22/05/2020 - Permalink

Coronavirus: Bank Holiday reminder to bars, pubs, restaurants and licensed premises to follow lockdown restrictions

Related topics: Coronavirus / Health / Partner organisations / Public protection

Shropshire Council’s priority during the coronavirus pandemic is to protect the health and safety of the public and to save lives. For this to happen, everyone needs to behave responsibly.

With that in mind, the council has welcomed the Government’s phased approach to reopening of businesses, and is reviewing the guidance for the coming months to ensure all easements are planned and phased very carefully.

We are urging significant caution when it comes to licensed premises in Shropshire.

It is hugely important that businesses and the public understand that the changes planned for July in Step 3 of the Government’s roadmap will only come in if the evidence shows the rate of transmission of the virus is low, and the plans that are in place to maintain social distancing are effective.

The council has been delivering, and continues to deliver, the necessary services to support licensed businesses across Shropshire. We are keeping these under review, in line with the Government’s advice, as the response to the pandemic develops.

Since the Government introduced the legislation that enforced the closure of certain licensed premises, Shropshire Council has received numerous complaints alleging licensed premises continue to operate in breach of the legislation. Council officers have adopted a proportionate and pragmatic approach to enforcing business closure restrictions, with the majority of licensed premises complying fully with the requirements.

We are now aware of media articles suggesting pubs could reopen in July by allowing the use of outdoor areas.

We want to stress to all licensed premises and their customers that this is currently not official Government advice. Legislation requirements remain in place for bars, restaurants, cafes and public houses to close their premises in which food or drink are sold for consumption on those premises. This includes any adjacent areas where seating is made available for customers.  

We also strongly urge licensees to avoid the temptation to hold events, including those that may be held under the banner of a charitable purpose over the Bank Holiday weekend. This will encourage non-essential journeys and gatherings, which are in breach of the Government restrictions and could put people at risk.

Any licensed premises with ‘off sales’ may continue to supply alcohol to the general public for consumption off the premises, providing social distancing and other public health measures are in place to protect customers and staff. The council has officers with the expertise and skills to advise and support licensees to ensure ’off-sales’ are carried out safely. Licensees are strongly encouraged to seek this advice.

Frances Darling, Shropshire Council’s trading standards and licensing operations manager, said:

“The council has a significant role to play as the Licensing Authority, and wants to emphasise that the position for licensed premises is exactly the same as it has been since March when the restrictions came into force.

“We will do our best to keep licensees fully informed of any developments, but for now, all premises must abide by the closure rules. Failure to do so may mean licensees are liable to prosecution, and also a review of their premises licence that may lead to their licence being revoked.

“We do understand that these are extremely challenging times for our local licensed premises, and we will provide the support they need. However, for now, I urge all licensees to be patient and not to risk their licence by trading other than where their licence permits ‘off sales’, and to do so in line with public health advice.

“I want to thank all licensed premises for their continued efforts to prevent the spread of coronavirus.”

Rachel Robinson, Shropshire Council’s director of public health, said:

“The protection of the health and safety of the public is our number one priority, but everyone has a responsibility.

“It is crucial that licensed premises remain closed unless they are licensed for ‘off-sales’, and to only do this if they can ensure their premises are safe to protect staff and customers from the spread of COVID-19. We have highly knowledgeable and skilled staff who are happy and able to help licensees and the public with any concerns they may have. If you need to speak with us, please get in touch. We are here to help.”

Further advice can be sought and COVID-19 concerns can be reported to Shropshire Council by email to advicecompliance@shropshire.gov.uk or telephone 0345 678 9067 and select option 3.

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