A bar owner has hit out after losing most of her Saturday night trade because she was told she would have to prove customers from different households were not mixing.
Stephanie Chaddock said her venue, DV8 in Congleton, would normally be busy on a Saturday night with people sitting in the outdoor seating area.
Under the current Tier 2 rules in Cheshire East, people from different households are allowed to mix in groups of up to six if they are outdoors.
But the 31-year-old said when police and licensing chiefs from the council visited the Little Street bar on Friday, they said her outdoor area was too ‘enclosed’ to allow households to mix.
And to her dismay, Stephanie says she was told to seek proof that people visiting in groups lived in the same house or were part of the same support bubble.
When she announced on Facebook the changes that would need to be made, customers cancelled in droves.
Stephanie suspects that’s because in some cases people would have no way of proving they were part of a bubble.
“Another venue in the area actually rang me to tell that authorities were visiting premises and carrying out Covid compliance checks.
“They explained they were doing checks and making sure everyone was with their household and to prove they were also.
“However, when they went to the outside area which has the marquee , which we have every winter, they said it was too enclosed.
“When I explained to them there are no sides to the marquee, they said because there was a building on the other side it made it too enclosed.”
Stephanie said since she posted on Facebook about the visit from authorities, every table for the outside area cancelled on Saturday night.
She added that the venue has also lost 200 covers in total in the run up to Christmas.
The DV8 boss added: “We were fully booked on Saturday night, but after the announcement on Facebook explaining what had happened everyone cancelled because they couldn’t prove they were from the same household.
“We have also had inside tables cancelled as well because they cannot prove they are from the same household.”
Stephanie also claims she had no clarification from officials on how to validate if someone was in a support bubble, as their address and surnames may be different.
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She told CheshireLive : “We had no clarification on how we can validate a support bubble.
“One old lady’s daughter rang me yesterday and said her mum was devastated she couldn’t come and visit because she didn’t know how she could prove she was in a support bubble.
“She said she rang police and said they told her if she is in a support bubble then that is fine, but how do we check that?
“We have been so strict since July 4 with the rules and we have even received abuse from customers saying we are the ‘Covid police’ and too strict with the measures.
“We have had people from licensing and police officers come before when the marquee was up and they have seen people smoking there.
“So why was that allowed if it is not classed as outside?”
Stephanie who has worked at DV8 since 2009 and took over the establishment in 2017 said she ‘does not know how hospitality is meant to police all this.’
DV8 bar and lounge’s original Facebook post said: “We’ve been informed that our outdoor area is not classed as an outdoor area as it’s too enclosed!
“We’ve just received a visit from our local authorities (police and local council). We are absolutely devastated to hear that we’re no longer allowed to accept customers from different households to sit in our outside area.
“Since we re-opened on 4th July we abided strictly by every single guideline given to us and feel that we have gone above and beyond to ensure our staff and customers safety. We are absolutely devastated to hear this news.
“Due to our recent visit this evening, the local authorities have now decided that we are no longer allowed to accept mixed households at all in our outside space.
“We therefore ask that if you have a reservation with us for a mixed household could you please contact us to cancel as soon as possible.
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“If you are visiting us from the same household then you MUST prove to us that you are from the same household.
“We’ve been advised by the police that we can accept driving licenses with the same address or passports with the same surname as proof that you are from the same household.
“We really didn’t think things could get any harder but clearly that isn’t the case.
“We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”
Cheshire Police did confirm officers were patrolling the streets of Congleton on Friday night (December 11) performing coronavirus checks.
A spokesman said: “Congleton Beat Team carried out a joint licensing operation with Cheshire East last night checking the licensed premises in Congleton Town Centre are complying with current regulations.”