5 July 2020
As pubs opened their doors for the first time in three months on what was dubbed "Super Saturday", the National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales says it is obvious people are unable to socially distance after a drink or two.
John Apter, who was on patrol at Southampton City Centre late last night, said: "I have spoken to colleagues across other forces and, although the picture differs, what is crystal clear is that alcohol and social distancing does not mix. We are also frustrated the Government could not assist our emergency service workers by opening the pubs on Monday instead - it may have alleviated some of the pressure.
He added: "It’s good to see that the vast majority of the public were sensible and acted responsibly, however as the evening progressed we saw the usual drunken antics with a minority displaying aggressive behaviour towards others and police officers. Sadly, this is like policing a normal Saturday night.
"As police officers were dealing with whatever the easing of lockdown brought, the day to day policing didn’t stop. They had a whole host of other 999 calls to respond to. As always, they have done a phenomenal job and have policed with professionalism, often in the face of violence and aggression from a minority of idiots."
He also told the BBC:
"The majority of the public, whilst they might have had quite a bit to drink, predominantly they weren’t being aggressive – but just as they were coming outside of the pubs, restaurants and bars they were all gathering in large, large numbers and there was no social distancing.
"There was a prediction of carnage – there was a lot of apprehension and policing had to change the way it was approached this Saturday. It was almost treated as New Year’s Eve in the planning which helped us to prevent any escalation of disorder. But certainly, social distancing with alcohol is a real issue."
He said this is a public health issue which police cannot enforce as it is only guidance and that the public needs to be continuously educated.