What happens if you open your pub during lockdown?

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Potential impact: The Morning Advertiser delves into the legal implications should pubs break lockdown rules, which could result in large fines
Potential impact: The Morning Advertiser delves into the legal implications should pubs break lockdown rules, which could result in large fines

Related tags: Legislation, Government, Local authorities, coronavirus

With a spate of pubs hitting the headlines for breaching coronavirus restrictions, The Morning Advertiser takes a look at the potential impact on licensees if they break lockdown rules.

Under the measures in place during the ongoing third national lockdown, pubs can be fined up to £10,000 for breaching regulations.

According to the Government, “the owner, proprietor or manager carrying out a business (or a person responsible for other premises) who fails to fulfil the obligations placed on them in law, without reasonable excuse, commits an offence”.

Under ‘businesses and venues which must close’, the Government website states: “Hospitality venues such as cafés, restaurants, pubs, bars and social clubs, with the exception of providing food and non-alcoholic drinks for takeaway (between 5am and until 11pm), click and collect and drive through.

“All food and drink (including alcohol) can continue to be provided by delivery.”

Fine potential

Further guidance says: “Hospitality venues providing food and drink for consumption off the premises are not permitted to allow customers to consume from any adjacent seating to the premises (with the exception of motorway service areas, airports, seaports and the international terminal at Folkestone, Kent).”

In England, environmental health and trading standards officers monitor compliance with the regulations, with police support if appropriate.

Pubs that breach the rules could be issued with a fixed penalty notice (fine), which starts at £1,000 for the first offence and can rise to £10,000 for repeat offences.

Operators could also be given a Coronavirus Improvement Notice. This will require a minimum of 48 hours for a business to introduce necessary measures. It is issued by local authorities when “a business is failing to fulfil a provision set out in the relevant coronavirus regulations. Its duration is at the discretion of the local authority enforcement officer.

An early review can be requested by the recipient of the notice if compliance early takes place. However, failure to comply by the end of the operational time could lead to a fine of up to £2,000.

Local authority power

Coronavirus Immediate Restriction Notices can also be issued when businesses have not complied with the terms of a Coronavirus Improvement Notice. It imposes the immediate closure or restriction of an activity within venues for 48 hours where rapid action is required.

Failure to comply with this increases the fine amount up to £4,000.

The next step is a Coronavirus Restriction Notice and Prohibition Notice which requires the closure or restriction of an activity for seven days.

The notices are part of additional powers for local authorities, which were recently extended​, in a bid to help maintain Covid-secure environments.

The Government states it is an offence, without reasonable excuse to fail to comply with a notice and may result in a fine or, where necessary, court proceedings with magistrates able to impose potentially unlimited fines.

While individuals can be issued with a fixed penalty notice, starting at £200 if they participate in illegal gatherings, the police can also take action against those holding or involved in the holding of an illegal gathering of more than 30 people, which includes issuing a fixed penalty notice of £10,000.

Related topics: Legislation

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