The director of a north Cumbria village pub where customers were seen flouting social distancing rules three times in as many months late last year has lost his appeal against the imposition of a coronavirus improvement notice.
Christopher Callow was served with the notice on December 21 amid concerns over restriction breaches at the Beehive Inn, Eamont Bridge, near Penrith.
On October 29, two men were seen sat and one male stood at the bar “very close together” by an Eden Council licensing and enforcement officer Steve Wilde.
During a subsequent visit, on December 19, Mr Wilde saw six people in “workmen” uniforms sat drinking together.
On December 17, police called by pub staff to deal with a fight at the premises observed a group in excess of six males sat together watching football.
There was no social distancing in all three cases.
And that led to the Beehive being served with the coronavirus improvement notice — a measure deemed the first step for a local authority to encourage businesses to remedy unsafe practices.
This called on the pub to stop taking non-household bookings and improve social distancing.
Mr Callow’s appeal against that notice was heard at Carlisle Magistrates’ Court, where he insisted social distancing rules were followed.
He claimed the taking of non-household bookings wasn’t a breach of guidelines, and suggested documentation he had received was “defective”.
Mr Callow presented magistrates with a bundle of documents and photographs highlighting significant steps taken to comply with ever-changing regulations, and insisted staff took responsibilities “very seriously”.
“We follow all the government guidelines,” he stated. “We’ve taken every reasonable step we can as a business.”
But Freddie Humphreys, for the council, said the narrow appeal issue for magistrates was whether, in Mr Wilde’s opinion, rules had been contravened.
Mr Wilde told the court the premises was “good” in terms of measures put in place but said there had been breaches.
And Mr Humphreys added of the pub: “It is not doing enough to actually enforce these when individuals are in there.”
Rejecting Mr Callow’s appeal and ordering him to pay £1,750 costs, the lead magistrate concluded: “Mr Wilde was correct, in is opinion, that the Covid regulations were not being adhered to, and was justified in serving the notice.”