marathon goes ahead despite MP Wera Hobhouse's warnings

A runner wears a bandana over his mouth during the race as the marathon goes ahead despite MP Wera Hobhouse’s warnings

Elsewhere social media users took to Twitter to voice their frustration after thousands of music revellers were seen gathered at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena to listen to the Stereophonics on their Kind 2020 Tour.

Taking to Twitter to share the mass gathering, the Welsh rock band shared a video of their fans attending their show next to the caption: ‘Cardiff in beautiful voice tonight! #stereophonics #Kind2020Tour.’

However moments later, social media users slammed the band for allowing the tour to go ahead amid the coronavirus fears.

One user wrote: ‘This is so selfish, the people in the audience here are unlikely to be in high risk groups (they’re younger), but they could spread it to older friends, relatives and co-workers.’

While another commented: ‘OMG. How incredible irresponsible! It takes one corona infected person to be there and spread will be tremendous. Please help people social distancing and stop touring. 

The scenes come after 34 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Wales today, bringing the total number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the country to 94.  

Thousands of music fans were seen gathered at  Cardiff's Motorpoint Arena to listen to the Sterephonics on their Kind 2020 Tour

Thousands of music fans were seen gathered at  Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena to listen to the Sterephonics on their Kind 2020 Tour

Social media users slammed the move and some questioned why the concert was able to go ahead amid the coronavirus outbreak

Social media users slammed the move and some questioned why the concert was able to go ahead amid the coronavirus outbreak

Meanwhile in Leeds, pub-goers who were unwilling to miss the annual Otley run, a pub crawl consisting of sixteen bars, were seen in their fancy dress – with several wearing hazmat suits.

Traipsing around three miles from Far Headlingley, north of the city, to The Dry Dock on the edge of the city centre revellers are encouraged to enjoy a drink at every bar en route.   

The tradition is usually undertaken by Leeds university students, who have been cautioned to take precautions against the spread by washing their hands – the university plans to teach all its lectures online from March 16.

Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse said the event was 'simply not worth the risk'. The MP wrote in a statement yesterday: 'I am appealing to the organisers to cancel the event'

Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse said the event was ‘simply not worth the risk’. The MP wrote in a statement yesterday: ‘I am appealing to the organisers to cancel the event’

Betsan Corkhill, a wellbeing coach for people with life threatening illness took to Twitter to voice her concern

Betsan Corkhill, a wellbeing coach for people with life threatening illness took to Twitter to voice her concern

Sespite pressure to put the UK on a lockdown University students still attended the annual the Otley run in Leeds, west Yorkshire

Sespite pressure to put the UK on a lockdown University students still attended the annual the Otley run in Leeds, west Yorkshire

Some of the Otley runners chose to dress in hazmat suits as fancy dress while out on the route

Some of the Otley runners chose to dress in hazmat suits as fancy dress while out on the route 

The Otley runners were out in force in Leeds with some celebrating an early St. Patrick's Day

The Otley runners were out in force in Leeds with some celebrating an early St. Patrick’s Day

In Ireland a lot of St. Patrick's Day parades have been cancelled and some pubs have closed despite the upcoming celebration

In Ireland a lot of St. Patrick’s Day parades have been cancelled and some pubs have closed despite the upcoming celebration

Students wear skimpy outfits as they enjoy the annual celebrations, putting coronavirus fears aside

Students wear skimpy outfits as they enjoy the annual celebrations, putting coronavirus fears aside

Elsewhere in Europe social gatherings have been cancelled and public venues closed

Elsewhere in Europe social gatherings have been cancelled and public venues closed

Out on the town: Students wore elaborate costumes and outfits as they stepped out to visit multiple bars in one evening in Leeds on Saturday

Out on the town: Students wore elaborate costumes and outfits as they stepped out to visit multiple bars in one evening in Leeds on Saturday

A man carries a woman during the lengthy Otley run which usually visits sixteen individual venues

A man carries a woman during the lengthy Otley run which usually visits sixteen individual venues

Pubs in Leeds were crowded on Saturday night while other parts of Europe imposed a lock down on its public spaces

Pubs in Leeds were crowded on Saturday night while other parts of Europe imposed a lock down on its public spaces

The total number of deaths in the UK has doubled in 24 hours, globally the death toll has passed 5,000.

Cheltenham Races also drew its usual large crowds as 70,000 people turned out during the four day festival despite ministers introducing emergency legislation early next week to allow the cancellation of mass gatherings from next weekend.

The major escalation of the coronavirus crisis may puts key summer events such as the Glastonbury Festival, VE Day commemorations, Chelsea Flower Show, Wimbledon tennis championships, the Grand National and Royal Ascot under threat.

A number of European nations have responded to the outbreak by closing restaurants, bars and non-essential shops. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the UK had not ‘ruled that out’ as he vowed: ‘We will stop at nothing to fight this virus.’ 

Adding: ‘The measures that we are taking, the measures that we are looking at taking, are very, very significant and they will disrupt the ordinary lives of almost everybody in this country in order to tackle this virus.’ 

