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Extra patrols will be taking place across Gloucestershire this weekend as part of the reopening of pubs and bars following relaxations of Coronavirus guidance.
Under current guidelines, pubs and bars are allowed to reopen from tomorrow (Saturday 4 July) and officers will be working to ensure that the public have an enjoyable but safe time.
The policing response will see PCSOs patrolling their communities during the afternoon before additional officers come onto duty in the evening to ensure that there is a visible police presence at all times
Officers will be engaging with the public, explaining what they are doing and encouraging co-operation with enforcement being used as a last resort if non-compliance is seen.
A number of social distancing guidelines are still in place which will mean that many premises will be introducing changes such as queuing systems for gaining entry and the need for pub-goers to comply with the minimum of one metre distancing from others once inside.
Pub-goers should be aware that most of the premises will close at 11pm or midnight with nightclubs remaining closed and officers will be encouraging everyone to go home after this time and not congregate in public places such as parks.
Members of the public may have to travel to visit pubs and bars this weekend and officers are asking that you drink sensibly and pre-plan your journey whilst taking how you will get home into account.
Gloucestershire Constabulary has been working closely with local councils to ensure the safety of everyone and to apply and advise on the Government guidance.
This has included working alongside colleagues from local licensing departments who have been in contact with all pubs and bars in the county to understand how they plan to operate.
All of the licence holders that police have visited are taking great care ahead of the reopening with plans put into place to record the names of customers so that they can be traced and contacted at a later date if needed.
Neighbourhood Policing Chief Inspector Roddy Gosden said: "We want everyone to enjoy themselves but we do ask that people don’t let their new found freedom go to their heads after many months of lockdown restrictions.
"I do understand that this is the first opportunity for a number of people to have some freedom since the lockdown was introduced in March and we are asking you to work with us to keep everyone safe by acting responsibly and knowing your limits when it comes to drinking alcohol.
"Many pubs are shortening their opening hours to help ensure that the risk of any issues arising is reduced and our licensing team will be visiting pubs across the county on Saturday night along with council licensing staff.
"The onus is now on the public to remain socially responsible and do the right thing so please help each other by engaging, educating and encouraging those who may not be following the guidance this weekend."
Safer days and nights for all is one of the strands of Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl’s Police and Crime Plan.
Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl says: "I’m pleased to hear the Constabulary will be increasing its presence across the county this coming weekend from our main urban areas of Gloucester and Cheltenham, but also our rural areas too.
"I hope that members of the public will act respectfully to the staff working to serve them. We want people to enjoy themselves this weekend, but anti-social behaviour is never acceptable.
"On a separate note, the litter being left in Gloucestershire’s green and pleasant spaces has been shameful and embarrassing. This cannot continue."
Ahead of the weekend, Gloucestershire County Council is keen to remind people of the importance of following the guidance when out and about.
Sarah Scott, Gloucestershire’s Director of Public Health said: "Even though we have seen lower numbers of cases and deaths than most other parts of the country, in no way should we become complacent. We have seen elsewhere what can happen - none of us want that in Gloucestershire.
"Do enjoy the fact that restrictions are being relaxed but make sure you keep up the hand washing, stick with the social distancing measures and don’t gather in big groups.
"The things we are being asked to do remain simple but the impact of not doing them could be significant and lead to unnecessary suffering and loss of life in our communities."
You can find out more about what to do to help keep you and others safe and on how to order a test, if you think you may have symptoms, on the government’s website: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus