Concern over New Year's Eve parties as rules for pubs unchanged

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: lockdown, Coronavirus, Legislation, London, New year, Christmas

Tough restrictions on pubs will see more people break coronavirus laws to attend illegal house parties on New Year's Eve, the sector has told the Government.

The Government has refused to relax restrictions on New Year's Eve rules including allowing households to mix indoors or extending the hospitality curfew beyond midnight.

Operators and city leaders have said the tough rules could mean revellers socialise in unsafe environments like private homes and pleaded for permission to host safe celebrations. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson reiterated to the public there would be no easing of rules on New Year's Eve at a press conference on Saturday 19 December. "As before, there will be no relaxation on 31 December, so people must not break the rules at New Year," he said.

Different households will be allowed to meet up indoors on just Christmas Day and only if they live in an area under tier one, two or three, the Prime Minister announced.

Areas in new tier four must stay at home and not meet with other households indoors at all. 

Safe environment 

Jamie Baker owns the Quench bar in Burgess Hill, West Sussex, and told The Morning Advertiser​ he was confident his venue could "provide a safe environment for an extra couple of hours".

"For New Year's Eve, I was looking to be able to continue the fantastic work my team had helped to create over the last few months but just to see us through to midnight - perhaps everyone to be out by half past midnight," he said.

"We have ensured the safety of our customers from the outset, insisting on [contact tracing] before it was enforced and other measures to ensure we did more than other venues in our area."

The pub would host a scaled-back celebration to facilitate customers meeting close friends safely, Baker added.

"However I fear the Government won’t allow this to happen and that will just lead to households mixing in private," the operator said.

The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) has warned more than 5,000 illegal parties could take place at the end of the month as a result of restrictions on venues.

NTIA chief executive Michael Kill said there was "a real risk of [illegal parties and mass gatherings] overwhelming the police and emergency services".

Grave situation

"The Government needs to consider ways in which to manage this grave situation, people will want to celebrate the end of 2020 in their own way, ignoring the issue will not resolve what will be a significant car crash in every sense of the term," Kill added.

"The volume of people being pushed out onto the street following the 11pm close, one hour before NYE celebrations begins, will become counterproductive and we will see the impact of this in January 2021. There needs to be some consideration given to the current restrictions on NYE, and a unified message, urging people to consider the impact of their actions."

Night time economy adviser for Greater Manchester, Sacha Lord, added that pub closures and the 11pm curfew "only serve to encourage house parties and outdoor gatherings".

Lord said it was "inevitable" there would be an increase of such gatherings on New Year's Eve.

"I urge all those considering hosting or attending a gathering to think about those around them who may be vulnerable to Covid-19, and to put their health and safety first."

Restrictions have tightened across the UK after fears a new strain of the virus may be up to 70% more transmissible. 

Related topics: Health & safety

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