A problem with pubs re-opening – Alastair Stewart

With beer gardens serving alcohol and pubs set to re-open soon, we should all take care not to let our alcohol consumption get out of hand, writes Alastair Stewart.
Too much alcohol can result in a night in hospital (Picture: John Devlin)Too much alcohol can result in a night in hospital (Picture: John Devlin)
Too much alcohol can result in a night in hospital (Picture: John Devlin)

Scotland’s battle with the bottle is as famous as it is disheartening. Even anecdotally we know it’s integral to how we see ourselves, either with a wee dram or comically imbibing but ‘still be standing’.

And yet now we’re all champing at the bit to return to pubs in the Capital. Social media is replete with folk posting images of pints and wine bottles. The hospitality industry absolutely depends on it and rightly so, but are we prepared to balance responsible drinking and the economic drive to get back to pubs?

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This isn’t to take the fun out of returning to (a new) normal. I was at a friend’s 40th birthday recently. Even a passing look at folk outside pubs showed social distancing was being breached.

Drunkenness and remembering to socially distance is almost an oxymoron. But excess is absolutely something that needs to be mitigated.

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Several friends have noted that A&E is quieter on Friday nights. Many of us have had some experience of the catastrophically disorderly drunks in the waiting area.

At 72, the NHS deserves a little peace from this. To say nothing of the keyworkers who don’t need to be dealing with totally avoidable situations.

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We can’t pretend problems with drink don’t exist in favour of economic recovery. More than ever, we need to distinguish between the want to return to our old lives, the joy of socialising and those who want to get drunk for the sake of it.

As we edge along with the route map to normality, as beer gardens are now open, it seems prudent to think on this. Pubs and restaurants are due to re-open next Wednesday, 15 July. There is a massive economic need to do so and it will be a welcome thing for all concerned.

But with that, we all have a responsibility to ensure that everything continues to be done to ease pressures on the NHS. That is the absolute very least we can do, not only for our NHS heroes but our own health.

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