It’s 10.40pm and a guy has just bought some chicken wings in Oldham.
The pandemic has brought us to a point where, moments later, police and council officials stop the takeaway owner for breaking the law.
Police officers don’t really want to cut back on someone’s livelihood, the council definitely doesn’t have the budget to do so, but rules from the central government introduced this week mean they’re here at the chicken store to issue a written warning. Next time it will be a fine of £ 1,000.
Oldham had been in discomfort for five weeks Covid-19 Restrictions But infection rates are still on the rise. Now curfew means that a Friday night in the city is an experience without a soul. Gone crazy.
9:30 PM call time will never feel normal, but bars and clubs that were open have already been warned that 10 PM is the new time. Doors close at 10 pm – don’t close and slowly wind up the conversation.
Every bar and pub we saw did what was required of them.
The message did not reach all the takeaways, and some of them pretended to be ignorant, but their excuses did not break with the licensing team issuing warnings and penalties.
They have been asked to enforce curfews. Encouragement and participation first but making sure not to comply.
So they knock on doors and respond to reports of companies operating late at night. Takeaway can still deliver orders – so we’ve seen some punters jump in friend’s cars so takeaways can be brought to them after 10pm.
Several drinkers had just crammed more drinks between 9 pm and closed time, then admitted that they were on their way to meet up at someone’s home nearby.
Empty city centers mean that people are less likely to come into contact with someone infected with COVID-19 but the side effect is the slow death of the night economy.
These jobs, livelihoods and more struggling families – it’s the price the government reluctantly decided to pay as the second wave of COVID-19 grows day by day.