Scots expected to descend on Berwick for New Year
Publicans in England’s northernmost town are expecting an influx of Scots coming to celebrate Hogmanay.
Tougher Covid rules north of the border have prompted a number of Scots to set their sights on Berwick for a new year night out.
Margaret Straughan, landlady at The Brewers Arms on Marygate, said: “I think it’s going to be busy.
"There are quite a lot of people staying in the town and at the holiday centre, including many Scots.
"I know we had a couple in from the Falkirk area who said they had come to Berwick specifically because of the different Covid rules.
"It’s hardly Princes Street but at least we’re open for business.”
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has introduced a number of restrictions on hospitality to curb the spread of the Omicron variant.
Nightclubs have been forced to shut down until at least January 11, while licensed premises have had to bring back table service and one-metre social distancing.
"I think it's a given that we’re going to get more Scots coming,” said a member of staff at The Leaping Salmon on Golden Square.
"We already have quite a few Scottish regulars who live just over the border but I’d expect a few more for new year.
"It happened the last time there were different rules so I think it’ll be the same again. It’s crazy.”
Zafer Saygilier, who operates the Green House nightclub in Berwick and the Brown Bear and Barrels pubs, said: “We have had enquiries in Berwick venues from a few people who are planing to come over on the New Year’s Eve, however this is only from places like Eyemouth and nearby Scottish towns. We already have these type of cross-border visits. We are expecting a slight increase in trade in Berwick as a result.”
However, Mr Saygilier, who also operates four other bars and nightclubs in Newcastle, added: “The enquiries and bookings for Newcastle are a lot higher then normal. We have already visitors from Scotland in Newcastle this week. We have pretty much sold out for our New Year’s Eve events.
“Scottish bookings have been informed about the Covid pass requirements for nightclubs and larger venues.”
It remains to be seen how many people plan to spend the night in Berwick. New Year’s Eve rooms are still available at the town’s Premier Inn and Travelodge hotels.
Trade body Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) Scotland said it was “no surprise” people were planning to make a cross-border journey to bring in the new year.
An NTIA spokesperson said: “The industry has consistently warned devolved Governments that the closure of the late night economy could result in an escalation in house parties and illegal events given the restrictions over the last year and the understandable desire to celebrate new year.
“It comes as no surprise to hear that people are planning to travel across borders on New Year’s Eve to access less restricted hospitality events in England, although given the options and public health considerations, we would rather people enjoy their New Year’s Eve in regulated settings with mitigations in place to protect patrons and staff.”