Fears revellers will ‘cram six hours of drinking into two’

PUBLISHED: 16:14 23 September 2020 | UPDATED: 16:14 23 September 2020

SOS Bus on Prince of Wales Road, Norwich on a Saturday night.

SOS Bus on Prince of Wales Road, Norwich on a Saturday night.

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2011

Norwich’s nightlife lifeline is preparing for a journey into the unknown this weekend, when its volunteers work their first shifts under new coronavirus pub curfews.

After returning to Prince of Wales Road in July, the SOS Bus, which provides emergency health care for people enjoying the city’s late night entertainment, has adjusted its Saturday night schedule for the coming months.

While previously serving the city between 9pm and 3.30am, the charity will instead be taking to the street from 7pm until 11pm to allow it to offer the most effective service possible in line with the 10pm curfew.

And Beth Williams, manager of the SOS Bus, admitted that it was uncharted territory heading into their first shift since the new restrictions were introduced.

She said: “To be honest, I really don’t know what to expect from the weekend - whether people will intentionally try to drink more knowing that they have less time to spend out in the city. The worry is that people might try to cram six hours of drinking into two, so that’s something we have to be prepared for.

“Obviously we are not just about helping heavily intoxicated people, that is just one aspect of what we do, but we really are venturing into the unknown this weekend.”

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Ms Williams said that due to the short notice of the government’s reaction, her team had to respond quickly to make sure they were ready, willing and able for the weekend’s challenges.

She added: “We have already had to jump through quite a few hoops to be back up and running, so in all honesty we definitely would have appreciated some more notice about the changes from the government.

“Many of our volunteers work in the daytime so I was a little anxious about whether they would be able to rearrange things to help us, but they’ve all leaped to the call, which doesn’t surprise me at all because they are brilliant people.

“We didn’t ever consider not continuing though, as we always thinks it’s better safe than sorry so feel we need to be there.

“If the worst case scenario of us being there is we sit there all night without doing anything, then it’s still far better than not being there and being needed.”

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