Police plea for pub punters to stick to rules as customers pile into beer gardens

Police are urging people not to be 'complacent' and stick to the rules during the country's first weekend of restrictions easing.

Patrols are being ramped up this weekend, with more officers in town and city centres to ensure revellers adhere to Government guidance.

New rules mean that up to six people can meet outside at a pub for a drink, however, social distancing is still a requirement, table service is in place and masks must be worn when indoors.

A spokeswoman from West Midlands Police, said: “The easing of restrictions marks another encouraging step towards a return to ‘normal’ life however, we can’t become complacent and risk undermining what we’ve achieved so far.

“The changes provide people with more options to go out, visit shops, pubs and certain attractions, but there are still rules in place and it is vital people continue to follow them, for their safety and the safety of others.

“We have robust policing plans in place for the coming weeks which includes officers in their local communities, as pubs and shops reopen."

Customers have been piling into beer gardens across the region since Monday to have a pint and see friends for the first time this year.

The previous 10pm curfew rule and the requirement to order a substantial meal with a drink have now been scrapped, however police have said 'we are not out of the woods yet'.

Jessica Loxley-Clark, chief inspector for West Mercia Police, said: “As you’d expect many people have been out and about enjoying themselves at pubs and other outdoor attractions since the further lifting of restrictions.

“West Mercia Police has been conducting high-visibility patrols where there has been increased footfall to provide both reassurance and advice to our communities.

“While it’s encouraging to be further along the roadmap out of lockdown, we are still in the midst of a pandemic and we are not out the woods yet, so it’s important everyone continues to abide by the regulations and follows the Public Health England advice of hands, face, space, fresh air.”

While a spokeswoman from Staffordshire Police added: "Officers are pleased at the progress of this latest stage in the government’s unlocking process and urge everyone to continue to be responsible, maintain social distancing and wear face coverings when necessary, so we can all enjoy the chance to see our friends and family safely again."

Boris Johnson has urged the nation to "behave responsibly" as pub gardens reopen and restaurants resume outdoor dining in England.

Dr Lisa McNally, Sandwell Council's director of public health, has urged residents to "vote with their feet" and avoid businesses not following Covid guidance.

She added: "In order to maintain this as we come out of lockdown we need local businesses to play their part.

“Our message is that if a shop, pub or restaurant isn’t keeping you safe – don’t go there. If a business doesn’t seem to care about my health, or my family’s health, then why should I use their services?

“If you are visiting an outside area of a pub or restaurant where people aren’t social distancing and your details haven’t been taken in case of an outbreak, go and drink or eat elsewhere."

West Midlands Police has said that one of their main focuses as restrictions on mass gatherings are still in place is to tackle parties, illegal gatherings and raves.

Organisers can be fined up to £10,000, as well as fines for any attendees.

A spokeswoman from the force, added: "As restrictions ease our focus will be on large indoor gatherings, like parties and illegal raves.

"Anyone who is organising or attending these does not need the regulations explaining to them, and in situations like this, our officers will quickly move to enforcement."

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