Could new coronavirus laws be helpful?

By Nicholas Robinson

- Last updated on GMT

Comment by Nicholas Robinson, Managing Editor
Comment by Nicholas Robinson, Managing Editor

Related tags Coronavirus Opinion

New laws announced by the Government to help protect the public from the coronavirus may sound like another layer of damaging bureaucracy for pubs, but they could be helpful.

Contact tracing is now mandatory and there is clear guidance on maximum group sizes in all spaces, which will make it easier for operators to police customers.

We can now point out any group larger than six is illegal, enforceable by law and breaches could result in fines or even arrests. This eliminates arguments now the rules are clear.

Making contact tracing mandatory for pubs also means there is no excuse not to put in place such systems.

Stronger powers

However, the problem pubs now face is the increased prospect of being shut down with the Prime Minister announcing stronger powers for local authorities to close venues in breach of the rules.

This is also worsened by the power for police and local authorities to fine venues that are in breach of the rules.

As a sector, and especially pubs that are doing their best to abide by the rules, we can only hope these aren’t carelessly handed out, and are properly assessed before given.

This follows one council leader this week encouraging the public to “name and shame” venues on social media for not following guidance.

Let’s make this clear, all hospitality venues should be doing their best to ensure the rules and guidance are being followed, not only for customer safety but also staff.

However, encouraging a witch hunt is counterproductive to the cause, whereas education and working with local authorities to reach the same goal – some resemblance of pre-coronavirus normality – are essential.


Authorities must educate both businesses and consumers on what is right and wrong, not barge in with a heavy hand.

So, Boris Johnson’s announcement of additional environmental health support for local councils may also be positive. But we must hope health officers also act with a helping hand.

That’s not to say a blind eye should be turned if there are issues, because there have been and there are likely to be more. But these need to be dealt with in measured ways to benefit the long-term prosperity of the trade while also protecting public health.

The majority of pubs in this sector have worked hard to ensure the safety of all in their venues, we must not allow the few to tarnish the entire trade.

Related topics Health & safety

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