(London) To the delight of their customers, the hairdressers pruned their first mop on Saturday and the pubs served their first pints of beer, marking a new major step in the release from containment in England, which raised fears excess and new coronavirus contaminations.
France Media Agency
“We have been waiting three or four months to come back to the pub! “Nick says, walking down a pint with two friends to a London Greenwich establishment. This is the second pub visited by this accountant of 38 years , after a first beer that “smelled of disinfectant” and a visit to the hairdresser.
Not far from there, the staff at “La taverne de Greenwich” have flowers in vases to welcome their first customers. “I was so anxious to get back to work and take care of people again,” said Dorota Pilarczyk, one of the managers, “impatient” behind her visor and plastic gloves.
Having entered containment late, the United Kingdom is even more lagging behind than its European neighbors in getting out. Far from being defeated, the coronavirus that killed 44 00 0 people in the country – the heaviest balance in Europe – has gained strength in Leicester, in the center of England, leading the authorities to reconfigure an area of 600 00 0 inhabitants.
In the rest of England, pubs, hotels, hair salons, cinemas and museums reopened on Saturday. More reluctant, the other British provinces have adopted their own deconfinement calendar.
– “Different from before” –
Saturday morning, Minister of Finance Rishi Sunak encouraged the British to “eat out to support” employment in the restaurant industry, while close to 40% of ads, i.e. 18 00 0 establishments could be shut down by the end of the year, according to the British Beer and Pub Association.
However, the recovery is not done without precautions and “The Greenwich tavern” reopens with new rules: table service rather than at the bar, dedicated signage, distance of one meter between tables, maximum two people in the toilet. “It’s really different from what we used to do,” conceded other facility manager Gabriela Stancu.
Even the sound of a bell in an amusement park in Chessington (south-west London), where regular cleaning and temperature measurements for visitors are essential. Still, “it's just great to be able to come back,” said Joanna Teasdal, who came with her children, who “got up early” for the occasion.
In a tweet, Prime Minister Boris Johnson recalled that it was “absolutely vital that everyone respects the rules regarding social distancing”, fearing that the proximity between the 6.5 million expected alcoholic visitors in pubs this weekend, according to the CEBR think tank, signs a strong return to the epidemic.
“Total Chaos” –
The police are expecting as much activity as on New Year's Day and the hospitals, which are barely blowing after the peak of the pandemic, fear increased pressure.
“Before COVID – 19 , emergencies on friday and saturday were sometimes like a circus of drunken clowns, “said Brian Booth, head of the West Yorkshire police federation. “We don't need to do this again.”
After an unprecedented closure since the plague of 1665, which led to an unprecedented drop in consumption of beer, pubs could see their recipes take off by 75% this weekend, leading to according to the CEBR think tank 210 million pounds (233 millions of euros).
Despite this attraction, many Greenwich establishments have decided not to welcome visitors yet on Saturday.
In the usually crowded center of Newcastle, in the north-east of England, only one in three pubs will be open, local officials said. “We are genuinely concerned that it could be a day of utter chaos for pubs,” the owners of the popular Tyne Bar, located on the city's docks, said in a tweet. was not worth the risk. “
According to a YouGov survey for Sky News, 70% of English people not feel comfortable going to the pub or the movies, 60% at the idea of going to a restaurant.