PUBS face being shut or fined up to £10,000 for failing to enforce coronavirus regulations.
Officials have warned that venues must obey the rules after huge queues were spotted outside boozers yesterday.
100 students queued up outside for 20 spots outside the Friendship Inn in ManchesterCredit: Startraks
Drinkers had a street party in Soho, Central London last nightCredit: AFP
People queueing outside The Oak Inn in Coventry last nightCredit: SWNS
Pubs and restaurants finally reopened yesterday after four months of lockdown – but can only serve customers outdoors.
The easing of restrictions prompted huge queues outside boozers yesterday, with Soho in Central London packed with punters spilling out onto the street.
Pictures also show huge queues outside pubs in Manchester, Sunderland, Burnley and Birmingham – with councils setting up enforcement squads to patrol venues and look for rule-breakers.
It comes after at least 100 people queued outside The Oak Inn in Coventry after it reopened at midnight on Sunday – prompting an investigation by Coventry Council.
The Council claimed the venue may have breached restrictions by “having difficulties with large queues or unmanageable amounts of visitors”.
Though the queue formed on the street, which lies outside the pub’s premises, the council said its licensing team could use a “wide range of powers” if the venue was found to be breaking Covid regulations.
Government guidance states that venues face a Fixed Penalty Notice starting at £1,000 for failing to enforce rules such as social distancing. This can rise to £10,000 upon repeat offences.
Huge crowds gathered in the streets of Soho, London last nightCredit: LNP
Wetherspoon’s Imperial Pub in Exeter had an estimated 2 hour queue at lunchtimeCredit: Apex
The local council in Maidstone, Kent also said that pubs face a “fixed penalty notice, prohibition notice, license review or a combination” for failing to enforce the rules.
Under the current regulations, pubs are obliged to encourage punters to follow social distancing guidelines.
But industry leaders have stressed that queues were inevitable amid huge demand and punters needing to check in with NHS Test and Trace at the door.
Emma McClarkin, the chief executive of the British Beer and Pubs Association, called on the government and councils to “show some pragmatism” amid huge demand from customers.
She told the Daily Telegraph: “We hope that all councils will approach the guidance in the spirit of assisting us to find a way to open, and open safely, not finding ways to use it to shut us down.”
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