Fighting broke out in Cardiff on Saturday night (November 28), just one week on from a violent incident in the city which saw a number of people left with stab wounds.
South Wales Police quickly broke up the fight between two men on St Mary Street, with three police vans and more than a dozen officers arriving at the scene outside of McDonald’s just before 9pm.
A pint glass was also thrown leaving smashed glass on the floor and leading pubs to start bringing in tables they had set up outside their venues.
The force had an increased presence in the city centre as hordes of people arrived to take advantage of Black Friday sales, watch Wales play England in the autumn rugby internationals and enjoy the final weekend before new restrictions are brought in on the hospitality industry in Wales.
First Minister Mark Drakeford is due to announce what those will be on Monday (November 30). There is speculation that he may bring in a 6pm curfew or ban all alcohol sales as Scotland has done in its Tier 3 restrictions.
Shortly before the fight began, South Wales Police assistant chief constable Mark Travis told WalesOnline: “It is a busy evening. The plan is about engaging with the public, having lots of officers out, making people feel safe. Using the officers who know the local area, working with licensees. The city feels good tonight as though people are enjoying themselves but respecting the regulations.”
Asked about the knife violence which took place last weekend, he said: “It was a busy weekend last weekend but I think the police responded well to that. But this evening has been a very peaceful evening and we’ve got plenty of resources and are able to deal with whatever comes our way.”
Officers on horseback could be seen patrolling the city centre, as crowds of people waited in queues outside of bars and restaurants.
Many people said they struggled to find somewhere to get a drink as venues requested reservations in advance.
Fourth-year Cardiff University student Lowri Mizen said she tried to make a reservation for herself and two friends but ended up having to wander the city looking for a venue with available tables.
“I think I literally rang about 20 places trying to get a reservation for this evening and they were all fully booked,” she said.
But while crowds were large, it was still not the busiest the city’s been.
Student Grace Phillips said: “In all fairness, compared to what it’s like on a game day when coronavirus wasn’t a thing, it’s so much quieter.”
Despite being one of the coldest days of the winter so far, many chose to sit outside in order to secure a seat.
Jessica Bailey, who was visiting from Pontypool for her birthday, said she tried to book a table for drinks more than two weeks ago, but had no luck. She said she thinks people are “trying to make the most” of relaxed restrictions now, in case tighter measures are brought in ahead of Christmas.
“There’s some people with hats, scarves and gloves on outside with a beer so people are desperate, aren’t they,” she said.
The night-time crowds have carried over from a busy afternoon in the city’s shopping areas.
Many shops had customers queue up outside in order to ensure social distancing measures were able to be met inside.
Shopper Pauline Holmes told WalesOnline she had travelled by bus from Newport but was heading home after less than an hour in Cardiff.
“Literally, I’ve been here 20 minutes. I’m going home, I can’t be dealing with all of this,” she said, adding that the crowded streets and shops were “nerve-wracking”.
Many complained the huge crowds made it difficult to get into shops at all.
Sophie Gabriel, 28, of Ely, said: “It’s too busy. I haven’t been out for ages, I was shielding back in March. But you can’t get anything done. All the shops we wanted to go in, you can’t get in. You’re queuing. It’s freezing as well.”
Others said they expected to see crowds this weekend and were happy to see businesses and customers complying with the coronavirus regulations.
Eighteen-year-old Oliver Allen, from Newport, said it was clear people were getting the message, despite the rules changing frequently.
“You’ve got Wales doing one thing and England doing another thing. But I think for the most part people do know what they’ve got to do and what regulations they’ve got to be following,” he said.