Lancaster non-drinkers’ opinions on lockdown easing

‘I don’t need to be drunk to enjoy seeing my friends’

With everything reopening this week, in particular pubs and dine-in restaurants, there’ll be two camps of people returning to hospitality venues; those who drink, and those who don’t. This week, non-drinkers can look forward to a variety of activities finally becoming available again. This includes going to the cinema to watch a film, finally sitting indoors in cafes and restaurants, and being able to visit other households.

Whilst many students are celebrating the return of indoor pubs, meeting up with friends and drinking their “pornstar martini” or “vodka martini, shaken not stirred” (okay 007!), others prefer not to drink. Students can be non-drinkers for a variety of reasons, and many believe that not drinking offers a better socialising experience when out.

Saving money? Yes please!

I feel pretty indifferent about everything reopening. I think that pubs are important in establishing community and an atmosphere of inclusion, but I don’t drink personally as I don’t like spending money on alcohol. Yes, I would drink when it’s offered to me, but I’d limit myself to one or two glasses at most (assuming I can even finish one).

Glad coffee shops have reopened

When not on the topic of pubs, I’m pretty happy that coffee shops are offering dine-in service now, since this will give me another place to hang out with friends. There’s not really a sense of social exclusion in coffee shops. There’s a lot less pressure to drink when you’re outside of the pub, and coffee shops are great at providing a space without that sense of social exclusion for non-drinkers.

They’re great places to sip coffee (or any other alternative drink), relax, and unwind after a long day of work (or procrastination). I’m also particularly happy about the cinemas reopening since I can finally watch a film on the big screen and experience the “magic of cinema” Odeon clip before the trailers.

Social exclusion in not drinking

We reached out to non-drinking students and asked them about their opinions on lockdown easing. Niko, a first-year non-drinker from Fylde, said: “I have been feeling slightly left out” in regards to the plans for reopening, but that he doesn’t really get on with his flatmates, so it’s not too bad. Niko thinks that he’d get on better with them and feel less isolated if he did drink.

He said: “It’s the only way they really socialise together. I’ve managed to make friends with some other people on my course, so other restrictions easing, like being able to go to other people’s flats, should help a lot!”

However, Niko is concerned about the pubs reopening in particular, as his flat has so many people and he’s the only one who doesn’t drink. He claimed that this has caused situations where everyone is “really loud or rude, a lot more than normal.”

Niko said: “I don’t really like being around drunk people” and that he’s ended up spending less and less time in his flat this year in order to avoid his flatmates being drunk as much as possible.

Happy with social aspect but there’s ‘no need to be drunk’

Second-year Film and Media Studies student Elena from County College said: “I’m happy that the pubs are opening because I miss the social aspect of going out.”

Like many non-drinkers, Elena doesn’t feel drinking would positively impact her socialising experience. Whilst she will be returning to the pubs now that they’re opening, she will not be drinking.  She said: “I don’t need to be drunk to enjoy seeing my friends.  I don’t have the money to afford alcohol, so I would rather stick to water when I go to the pub.”

Whether you drink or not, there are plenty of places opening back up this week after months of closure. Students can now head out to a whole variety of venues, and with bigger events like performances, sporting events, and clubbing being piloted by the government, there’s definitely something to look forward to, whoever you are.

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