Pub restrictions 'may return if social distancing is flouted'

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PUBS could once again be banned from selling alcohol without food if social-distancing requirements are flouted by their customers, the Medical Officer of Health has warned.

Dr Susan Turnbull was responding to reports that some people were not respecting rules which now allow pubs to serve alcohol without food but only if customers are seated and are one metre apart.

‘If people are feeling that going out for a drink without needing to have a meal is a reason to ignore the rules and not sit at tables, it wouldn’t be difficult to advise ministers that this wasn’t an effective way forward and it would be safer to move backwards.

‘It’s a possibility and it wouldn’t be a disproportionate measure if it transpired that there was a widespread problem with people ignoring the rules,’ said Dr Turnbull.

In the latest relaxation of regulations introduced on Wednesday [1 July],pubs are permitted to serve alcohol without food but only using a table-service regime. Guidance discourages queuing and using seats at the bar, both of which make social distancing difficult.

But Dr Turnbull said her attention had already been drawn to situations in which the guidance had been broken.

‘It’s really quite depressing to think that while everyone has been doing so well for so long, some are behaving irresponsibly and jeopardising the safety of the rest of the Island, not just from the Covid point of view but also possibly having to go again down a more restrictive route if that turned into a problem,’ she said.

Currently, guidance for licensees is published on the website which supplements the legal requirements under which licensed premises operate.

Licensed premises are liable to be visited by Health and Safety and Environmental Health officers, and it is understood that both have been involved in discussions with the States police about how the new arrangements are to be monitored.

Rod McLoughlin

By Rod McLoughlin

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