An epidemiologist has created an accidental online guide mapping pubs with heated outdoor space in preparation for the winter months.
Oli Stevens, who works as a researcher at a leading London university, started a simple Google document two weeks ago and shared it to a WhatsApp group with around 20 friends.
It soon went viral, and as others added their own local boozers, the list grew to well over 100, categorised by North, East, West, and South, with a handful of entries in Birmingham.
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As more people got their hands on what was then a public document, Mr Stevens locked the page to prevent it getting “ruined”. He has now released the guide as it is and produced a map to help people navigate London in winter, with tier two restrictions in place.
“I made it a couple of weeks ago and shared it with my friends,” Mr Stevens told i.
“I didn’t expect it to become this big. I just wanted to do something to encourage my friends to socialise in winter, but safely.
“I think Covid-19 is going to have a huge mental impact this winter, and it might be isolating. So it was some sort of path to mitigating the effects.
“Personally, I’m only really comfortable socialising outside. I think that’s the safest way. I’m appropriately cautious with what I do.”
Mr Stevens acknowledged that what started as a familiar resource between friends has now become a handy guide for people hoping to share a few pints in London, outside, without getting too cold.
In tier two, households are banned from mixing indoors, and the Rule of Six only applies to outdoor settings.
Over the summer, picnics and lunches in pub gardens proved popular, but as the colder months approach, there are worries more people will stay home, and the hospitality industry could suffer – pubs, synonymous with festive occasions, particularly.
Mr Stevens added: “My main goal really is just to meet up with my friends, but I appreciate we need to support the industry too.
“There’s a lack of cafe culture here in winter. We Brits go to the pub. Warm outside space will be so important over the next six months.”
Mr Stevens’ map has now been shared among friendship groups across the capital and beyond, and has amassed almost 30,000 views in just two days. Pub gardens have never been so vital.