Re-opening weekend hailed a success for Birmingham nightlife

Crowds return for a busy but well-behaved night on the town.

Business chiefs responsible for Birmingham’s entertainment quarters have praised visitors after a successful and largely trouble-free re-opening of venues after lockdown.

Good social distancing guidelines worked well as the city’s nightlife for the first time in more than three months.

Mike Olley, general manager of Westside Business Improvement District, which covers Broad Street, said that the majority of their 8,000 visitors on Saturday had enjoyed themselves in more than a dozen bars and restaurants that had reopened.

He also praised his street wardens, West Midlands Police and West Midlands Ambulance Service for the professional way they dealt with the tiny number of revellers who caused issues – although no arrests were made.

Mr Olley said: “Saturday was a fine day where around 8,000 people attended the area. All our venues that opened had good social distancing guidelines in place which respected COVID-19 risks and worked well.

“It was all very different to what we are used to but it was effective in protecting staff and visitors. There were of course a couple of individuals who took things to excess but they were professionally dealt with and there were no arrests as far as we understand.”

Mr Olley had organised a ‘street briefing’ at 4pm on Saturday where a full shift of his most experienced street wardens had met with police, ambulance teams and bar owners to discuss detailed plans like door policies and pedestrian flows as the evening was about to get under way.

Meanwhile, pubs, bars and restaurants across the Southside Business Improvement District, which includes the Gay Quarter and Chinatown, welcomed over 10,000 visitors across reopening weekend , providing a much-needed boost for venues that have suffered significant financial impact from the coronavirus pandemic.

Julia Robinson, Southside BID manager, said: “All of the businesses that reopened over the weekend have worked incredibly hard to ensure that they meet the government’s Covid-19 Secure guidelines, with an absolute focus on keeping their staff and visitors safe. They have invested in a range of new measures including pre-booking and table ordering apps, social distancing signage, hand sanitiser stations, temperature checks and enhanced cleaning regimes.

“There was understandably a lot of anticipation surrounding re-opening weekend, but with careful and sensible management from our venues, coupled with a responsible attitude from visitors, we demonstrated that Southside can be enjoyed safely. It was great to see guests having fun and the fantastic teams from some of our most iconic venues back doing what they do best, we’ve really missed them!

“This weekend has been a positive start for our hospitality and leisure sector to begin getting back on its feet, but there is still a long way to go. Three quarters of our venues remain closed, and the economic impact of lockdown has been crippling for many. Reduced capacities and the impact of implementing new hygiene and safety measures are challenging and costly for businesses to navigate, and we will continue to lobby both national and regional government to provide additional support for the sector to ensure its future.”

Police praised the good nature of the weekend’s revelers across the region at what they described as a “busy” time, with Chief Superintendent Steve Graham saying, “We saw people taking great personal responsibility for their actions and behaviour and the evening ran smoothly with only a handful of incidents at pubs and bars reported to us.

“We were impressed with the compliance of the majority of people who came out to enjoy the eagerly awaited reopening of pubs and bars within our vibrant cities and towns, thank you to everyone who played their part in keeping us all safe.”

Mike Olley added, “We had hoped that things would go well and we were not disappointed. It was a good starting point and things can only get better.”