Police chief says it is 'crystal clear' pub-goers will not observe social-distancing

George Martin
·3-min read
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 04: Police officers are seen breaking up a fight outside a pub in Soho on July 4, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. The UK Government announced that Pubs, Hotels and Restaurants can open from Saturday, July 4th providing they follow guidelines on social distancing and sanitising. (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images)
Police officers are seen breaking up a fight outside a pub in Soho on Saturday. (Getty)

Pub-goers were unable to observe social distancing measures as drinking establishments opened across the UK on Saturday, the chairman of the Police Federation has said.

John Apter, who was on shift in Southampton on Super Saturday, said he had dealt with “naked men, happy drunks, angry drunks, fights and more angry drunks”.

Apter tweeted saying it was “crystal clear” from the hospitality industry’s early attempts to employ social distancing measures that “drunk people can’t/won’t socially distance”.

“Finished my late shift with the @HantsPolice Southampton City late shift,” he tweeted on Sunday morning.

People enjoy a drink with yellow tape on the seats aiding social distancing inside the Burnley Miners Working Men's Social Club in Burnley, northwest England, on July 4, 2020, as restrictions are further eased during the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. - Pubs in England reopen on Saturday for the first time since late March, bringing cheer to drinkers and the industry but fears of public disorder and fresh coronavirus cases. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
People enjoy a drink with yellow tape on the seats aiding social distancing inside the Burnley Miners Working Men's Social Club in Burnley, Lancashire. (Getty)

“A busy shift, we dealt with anti social behaviour, naked men, possession of class ‘A’ drugs, happy drunks, angry drunks, fights, more angry drunks and was called a fascist pig by somebody we tried to help!

“What was crystal clear is that drunk people can’t/won’t socialy distance.

“It was a busy night but the shift managed to cope. I know other areas have had issues with officers being assaulted. Now heading home, to those still on shift please stay safe.”

It comes as health secretary Matt Hancock said on Sunday that the vast majority of people who went out the night before were "doing the right thing" and following the government’s social distancing guidance.

"Well I think that from what I've seen, although there's some pictures to the contrary, very, very largely people have acted responsibly," he told Sky's Ridge On Sunday.

He added: "So overall I'm pleased with what happened yesterday. It was really good to see people out and about and largely, very largely social distancing."

Mr Hancock said "the large proportion of people, the vast majority of people are, I think, doing the right thing".

He added: "But of course we'll take action when we need to when... if the minority break the rules."

On those who did not social distance, Mr Hancock said: "Well we'll of course keep this very closely under review, and you've seen for instance in Leicester but also in other places that we don't shirk from bringing in more drastic measures if that is what's needed to control the virus."

Images emerging from Soho in London showed packed streets into the early hours of Sunday.

And there was disorder in north Nottinghamshire too, where four people were arrested and several pubs decided to close after alcohol related anti-social behaviour.

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