'Mystery shoppers' to check Covid measures in Manchester pubs

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Targeted enforcement: pubs that are reported to authorities for not enforcing Covid-secure measures may be subject to mystery shopper visits in Greater Manchester (image: L, University of Salford Press Office)
Targeted enforcement: pubs that are reported to authorities for not enforcing Covid-secure measures may be subject to mystery shopper visits in Greater Manchester (image: L, University of Salford Press Office)

Related tags: Legislation, Manchester

Pubs that are reported to authorities in Greater Manchester for failing to enforce Covid-secure measures will be targeted by ‘mystery shoppers’ to ensure they are protecting public health.

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, shared his intentions to hire people to follow up on complaints about venues not encouraging social distancing or taking customer details to aid NHS Test & Trace.

He said this activity would prioritise targeting venues who were thought to be “repeat offenders”. 

Burnham said: “If pubs are failing to take people’s details when they arrive, and we are receiving lots of reports that it’s still variable, then we will use targeted enforcement or mystery shopping to ensure all premises are maintaining the right procedures.”

However, he acknowledged that it was up to the public to make sure they were social distancing with other visitors at pubs.

Onus on individual

Burnham said: “It will be difficult for the police to enforce households not mixing in premises and the onus is on the individual [to adhere to the rules] in that respect alongside the establishment.”

Greater Manchester was one of the areas in the north of England subject to a strict set of coronavirus measures after a rise in cases.​ Members of different households are not allowed to meet up indoors, though the Department of Health confirmed they could visit beer gardens together as long as social distancing guidelines were abided by. 

Burnham added: “We are appealing for people to listen to the guidance, it’s been put out there for good reason for everybody’s health but we will be ready to enforce these new rules but very much focusing on repeat offenders.”

Night time economy adviser for Greater Manchester Sacha Lord called on the public to stick to restrictions to avoid stricter measures being necessary. 

A temporary closure of hospitality venues in Aberdeen​ was an example of “the types of stricter regulations we absolutely want to avoid here in Greater Manchester,” he said.

 “It is clearly a very difficult time for everyone involved in the hospitality and leisure industries and the majority of operators are working their hardest to keep people safe.

Squeezing customers in

“But over the past week, I have heard of numerous pubs, bars and restaurants who have been squeezing customers in, flouting social distancing rules, ignoring contact tracing and actively persuading mixed groups not to cancel bookings.”

Lord added it was “crucial that the general public takes responsibility too” and encouraged customers to take a stand against pubs flaunting regulations.

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said those disregarding Covid-secure regulations were a tiny minority and most operators were committed to public health.

She said: “The overwhelming majority of pubs and publicans are following the Government guidance to a tee, and have put the appropriate measures in place to ensure pub goers experience a safe and welcome return to their local.

"We are one of the few sectors participating in the NHS Track & Trace scheme and pubs have been commended by Matt Hancock and Public Health England for their diligence and proactivity in supporting it.”

Related topics: Legislation

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