Newcastle University students have admitted to lying about being in the same household to get into bars together.
As of yesterday, new coronavirus restrictions in the North East make it illegal to meet people from other homes indoors, in a bid to tackle a high rate of infections.
But that didn’t deter scores of students taking to Newcastle city centre to party, and not everyone seemed concerned by the new rules.
Bethany Melvin, 22, who studies psychology at Newcastle University, was out for a night on the Toon with a group of friends last night.
She said: ‘I want to play out and I want to do what I want to do. It’s not very nice for us as me and my friends live at different ends of the city.
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‘We went into Revolution de Cuba and they asked us if we were in the same household but we obviously lied. Some places though don’t always ask we’ve found.
‘I live in Jesmond in Newcastle and it’s like nothing happened. My friend went out last night and she couldn’t get in anywhere because it was so busy.
‘Once you’re actually inside you do feel quite safe. You can’t mix but everyone comes together when you pour out at the end of the night.’
Bethany’s best friend Eve Drury, 21, from Low Fell, said she doesn’t think a lot of the new rules ‘make sense’.
She added: ‘It’s our friend’s birthday so we’re not following the rules to miss that. I just think places want business, and they aren’t really going to be bothered about much else.
‘Where I live and it’s absolutely dead and there’s no one there. There’s no one out and the high street is deserted.
‘But I saw in York yesterday that at closing time there was a big congregation when everyone left the bars.
‘That’s worse than some bars here to be fair, it’s fine once you’re inside with your masks on.’
Newcastle University politics and history student John Taylor, 18, was out with a group of friends celebrating a housemate’s birthday last night.
He said: ‘When we were in the bar it was just us and we couldn’t mix with anyone else. People seemed smart about the rules and it was fine.
‘There’s some places that will ask if you’re from the same household and a lot of people probably lie.
‘The problem is the places want their money but they also fear being fined.
‘People want to have fun but they don’t want to break the law too much either. It just seems to be a huge grey area.’
Literature and language student Katie Siddall, 18, said: ‘The staff made you wear masks to the toilet and I found it all completely safe.
‘They checked that we were from the same household by asking us. But they can’t prove that you are.
‘They asked and we said yes. But you could just say yes and walk in even if you’re not.
‘The places are strict about asking, but it’s just about trusting people to tell the truth.’
Marketing student at Northumbria University Matt Croft, 21, said he was sat with his pals playing on their X-Box the other day when police knocked on their door to make sure no rules were being flouted.
He added: ‘The rules are pretty strict now in bars. We got thrown out of a bar on Saturday night for shaking someone’s hand, that’s how strict it is.
‘I don’t think I’ve been in any bar where the rules haven’t been followed.’
But David Dugdale, who has been a bouncer in the city for over 20 years, said the latest restrictions are almost impossible to control.
He added: ‘It’s been hard to police yes. Come 10pm we get them all out. That isn’t the problem.
‘But then everyone is out on the streets and that’s wrong. You should have different bars coming out at different times.
‘It’s hard to tell if people are sticking to the one household rule, we just have to take it at face value.
‘We’re not allowed to challenge people even if it’s just them saying they’re exempt from wearing a mask.
‘I can’t challenge that and have to take their words for it. At 10pm now most places are full. It’s hard for us.’
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