Tips on keeping yourself and others safe as venues open up
For some of us, our appetite to get back to something like normality may be focused on going to the pub or a restaurant, especially with reports of beer gardens, restaurants and bars being booked for weeks in advance!
The social aspect of spending time with friends, family or even co-workers cannot be underestimated, especially after the long stints where we have all been urged to stay at home and apart.
If you have any concerns before heading out to your favourite venue – or to try a new one - there are ways that you can socialise safely.
We have put together five top tips to keep yourself and the people you care about safe, if you choose to go out and drink alcohol.
Let’s not forget the real reason we are excited to get back to venues
Pubs, bars and restaurants give people a unique opportunity for social connections, which is what many of us have missed while on lockdown. Alcohol is not by any means a compulsory component.
Today more bars, pubs and restaurants stock a growing range of non-alcoholic drinks and beers, with bartenders ever-more creative with their alcohol-free cocktail recipes. This means it has never been easier to go alcohol-free. When you are out, ask staff what they stock, and the range may surprise you!
Have the travel chat beforehand
A number of public transport journeys may still be affected by the pandemic. Additionally, some people may not feel comfortable travelling by public transport. So have a chat with the people you are meeting about how they are getting to the venue. If you or someone you are meeting is thinking of driving it is important that they know that there is no fool proof way of drinking and staying under the driving limit.
Having a conversation about travel plans before you meet up means there is no room for confusion. To ensure your safety and the safety of others, it is vital that people do not drink before getting behind the wheel.
Social distancing doesn’t stop being important, even after a few drinks
Alcohol can affect our inhibitions. When we drink we can miss social and environmental cues that help us to interpret situations rationally – and this could lead to some people behaving in ways they wouldn’t when sober.
If you are concerned about others social distancing or that you may not stick to guidelines yourself when out, a good way to stay in control is to keep your drinking within the CMOs’ low risk drinking guidelines. This means drinking no more than 14 units a week, spreading them evenly across the week. A good way to remember 14 units is that it is the equivalent of roughly six pints of medium strength beer or six medium glasses (175ml) of wine.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
Did you know alcohol is dehydrating? It’s actually a diuretic, which means it encourages the kidneys to lose extra fluid. We tend to sweat and go the toilet more when we drink. This combination means we lose more fluid than we take in and become dehydrated unless we replace that lost fluid by drinking water.
If you choose to drink, alternate your alcoholic drinks with glasses of water or always have a full glass of water to hand to ensure you stay hydrated.
Keep a close eye on your group
In some venues, relaxed licensing rules could mean that in some places, customers may be able to drink on pavements, in pub car parks or on terraces. This means that you or your group may be in an unfamiliar environment and you might find it harder to look out for each other.
What can you do?
Stick together. If you came out in a group make sure you always know where everyone is.
Remember that the number of drinks a person has had isn’t the only indicator that they may have had too much – alcohol affects us all differently. Watch out for other signs, such as slurred speech or problems with balance, and if you suspect alcohol poisoning, get medical help straightaway.
If you are worried that you or someone you are with has had their drink spiked, call 999 immediately and let the venue know.