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‘Crystal clear’ drinkers will not adhere to social distancing rules

UK News | Published:

Images from London’s Soho district showed packed streets into the early hours of Sunday

Coronavirus

Police forces reported few arrests after pubs reopened in England for the first time since lockdown amid a warning from a senior officer that it was “crystal clear” drinkers could not sick to social distancing.

John Apter, the chairman of the Police Federation, said so-called Super Saturday was a “predictably busy night” that confirmed alcohol and social distancing was “not a good combination”.

After patrolling on a night shift in Southampton, he said it became clear drunk revellers would or could not adhere to the one metre plus rule advised by the Government when mixing with people from other households.

His comments came after images from London’s Soho district showed packed streets into the early hours of Sunday.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he believed that “very, very largely people have acted responsibly”.

Mr Apter said he dealt with “naked men, happy drunks, angry drunks, fights and more angry drunks”.

He added: “What was crystal clear is that drunk people can’t/won’t socially distance.

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Coronavirus – Sat Jul 4, 2020
Rubbish in Soho, London, as coronavirus lockdown restrictions are eased across England (Victoria Jones/PA)

“It was a busy night but the shift managed to cope.

“I know other areas have had issues with officers being assaulted.”

However, as the picture of Saturday night’s partying became clearer, not all forces have reported widespread trouble.

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The Metropolitan Police have praised the majority who “complied with social distancing guidelines and remained vigilant,” but said a small number of venues closed early due to crowding concerns.

Surrey Police also thanked the public after so-called Super Saturday passed without significant incident.

Meanwhile, West Midlands Police reported a high number of emergency calls reporting fights, street parties and domestic violence.

But the force said its officers made only four arrests connected to pubs and bars.

And Hertfordshire Police tweeted: “Disappointingly, whilst most people enjoyed themselves yesterday, there were a few incidents where our officers were spat at. Spitting at officers or emergency workers is never acceptable.”

Scotland Yard admitted some areas in the capital were busier than others on Saturday evening, including Soho and Portobello Road.

One man who went visited bars in Soho said he eventually decided to leave as things felt “too risky” and there was a lack of social distancing.

Marc Foley-Comer said the venues he went to  had “excellent safety measures” and social distancing in place, but the scenes outside resembled London’s Pride celebrations.

“It was packed… it was like it was Pride – and very chaotic and people were pretty drunk but the police were en-force and doing a good job,” he told PA.

Rafal Liszewski, a store manager at Clonezone on Old Compton Street, described crowds in the area on Saturday night as “out of control”.

“Around 1pm crowds started to arrive… quickly everything got out of control and by 8-9 pm it was a proper street party with people dancing and drinking,” the 36-year-old told the PA news agency.

Coronavirus – Sat Jul 4, 2020
Police officer in Borough Market, London, as coronavirus lockdown restrictions are eased across England (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

“Barely anyone was wearing masks and nobody respected social distancing… to be honest with that many people on one street it was physically impossible.”

A major easing of lockdown measures in England saw pubs, restaurants, hairdressers and cinemas opening their doors again under modified social distancing regulations.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Government experts urged people to stick to the rules to avoid creating a second wave of coronavirus.

Speaking on Friday, Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty warned the public needed to be “really disciplined” and maintain social distancing when they went out to pubs.

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