Enforcement action is being taken against pubs and restaurants breaching Covid-19 rules to help manage the spread of coronavirus in South Tyneside.
Under new powers given to local authorities, direction notices have been issued on The Address in South Shields and The Clock in Hebburn.
Both premises have been identified as 'premises of immediate concern', following a series of spot checks carried out by South Tyneside Council Environment Health officers over recent weeks.
The directions limit the number of people who can enter each premises by instructing that only table service is offered.
A number of other premises are being formally written to, to confirm that they have been identified as 'premises of concern'.
The enforcement action comes following a spike in cases of coronavirus in South Tyneside over the last two weeks, leading to the Borough being placed on the Government's watchlist.
Councillor Iain Malcolm, Leader of South Tyneside Council, said: "The Council has done a great deal of work to support businesses to reopen safely during these extremely challenging times.
"We appreciate that most pubs, bars and restaurants only want the best for their staff and customers and are complying with their existing licencing conditions and the Government guidance in place. We would like to thank those premises for their cooperation and continued efforts to keep people safe.
"Unfortunately, a small number of businesses are not acting responsibly to limit the spread of the virus and are repeatedly failing to manage the risks properly. They are continually exceeding capacity levels and ignoring social distancing guidelines.
"We take a zero-tolerance approach to breaches of the Covid rules that put the health and safety of our residents under serious threat. We hope that the action we are taking will help to avoid a local lockdown and enable responsible businesses to keep trading.
"It is in every business's interest to do all they can to follow the rules and keep people safe. Otherwise, we will be left with no other option but to take further action, to close venues or introduce more stringent measures. We are already seeing this across the country, in places like Bolton where all premises are now operating with reduced opening hours and takeaway only - even those which have worked so hard to comply."
The Council is using new regulations, which have been given to local authorities to help respond to a serious or imminent threat to public health and to prevent the transmission of Covid-19. They include the power for councils to restrict access to, or close, individual premises.
Councillor Malcolm added: "Everyone - the whole community - has a part to play in helping to stop the spread of coronavirus.
"We know that many people will want to continue visiting our pubs and restaurants, but it is extremely important that they continue to follow the government's guidance around social distancing and hand washing. Anyone who believes a hospitality business is not adhering to the rules is also encouraged to make their concerns known to the venue's manager. Customers should leave if they don't feel safe."
The Council continues to work with businesses to ensure people remain vigilant and as safe as possible, supporting venues and providing advice and guidance on where improvements can be made.
To ensure their premises are Covid secure, businesses should be:
- Ensuring adequate handwashing and hand sanitising facilities are available;
- Ensuring guests can socially distance and that venues are not overcrowded;
- From Monday (14 September), prohibiting groups of more than six people, unless it is a pre-organised event run within the law. (Existing law prohibits groups of more than two households);
- Capturing information on all guests for NHS Test and Trace purposes;
- Ensuring staff can socially distance safely and providing face coverings / masks, if required.
All businesses should familiarise themselves with the government guidance that applies to their industry. Further information can be found on the Government website at www.gov.uk
If a member of the public sees a business not following the guidance, they are encouraged to speak with the manager and if a response is not satisfactory, then leave the premises.
For the latest updates from South Tyneside Council visit: www.southtyneside.gov.uk/coronavirus or follow our social media channels: Facebook STynesideCouncil and on Twitter @STyne_Council