Two Merthyr Tydfil pubs have been closed down for two weeks for breaching coronavirus restrictions by allowing customers to ‘congregate at the bar’ and ‘generally behave as if there were no restrictions in place’.
Cwm Taf Joint Enforcement Team officers who attended the Wyndham Arms in Glebeland Street and Park View Inn on Brecon Road ‘could not believe the lack of control, the low staffing levels and the complete lack of awareness of both staff and customers at the premises’.
The Joint Enforcement Team comprises officers from the County Borough Council, South Wales Police and Covid Enforcement Officers. The pubs were shut down under the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) Regulations 2020 for failing to take ‘reasonable measures to minimise risk of exposure to coronavirus or the spread of coronavirus by those who have been at the premises’.
A closure notice was served by Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council enforcement officer Aneurin Hughes on Wyndham Arms proprietor Kevin Jones for contravening requirements in the following ways:
- Enforcement officers witnessed customers congregating at the bar and an individual being served at the bar. The person him said she had asked him to sit down a couple of times but he refused so she served him.
- The bar area was not cleansed and sanitised after customers had been served there and customers were using the bar ‘as their table’.
- No effort was made by customers to adhere to social distancing and the requirements were not enforced by staff.
- Customers were ‘vocally loud and shouting and very boisterous’ and there was no evidence of staff controlling their behaviour.
- During the inspection, the main entrance door and surrounding area was not cleaned once and in constant use, with customers in and out – ‘either new customers to the premises or existing customers vacating for a cigarette’
- There was no control of outdoor/smoking areas or queueing: customers were smoking outside with no social distancing in place and leaving the premises without any face coverings.
“Customers were allowed to behave as if it were normal,” said the Council’s Head of Protection and Safety Services, Paul Lewis. “They were free to stand at the bar, order and pay for their drinks at the bar, shouting at each other across the room and generally behave as if there were no restrictions in place.”
At Park View Inn, the closure notice was served by Aneurin Hughes on proprietor Neil Llewellyn for contravening requirements in ways including the following:
- The named Designated Covid Monitor was not present and the member of staff, who was working on her own, did not know what was required of her.
- The Risk Assessment for the premises was not available for viewing by the staff, customers or enforcement officers, and the member of staff present did not know what it was.
- Enforcement officers witnessed people being served at the bar, and the bar area was not cleansed and sanitised after customers had been served there.
- Background music was at a higher level than acceptable to allow a normal conversation to take place – the volume kept being turned up during the inspection, and customers were ‘vocally loud and shouting and very boisterous’, with no evidence of staff controlling their behaviour.
- Table service was not being conducted and social distancing requirements were not being enforced by the staff.
“Again, Customers were allowed to behave as if it were normal,” said Paul Lewis.
“Staff were completely unaware of the restrictions in place and had no knowledge of what was required of them – this emphasises a lack of training and supervision at the premises.”
Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Public Protection Cllr Geraint Thomas said: “The Council wishes to inform all licensed premises across the county borough that we take these regulations and any breach of them very seriously indeed.
“It’s shocking to think that these premises seem to have been unaware of the fact that Merthyr Tydfil has high numbers of coronavirus cases, and that allowing this kind of situation could make them worse.”