Super Saturday passed without the expected levels of carnage, hospital admissions or uncontrollable crowds last weekend as Southwark finally celebrated the end of lockdown.
Although gyms and pools remain closed and many people are still working from home, pubs reopened across the borough to delighted punters excited to have their first pint inside in more than 100 days.
Southwark police were out on patrol including checking up on various premises, with borough commander Colin Wingrove saying there were ‘no significant issues reported with general compliance’.
Images circulating showing a packed Borough Market were not representative of Southwark as a whole throughout the weekend.
Although some businesses closed early over social distancing fears – and others chose not to re-open at all – problems with crowds were concentrated in Soho and Portobello Road.
More trouble was posed by the continuing unlicensed music events continuing to crop up in blocks and parks around London. Those crowds were, however, dispersed ‘without incident’.
The next challenge is how, as government support winds down, pubs and bars can make a profit trading with social distancing in place and if the ‘track and trace’ plan successfully stops future outbreaks taking hold.
Camberwell Arms’ front of house manager, Milo, told the News the pub was taking a gradual approach.
“We’re all feeling pretty confident about the re-opening. We’re going see how everyone else is doing – how busy they are, if there’s going to be a problem in a couple of weeks, if there’s going to be another spike.
“We’re just going to do us for a bit and then slowly, slowly bring everyone back, in our own time.“
Nag’s Head landlady Julie is cautiously optimistic about the future. “We got the grant from the council, three months rent, which is £18,500,” she said.
“We can only give it until the new year and see what happens – but it was quite good today.”
One of her loyal customers, Nicholas, said nothing beats getting back into his favourite local, describing the so-called ‘Independence Day’ as ‘brilliant’.
“The best compadres I’ve never looked up to are sitting right in front of me. You know, there’s nothing better.
“Everyone’s got to keep safe, looking in the right direction, keep their distance, don’t be kissing and cuddling too many people.
“Apart from that you can see everyone’s got their distance, it is what it is. Everyone’s had a smile on their face all day long.”
Fellow boozer Tony said: “I feel it’s f***ing fantastic, absolutely superb, just to have that little contact again.
“Excuse my language but a little bit of music playing in the background, everyone just singing, it’s nice – you just miss that contact.”
At Herne Hill’s Prince Regent, all tables are more than 1.5 metres apart, with a maximum of six people. Inside, it’s table service only with names and numbers taken for track and trace.
“Thanks so much to all our lovely customers for coming back and supporting us, this weekend,” the pub tweeted.
“Thanks for respecting the new guidelines and for being patient while our team got used to new ways of working.
“We really appreciate your support.”
All photos and additional reporting by Sebastian Garraway