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Super Saturday? Hancock praises punters but pictures tell different story

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Matt Hancock

Matt Hancock

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Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the vast majority of people who went out on so-called Super Saturday in England did the right thing.

However, the chairman of the Police Federation said yesterday that drunk people are unable to properly socially distance. John Apter said it was "crystal clear" revellers would not adhere to the one metre plus rule as restrictions were eased on Saturday.

Belfast's bars opened again on Friday, but ahead of the easing of lockdown restrictions in England on Saturday, Mr Hancock had warned that people could end up "behind bars" if they got too carried away.

Speaking on Sky's Ridge On Sunday, Mr Hancock said: "Well I think that from what I've seen, although there's some pictures to the contrary, very, very largely people have acted responsibly. The large proportion of people, the vast majority of people are, I think, doing the right thing".

However, he added: "But of course we'll take action when we need to when... if the minority break the rules."

On those who did not social distance, Mr Hancock (above) said: "Well we'll of course keep this very closely under review, and you've seen for instance in Leicester but also in other places that we don't shirk from bringing in more drastic measures if that is what's needed to control the virus."

Mr Hancock said the Government's message to the public is "enjoy the new freedoms, but do so safely".

But images from London's Soho showed packed streets into the early hours of Sunday.

Mr Apter, who was on shift in Southampton where he dealt with "naked men, happy drunks, angry drunks, fights and more angry drunks", said: "What was crystal clear is that drunk people can't/won't socially distance.

"It was a busy night but the shift managed to cope. I know other areas have had issues with officers being assaulted."

Rafal Liszewski, a store manager at Clonezone on Soho's Old Compton Street, described crowds in the area on Saturday night as "out of control".

"Around 1pm crowds started to arrive... quickly everything got out of control and by 8-9pm it was a proper street party with people dancing and drinking," the 36-year-old said.

"Barely anyone was wearing masks and nobody respected social distancing... to be honest with that many people on one street it was physically impossible."

Meanwhile, publicans in Dublin have warned that street drinking in the city centre puts people at risk and presents a terrible image. Many examples of busy streets around the city on Saturday evening were shared on social media.

The Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) condemned those responsible.

It said: "This is in no way acceptable and completely jeopardises public health, given the lack of social distancing observed.

"Unfortunately scenes like this have been taking place over the last few weekends in Dublin city centre. We are reminding pubs who are serving 'takeout' of their responsibilities."

Legal advice issued by the gardai in May said any drinks purchased to take away during lockdown must be consumed more than 100m from the pub which sold the alcohol. The advice also indicated gardai have power to confiscate drink being consumed on the road or in a public place.

Health worker Laura Durcan, who lives in Dublin city centre, shared her thoughts online on Saturday night's crowds. She said: "Town is horrendous tonight. Drunken crowds everywhere. No distancing.

"I am not the fun police but I am really, really worried about two weeks' time."

Belfast Telegraph