Leicester's pubs and restaurants set for reopening weekend

Image source, EPA
Image caption,
Pubs were allowed to open across England last month but only reopened in Leicester on Monday

Pub-goers have been warned not to "throw away all the hard work" by ignoring rules as Leicester's bars prepare for their first Friday and Saturday nights in months.

Pubs, bars and restaurants were allowed to reopen in the city from Monday for the first time since March as the local lockdown was eased.

Some told the BBC they were ready and excited to welcome customers back.

But authorities have urged people to remember to be "responsible".

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Pubs in Leicester were denied the chance to reopen on 4 July - but some put a brave face on it

Paul Murphy, landlord of The King's Head, said: "It was fantastic to hear we could reopen - it's been a long time coming.

"My advice to pub-goers is abide by the rules. If they do, we will still be here serving them in a month's time."

Fraser Guy, general manager of The Dover Castle, admitted there were challenges but said: "Reopening is really important for us.

"We have done everything we can to ensure that we mitigate the risks - I would encourage people to come back."

Image source, EPA
Image caption,
Leicester was the first place in the UK put on local lockdown after a spike in Covid-19 cases

Pubs reopened across the rest of England on 4 July but were stopped from doing so in Leicester because of the city's local lockdown - announced just days earlier.

After the first Saturday back in business for the rest of the country, police and the health secretary said people had largely acted responsibly, although the Police Federation said it was "crystal clear" drunk people could not socially distance.

Leicestershire Police said so far, most people have been following regulations.

But a spokesman added: "We must remember that coronavirus is still a serious risk to health."

Image source, PA Media
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Sir Peter Soulsby said it was important to get Leicester's economy going again but urged caution

Leicester City Council has planned to open up its event control room in City Hall to monitor the situation on Friday and Saturday, something that would usually be done for large events such as New Year's Eve or Diwali.

Leicester was put on lockdown when it had an infection rate of 135 per 100,000 people - in the week up to 1 August this had dropped to 57.4 per 100,000.

Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby said: "I would appeal to everyone to go out and have a good time, but also to stick to the rules and observe social distancing.

"People need to be sensible, and stay safe, or risk throwing away all the hard work we've achieved from lockdown."

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