Extra police patrols will be out across Kent this weekend following the easing of Covid-19 restrictions.
Pubs, bars, restaurants and other non-essential businesses opened their doors for the first time in months on Monday (April 12) and are looking forward to welcoming more of their customers back over the next days.
Kent Police officers will be on duty in town centres and other areas of high footfall to ensure people follow the restrictions that remain in place and to deal with any incidents of antisocial behaviour or alcohol-fuelled disorder.
Assistant Chief Constable Nikki Faulconbridge said: “The easing of Covid-19 restrictions has provided people with more options to go out and visit shops, pubs and other venues but there are still rules in place and it is vital people continue to follow them, for the safety of both themselves and others.
“Our licensing officers have been working closely with local businesses to help them prepare for this next step and it has been pleasing to see how committed everyone is to following the national guidance and keeping people as safe as possible.
“I am confident the majority of people in Kent will continue to stick to the regulations as they have done throughout the pandemic. For those who choose not to follow the rules, officers will continue to follow the ‘4E’ approach of engage, explain, encourage and, as a last resort, enforce.
“We also ask people who are planning to drink to remember to do so responsibly. Whilst we fully understand the desire among many to head to the pub this weekend, we will not hesitate to take action against the small minority whose behaviour may cross the line and result in other people being put at risk.”
According to the Government’s roadmap, no further easing of restrictions is due until Monday 17 May. It remains illegal to hold indoor gatherings of any type outside of your own household or support bubble, or gatherings of more than six people or from two households in an outdoor location.
ACC Faulconbridge said: “Whilst it is encouraging to see that many people are being vaccinated against Covid-19 and the infection rate is slowing, no one can be complacent and use that as an excuse to breach the current regulations.
“Covid-19 still poses a serious risk to public health and large gatherings such as parties and unlicensed music events may cause spikes in infections. Anyone who is organising such a gathering does not need the regulations explained to them, and in these situations our officers will quickly move to enforcement and issue them with a fine.
“There is a light at the end of the tunnel and we need to continue to work together to ensure we get there as soon as possible so we can all enjoy the freedoms we were used to before the national restrictions were first introduced.”