‘Super Saturday’ could be like New Year’s Eve, police fear
Pub-goers who misbehave when hospitality venues reopen across Suffolk on Saturday can expect “firm action” from the police, according to the county’s assistant chief constable.
Pubs in England shut their doors in March to help fight the spread of Covid-19, but prime minister Boris Johnson announced last week that pubs, bars and restaurants can reopen on July 4.
Some fears have been raised over the Government’s decison to reopen pubs on a weekend as opposed to a weekday, comparing the so-called “Super Saturday” to a typical New Year’s Eve.
Rob Jones, assistant chief constable at Suffolk police, said extra policing resources will be in place over the weekend.
“While the police support and understand why the situation is changing this weekend, and we want to support everyone having a good time and enjoying themselves, if people do abuse the new situation, they can expect us to be firmer,” ACC Jones said.
“So where we’ve been looking to engage and explain and only administering fines as a last resort, this weekend because of the concern about safety, if people do misbehave then they should expect that we’ve got extra resources on to take a firmer line.
“We know that lots of pubs aren’t opening or are closing at 7pm but some are opening longer and it’s obviously a big change for people. So as well as all the policing areas having more of a presence, we’ve got some police public order carriers to respond if there are any problems.”
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ACC Jones added that drink and drug-driving enforcement will also be stepped up as lockdown restrictions begin to ease.
“On the roads, we’re really stepping up our presence to stop drink or drug driving as well as tackling speeding, people not wearing seatbelts or using mobile phones.
“So particularly around transport hubs and roads, I think that’s where people may expect to see more visibility than they have done recently.”
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Darren Harris, chairman of Suffolk Police Federation, urged people to use “common sense” this weekend.
“It’s being built up like it’s time to party – but we are still in the midst of a pandemic,” Mr Harris said. “It’s been said by many emergency services colleagues up and down the country and I completely agree – it’s going to be like policing New Year’s Eve. People will be coming out in vast numbers and we only hope that they behave in a sensible manner.
“I sincerely hope that the vast majority of public maintain their common sense, remembering we are still living under the cloud of Covid-19. People need to remember that police officers they meet are not there to spoil any fun – they are just there to maintain order and keep people safe.”
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Health bosses in the region also appealed for people to show restraint and drink responsibly amid fears that pressure on the NHS will soar this weekend.
Marcus Bailey, chief operating officer at the East of England Ambulance Service, said during the lockdown period the trust had dealt with 25% fewer alcohol-related incidents on Saturdays compared to the same period last year.
He said: “With pubs and restaurants reopening, there is clearly potential for increased call-outs and we are asking the public to drink responsibly and respect the guidelines put in place by businesses and the Government, such as social distancing and regular hand washing.”
Rachel Nolan, Essex Police assistant chief constable, said it’s important that people realise that businesses will look and feel slightly different.
She said: “Everyone from local councils to businesses including shops, pubs and restaurants, have come together to get things moving again across the county.
“They want to make shopping and socialising safe, and the police will work closely with them to make sure that criminals don’t take advantage of the situation.
“Everyone needs to continue to take responsibility for their own safety when they are out and about, and also look out for the safety of others.
“Essex was united during lockdown, and we must remain united as we begin our safe return to high streets and businesses across the county.”
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