'Worldwide' reaction to operator's electric fence

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Fear factor: the Star Inn in Cornwall made international headlines after coming up with a unique social distancing solution
Fear factor: the Star Inn in Cornwall made international headlines after coming up with a unique social distancing solution

Related tags: Coronavirus, Health and safety, Cornwall, Beer

A licensee has described the reaction to his decision to place an electric fence around his bar to encourage social distancing as “mad”.

Jonny McFadden, who operates the Star Inn in St Just, Cornwall, said he had received worldwide media attention after news spread of his pub's electric fence. 

The St Austell Brewery tenant decided to put the fence up on the first day he reopened after the coronavirus shutdown on Friday 10 July.

He explained: “As you enter the bar, obviously you have to keep social distancing, everyone would usually stop in the doorway and make a queue, which is no good, and hang around.”

Fear factor

The fence has not been turned on but has successfully deterred people from crowding round the bar.

McFadden said: “People know what an electric fence is and they just keep away from it, fear factor. It's not on but they don't know that. All you have got to say to people is, ‘if you think it's on, touch it’. Nobody has taken up the offer.”

“The premises you are in have not been made for that [social distancing]. You have to make do and mend. I did that on what I had around me. Everybody thinks I'm electrocuting people.

“It’s gone wild, it’s gone worldwide. I just put up a bit of wire to keep people back.”

Media coverage of the fence had encouraged people into the pub to take pictures next to it and McFadden said he is even planning to launch T-shirts about the fence.

StarInn_StJust-2 (1)

Viability dilemma 

However, the pub’s intimate interior has made trading difficult, with now just three tables and a bench inside, in addition to seven benches in the garden.

McFadden said: “I didn't become a landlord to become a policeman. I would say we have got 100% of the bills and 30% of the customers.”

“You have got to give it a couple of weeks and see what it is like but then we will have to make a decision whether it is viable to carry on or not. It [trade] is not as good as I expected. 

“It is the thing with [extra] staffing, it's not their fault but we have to have people going around cleaning, keeping on top of things.”

McFadden added he hoped he would be able to keep the pub’s doors open. “I don't want to be doom and gloom because I love the job and I would love to stay, you can roll me out of here in a box but you have got to be a bit sensible.”

Related topics: Health & safety

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