From Temporary Assistant Chief Constable – Julie Wvendth
Two weeks ago, we were preparing for the most significant easing of lockdown yet, with pubs, bars and restaurants getting ready to welcome customers again.
Venues across Norfolk, closed since the end of March to prevent the spread of coronavirus, have adapted well to the new measures they must follow to make sure premises are Covid secure.
By the same measure, pub goers have equally played their part with the overwhelming majority enjoying these greater freedoms sensibly and safely.
However, a night out isn’t what it used to be. Venues are operating differently, as you would expect, with reduced capacity and booking systems in place. Even if you just want to go somewhere for drinks, you should be booking a table.
Some places will allow walk-ins if they’re not full, however our experience over the last couple of weeks has shown many people head into the city for a night out, only to be left disappointed by being turned away from fully-booked venues.
A few people turned away from bars went on to buy alcohol from shops and hang around, drinking in the streets. It led to a number of incidents of anti-social behaviour which officers had to deal with.
A word of warning to anyone considering the same this weekend… nightlife areas in Norwich are covered by a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO). This means officers can confiscate any open bottle or can of alcohol. While I do hate wasting things, we could literally tip it down the drain. You wouldn’t want this, and let’s be clear we would rather not be dealing with it so if you’re going for a night out, please plan ahead and book to avoid disappointment. We will deal with street drinking and the anti-social behaviour that often accompanies it.
It would be remiss of me not to mention face coverings. I’m sure by now you’re all aware that new regulations will come into effect next Friday, making the wearing of face covering mandatory in all shops. This has naturally led to conversations about our role in enforcing this law and the implications for policing. Our national body (the National Police Chief’s Council) is working closely with the Home Office, retailers and trade bodies to understand the new regulations and what they mean for policing. We will of course update you as soon as we have more detail. However, I would like to take this opportunity to reassure you our policing approach will be consistent with all previously public health regulations, in that we will engage, explain and encourage, using enforcement as last resort.
Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Julie Wvendth