Pubgoers are nursing a hangover today after raising a glass to the end of England’s lockdown last night – despite Boris Johnson’s diktat that they must have a ‘substantial meal’ to soak up the booze.
Revellers took to the streets of Tier 2 towns and cities across the country to enjoy a drink with their household inside, or with their friends outside.
Londoners enjoyed a night of largely al fresco drinking and eating with many businesses fully booked as possible toasted a tiny taste of freedom after four-weeks in lockdown. Queues stretched around the block outside some pubs in Soho and east London.
Many appeared to already have spent the day storming shops to grab pre-Christmas bargains in the West End on Wild Wednesday, with hundreds of thousands of people expected to hit the shops again today.
Outside the capital, Liverpool was particularly busy after being dropped down from Tier 3 – but neighbouring Manchester’s pubs, bars and restaurants, usually teeming with people in December were quiet and either closed or only open for takeaway.
Despite the Government telling pubs and bars that drinkers must have a ‘substantial meal’ with alcohol, photographs from last night suggest that not everyone was eating.
Boris Johnson has imposed strict lockdown tiers on 99 per cent of England, with 55million people banned from socialising with other people indoors until next year. Only Cornwall, the Isle of Wight and the Isles of Scilly have been placed in Tier 1 despite infections falling in almost every corner of the country.
Mr Johnson’s slight loosening of lockdown came as:
- 50 hospitals are primed for Britain’s biggest-ever vaccination programme – Operation Panacea – where Pfizer Covid jabs will be rolled out from Monday at 7am;
- Education Secretary Gavin Williamson refuses to cancel GCSE and A-Level exams next year – but they will be marked more generously;
- Matt Hancock and even the PM may be vaccinated on live TV to convince people to be vaccinated in 2021;
- Professor Jonathan Van-Tam warned that face masks could be necessary ‘for years’ in press conference where Boris Johnson interrupted to reassure that life will get ‘back to normal’ soon;
People queued around the block to get a drink at the McCooley’s Irish bar in Liverpool last night as lockdown in England ended
Buoyed by a few drinks and a little taste of normality, Liverpool’s pubgoers clearly enjoyed a good night out
Concert Street in Liverpool was very busy with bar staff forced to organise the crowds into orderly queues
It may be unprecedented times, but students on Merseyside couldn’t resist falling into old habits such as enjoying a drink and pushing a friend in a shopping trolley
Police were patrolling the streets of York, but very little trouble as pubs opened was reported
Drinkers clutching cans of lager queue to enter a Soho bar as London’s hospitality industry opened up again after four weeks
Police take a photo of two friends reunited and enjoying some wine and food in London’s West End last night
Bars have opened large areas outside with heated gazebos to encourage customers back during a pandemic
Downing Street has given the thumbs-up for ‘wet pubs’ – which do not normally serve meals – to team up with local fast food outlets in order to carry on pulling pints. Pictured: Revellers in Liverpool city centre on Wednesday night
People outside pubs in Soho, London, after the second national lockdown ends and England entered an even stricter tiered system of coronavirus restrictions
Fans queue ahead of the Sky Bet League One match between Shrewsbury Town and Accrington Stanley at Montgomery Waters Meadow as English football welcomed back supporters for the first time since March
Families were also out in the West End of London on Wild Wednesday – where retailers launched their pre-Christmas sales when their stores reopened
Bars and restaurants reported strong trade after those under Tier 2 restrictions were allowed to re-open for the first time in a month.
What can you do in a pub in each tier?
- Tier 1 – Pubs are open for alcohol or food with people from different households allowed to sit together.
- Tier 2 – Pubs can only serve alcohol with a ‘substantial meal’. People from different households can only sit together outside, and must follow the ‘rule of six’. Those sitting inside the pub at the same table must be from the same household.
- Tier 3 – Pubs are closed for everything but takeaway.
However, this came with the caveat that drinks could only be served with a substantial meal amid much debate over whether this could include a scotch egg.
Landlords were using ingenious ways to get around the rules, including one in Worcester who opened for drinks as long as people ordered food from the chippy next door.
People queued outside Wetherspoon outlets in many locations from early in the morning, including some keen to enjoy a pint with their cooked breakfast.
Restrictions say that those eating indoors at pubs in Tier 2 areas should only do so with members of their own household or bubble. In outdoor areas – like pub beer gardens – groups of up to six can meet.
