Sunday, 25 Oct 2020

Pubs 'could be forced to close' if they don't take customers' contact details

Pubs, restaurants and bars could be forced to close if they do not adhere to the ‘rule of six’ or contacting tracing measures, under restrictions reportedly being considered by ministers.

Hospitality businesses are not permitted to take bookings or allow walk-ins of more than six people under the latest restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Since Friday, local authorities in England have been permitted to issue fines of up to £4,000 on any business that breaches the rule, while customers could be refused entry.

The fine also applies to any pub, restaurant, or bar that fails to keep an accurate record of all customers served to pass onto the NHS Test and Trace scheme. But some punters have been writing down the incorrect contact number or joke names.

Ministers are now reportedly considering extending councils’ powers by allowing them to order the immediate closure of premises if the required measures are not met, according to the Mail.

A Cabinet minister told the paper: ‘People have been registering in pubs as Donald Duck and providing made-up phone numbers, or not giving any contact details at all. So a crackdown is needed.’

Downing Street is also understood to be considering making it illegal to order from a bar or counter, while shop staff could be asked to encourage customers to wear face coverings inside stores.

It comes as ministers are looking into the possibility of enforcing a 10pm curfew on hospitality businesses and banning the mixing of households, amid concerns that the UK is on the brink of a second peak.

Another option is a two-week ‘circuit breaker’ national lockdown, which was not ruled out by the health secretary as he admitted the UK is at ‘tipping point’ for tighter restrictions to avoid a surge in Covid-19 deaths.

Weatherspon’s boss Tim Martin has warned that pubs and hospitality businesses will be wiped out if further restrictions are imposed.

Martin, who employs 43,000 people across the country, said further measures would be ‘even more devastating’ for a sector hit hard by the pandemic.

Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance will address the nation in a televised press briefing this morning and lay the ground for further restrictions.

No 10’s top scientists will tell the public that the country is at a ‘critical point’ in the pandemic and infection rates are ‘heading the wrong way’.

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