Thursday, 29 Oct 2020

Newcastle drinkers down final pints as 10pm curfew hits city centre

A 10pm curfew didn’t stop people from enjoying their Friday night out in central Newcastle. 

On the first day of new coronavirus restrictions covering large parts of north east England, some were undeterred from hitting the pubs and bars of the party city. 

Although bar owners said it was much quieter than a normal Friday, crowds of mostly young people were pictured out enjoying themselves.

Revellers downed their final pints before the early closure came into effect and then spilled out onto the city’s streets.

Police kept a watchful eye as some stopped off at off licences to pick up additional supplies on their journey home. 

The rules ban households mixing in private homes and gardens and discourage people from socialising with anyone outside of their household in pubs and restaurants. 

In response, many venues decided to impose a strict ‘one household limit’ on customers. 

Among the few people out on Newcastle’s Quayside were housemates Adam Speakman, Nathan Hill and Sam Smith, who said they would be keeping to the restrictions ‘as best we can’.

Adam said: ‘There’s going to be people we want to hang out with but can’t. But we’re lucky that we’re three mates living together. There are a lot of people not in that situation.’

The new rules mean pubs and bars are only allowed to offer table service and have to close between 10pm and 5am. 

It affects Newcastle, Gateshead, Sunderland, Northumberland, South Tyneside, North Tyneside and County Durham.

The restrictions come as around 40,000 students are understood to be preparing to return to Newcastle University in the coming days, and nearly 20,000 to Durham.

Similar lockdown measures are set to come into force in Lancashire, Merseyside, Warrington, Halton, Wolverhampton, Oadby & Wigston, and parts of Bradford, Kirklees and Calderdale from Tuesday.

At the Riverside bar, which was experiencing one of its quietest nights in weeks, Jo and John Jeffery were out for a drink with their son Toby after dropping him off from Lancashire for his week at university.

Toby said the rules would be ‘a pain,’ adding, ‘I’ll try to stick to them, but probably not. All six rooms in the flat in my halls count as one household, but I have mates in other halls. People are just going to try and find who they know, and hang out with them.’

Jo said: ‘I think students are going to be a law unto themselves. It’s really hard to put restrictions on people when they’re trying to get to know each other.

‘I am concerned about his safety because he’s three hours away now, I don’t know what’s going to happen if he gets ill.’

Also enjoying a drink at the venue was Kieran Gilmour. When asked if he would be obeying the rules, he said: ‘I wouldn’t go out of my way to stick to them. I wouldn’t stop seeing my friends.

‘It doesn’t make much sense that I can go to work with someone but I can’t go to eat with them.’

It comes as people in Leeds took to the streets to enjoy what could be the final weekend before similar restrictions are introduced.

The city recorded its highest ever daily increase of Covid-19 cases yesterday, with a further 117 infections and residents have been warned a curfew could be introduced imminently. 

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