Crowds fill the streets and social distancing disappears as pubs open on Super Saturday

Emily Cleary
·4-min read
A police officer watches on from an elevated position as revellers drink in the street outside the bars in the Soho area of London on July 4, 2020, as restrictions are further eased during the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. - Pubs in England reopen on Saturday for the first time since late March, bringing cheer to drinkers and the industry but fears of public disorder and fresh coronavirus cases. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Old Compton Street in Soho, London, was packed with drinkers on "Super Saturday" despite a strong police presence. (Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images)

Social distancing disappeared as revellers filled the streets of cities across England on ‘Super Saturday’ - the day pubs opened for the first time after three months of coronavirus lockdown.

Almost half of pubs stayed shut but, for those that opened, business was booming as an estimated £210 million was spent in bars and restaurants across the country.

Lockdown restrictions were lifted and venues were allowed to open from 6am.

Experts had predicted that more than 15 million pints of beer would be sunk in just one day, and as the alcohol flowed and drinkers relaxed, so did their awareness of social distancing.

Pictures showed London’s Soho swarming with drinkers in scenes resembling street parties, and across the country police forces urged people to stick to social distancing to avoid a second spike in cases of COVID-19.

John Apter, chairman of the Police Federation, was on duty in Southampton and said it was “crystal clear” drinkers had not kept to social distancing rules.

Customers enjoying their drinks in Soho during the "Super Saturday" in London, Britain, 04 July 2020. Pubs, restaurants, hotels and hairdressers in England reopen as part of plans to further ease the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown. (Photo by Maciek Musialek/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
"Super Saturday" in Soho as bars opened in England for the first time in three months. (Maciek Musialek/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Police officers move revellers from the road to allow traffic to pass in the Soho area of London on July 4, 2020, after the police re-opened the road at 2300 following a further easing of restrictions to allow pubs and restaurants to open during the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. - Pubs in England reopen on Saturday for the first time since late March, bringing cheer to drinkers and the industry but fears of public disorder and fresh coronavirus cases. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Police had to clear the roads of revellers in Londonto allow traffic to pass (Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images)

Mr Apter said he dealt with “naked men, happy drunks, angry drunks, fights and more angry drunks”, adding: “What was crystal clear is that drunk people can’t/won’t socially distance.

“It was a busy night but the shift managed to cope. I know other areas have had issues with officers being assaulted.”

Nottinghamshire Police arrested four people after reports of antisocial behaviour at "a small number of pubs north of the county". As a result, five venues chose to "close their own premises".

More than 200 people were moved on by police after an “illegal rave” on Teesside.

England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty had warned that the pandemic “is a long way from gone” and urged the public to follow social-distancing rules as pubs and restaurants reopened.

Speaking on Friday, Whitty said: “None of us believe... this is a risk-free next step. It is absolutely not, that is why we have to be really serious about it.

“We do have to have a really clear and really disciplined approach to try and maintain social distancing whilst also enjoying pubs.”

And Boris Johson had warned on Friday night “we are not out of the woods yet”, saying added ministers “will not hesitate in putting on the brakes and re-imposing restrictions” in case of an outbreak.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 04: Police officers are seen breaking up a fight outside a pub in Soho on July 4, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. The UK Government announced that Pubs, Hotels and Restaurants can open from Saturday, July 4th providing they follow guidelines on social distancing and sanitising. (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images)
Fights broke out as alcohol took its toll and social distancing measures were ignored (Peter Summers/Getty Images)

Health secretary Matt Hancock told the Daily Mail people were entitled to enjoy themselves at pubs but added: “You could end up behind bars if you break the law.”

He also said he would not “shirk” from shutting pubs and restaurants again, and imposing local lockdowns if needed.

Devon and Cornwall Police said they had received more than 1,000 calls on Saturday, mainly linked to drink-related disorder and antisocial behaviour. Dorset Police said they had recorded 525 incidents in 24 hours.

West Midlands traffic police said they had arrested three drink-drivers, one of whom was violent towards officers.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 04: Revellers are seen outside a pub on July 4, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. The UK Government announced that Pubs, Hotels and Restaurants can open from Saturday, July 4th providing they follow guidelines on social distancing and sanitising. (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images)
More than 15 million pints of beer were drunk in just one day as pub-goers enjoyed a night out for the first time in three months (Peter Summers/Getty Images)

However, some forces, including Cambridgeshire Police, thanked people for acting responsibly..

In Leicester, where pubs could not reopen due to a localised lockdown following a spike in cases of coronavirus, police in the city centre praised people for staying indoors and tweeted to say there was "not a soul to be seen" on Saturday night.

An empty street in Leicester, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered pubs, restaurants, leisure centres and gyms across the country to close as the Government announced unprecedented measures to cover the wages of workers who would otherwise lose their jobs due to the coronavirus outbreak. (Photo by Joe Giddens/PA Images via Getty Images)
The streets of Leicester remained empty on Saturday as the city remained on lockdown following a localised coronavirus outbreak (Joe Giddens/PA Images via Getty Images)

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