MANY Swindonians are planning to party at home on New Year’s Eve despite Boris Johnson’s announcement celebrations at pubs and clubs can go ahead. 

Of the 179 readers who told us about their plans for tonight, only four revealed they would be having a night out on the town. Most say they are staying at home with family and friends, are self-isolating or working.

It comes as Covid cases soar in Swindon with the spread of the new Omicron variant. The town’s Covid case rate is 982.1 per 100,000 as of December 29. 

The number of Covid inpatients at Great Western Hospital has more than doubled in eight days from 24 on December 21 to 49 on December 29.

Managers of Swindon’s pubs, clubs and entertainment venues are hopeful that customers will turn out tonight, but they say it’s impossible to gauge what people are feeling.

And for some venues, the prime minister’s announcement came too late.

It’s business as usual for the town’s new Boom Battle Bar but the company had to cancel its special New Year’s comedy night with a Queen tribute band due to uncertainty regarding new restrictions.

The Waiting Room pub on Fleet Street is going ahead with tonight’s cabaret event starring The Fabulous Miss Bridy & the 2 Notes.

But manager Dan is still concerned. 

He said: “It’s been really hard to gauge  how busy it will be for New Year’s Eve this year.
“The Christmas period wasn’t as busy as we were expecting but that was understandable.

“There were a few good days like Christmas Eve and Boxing Day but it’s not like the Christmas periods we’ve known before.

“We’re going to do the best we can in the situation and we’re hoping people will turn out.

“New Year’s and Christmas Eve are usually the big nights for us but I just don’t know if it’s going to happen this year.”

Shoppers out in the town centre were on the fence.

Steve, 31, said: “It doesn’t seem like there’s a huge amount going on this year so I’ll probably head to the pub with a few mates but nothing massive.

“I was sitting at home last year so it would be nice to do something.”

Emma, 22, said: “I’m definitely going to do something with my friends but I’m having people over. We don’t usually go out for New Year’s  Eve.”
Swindon’s health chief has advice for all those planning to head out to welcome the new year in.

Steve Maddern, director of public health for Swindon Borough Council, has urged people to make sure they take a lateral flow before mixing indoors as starting 2022 with Covid would put a crimp in the celebrations.

He said: “Celebrating new year is one of the biggest events of the festive calendar, but people need to be Covid-safe with whatever they’re doing.

“Nobody wants to start 2022 with Covid.

“If you’re going to see friends and family, please take a lateral flow test beforehand and if you test positive stay at home and get a follow-up PCR test. When visiting other people try to keep the area well ventilated.

“If you’re going to an event at a business you should also take an LFT to check you’re not carrying the virus. 

“If you begin to show symptoms please stay at home and get tested. We need to work together to limit the spread of the virus.

“A rise in cases linked to Christmas and new year is to be expected with additional mixing of family and friends and we will get a better picture of the situation in Swindon within the next couple of weeks.” as people return to work and school after the festive period. 

“Any significant rise in cases is concerning, although we have to expect a certain level of community transmission going forward; the main concern is the impact on health and social care services as a result and we are seeing Covid hospital admissions increasing locally.”