Health Secretary Matt Hancock said people had broadly behaved themselves as they enjoyed their first pint in months on Saturday after the Prime Minister urged the public to “enjoy summer safely”. But photos and videos posted on social media show drinkers spilling out of bars onto streets where social distancing rules appeared to be a thing of the past. Police Federation National Chair John Apter said it was “crystal clear” drunk people were unable to practice social distancing.
One pub in a rural part of Somerset reported that drinkers had knocked over a container of hand sanitiser and caused the liquid to spill on the floor.
This caused another customer to slip and injure themself on what was dubbed “Super Saturday”.
Hair salons and restaurants were also allowed to throw open their doors for the first time since the lockdown was imposed in March.
A message posted on The Green Dragon’s Facebook page on Sunday thanked the customers who had flocked to the pub and respected the rules but called out those who had shown “total disrespect”.
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Police walk through crowds on a Soho street on Saturday
The management at the pub in Coombe St Nicholas said: “We are family with a young daughter, doing the best we can in very difficult circumstances.
“We put in the rules, only one person in the men’s toilet at any one time so we covered the urinal with black bags as we can’t do social distancing in there.
“But someone thought it would be great to urinate all over the bags.
“We then had to clear up the urine this morning.
A packed Soho street on Saturday night
Social media users branded irresponsible drinkers “Covidiots” for flouting social distancing advice.
One person uploaded footage online showing a street teeming with people standing close together.
They said: “A very good chance of making the previous three months lockdown a total waste.
“Well done and get ready for the tremendous second wave.”
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Social distancing rules were flouted by many drinkers
And another questioned why many people were behaving like the lockdown was completely over?
She said: “Has anybody else noticed way too many people now talking about lockdown in the past tense?
“Post-lockdown’ photos in the pub. ‘Couldn’t have wished for anybody better to spend lockdown with’.
“A worrying insight into the mindset of some people.”
A group enjoy pints on Super Saturday
Reports of pubs having to deal with drunken incidents surfaced, including one man who was thrown out of a Manchester watering hole only to return to the door armed with an axe.
A mass brawl broke out in a beer garden in Tamworth, Staffordshire, while several drunken fights were also reported in Hull and the Wirral.
Staffordshire Police received 499 emergency calls between 7am on Saturday and 4am on Sunday.
The rule changes apply only to England as the devolved nations in the United Kingdom have been setting their own timetables for easing restrictions, with Wales and Scotland easing restrictions more slowly.
Three men enjoy drinks while social distancing in a pub
Mr Hancock told Sky News the vast majority of drinkers behaved responsibly.
He said: “From what I’ve seen, although there’s some pictures to the contrary, very very largely people have acted responsibly.
“Overall, I’m pleased with what happened yesterday. It was really good to see people out and about, and largely socially distancing.”
The Government has said that it is aiming for local lockdowns rather than national restrictions if needed, such as the one introduced in the city of Leicester last week.
Britain has been the European country worst hit by the coronavirus and has an official death toll of 44,198.