OVER the next two days, pub gardens across the country will be full of punters, desperate for their first weekend pint of 2021.

It will offer a sigh of relief for people who have been locked up for months, giving family, friends and loved ones the chance to catch up over food and drinks.

The atmosphere in pubs may be livelier than any normal weekend, as people flock to get into the groove of enjoying a night out.

But it is important drinkers do not get too enthusiastic about the new freedom this weekend, as drinking too much could land you in a whole heap of trouble.

Section 12 of the Licencing Act 1872 specifies that ‘every person found drunk on any licensed premised shall be liable to a penalty’.

Basingstoke Gazette: (Image: PA)(Image: PA)

That means, if you get drunk in a beer garden this weekend, you could be slapped with a £200 fine.

This regulation should not be confused with being drunk and disorderly, which is an offence under the Criminal Justice Act of 1968.

It is also illegal for publicans to sell alcohol to someone who’s drunk or for anyone else to get alcohol for them under the 2003 Licensing Act.

There are also a few Covid rules you must follow if you head to a pub garden this weekend.

Customers must order, eat and drink while seated at a table in the pub garden and you must follow either the rule of six, or be in a group of any size with no more than two households present.

Every customer aged 16 and over will have to check in to NHS test and trace, or give contact details to staff

When not seated - for example being shown to a table, or going to the toilet - customers should wear face masks (unless exempt) and observe social distancing.