London’s pubs and restaurants busy despite tightening of Covid-19 rules

Pubs and restaurants in one of London’s main hotspots were bustling on Saturday but businesses admitted they do not know how to enforce the latest restrictions.

The capital was placed into Tier 2 lockdown measures at midnight on Friday, meaning it is now illegal for Londoners to socialise indoors with people outside their household.

Soho, famous for its thriving nightlife, was pedestrianised when the national lockdown started to lift at the start of summer so its eateries and bars could set tables up in the street.

Some said they had seen a slight drop in customer numbers compared to last weekend, but said it could be down to the falling temperatures rather than the latest measures.

One member of staff, who asked not to be named, at the at the Greyhounds Pub on Greek Street said he now had to ask everyone sitting inside if they came from the same household.

“I ask them but it’s just not practical, I have no way of checking unless I ask everyone to give me their address,” he said.

A waiter at L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele on Old Compton Street said they could no longer take bookings as a result of the changes, and relied on walk-ins.

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Despite that, Marcelo Teixeira Moraes, 24, said the restaurant had been at its “busiest for months” on Friday.

“People were grabbing the chance to go out all together while they could, it was so busy I couldn’t keep up,” he said.

Door staff at Comptons, a nearby pub, said they were also having to rely on people’s honesty when it came to making sure customers sitting inside were all from the same household.

One member of staff said they had been very lucky so far in terms of customer numbers, but were worried about what would happen when the weather turned colder.

Protesters during an anti-lockdown rally (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
Protesters during an anti-lockdown rally (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Earlier in the day, anti-lockdown protesters marched down Oxford Street before congregating in nearby Leicester Square to demonstrate against the restrictions.

Led by Piers Corbyn, brother of former Labour leader Jeremy, protesters yelled at passers by to remove their masks, and telling them any Covid-19 vaccine would be “poison”.

Many of those on the march headed to Soho’s pubs at the end of the demo.

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