The tiny population of the Isles of Scilly have become the only people in England to celebrate New Year’s Eve in the pub.
The virtually-Covid free islands – 30 miles of the coast of Cornwall – is the only place in the country currently living under tier one restrictions, meaning pubs can legally open.
Friends and family were able to see in the new year together inside in groups of no more than six – the only place in England where this was permitted.
Elsewhere, the rest of the country is living under tier three or tier four rules, meaning pubs are closed except for takeaways and people are being told to stay at home.
Despite record numbers of coronavirus cases being recorded across England, the Isles of Scilly have recorded no positive cases since September.
Islanders have raised concerns that tourists may flock to the area to make the most of its special status.
Pubs on the islands said they felt lucky to be able to celebrate – and warned anyone thinking of traveling to stay away.
Dan Latham, 33, the manager of The Mermaid Inn on St Mary’s, said: ‘We feel very lucky and very grateful to still be in tier one. Sticking to the guidelines has obviously worked for us on the islands.’
Mr Latham’s pub was offering a three course menu at £28-a-head and had 40 bookings for food, with room for 90 people in total.
Staff dressed up as Gru and the Minions from the animated film Despicable Me to add some extra fun to the evening and guests came in full fancy dress.
He said: ‘Once we’re full, we’re full. But thankfully everyone has been really sensible, abiding by the rules and wearing face masks when they’re not sat at their tables. All the locals are behaving, it’s all going really well.’
Although pubs on Scilly could open for New Year’s Eve, they had to abide by the national curfew which requires hospitality venues to be shut by 11pm with last orders at 10pm.
This meant revellers were forced to make their way home before midnight to see in the new year.
Chris Hopkins, 66, held a more low-key evening at his pub, Fraggle Rock Bar, on Tresco, the second-largest of the Isles of Scilly.
Speaking before the celebration got under way, he said: ‘We’re quite a small venue, so we’re limited to about 20 people. We’ll just be having a bit of a charity night, with some bingo and serving chilli.
‘I’m thankful that we’re able to host anything at all. We do count ourselves lucky. It will be quite a gentle celebration, but we’re going to make the most of it as best we can.’
Chris added: ‘The police have done a good job of keeping things in order over here – which is why we’re able to keep going and keep pubs and businesses open.’
Becky Lock, 44, who owns a cake business on the Isles of Scilly, said: ‘We haven’t had many cases and we are very lucky because of the geography that we are so isolated and have not been impacted as much as the mainland. We know how lucky we are.’
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