A Jarrow pub has become the first to be closed in South Tyneside under new powers given to local authorities to help stop the spread of coronavirus.
South Tyneside Council has served a direction to close on The Albion Gin & Ale House in Walter Street. The direction notice requires the pub to shut for seven days.
The action comes after a number of complaints to the Council's Environmental Health team about the premises breaching Covid-19 restrictions. Despite visits to the venue and assurances from the management, the pub has failed to ensure social distancing rules are observed, with customers permitted to behave in ways which contravene them.
The pub's owners will now be required to make sure appropriate measures are in place to protect staff and customers before it can be re-open safely.
A spokesperson for South Tyneside Council said: "As we have said time and time again, we will not hesitate to take action against premises which fail to comply with the restrictions that have been put in place to protect the public and limit the spread of Covid-19.
"The majority of pubs and restaurants are being responsible and taking this situation very seriously. They are working extremely hard to keep their businesses running during these challenging times while safeguarding their staff and customers.
"However, there are others that are continually putting the health and safety of our residents at risk, despite significant efforts being made by Council officers to support and guide businesses to ensure they are complying with the Covid-secure measures in place.
"Closing a business is not a decision that is taken lightly - we want businesses to keep trading. But we have been left with no other option in this particular case. We cannot afford to be lax and need businesses to comply now more than ever."
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.
The regulations were used for the first time in the Borough last week when the Council issued Directions on The Address in South Shields and The Clock in Hebburn. The notices required both pubs to provide table service only, to help limit the numbers of people on the premises and ensure social distancing could be observed.
A further eleven premises are also being written to this week, informing them that they have been identified as a 'premises of concern'.
The action is being taken following a series of spot checks carried out by Environmental Health officers over recent weeks, with more than 40 pubs and 24 restaurants visited over the last weekend alone.
South Tyneside was placed on the Government's watchlist on 4 September and has since been escalated to an 'area of enhanced support', following further rises in coronavirus cases across the Borough.
The spokesperson added: "The entire community is being asked to unite to halt the spread of the virus. It is the only way if we are to reverse the recent surge in cases. We are urging everybody to continue to follow the guidance around hand-washing, social distancing, gathering and wearing face coverings, when expected to do so - unless they are exempt.
"Anyone who believes a hospitality business is not adhering to the rules is also urged to make their concerns known to the venue's manager. Customers should leave if they don't feel safe."
All businesses must ensure they are following the government guidance that applies to their industry. For further information visit the Government website at www.gov.uk
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