Racegoers arriving during day four of the Cheltenham Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse despite the risk of coronavirus

Racegoers arriving during day four of the Cheltenham Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse despite the risk of coronavirus

Cheltenham Races also drew its usual large crowds as 70,000 people turned out during the four day festival

Cheltenham Races also drew its usual large crowds as 70,000 people turned out during the four day festival

Race goers use hand sanitiser installed at Cheltenham Racecourse to help curb the spread of the Coronavirus

Race goers use hand sanitiser installed at Cheltenham Racecourse to help curb the spread of the Coronavirus

Racegoers during day four of the Cheltenham Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse

Racegoers during day four of the Cheltenham Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse

Photos of Britain’s streets on Saturday night show an almost deserted central London amid the coronavirus outbreak.

With the Prime Minister announcing the Covid-19 virus spread as ‘the worst public health crisis for a generation’ and urging those with symptoms to stay indoors, the capital was decidedly quieter than normal this weekend.  

The usually buzzing nightlife areas of Piccadilly, Soho and China Town, saw only a fraction of their usual visitors, many of whom can be seen wearing protective masks. 

People sit on the steps of Piccadilly Circus in London, on a quiet Saturday night after the Prime Minister said that Covid-19 'is the worst public health crisis for a generation'

People sit on the steps of Piccadilly Circus in London, on a quiet Saturday night after the Prime Minister said that Covid-19 ‘is the worst public health crisis for a generation’

The government's top scientist warned that up to 10,000 people in the UK are already infected. Pictured: A nearly empty Chinatown, London, Saturday night

The government’s top scientist warned that up to 10,000 people in the UK are already infected. Pictured: A nearly empty Chinatown, London, Saturday night

A man pushes a woman on a trolley through Soho, London, on unusually quiet streets. Defence sources told The Mail on Sunday that Army units were stepping up their training for public order roles

A man pushes a woman on a trolley through Soho, London, on unusually quiet streets. Defence sources told The Mail on Sunday that Army units were stepping up their training for public order roles

Last night France became the latest country to announce the closure of all non-essential public shops and venues after 91 deaths from the virus.

This follows the example of Italy which has been on lock down since Monday as the coronavirus death toll tops 1,000. 

Although Britain is yet to take this measure the government has said it plans to deploy troops at hospitals and outside supermarkets as the epidemic worsens and panic grips the public.

In preparation for the worst-case scenario, defence sources told The Mail on Sunday that Army units were stepping up their training for public order roles. 

A women crosses the street in China Town, London, as some venues choose to close amid the coronavirus outbreak

A women crosses the street in China Town, London, as some venues choose to close amid the coronavirus outbreak

A couple dine alone in a restaurant in Soho as many choose to stay in following government warnings

A couple dine alone in a restaurant in Soho as many choose to stay in following government warnings

A man and a woman walk through quiet Chinatown wearing masks in central London on Saturday night

A man and a woman walk through quiet Chinatown wearing masks in central London on Saturday night

Teenagers pose for a photo while wearing masks in Piccadilly Circus, London,on Saturday

Teenagers pose for a photo while wearing masks in Piccadilly Circus, London,on Saturday

Two women cross the street wearing masks in Piccadilly Circus, London

Two women cross the street wearing masks in Piccadilly Circus, London

If cases of the virus continue to rise in the UK the Royal Logistics Corps are set to be used to escort food convoys.

The Royal Army Medical Corps is also poised to build tented field hospitals next to care homes.

Troops trained in chemical, biological and nuclear warfare will deep-clean empty public buildings in case they need to be turned in to hospitals or morgues.

Soldiers would also be stationed outside supermarkets where startling scenes unfolded the country on Saturday as desperate shoppers gutted food and toilet roll aisles.

Britons are stockpiling as they prepare to bunker down in self-isolation after the the government issued new guidelines, advising anyone with a cough to stay at home for a week.

And whole families will be told to isolate themselves if just one member falls ill with coronavirus, the Sunday Telegraph reports.

A man in a mask on the Millenium bridge, central London, Saturday, where weekend crowds usually fill the area

A man in a mask on the Millenium bridge, central London, Saturday, where weekend crowds usually fill the area

A man in a mask in Piccadilly Circus, London. Britain is yet to take the same measures as France and Italy and has not closed public venues

A man in a mask in Piccadilly Circus, London. Britain is yet to take the same measures as France and Italy and has not closed public venues

The government has said it will deploy troops at hospitals and outside supermarkets as the epidemic worsens and panic grips the public. Woman wears mask in Piccadilly Circus, London

The government has said it will deploy troops at hospitals and outside supermarkets as the epidemic worsens and panic grips the public. Woman wears mask in Piccadilly Circus, London

A Deliveroo rider wears a mask in Chinatown, London, after the food delivery service started offering contact free drop offs where riders drop food to your door step

A Deliveroo rider wears a mask in Chinatown, London, after the food delivery service started offering contact free drop offs where riders drop food to your door step

Two pedestrians cross the street wearing masks in Piccadilly Circus, London, after shopping

Two pedestrians cross the street wearing masks in Piccadilly Circus, London, after shopping

Mass crowds still gathered to watch A1's Paul Marazzi, Christian Ingebrigtsen, Ben Adams and Mark Read (left to right) perform at Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith, west London

Mass crowds still gathered to watch A1’s Paul Marazzi, Christian Ingebrigtsen, Ben Adams and Mark Read (left to right) perform at Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith, west London



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