South Yorkshire Police's Chief constable praises punters and pub bosses following July 4 re-openings
South Yorkshire’s top police officer has paid tribute to businesses and revellers who visited pubs, bars and restaurants following the relaxation of the Covid-19 lockdown rules.
Chief constable Stephen Watson said the force initially had concerns that people may use the weekend as a ‘free for all’ for people to display ‘no fear’ that the virus had died down.
Pubs, bars and restaurants were told they could open by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on July 4 provided measures were in place to keep people safe.
Where possible, punters have been encouraged to order through apps and book tables in advance in a range of rules set out by drinking establishments.
The chief said officers did attend drink-related incidents but this was nothing ‘untypical’ of a normal weekend.
The comments came at a South Yorkshire Police & Crime Commissioner Public Accountability Board meeting.
Education and enforcement being a ‘last resort’ was still the force’s policy on people potentially breaking Covid-19 social distancing rules, the chief added.
“We were concerned that some people would assume that the partial relaxation of the lockdown was the equivalent of having no fear of Covid-19 moving forward,” Chf Con Watson said.
“We made a determination on how to approach the weekend and we were concerned that people would take this as there would be no rules around social distancing and the public health message still predominates that there is still a high prevalence of the virus.
“We wanted to make sure from the relaxation around licensing that we did not have a free for all. We engaged very proactively with pubs and bars.
“The vast, vast majority of the public have been absolutely brilliant in making sure they’re following the rules.
“So too are licensees for the most part they are a responsible group and a thanks from me in the sense that officers were very active over the weekend and we were delighted to see the professionalism and commitment in making sure they were run responsibly.
“There were of course incidents but those were not untypical of what happens on a usual weekend where drink is involved but there was nothing excessive.
“We were delighted on how the weekend went and our thanks to the public and businesses who have sensibly navigated their way through this difficult time.”