Police braced for 'New Year's Eve' style operation as pubs reopen

3 July 2020, 07:03

Extra officers will be on patrol across the country at the weekend
Extra officers will be on patrol across the country at the weekend. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Police are bracing for New Year's Eve-style partying on Saturday as pubs and bars reopen for the first time since the lockdown started.

Drinkers in England will be able to have their first pint in more than 100 days as coronavirus lockdown restrictions for pubs and bars ease on Saturday.

Hospitality leaders and police chiefs have issued a joint appeal to pub-goers to help achieve a successful reopening of the industry this weekend with forces drafting in extra officers.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will also urge drinkers to take care when they return to the pub.

Read more: Pub bosses prepare for 'historic day' on Saturday as police lay on extra officers

Suffolk Deputy Chief Constable Rachel Kearton said enforcement will be a last resort, but warned anyone who breaks the law will face prosecution.

The National Police Chiefs' lead for alcohol harm said: "Police will prepare for the unexpected all the time. But we also prepare for instances like New Year's Eve, like Saturday's release of lockdown," she said.

"This isn't a highly unusual occasion for us, so we'll use similar plans that we use for those occasions of other national celebrations like sporting events and New Year's Eve.

"We are ready. The planning has been done, the training is in place and we have also been working very closely with our partners, the licensees, the local community and our blue light colleagues to make sure we're ready for the weekend."

Read more: What changes are being made to travel rules and where can you visit?

Ms Kearton said there would be a visible police presence on Saturday night and that people should be ready to change their plans or go home if venues are too busy.

"Saturday policing and night-time economy is part of our regular bread and butter and the response will be similar, although there will probably be a heightened response in certain places," she said.

"We have enough officers and we are resourced for the weekend, planning is in place and the best approach for everyone is to work together to ensure we can all recognise the gradual partial lifting of the restrictions but to stay safe so that we can all have a good evening and enjoy it."

Read more: PM to urge drinkers to 'act responsibly' ahead of pubs reopening

The emergency services are urging people going out to pubs, bars and restaurants this weekend to act responsibly.

The Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE) chairman Professor Anthony Marsh said 999 should only be used in a life-threatening emergency.

"We urge members of the public to contact the emergency services only where there is a genuine need," he said.

"Calling 999 when it is unnecessary means those staff and vehicles are then unable to respond to critically ill patients, or those in need of our fire and police colleagues.

"Most of the time a pharmacy, your GP or 111 are more appropriate options than 999. People should only dial 999 in a genuine emergency."

The British Beer & Pub Association, UKHospitality, the London Night Czar and the National Police Chiefs' Council urged people to support landlords and others as pubs open their doors for the first time in months.

The hospitality and police statement urged people to behave responsibly, adding: "We ask pub-goers to be supportive of landlords and pub staff, helping them to reopen in the best way possible. It's important everyone respects the new measures in place to ensure everyone can enjoy the return of our pubs safely.

"If we all work together we can ensure that the reopening of pubs and hospitality is a success and an enjoyable experience for everyone."