Town centre partners are urging people to drink responsibly and remember that COVID-19 still poses a serious risk to health, if they are planning to visit bars, restaurants and pubs this weekend.

These venues are permitted to open from Saturday, 4 July, for the first time since the COVID-19 lock down, so are expected to be busy.

However, not all venues will be open, with nightclubs remaining closed, so people should check individual venues’ websites and social media channels.

The Borough Council, Northamptonshire Police and the town centre BID continue to work with local businesses across the town to ensure they adhere to government guidelines to keep their customers and their staff safe.

Councillor Anna King, Cabinet member for Community Safety, said: “We understand that many people are keen to go and meet their friends for a drink, or share a meal, and of course support their local pubs, bars and restaurants.

“Please remember that COVID-19 still poses a serious risk to your health and the Government’s social distancing guidelines should be observed- this is particularly important if you plan to watch football matches.

“Not all venues will be open this weekend, but if you decide to head into town, please plan your trip carefully, as you will probably have to book a table in advance, and possibly queue outside to get in.

“We’re working with the police and the BID to make this opening weekend as safe and as enjoyable as possible – with Borough Council marshals working at taxi ranks and Street Pastors on hand to offer support – but everyone plays a part in this.”

Customers may be asked to provide their name, address and contact details on entry, and these details will be kept for 21 days for COVID-19 test and trace purposes.

Along with advanced reservations for both eating and drinking, there may be increased outdoor seating and some venues will only offer table service, rather than allow standing at the bar.

There will also be other changes inside venues, no live music or performances, contactless payment, plastic screens at the bar to protect the staff, and re-configured seating arrangements. Toilet facilities may be limited, and you might have to wait longer to be served, to maintain social distancing.

Chief Superintendent Ash Tuckley, from Northamptonshire Police said: “We have been working with local businesses and our partners for some time now to ensure that the reopening of the nighttime economy passes off safely, and the key advice I want to communicate to people is to know your limits, plan your day and consider how you will get home safely.

“The vast majority of drinkers are responsible, but we know that there will be a small minority who will try and ruin it for others by drinking to excess and trying to create disorder. Let me be clear that we will not tolerate any anti-social or criminal behaviour and we have plans in place in order to quickly respond to any incidents of concern.

“Finally, I know the majority of people will be looking forward to an enjoyable and safe night out and I want to reassure them that your local police officers will be on hand throughout the weekend if you have any issues or need to make us aware of any incidents of concern.”