Bottlenecks formed outside busy pubs yesterday as customers flocked to beer gardens for the first time this year, but rules were mostly followed.

Some pubs are under investigation due to the flouting of social distancing guidelines in long queues outside venues, although rules were followed more often than not.

The Oak Inn in Coventry saw hundreds queueing after midnight on Monday, after it advertised plans to open its large outdoor space with heaters, marquees and blankets.

A Coventry City Council spokeswoman said: “People are beginning to enjoy the easing of restrictions and with the city beginning to reopen non-essential shops and hospitality venues from today, we would like to remind everyone about the importance of following the rules.

“This includes social distancing and staying two metres apart, wearing face coverings in public and washing hands regularly when visiting hospitality venues.”

Initial footfall figures from retail analyst group Springboard showed the number of people in shops, shopping centres and retail parks jumped more than 200 per cent by 10am Monday (compared with the week prior, when non-essential shops were closed).

By 5pm, footfall had grown by another 14.6 per cent, but still showed a 16 per cent decrease from April 2019.

Images of lengthy queues outside venues were shared on social media, such as outside The Bramley pub in Maidstone

However, Maidstone Borough Council said that “early indications have shown businesses are complying with all government regulations on social distancing and wearing face coverings.”

“Advice will be given in the first instance to any business not complying and enforcement action will be taken if necessary,” a spokesperson added. 

When asked about the bottlenecks,a Government spokesperson said: “We recognise the huge efforts made by pubs and restaurants to be able to reopen for customers safely today, including helping to ensure that people queueing for their premises do so safely.

“The Government recently announced the £56 million Welcome Back Fund which can be used by councils to install signage and floor markings where necessary to encourage social distancing and safety.”

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