Hundreds of people queue outside pub to enjoy first post-lockdown pint

·4-min read

Hundreds of revellers who queued to get into a pub that opened at 12.01am today (Mon) were turned away after it reached capacity in just 30 minutes. 

Pictures show huge lines of people stretching around the block outside The Oak Inn in Coventry city centre as eager punters rushed to grab a post lockdown pint. 

Around 500 people turned out in freezing conditions to celebrate restrictions being lifted but only half were able to get in as the pub filled up in half an hour. 

The popular boozer ended up taking 50 per cent more than it would do on a normal night - despite only serving between midnight and 5.30am. 

Landlord Darren Lee, 51, said 320 customers passed through the doors while around 200 to 300 people were left "standing in the street". 

The married dad-of-one, who has run the pub for 17 years, said: "It was going off, it went really well to be fair. 

"No one was expecting that level of demand on a Sunday night. 

"We had 64 tables outside and we let 260 people in before we had to say to people in the queue there wasn't room. 

"That left 200 to 300 people standing in the street that couldn't get in. 

"At 11.30pm we started processing the queue like a supermarket does. 

"We checked ages and did track and trace, so that we had 100 people ready to come in at 12:01am. 

"By 12.30am we had 260 all outside and then we had to start turning people away. 

"We had 320 through the doors in five and half hours which meant takings were up 50 per cent on a normal night when we'd be open from 7pm. 

"But we had to have three times as many staff on to serve the amount of drinks and food we would serve in pre-covid times. 

"We had 11 people serving and five security staff and pre-covid we have a third of that.

"It means we are employing three times as many people which makes it very hard to be profitable. 

"It was very busy and a good night in terms of numbers of drinks sold and turnover, but not very profitable because of the way we have to work now. 

"I'm not knocking the government, it is the way things are. 

"Last night we probably had one of the most sober crowds we've ever had because people usually come to us after a few drinks. 

"There were a few empty bottles in the queue but the level of pre-drinking was not what you would expect after opening at 12.01am. 

"Tonight will be even busier with people going for drinks after work and carrying on through the night.

"It's the first time in six months we have been to open properly because the 10pm curfew killed us. 

"I was delighted to have people back in having a good time. 

"I would like to say they were a very good crowd. This crowd was well-behaved and good natured. 

"I think that would surprise people after the frustration of lockdowns. 

"The reason we opened at 12:01am was that last July as lockdown restrictions were being lifted we wanted to do the same and open on the Friday morning before the rest opened on Saturday afternoon. 

"But it was an interesting topic and some people started complaining.

"Then the government changed the legislation so that pubs couldn't open until 6am on the Saturday. 

"This time round we were able to open just after midnight and it went through the roof, it was great."

Coventry University student Misha Bennett, 19, was one of the lucky punters who was able to enjoy an outdoor beverage following the easing of Covid restrictions.


She said: "It felt like I had been waiting forever for this moment to come. It's just amazing to be able to go and enjoy a drink with your mates. 

"I think these simple pleasures we take for granted in life, never has a few beers with friends been such a joy as this. I just hope we've turned the corner for good now."

Bar worker Paul Brennan, 22, was among those turned away. He said: "I'll be working all week now so it was my only chance to grab a pint before my pub reopens.     

"I couldn't believe how many people were here, there were literally hundreds of people queuing up around the block.

"I waited for about 40 minutes before the bouncers came along and said they were full, so I just gave up then.