PUBS and bars in England have now been open for a month, after lockdown restrictions implemented for Covid-19 were eased in the country on July 4.

The Gazette has received several reports that some venues in the town centre have been very busy, with crowds congregating outside and not following Covid-19 guidelines. 

Last night, we went out to see what a Friday night in Basingstoke town is like now, as people adapt to a ‘new normal’.

Early in the evening, many of the restaurants were busy, but it all looked very civilised as couples and smaller groups sat together to enjoy a meal.

The only bar that was busy was The Angel, where every table appeared to be occupied outside while the sun was still shining.

Basingstoke Gazette:

However, it all looked under control, and there were bouncers on the door monitoring those coming inside.

As darkness fell, some venues became busier, with queues forming outside both The Angel and The Maidenhead Inn – both Weatherspoon pubs in the town centre.

Basingstoke Gazette:

Basingstoke Gazette:

However, for a Friday night in the town centre, it was at times eerily quiet, with our photos showing the streets deserted at around 11pm.

Basingstoke Gazette:

Unni Bala, owner of Chennai Express restaurant, said fewer people seem to be venturing out as the weekend starts, explaining: “It’s been really quiet. Eat Out to Help Out on a Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday is busy, but the rest of the week is quiet, particularly Friday and Saturday night.”

The business owner is worried that this will have a long-term impact on bars and restaurants in the town centre, saying: “Culture has changed now. We need more customers in to survive.”

Eddie Simanskis, senior supervisor at Larsen’s bar, in Wote Street, said live football events had previously drawn crowds to the town centre, saying: “Last weekend was really busy. But today it’s quieter because there’s no football. It’s the sporting events that are bringing people out.”

Basingstoke Gazette:

However, he said most customers were adhering to the new rules, explaining: “People are co-operating, so it is safe. We don’t allow people to mix together. We have limited capacity and people need to be sat at a table.”

Have you been out in town since the bars and restaurants have re-opened? Let us know what your experience has been like by emailing or commenting below.