Local leisure businesses should be closed says council

The government has asked leisure businesses and venues across the United Kingdom to close from Saturday 21 March. North Somerset Council is promising to take action under new powers where businesses fail to comply with this advice.

The following businesses are now required not to sell food or drink for consuming on the premises:

  • Restaurants, including restaurants and dining rooms in hotels or members clubs.
  • Cafes, including workplace canteens, but not including:
    • cafes or canteens at a hospital, care home or school
    • prison and military canteens
    • services providing food or drink to the homeless
  • Bars, including bars in hotels or members’ clubs.

The following businesses must remain closed:

  • public houses
  • cinemas
  • theatres
  • nightclubs
  • bingo halls
  • concert halls
  • museums and galleries
  • casinos
  • betting shops
  • spas
  • massage parlours
  • indoor skating rinks
  • indoor fitness studios, gyms, swimming pools or other indoor leisure centres

These businesses and other venues must close as they involve prolonged close social contact, which increases the chances of infection spreading.

Takeaway and delivery facilities can remain open and operational. This means people can continue to enter premises to access takeaway services, including delivery drivers.

Planning regulations will be changed to enable restaurants, cafes and pubs which do not currently offer delivery and hot food takeaway to do so. This will be clearly communicated by the government when in effect.

Those venues offering takeaway or delivery services must not include alcoholic beverages in this list if their license does not already permit. Any forthcoming changes to licensing for delivery and takeaway will be clearly communicated by the government.

Cllr Mike Solomon, chair of North Somerset Council’s Licensing Committee said: “The Government confirmed yesterday that the council’s Licensing, Environmental Health and Trading Standards officers, with police support if appropriate, will now be able to issue prohibition notices challenging unsafe behaviours where businesses do not follow these restrictions.

“Businesses who fail to comply can receive potentially unlimited fines and non-compliance can also lead to the loss of alcohol licenses. It is not acceptable for anybody to ignore this and we will not hesitate to act against non-compliance in the interests of public safety.”

North Somerset Council’s Deputy Leader and executive member for regulatory services and public health, Cllr Mike Bell, added: “We recognise the pressure the emergency COVID-19 restrictions place on businesses and would encourage the community to look at the package of support that has been made available by the government.

“Licensing officers have been out today, ensuring the rules are being followed and I’m pleased to report that no breaches have been found. Thank you to all the businesses who are behaving responsibly and I’d urge all local leisure businesses to follow suit. We must follow the medical advice and businesses do need to follow the restrictions to help us protect the NHS and save lives.”

For the latest government guidance around coronavirus go to www.gov.uk/coronavirus.