HAMPSHIRE Police have said they are "preparing" for the reopening of pubs and restaurants.

Ahead of pubs and restaurants reopening this weekend following months of closures, officers have said they are prepared for this "busier period" across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

They are asking people to drink sensibly and pre-plan travel where they can to ensure they get home.

Police will be working closely with the licensing industry across all areas of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight to ensure all businesses are aware of the new licensing objectives and COVID guidelines.

Assistant Chief Constable Scott Chilton said: “We know that many people are looking forward to pubs, restaurants and other establishments opening this weekend and we’re confident the majority of people want to enjoy themselves safely.

“We have been preparing in anticipation of this busier period, and we’re really proud in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight that our officers and staff have been resilient throughout the pandemic. Our officer and staff wellbeing plans have meant that we have been able to maintain officer numbers on shifts and within a wide range of teams, delivering the service the public would expect and at the same time, playing a key role in limiting the spread of the virus.

“Today, our short term absence rate is just 0.18 per cent. We have also not had to cancel any leave or rest days for our officers, making sure those on duty are fit and healthy to serve and protect, and those who need their rest are able to take it.

“We have patrol plans in place throughout the two counties this weekend to ensure the easing of restrictions is approached safely. Social distancing and good hygiene remains paramount and it’s everyone’s responsibility to follow this guidance.

“If you are visiting bars and pubs this weekend, please drink sensibly, and pre-plan your travel and how you are going to get home. Reassess your plans if you arrive at your location and realise social distancing isn’t achievable. Be aware of how excess drinking and violent behaviour may impact the emergency services and the NHS. Covid-19 still presents a significant and deadly threat to public health.

“It’s important to remember that it is our collective effort to comply with the guidance, such as keeping our distance and washing our hands, that has led to the re-opening of our local businesses.

“Ultimately, we are still all in this together so it’s important that we all continue to limit the spread of the virus, whilst enjoying the summer.

“Officers continue to work hard to keep us all safe in what remain challenging circumstances so we would ask everyone to work with us and remember that if you need our help we are here for you.”