Southsea bars draw crowds for first Friday night without Covid-19 restrictions - but punters don't think normality will last for long

WITH Covid-19 restrictions lifted, crowds hit the bars along Palmerston Road for the first relatively normal Friday night in more than a year - but punters remain cautious and many expect the normality won’t last.

By Richard Lemmer
Saturday, 24th July 2021, 11:29 am
Updated Saturday, 24th July 2021, 11:30 am
From left, Alex Agathanggelou, Sophie Armstrong, David Povey, Ben Aston and Verity Jackson
Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 230721-22)
From left, Alex Agathanggelou, Sophie Armstrong, David Povey, Ben Aston and Verity Jackson Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 230721-22)

The government removed all mandatory Covid-19 restriction such as mask wearing and table service only at bars on Monday at 12.01am.

The first Friday night since the lifting of restrictions saw crowds out on Palmerston Road – but without the huge numbers that may have been expected following 18 months of dormant night life.

With many bar door staff opting to wear masks and signs reminding people with Covid-19 symptoms to isolate, punters were able to enjoy the night out but the on-going pandemic was never far from their thoughts.

Bethany Turner and Antonia Craze, right Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 230721-19)

Waiting in the queue to enter JD Wetherspoon pub The Lord Palmerston, Bethan Turner, a 25-year-old from Canterbury, said: ‘I would like to go dancing but I don’t want to be in a big crowd of people – nothing too crazy just yet.’

Her friend Antonia Craze, a 23-year-old from Southsea agreed: ‘I’m still a bit concerned, but I am out. I cannot be bothered with staying at home,

‘But I know a lot more people who have had it recently.’

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From left, Charlotte Andrews, Kieran Massey and Natasha Bellany Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 230721-21)

Enjoying a beer and a burger outside Meat and Barrel, Portsmouth resident David Povey said it felt ‘crazy just to be able to come out’.

He said: ‘The best thing is not having to book. It was like a military operation any time you wanted to go out.’

He added: ‘Things seem to be heading towards more restrictions again, with so many people isolating, hitting the shops and even the police.’

Friday evening in Palmerston Rd, Southsea Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 230721-18)

Last week, senior officers at West Midlands Police said the government’s isolation policy was placing increasing strain on the service.

David’s friend Sophie Armstrong said a lot of people were trying to strike a balance between continuing the caution of the previous 18 months and enjoying returning freedoms.

The 25-year-old Portsmouth resident said: ‘I’m still wearing masks in shops and being considerate of others, but I’m not staying at home any more.’

Even within groups in the area for a night out, there were competing emotions about striving for normality as case numbers remain in the tens of thousands across the country.

Queuing for The Lord Palmerston, 24-year-old Charlotte Andrews said: ‘I’ve been dreading being in close proximity with people.’

But her friend Kieran Massey said: ‘I think it feels like a big sigh of relief.

He added: ‘But I really do think restrictions will come back in.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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