ALMOST half of the people living in the North West have returned to drinking in pubs, according to a new survey.

Meanwhile, a predicted spike in drinking at home has not materialised.

The study, carried out by Yougov and commissioned by alcohol industry regulator and social responsibility body, the Portman Group, looked in to the region's drinking habits, both during and after the lockdown.

John Timothy, CEO of the Portman Group, said: “During the course of the Covid-19 crisis there has been a fear that many people would turn to alcohol and that misuse would increase.

"Yet the North West shows continued moderation both at home and, happily, now back at the pub.

"It’s great to see people supporting their community pubs while drinking sensibly and maintaining social distancing.”

Some 44 per cent of all pubgoers in the North West have returned to their locals since they reopened following the national lockdown, according to the survey.

Numbers of pub visitors in the North West since July 4 exceed that for most of England.

And adults in the North West are visiting their locals more than their neighbours over the Pennines in Yorkshire.

In spite many of the changes and additional Covid-19 safe measures introduced at beer houses, around one in four people surveyed said social distancing has not deterred them from returning to the pub.

Conversely, most North West residents have continued to drink in moderation at home.

Lockdown was predicated to cause a sharp rise in alcohol consumption and binge-drinking.

However, almost nine out of ten people in the region have continued to drink the same amount (53 per cent), now drink less (27 per cent), or have cut out alcohol altogether (nine per cent) since lockdown ­— the survey found.

Moreover, the majority of North West drinkers have continued to consume within the UK Chief Medical Officer guidelines of 14 units per week, and weekly intakes remain similar to those before lockdown.

But, concerningly, eight per cent of people in the North West have increased their drinking.

Anyone concerned about their own, or another persons’, drinking is encouraged to visit Drinkaware or the NHS online for free advice and guidance.