A pub in Shropshire has become the first in the county to be issued a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) by Shropshire Council for breaching COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.
The council’s priority throughout the pandemic has been to protect the health and safety of the public.
Recent reports received, and monitoring undertaken by council officers, found that the pub – which cannot be named for legal reasons – was selling alcohol from its premises and allowing customers to remain adjacent to the premises whilst drinking. Under current England lockdown laws this is not permitted at pubs.
Current restrictions are in place to limit social contact and halt the spread of coronavirus.
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 council has taken a proportionate and pragmatic approach to enforcing restrictions throughout the pandemic. It will continue to monitor levels of compliance, and where necessary will take action against those pubs where there is clear breaches of restrictions and disregard for public safety.
Frances Darling, Shropshire Council’s trading standards and licensing operations manager, said:
“The council takes no pleasure in issuing fines and I’m extremely disappointed that we have had to resort to issuing a Fixed Penalty Notice in the case of a Ludlow 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. Repeat offenders may see their premises licence reviewed, which 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 ensure compliance with all the restrictions.
“I do want to thank all those pubs who are following the rules to prevent the spread of coronavirus and ask that they continue to take this responsibility very seriously.”
Gwilym Butler, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for communities, place planning and regulatory services, said:
“The council’s top priority is to protect the health and safety of our communities.
“Not only is this sort of activity a danger to public health, it goes entirely against the spirit of the lockdown and is hugely unfair to the many hospitality businesses following the restrictions.
“The council fully appreciates that the past 12 months have been challenging for businesses, but we all have a responsibility to follow the restrictions that are in place to keep everyone safe. I urge everyone to step up and do their bit. 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 would like to thank all those pubs who are following the rules to prevent the spread of coronavirus and ask that they continue to take this responsibility very seriously.”
Shropshire Superintendent Mo Lansdale, said:
“The majority of people and establishments are adhering to the legislation and we are ever grateful to them for following the restrictions. We know it is an extremely stressful and worrying time for so many in our community. However, every one of the regulations is in place for the public’s health and safety.
“We will continue to engage with the public and encourage them to follow the regulations, but in cases where people and businesses do breach the legislation, enforcement action will be taken. This is ultimately to save lives.
“Again, thank you to all of you who are adhering to the restrictions.”
Shropshire Council has worked hard to support businesses across the county and have provided £17.5m to 2,400 businesses in the last month alone.
In mid-January, the amount of grant support handed out by Shropshire Council to wet-led pubs reached £200,000.
Pub owners are strongly advised to read the regulations as well as familiarising themselves with Government guidance, both of which can be found on the gov.uk website.
What can pubs continue to provide?
- Food and non-alcoholic drinks on a takeaway basis between 5am and 11pm. This means that customers can enter the premises to place and collect their order. Food and non-alcoholic drinks can also be provided by click-and-collect, where goods are pre-ordered by phone (including by text message), online, via a mobile app or post and collected without customers entering the premises, as well as via drive through.
- All food and drink (including alcohol) can continue to be provided through delivery services where orders must be placed, in advance, by phone (including by text message), online, via a mobile app or post. Venues offering delivery services must not include alcoholic beverages if their licence does not already permit this.
For businesses who are mandated to close but do not pay business rates, or for businesses who do not fall within the eligible sectors outlined for support from LRSG but have been severely impacted by this latest lockdown, a further Discretionary Additional Restrictions Grant (DARG) is now available. People can find out more here.