Friday night in London’s West End and the streets fall silent.
It’s only half past ten, but most have made their way home.
In Covent Garden, the empty tables spoke for themselves.
No big crowds, just small groups of friends, fitting in a final night out.
Many brought their weekend plans forward before the mixing ban began.
One group told me: “We were supposed to come here tomorrow for a birthday, but that can’t happen, so here we are tonight.”
Most out are resigned to the new rules and restrictions. One teenager, out with her friends, said: “I’ve seen what’s happening, I know why we’re doing it.
“The trouble is, for us we’re all at college together during the day, and yet can’t come out together.”
Her friend said he finds this “all a bit useless”.
With bars and restaurants only able to accommodate small groups, they are already starting to count the cost.
At Frenchies, they used to serve 74 covers a night. This dropped when the rule of six started. Moving into Tier 2 means they will only manage around 40.
Head chef, Victor Avonds, tries to stay optimistic, but admits things will be hard. “Before, we were being creative, and we were building up again, and we could see it in our reservations.
“But we can see for tomorrow the reservations are already dropping.”
She fears for the future, uncertain if customers will keep coming.
And it’s tough carrying on, when things feel so fragile.
“Every single day you are like, what is going to be the next thing, what is going to happen? It’s tiring.”
There is also a sense among many these changes will be long-lasting. Some are questioning whether even more measures could be coming if COVID-19 cases continue to rise.