POLICE in Staffordshire are urging people to plan ahead if they intend to go out this weekend as pubs and bars across the region get set to re-open.
They are asking people to remember, that although pubs are allowed to open from Saturday (4 July), things will be very different to what people are used to, as licensed premises are being required to re-open in line with current Covid guidance.
People should check what arrangements their local pub has in place, as some venues will require pre-booking, table service or have reduced capacity and others may have a queuing system with social distancing.
Officers are also urging people to pre-book taxis if needed and remember to wear face coverings if they use public transport to get home.
Extra neighbourhood patrols will be in place around licensed premises to give reassurance to those who are hoping to enjoy a night out and local officers have been working closely with partners and the night-time economy to ensure the county’s towns and cities are kept safe.
However, police have warned people that anti-social and criminal behaviour will not be tolerated and they, together with licensing partners, will be visiting venues to check there haven’t been any breaches.
Officers are also asking people not to put further pressure on the NHS by being careful not to put themselves or others in danger through excess drinking and irresponsible behaviour. The force’s Roads Policing Team will be conducting roadside breath tests and carrying out enforcement around drink and drug-driving across the weekend.
Superintendent Tom Chisholm, Head of Neighbourhood, said: “We understand that people will want to be out enjoying themselves after being unable to do so for so long and we want people to have a good evening, but what we don’t want is people drinking too much or getting into fights or injuring themselves and then putting pressure on A&E departments.
“We also need to remember that Coronavirus is still a serious risk and people need to be sensible and continue to follow the Government’s guidance, including social distancing and increased hygiene measures.”
He added: “We hope the vast majority of people will enjoy themselves but also be responsible and get home safely.”
Councillor Abi Brown, leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council, said: “The people of Stoke-on-Trent have worked hard to follow the guidance to avoid spreading Coronavirus so far. Washing hands, keeping their distance, abiding by guidance in place when at the shops plays a major part of keeping the number of cases low. We very much want this to continue and while we want residents to support local businesses, we would urge people to be sensible and follow the ‘new normal’ guidance. Book ahead, be patient and make sure you plan so that everyone can enjoy the changes positively.”
Follow these four steps to safety:
- Check the arrangements your chosen pub has in place beforehand
- Plan your route home, remember you need a face mask if using public transport
- Remember to wash your hands more regularly and carry hand sanitiser
- Drink responsibly and stay safe
Staffordshire Commissioner for Police, Fire and Rescue and Crime, Matthew Ellis has appealed for people to act responsibly at the weekend as pubs and restaurants reopen.
He has said: ‘I totally understand people are excited and looking forward to doing some of the fun things we’ve all missed throughout lockdown. The reopening of pubs and cafes this weekend is a real milestone and exciting, but I’d ask people to still be responsible and stay safe.
‘The people of Staffordshire have been so good throughout the pandemic and have abided by the rules, it would be a shame to throw that away now.
‘By all means have fun and enjoy the new freedoms, but please be sensible, because if we don’t the restrictions will have to return and none of us want that.’