A A subdued, frustrated, but resigned atmosphere permeated Shoreditch, east London, on Tuesday evening as after-work punters relished their last night before the capital entered the most restrictive level of rules relating to coronaviruses at short notice.
“The government seems to have a really outdated view of alcohol use and hospitality,” said Alex Irving, who works in public relations, sitting outside Ever After, a bar in Hoxton Square, in following an announcement in the Commons less than 24 hours earlier that would force bars and restaurants to close from midnight.
“It seems like such a waste,” added colleague Ellie Camm, perched alongside four other colleagues. “The industry has put a lot of effort into making sure things are safe for people at this time of year.”
Think about the effort a non-drinker has to put in, Irving added, “rather than being at Tesco, in a line… We’re sitting here outside, if we have to go inside, we’ll wear a mask, all the seats and tables. are separated and they check if you live or work together. “
Among the bars and restaurants serving alcohol, she said: “There is always someone sober in control as people get drunk more to stop them from doing what they shouldn’t be doing. At the end of the day, with the number of people having parties in their own homes, I just think it’s really silly.
The group had been forced to bring forward its company’s Christmas party after tougher rules were imposed on the south-east and London on Monday, amid concern over the sharp rise in cases and the identification of a new variant of Covid-19, and it was a more modest affair. for PR experts than last year’s glamorous Amsterdam event.
However, due to the sudden announcement, many appear to have had no time to postpone events from Christmas to Tuesday. “They didn’t really give enough notice, the last time was in five or six days, but now a one day notice, I don’t think anyone is ready,” Natasha Hussain said, who works in a Columbia pub. Road.
“There are so many yo-yos, we’ve only been open for two weeks, it just would have made more sense to stay closed.
But despite the muffled streets and confusion over the logic of government decisions, people just seemed happy to be able to spend one last night together as the skies remained clear despite the cold.
“We’re going to eat a lot of food before it all stops for the foreseeable future,” said Stanley Lucas, a student at the University of the Arts in London. “And get drunk,” added one of his companions, Julia de Vries, echoing Lucas’ frustrations at needing to be isolated when he returns to their families.
Another student, Caleb Bell, said he believed the imposition of stricter rules was inevitable. “They have been demonizing the north for so long and keeping them at rank 3, when the numbers in London are actually higher than in parts of the north. But they probably tried to keep us out for economic reasons.
Returning to Ever After, as it emerged that an official review was underway on the rules for families to meet over Christmas, Leigh Carrick-Moore, CEO of a tech recruiting firm, spoke hoped that the government could encourage places to adopt a more imaginative approach.
“I want the hospitality industry to survive. There we have a square and sidewalks, we could have more tables and outdoor heaters, ”she said, referring to similar measures in New York.
“I’m paranoid about the virus, but it’s so safe on the outside. We have to rethink and reinvent it all. “