Pubs face £10k Covid fines say councils sending out enforcement squads

Pubs are being threatened with closure and £10,000 fines if they don't enforce Covid rules.

Councils are sending out enforcement squads to patrol queues and look for rule-breakers, the Sun reports.

It comes after huge queues were spotted outside boozers as lockdown rules were eased on Magic Monday.

Industry bosses hit back with calls for "pragmatism" amid delays from punters needing to check in with NHS Test and Trace at the door.

Pubs and restaurants were allowed to serve customers outdoors after four months of lockdown on Monday.

Under the current regulations, pubs are obliged to encourage punters to follow social distancing guidelines.

Emma McClarkin, the chief executive of the British Beer and Pubs Association, called on the government and councils to “show some pragmatism” amid huge demand from customers.

She told the Daily Telegraph: “We hope that all councils will approach the guidance in the spirit of assisting us to find a way to open, and open safely, not finding ways to use it to shut us down."

Punters have been pictured braving the worst of the British weather for the taste of the first pulled pint as scuffles broke out amid anger at delays at the door.

Huge snaking queues were seen in Soho in Central London as it was packed with punters spilling out onto the street.

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Pictures also show hundreds of Brits queueing outside pubs up and down the country including in Manchester, Sunderland, Burnley and Birmingham.

Professor Adam Finn, a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, told BBC Breakfast on Tuesday: "If I did (go to a beer garden) I would certainly avoid contact with other people.

"I think the risks of transmissions outside are relatively low but not if you start coming into close contact with people… if you cough or sing or really basically confront someone in the face.

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"If you happen to have the virus, and the virus is still circulating, then infections will occur.

"People need to see this in relative terms. It's not like it's over and we can all go back to normal, because otherwise there will be risks."

It comes after at least 100 people queued outside The Oak Inn in Coventry after it reopened at midnight on Sunday.

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The local authority claimed the venue may have breached restrictions by “having difficulties with large queues or unmanageable amounts of visitors”.

It warned its licensing team could use a “wide range of powers” if the venue was found to be breaking Covid regulations.

Venues face a Fixed Penalty Notice starting at £1,000 going up to £10,000 for repeatedly failing to enforce rules such as social distancing, government guidance states.

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The local council in Maidstone, Kent also said that pubs face a "fixed penalty notice, prohibition notice, license review or a combination” for failing to enforce the rules.

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