Pubs on covid enforcers’ watch list for overcrowding



Council and police officers say they will be ‘keeping a close eye’ on a small number of pubs due to social distancing concerns.

Public protection teams from Stoke-on-Trent City Council and officers from Staffordshire Police visited a number of venues over the weekend, following the easing of lockdown restrictions on April 12.

They say that while most pubs have been following the guidance relating to social distancing, booking systems and one-way lay-outs, there have been issues with gathering crowds at a minority.

The police have received three complaints about pubs in the city since they reopened, which are being investigated.

City council leader Abi Brown urged residents to report any potential breaches of coronavirus rules. The authority has just received five reports from the public since the easing of restrictions, compared to around 50 a week earlier in the year.

She said: “The best information comes from our residents. Our public protection officers have been working really hard to ensure that businesses are following the rules since lockdown was relaxed, but they are quite a small team and they can’t be everywhere at once.

“That’s why we need the public to report any potential breaches they see, so we can investigate. So far we have only had five complaints from members of the public, which is encouraging. But I would urge residents to come forward with any concerns that might have.

“Our first response will be to offer advice and guidance, and most of the time that will be enough. But we have demonstrated that we will take enforcement action against those businesses which continues to flout the rules.”

The city council will work with the police to monitor the ‘small number’ of pubs where there have been concerns over gathering crowds and a lack of social distancing.

But the council says it would not be appropriate to name the venues in question.

A spokesman for Staffordshire Police said: “Local public houses with outdoor facilities have been extremely busy over the weekend, with locals keen to enjoy this next step on the unlocking plan while supporting local businesses.

“Policing patrols and licensing teams are playing a vital role in ensuring that licensed premises and customers continue to adhere to Covid guidelines. We will continue to work with licensing partners to address any issues raised, offer advice and take action where necessary.”

Residents can contact the city council’s public protection team via public.protection@stoke.gov.uk.

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