Pubs and drinkers urged to follow social distancing rules

Published: Wednesday, 12th August 2020

Two pubs in Stoke-on-Trent are being monitored after the city council received further allegations that rules on social distancing are still being broken.

The pubs have already been advised and warned following previous complaints and could now face more formal intervention if problems continue – with powers including preventing certain activities from being held, limiting the number of customers allowed in or closing the pub and reviewing its licence which would be a last resort.

Since the weekend of July 31, there has been a rise in complaints to the council about pubs with seven in the first six days of August and a further four at the weekend – the same as the amount received for the whole of July. All of these premises have been visited and the council is actively working with 11 pubs to improve compliance levels with the guidance and regulations.

While the majority of pub customers have been abiding by the Government’s safety guidelines, a small minority are becoming too complacent with the rules, with many of the incidents stemming from customers simply ignoring the measures in place.

Recent incidents reported to the council include:

  • A pub in Stoke that was hosting outdoor karaoke, with social distancing being ignored. The venue has been warned but further allegations about Friday and Saturday at the weekend have been received;
  • A pub in the north east of the city that has had challenges managing its venue because of its size and layout. Officers have worked with the venue but further allegations have recently been received around social distancing;
  • An outdoor music event on private land in Longton on August 1, that was overseen prior to the event and officers were happy with the arrangements in place. However, footage suggests that the measures were ignored by the event attendees;
  • A wedding reception attended by 60 guests in Longton on August 3, with some being bused in from outside the area. The venue has been warned about its future conduct but responsibility also sits with the event organiser.

Cllr Abi Brown, leader of the city council, said: “Shutting a pub or business down would be an absolute last resort for us and it’s not a road we want to go down, or have to go down if everybody plays by the rules. We are very keen to see businesses getting back on their feet and the economy recovering, however, we also have a duty to keep the public safe and we will always take the appropriate action necessary to do that. We don’t want Stoke-on-Trent to go into lockdown which we have seen in other parts of the UK and it’s in all our collective power to make sure this doesn’t happen.

“Many businesses and the majority of customers are complying with the regulations and we really thank them for that, but what we are seeing is a minority of customers not helping by ignoring the measures in place and complaints around pubs are now on the rise. We’re urging people to continue to follow social distancing guidelines, and reminding pubs they can ask anyone who refuses to leave.”

The council is also writing to all hairdressers and barber’s across the city to remind them about their responsibilities to wear the correct PPE following a number of complaints. Yesterday officers visited nine barbers in the city at random to check if the correct PPE was being worn, with three spoken to for non-compliance. The shops will be revisited, along with other barbers across the city in the coming days and weeks. Separately, an investigation has been launched against a barber’s in Burslem that has had interventions but continues to flout the guidance by not wearing visors or following social distancing. In May the council took equipment from a barber’s in the Longton area after it ignored a prohibition notice to stay closed.

Finally, people are also being urged to follow the guidance on inviting people from one household into their home or visiting the home of someone else, to avoid spreading the virus between households and within households.

Cllr Brown added: “We’ve all got to remember that coronavirus hasn’t gone away. Rates across Stoke-on-Trent are still low in comparison to other areas but are increasing, and we all need to work together to follow the regulations, which are there to protect our communities and help prevent the spread of coronavirus. If we don’t, we could be the next city that has to adopt much stricter measures, and nobody wants that.”

Chief Inspector Mark Barlow, of Stoke North Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “It is great to see people out and about again. We want to support our communities with the opportunities that the easing of lockdown has given us, however, our priority has always been to keep people safe. We’ll be out and about engaging with the public and working with our partners to encourage social distancing and for the public to use common sense as we have been throughout the pandemic.”