Bars, pubs and restaurants must say shut in Tier 3 areas.
Retailers were able to open across the country.
Tumbling temperatures did not deter friends in Tier 2 from meeting at bars and restaurants for the first time in a month – and as darkness fell on London many were pictured tucking into their ‘substantial meal’ al fresco.
The three alert levels of varying degrees of strictness that today replaced the national lockdown manifested in strikingly different social scenes across English towns and cities.
In Tier 3 areas such as Manchester, where pubs and restaurants can only open for takeaways, a usually vibrant pub scene was muted.
The Churchill Arms’ Christmas lights are a West London icon – and manager James Keogh poses outside with a Christmas jumper
People queue to enter The Welkin bar in the city centre as Liverpool enters Tier 2
The ever-popular Cafe Boheme in Old Compton Street had a packed outdoor area last night
New rules, which came into force in England today, mean landlords in Tier 2 areas can only sell alcoholic beverages with a ‘substantial meal’. Pictured: Revellers in Liverpool city centre on Wednesday
Punters will not be allowed to bring their own food into a pub – pouring cold water on plans to use food delivery services such as Deliveroo. Pictured: Revellers in Liverpool city centre on Wednesday
But the rules have left landlords at kitchen-less pubs facing a dilemma – with some turning to serving takeaway food in a bid to keep the pints flowing. Pictured: Revellers in Liverpool city centre on Wednesday
Soho on the first night night out for many people post the second lockdown since March
People eat and drink outside bars and restaurants in the West End last night
Whereas the two per cent of people living under the loosest measures in Tier 1 – only the Isle of Wight, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly – celebrated in the pubs with only the 11pm curfew and the Rule of Six to deal with.
The suite of rules clamped on pubs means today’s reopening is worlds away from the wild Super Saturday in July when bars welcomed back punters after the first lockdown.
Many pubs in Tier 2 have erected al fresco dining areas to accommodate customers wanting to meet friends from another household.
In London’s Soho district, some venues put up gazebos to shield people from the cold, as well as installing heaters.
Boris Johnson today gave his backing to savvy pub landlords who are using takeaways as a way of providing customers with a ‘substantial meal’.
Downing Street has given the thumbs-up for ‘wet pubs’ – which do not normally serve meals – to team up with local fast food outlets in order to carry on pulling pints.
However a spokesman said pubs must be in an agreement with ‘local restaurants’ in order to keep within England’s new Covid Tier 2 rules.
Punters will not be allowed to bring their own food into a pub – pouring cold water on plans to use food delivery services such as Deliveroo.
New rules, which came into force in England today, mean landlords in Tier 2 areas can only sell alcoholic beverages with a ‘substantial meal’.
But the rules have left landlords at kitchen-less pubs facing a dilemma – with some turning to serving takeaway food in a bid to keep the pints flowing.
Landlords in Tier 2 areas can only sell alcoholic beverages with a ‘substantial meal’ under new rules which come into force in England today – so the Brewer’s Arms in Worcester has teamed up with a local chippie to allow it to serve food
A barmaid at the Windmill Pub, Mayfair, London was pictured serving beers with a scotch egg and sausage roll today
One pub in Worcester today joined forces with a local fish and chip shop to provide food to drinkers.
Meanwhile a bar in central London is planning to allow customers order McDonald’s as a way of getting around the rules.
However Downing Street today said pub-goers and landlords would need to exercise their judgement in deciding what complied with the coronavirus restrictions.
Asked whether Deliveroo orders could be sent to pubs to comply with the requirement to have a ‘substantial meal’ in Tier 2 areas, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said customers were banned from bringing in food purchased elsewhere.
‘It’s for both customers and venues to act reasonably and to exercise good judgement when adhering to these regulations,’ the spokesman said.
‘But businesses that do not ordinarily serve food may enter into a contracting arrangement with other local restaurants, for example, in order that they are able to do so and remain open.
‘However, allowing customers to bring food into the premises that has been purchased elsewhere in order to consume alcohol remains prohibited.’
Just 1 per cent of England is being been in the lowest level of restrictions, even though many areas in Tier 3 have seen few or no infections
London and Liverpool will be put into Tier 2, while only the Isle of Wight, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are in the bottom tier