Police warn of scenes 'like New Year's Eve' when pubs reopen

Police forces have warned that the day pubs reopen following the coronavirus lockdown is likely to be as busy as New Year’s Eve.

Tim Clarke from the Metropolitan Police Federation warned on Tuesday that the public would be “out in droves” on July 4 - the date pubs are allowed to open their doors for the first time since March.

Clarke said he feared this weekend “could be anything but a ‘Super Saturday’ for police officers”.

He went on: “The challenges they face this weekend with pubs and restaurants reopening and many people predicted to travel across the country to see family and friends will make this weekend perhaps as busy as policing New Year’s Eve.”

Members of the public passing by a closed pub due to the coronavirus pandemic. (PA)

Boris Johnson announced last week that pubs would be allowed to reopen from this weekend onwards with strict social distancing measures in place.

Police forces and hospitals have been making preparations for the reopening date over fears of a potential surge in drunkenness and violence.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said the public will see "a lot" of officers on London streets.

She told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: "There will be a lot more ready should people be out of order, should people get violent. But I'm not predicting that at this stage."

In an email from NHS England officials to hospital trusts seen by the Health Service Journal (HSJ), managers were told to "ensure that your demand/activity planning reflects a busy weekend, with peaks in activity into the evenings similar to that of New Year's Eve".

A man fixes a sign advertising the planned July 4 re-opening of a bar in Soho. (Getty)

Brian Booth, chairman of West Yorkshire Police Federation, warned that alcohol fuels crime and puts more strain on the emergency services.

He said: "Police officers are right to have concerns about this weekend and Government restrictions being lifted based on our experience of people's behaviour changing when alcohol is involved.

"We have more violence, street disorder, sexual assaults, missing people and injured people who may need medical assistance. All of these impose significant strain on policing and our colleagues in the NHS.

"Prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, local A&Es on Friday and Saturday nights were at times akin to a circus full of drunken clowns. We do not need this once again.

"It is known that alcohol lowers inhibitions and I truly hope the vast majority of public maintain their common sense, remembering we are still living under the cloud of Covid."

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