Fourteen warning letters have been issued and two Immediate Prohibition Notices served following reports that premises are defying regulations and staying open. In some cases, there have been reports of pub ‘lock ins’, encouraging people to defy the social distancing guidelines. A further Immediate Prohibition notice is being served today (March 31) to enforce a closure.
The National Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 make it an offence for many types of businesses including pubs, clubs and bars to stay open in the current pandemic. It also allows authorities to take tough action against any premises in breach of the rules.
Deputy council leader Cllr Helen Whitehead said: “We should all be following the instructions from the Government to ‘Stay Home and Save Lives’. It is therefore disappointing to have to take action against three local businesses who have ignored these measures and are still operating from their premises.
“These businesses and the people using them are potentially risking their own lives and the lives of others. It is our responsibility to protect the most vulnerable in society and reduce the strain on our incredibly hardworking medical professionals who are risking themselves daily to care for us. Following these guidelines is imperative if we are to help them, and I ask anyone considering unnecessary gatherings or journeys to think of the most vulnerable person they know, and their right to protection, before doing anything that could endanger others.
“With the Easter bank holiday coming up, businesses should be aware that our Environmental Health team is working closely with Kent Police, monitoring the situation and responding to any allegations made. It has never been more important for people to follow the government’s advice to protect us all and save lives.
“We won’t hesitate to use the powers we have to stop this kind of activity and ensure that local businesses act in a responsible manner. It is our duty to protect the public and we will continue to do so.”
Thanet District Council is the first authority in Kent to take enforcement action. When an allegation against a premises is received the Public Protection and Licensing team issue a warning letter explaining that there is a suspicion and stating that it will carry out further investigations.
If the council finds the premises has or continues to flout the current legislation, they will be served with an Immediate Prohibition Notice. They may also be liable for an unlimited fine, a Fixed Penalty Notice or face prosecution. In the case of licensed premises, they will be referred to the council’s Licensing Sub-Committee where they could have their licence to supply alcohol removed.
Thanet council has not named the businesses involved.
Anyone with information about premises in breach of the regulations can report it confidentially on 101 or 01843 577000 or email the team on firstname.lastname@example.org.