Coronavirus: Warning to pubs flouting Tier 2 restrictions
Shropshire Council’s priority during the coronavirus pandemic is to protect the health and safety of the public and to save lives. With the Government announcing more severe restrictions over the weekend in other parts of the country, and significantly tightening what is permitted over the Christmas period, it is very clear that if businesses and the public fail to comply with the restrictions, Shropshire faces an ever-increasing risk of more severe restrictions.
Recent reports received, and monitoring undertaken by council officers in partnership with West Mercia Police, is highlighting a failure by certain pubs, particularly those that do not normally provide restaurant meals, to comply with key ‘Tier 2’ hospitality restrictions. This is being compounded by customers who are putting pubs in an extremely difficult position by ignoring the single household and support bubble restrictions that apply indoors. Such failures will inevitably increase the transmission and prevalence of COVID-19 in our communities.
It is crucial that pubs and their customers remember that the restrictions are in place to combat coronavirus, which is a serious threat to public health. The specific hospitality restrictions are intended to limit the amount of time customers spend in pubs and thus mitigate the risks posed by extended exposure time. By ensuring that people are eating and are not visiting pubs solely to drink alcohol, means that the risk of falling inhibition leading to a lack of social distancing and the undermining of other COVID-19-secure measures is reduced.
During the whole pandemic, council officers have adopted a proportionate and pragmatic approach to enforcing business closure restrictions, and this will continue. We are, however, seeing a rise in the number of reports that pubs are failing to comply with the restrictions, and others are taking inadequate steps in an attempt to circumvent the law. This has led to an increase in enforcement interventions, including the issuing of a formal coronavirus restriction notice requiring a licensed premises in Bridgnorth to close for 48 hours.
Frances Darling, Shropshire Council’s trading standards and licensing operations manager, said:
“I am obviously extremely disappointed that we have had to resort to formal enforcement action in the case of the Bridgnorth premises; however, the risks for our Shropshire communities are far too serious for us not to take an extremely robust enforcement position. I must warn licensees that significant contraventions will inevitably lead to enforcement action. This not only includes restriction notices, but also prosecution and significant financial fixed penalties, as well as licence reviews that may ultimately lead to their licence being revoked.
“We do understand that these are extremely challenging times and that there are pubs who are literally fighting for survival. We want to reassure pub owners that we will support them to comply with the restrictions; however, the increasingly serious position that we find ourselves in means that owners must either ensure compliance with all the restrictions, or they must make the very difficult decision to close.
“We will continue to monitor the levels of compliance over the Christmas period and will target and take action against those pubs where there is clear disregard for the safety of their customers and staff.
“I do want to thank all those pubs who are following the rules to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, and ask that they continue to take this responsibility very seriously.”
Shropshire local policing commander, Superintendent Mo Lansdale, said:
“We will be working with Shropshire Council’s licensing officers and offering support and guidance to pubs and restaurants around the new restrictions and their responsibilities. However, where there are clear breaches we will not hesitate to take enforcement action.
“We know it has been a challenging year and I’ve been incredibly proud of the support from our local communities, with the vast majority adhering to the restrictions that have been put in place.
“I cannot stress enough how important it is we continue this over the Christmas period to ensure we keep ourselves and our loved ones safe.”
Gwilym Butler, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for communities, place planning and regulatory services, said:
“The protection of the health and safety of the public is our number one priority.
“The current hospitality restrictions place significant onus on both pubs and customers to comply with the restrictions, and I urge everyone to step up and do their bit to ensure pubs are safe and that customers, staff and the wider community is protected from the spread of the virus.
“We must not lose sight of the fact that coronavirus is highly infectious, and it thrives on contact between people. If the restrictions are not followed, the risk to individuals and our NHS is extremely high. I cannot emphasise enough that to keep everyone safe, you must reduce the number of people you are in contact with and the amount of time that you spend together. Unfortunately, this also applies to our family and friends that we hold dear.”
Further advice can be sought from, and coronavirus concerns reported to, Shropshire Council by email to email@example.com or telephone 0345 678 9067 and select option 3.