With social distancing guidelines now limited to ‘one metre-plus’ bars and restaurants have been allowed to open from this weekend, on July 4.
But Lincolnshire Police have appealed to would-be drinkers to stick to the law and follow Government advice to avoid loading extra strain on the NHS and causing another local lockdown as seen in Leicester.
In a social media post on the Force Control Room’s Twitter feed last night (Tuesday) they said: “As we move closer towards the weekend and more restrictions are to be lifted, we acknowledge many of you have been desperate to socialise and have a few drinks. Many of our officers have felt the same.
“But please take it easy,” said the spokesman. “Stick to the social distancing guidelines, don’t get yourself in such a state that you add extra strain on our NHS, and if you’re likely to get aggressive when you’re drunk... don’t get drunk. It’s really that simple.
“If you don’t expect yourself to be in lockdown again,” is the blunt warning they are giving out.
That could be either a coronavirus lockdown or “within one of our not-so-luxurious one bedroom, ensuite rooms in costa del custody,” they said.
On a more serious note, they warned to please keep Leicester’s example in mind, the first city to face localised lockdown in the UK, if going out to bars in Lincoln, as well as other towns.
“In Lincolnshire we have some of the lowest rates of infection in the country. Let’s keep it that way, so our great city can return to some normality as soon as possible,” they concluded.
A Lincolnshire Police spokesman added: “We want people to enjoy a long awaited visit to the pub in a safe and peaceful way. Anyone choosing an alternative path of anti-social behaviour or violence will be dealt with robustly. We have plans in place and additional resources working over the weekend.
“We also have extra patrols on the roads at key times in response to the pubs reopening and we will specifically be seeking out anyone driving whilst unfit through alcohol or drugs.”
The county’s ambulance service also has concerns.
Ben Holdaway, Director of Operations at EMAS said: “We are looking forward to the relaxation of some of the COVID-19 restrictions in July in the same way you are, but many of our staff will be on duty responding to patients across the East Midlands who are still very poorly and need our help.
“Our ambulance staff and colleagues from across the wider NHS have worked phenomenally hard over the last few months and in very difficult circumstances to keep you and your loved ones safe and well.
“Now it is your turn to do your part to help them by knowing your limits and drinking responsibly so that we can continue to focus on the patients who need us.”
The Royal College of Emergency Medicine is also urging the public to act sensibly to not risk overwhelming A&Es.
President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, Dr Katherine Henderson said: “To many Saturday will come as a welcome release from an unprecedented nationwide lockdown and it is understandable that people want to let off steam.
“But we urge the public to be careful and use common sense. The NHS has coped admirably during this period, but staff are exhausted, and the system is very fragile. After seeing all of the goodwill, all of the clapping for the NHS, it would be heartbreaking to see A&Es overwhelmed on the first post-lockdown evening by people who have gotten too drunk or been in a fight.
“If you go to A&E because you’re plastered, you end up stretching the health service further and potentially put others at risk. Not only do you risk accidentally infecting someone with coronavirus because you don’t know you have it, but you are taking up the time of doctors who could be treating patients whose lives are in danger.
“It has never been more important that our Emergency Departments are for absolute emergencies only, and it has never been more important that people drink responsibly.
“While social distancing measures may have been relaxed, the threat of coronavirus has not gone away; it is still very real, it is still very dangerous.
“We need the public to help; act responsibly, drink responsibly and do maintain social distancing. It is also really important that people choose the care service that is most appropriate for their needs. If it is not an emergency, call 111, see a pharmacist, book a GP appointment. If you are seriously injured or sick, go to your A&E – you will be treated.
“We cannot go back to a pre-covid world where everyone turns up at a crowded A&E for treatment. We need patients to choose wisely and we need proper provision of alternative care services. Without both, A&Es risk becoming hubs of infection and we will end up back at square one.”