Last or­ders Pub cus­tomers keep calm and drink up

The Guardian - - News Coronaviru­s - Ad­di­tional re­port­ing Steven Mor­ris and Sev­erin Car­rell Kevin Rawlinson Gre­gory Robin­son Amy Walker

Pubs in Penge, south-east Lon­don, had started fill­ing up well be­fore the prime min­is­ter’s an­nounce­ment yes­ter­day that they must close down – and no one showed signs of leav­ing.

The high street still had five out of six pubs open as Boris John­son ad­dressed the na­tion. At one pub there were sur­real scenes as the bigscreen TVs beamed Down­ing Street’s daily press con­fer­ence that car­ried news of one of the most widerang­ing peace­time changes to Bri­tish life, while, un­der­neath them, games of pool con­tin­ued.

Shortly af­ter the an­nounce­ment, as the prime min­is­ter was still speak­ing, one cus­tomer headed out to call a friend: “Lis­ten, you’d bet­ter hurry up and get here be­cause all the pubs are shut­ting at 7pm. Hurry up,” he was heard to say.

Mean­while, the Birds pub in Ley­ton­stone, north-east Lon­don, was less busy than nor­mal for a Fri­day evening. Caitlin Mor­gan and her col­league Nick Slot­nick, from Wood­ford, said: “It’s sad but in­evitable. It had to hap­pen.”

In Chorl­ton-cum-Hardy in Manch­ester, staff at Dul­cimer seemed mostly re­lieved they would be forced to close. Chris Henry, man­ager at the fine ales pub that also serves food and hosts live mu­sic events, said the an­nounce­ment brought an end to their “limbo”.

“We got put in the po­si­tion where it wasn’t in the best in­ter­ests for our cus­tomers’ health to be open but no one said we should be closed,” said Henry. “It’s been a hor­ri­ble week.”

At the Fork ‘n’ Ale tap­room in We­ston-su­per-Mare, owner Dave Turner was let­ting cus­tomers fin­ish their pints and meals. “The prime min­is­ter has said we’ve got to close as soon as is rea­son­able,” he said. “I think that means that we should let our cus­tomers fin­ish their drinks and meals and when it gets quiet we’ll close.”

Karen Fea­gin, a PhD lin­guis­tics stu­dent from Washington DC, had just ar­rived with her fam­ily in the Devil’s Ad­vo­cate, a fa­mous whisky bar in Ed­in­burgh, when the news came in that min­is­ters had or­dered all bars, clubs and mu­se­ums to close with im­me­di­ate ef­fect. “We’re sci-fi read­ers and it feels a lit­tle bit like liv­ing through some of the books we’ve read,” she said. Which book? “World War Z. We’ve ac­tu­ally had th­ese con­ver­sa­tions.”

But her sis­ter-in-law, Han­nah Fritschner, was de­ter­mined to make the most of hav­ing her fam­ily in Scot­land. “I’m try­ing to en­joy it be­cause once they leave I know I will be here in­def­i­nitely,” she said.

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