After three dry long months locked down, England’s pubs are reopening on Saturday, but, not everyone is raising their glass amid concern social distancing and alcohol won’t mix. Pubs in Northern Ireland will open a day earlier on Friday, though health authorities in Wales and Scotland have judged it too soon to open drinking establishments. In England, some police, doctors and public health experts agree. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is anxious to restart the economy, with millions of jobs expected to be lost once it ends its furlough scheme in the autumn. Hospitality is one of the sectors hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. But the country is still far from putting the virus into controllable remission. On Sunday, the government announced it was locking down Leicester , a city of around 340,000 people after a surge in Covid-19 cases believed to have spread through clothing factories staffed by migrant labour. Other English cities, mainly in the north, were also expected to soon go into local lockdown. The UK still has no nationwide test-and-trace system in place, and an estimated 3,000 people in the country are still catching the virus every day. The US-based Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Centre claims the UK has the highest coronavirus death rate in the world. The UK has recorded almost 44,000 deaths compared to the more than 128,000 in the US, which has the highest global death toll, a country with a population five times the size. The UK government has also been criticised for presenting what has been dubbed by the press as “Super Saturday” as something to celebrate, which could be seen as giving license to widespread drunkenness for which Britons have an international reputation. “I am in favour of the gradual lifting of the lockdown, based on the science, but not in the way the government have proceeded,” said David Jamieson, West Midlands’ police and crime commissioner in a statement. “I am worried that by opening on a Saturday, rather than letting things bed in over the week there is a likely threat of serious disorder. Can London’s Chinatown survive the coronavirus? “The government is out of touch on this issue and should be listening to police leaders when they make major decisions like this. When things go wrong it is the police who have to pick up the pieces.” There are also fears of excess drinking leading to a surge of patients in the emergency departments of hospitals. “The NHS (National Health Service) has coped admirably during this period, but staff are exhausted, and the system is very fragile,” said Katherine Henderson, President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine. “After seeing all of the good will, all of the clapping for the NHS, it would be heartbreaking to see emergency departments overwhelmed on the first post-lockdown evening by people who have gotten too drunk or been in a fight. “If you go to A&E because you’re plastered, you end up stretching the health service further and potentially put others at risk.” ‘Happy Monday’ as Britain eases out of coronavirus lockdown. But is it too soon? She warned A&E hospital departments could become “hubs of infection”. The British Medical Association has asked for mask-wearing to be made mandatory, especially in closed spaces such as pubs, but the UK government has yet to issue such instructions. Even family doctors have expressed concern about pub openings, and one group belonging to the medical branch of the Unite trade union demonstrated outside of 10 Downing Street on Tuesday. With a balcony looking over the River Thames, that on a normal summer evening is packed like sardines, The Grapes pub in Limehouse dates back to 1583, described in Charles Dickens’ 1820 novel, My Mutual Friend . Its wood-clad walls have heard many tales of pandemics from the bubonic plague of 1665, to the Spanish flu at the end of World War I. In 2011, the pub was rescued from closure by four investors, including actor Ian McKellen, one of the UK’s best known gay activists who won awards for his performance in the 1993 film, And the Band Played On , about the doctor who discovered Aids. Disunited kingdom as Johnson promotes his coronavirus recovery road map “We are lucky, it’s just us, the same team that have been coming in so we have been in a bubble throughout,” said the Australian manager, who was busy organising takeaway orders of pub fare such as pies and fish and chips. Pubs have been allowed to offer takeaway beers and food during lockdown. But on Saturday, when customers are once again allowed through its doors, only pre-booked customers can eat in the Grapes, and table numbers have been spaced out, although it is still hard to imagine how the two-metre social distancing rules can be met within its rickety confines. Other pubs, especially those owned by the larger chains like Wetherspoons, whose outspoken pro-Brexit owner Tim Martin initially opposed locking down, pointing to the millions of pounds in tax the sector pays to the Treasury every year. “We have 875 pubs across the UK … but of that number 750 are in England – and every one of them are opening apart from five in Leicester which is out of our control,” said Eddie Gershon, a spokesman for Wetherspoons. “We have good managers in the pubs. If there are large groups, we won’t let them in. it’s as simple as that. Before lockdown if you were in a pub and were drunk and were going to make trouble then we wouldn’t serve you anyway.” He said Wetherspoons was the first pub chain to introduce an app for ordering drinks, instead of the usual British custom of waving money at the barman. Other publicans are more cautious. Only 53 per cent of pubs were expected to open Saturday, according to a survey by the trade body UKHospitality, although that number should rise to 75 per cent be the end of the month. Meanwhile, the concern is for the millions of pints of stale beer that will be emptied from cellars, as pubs restock, threatening to overwhelm the sewage system in some areas. An estimated 70 million pints of beer have been left on pub premises since lockdown in March. The sudden release of so much alcohol threatens to overwhelm the germs that break down effluent in sewage treatment plants.