A.J. Walker


It's Not Just Ten

The Government’s decision to bring forward the closing time for bars and restaurants to 10pm this week is a non-thinking disaster. It is wrong-headed in terms of reducing the health risk to people in the towns and at the same time couldn’t have been much better designed to make it impossible for these businesses.

Let’s be clear, it’s not simply a reduction of one hour in drinking. For a start it is 10pm chucking out time as opposed to last orders – so it is more like an hour and a half. But it is not a case of having an hour and half less out drinking, is it? In the media they keep playing Vox Pops of the people saying ‘well people will just go out an hour earlier’... Who the hell are these people? Most people have a job of work to do one way or another. Going out an hour earlier is not an option or something they would want to do.

In my case, which I can’t see as uncommon, I get home at say 7pm or so. There’s no pub near me worth a dime, so I go into town. Even if I just have to grab a bit of beans on toast and slap on a fresh shirt I’m not getting into town until 8:30. Last orders is an hour later! So ninety minutes waiting for and getting buses and the same for a couple of pints: basically it’s not going to happen. 8:30 till 11 would be fine for an evening, but 8.30-10 is just a no-goer. 

Then there’s the football. Games kicking off at 8pm will be finishing of after last orders. And god help them if there are any significant injuries, then you’ll be chucked out of the pub before it finishes. Ho hum. Even if things run to time there will be no time for post match chit-chat with mates about the game; that’s half the fun of watching the footy.

So, instead of going out for a night or two on working days for a quiet pint that ‘one hour’ change means people with work won’t be going out at all – unless they are lucky enough to have  a pub nearby. How many people are making the same decisions? Plenty.

The problem bars are those that are busy, with extended hours, and little or no regard to Covid securedness, so why not just say 11pm closing to give the pubs, bars and restaurants a chance of pulling in some coins, then concentrate any policing on the problem places? I’m sure they haven’t done this maliciously but boy they’ve done it unthinkingly. One would hope they’d reconsider it at some point. I’m assuming they are being approached constantly by representatives of the industries, so hopefully this awful decision can be pulled. Let’s face it looking forward to December they are going to have their worst Christmas ever with no Christmas work parties possible etc. They need every quid they can get.

At the same time it shouldn’t be forgotten that as well as the risk to the businesses there is the mental health side of people getting out of their houses and spending some time out and about and having some interaction with real people - friends and strangers – socially distanced of course.

Personally it looks like unless I get unusually early finishes at work I wont be out on working days – whilst the government say they want us out keeping the economy going. I may be able to go out ‘an hour earlier’ on days off I suppose. In short: what a fucking mess, what a nonsense. Let's just hope things are different in a week or two (let's face it things change from hour to hour). Lastly, follow the Covid secure rules. Keep your distance (all day, not just in the pub), wear a mask when you have to, and wash your hands with soap and water and/or use hand sanitiser when you can't. It's not that difficult.