Earlier this month, bars and pubs in England, Northern Ireland, and Scotland were allowed to re-open for the first time since Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered them to close their doors in late March. The government provided a long list of recommendations and guidelines for any establishment that chose to reopen, including keeping the volume low on music or televisions to discourage shouting, encouraging customers to book their tables in advance, and limiting the number of people who can use the toilets at any given time.
The social distancing guidelines in England have been cut from six feet to the vagueish "one meter plus," but on everyone's first weekend back at the pubs, even that was difficult to manage.
"What was crystal clear is that drunk people can’t [or] won’t socially distance," John Apter, the chairman of the Police Federation, said. (He added that on his first pre-pub shift, he had to deal with "naked men, happy drunks, angry drunks, fights and more angry drunks.") According to The Guardian, several pubs decided to cut their grand re-openings short due to the number of terribly behaved patrons.
But the manager at a pub in Cornwall in southwestern England isn't dealing with anybody's bad behavior anymore, and he doesn't expect his bar staff to deal with it either. After a weekend of customers who pushed, shoved, and crowded around the taps, Johnny McFadden put an electric fence around the bar at the The Star Inn. (There's also a bright yellow sign that says "WARNING: Electric Fence.")
"It's there for social distancing," McFadden told Cornwall Live. "Before the fence, people were not following social distancing and were doing as they pleased, but now people take heed to the guidance around social distancing. It's for everybody's benefit."
McFadden—who is also a farmer—said that regardless of whether or not the fence is switched on, it gets the message across. "People keep away from it, people are like sheep," he told the BBC. "They know it is a fence and don't want to touch it to find out whether it is on or not." (Several people have already claimed that yes, it's on, and yes, they were shocked by it.)
The Star Inn has a four-star rating on TripAdvisor, both before the pandemic and before the electric fence, with reviewers praising it as a "proper pub," describing it as "full of characters," and suggesting that McFadden should've had a "horse tied up outside and a big Stetson on." (The sole one-star review is from a self-described "competent folk singer" who didn't receive the welcome she'd hoped for when she arrived.)
Despite his uncharacteristic method of crowd control, McFadden might be onto something. At least three pubs in England were forced to close again, just days after reopening, after patrons phoned in to let them know that they'd tested positive for coronavirus after their Saturday night visits. Maybe every bar should just treat their customers like they're farm animals. It can't possibly make things worse.