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Following recent reports of licensed premises flouting social distancing rules, there are now calls for the Government to introduce a ‘public health’ licensing objective to assist with enforcement.

Recently it was reported that undercover reporters in Manchester found “pubs and bars ignoring COVID-19 guidance in area where cases are rising.”

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham told Sky News he was “really disappointed” and warned that pubs would need to “get their houses in order”.

In response, major pub operators ‘vowed’ to adhere to social distancing rules including Admiral Taverns, Greene King, Hydes, Joseph Holt Brewery, JW Lees, Marston’s PLC, Punch Pubs & Co., Robinsons Brewery, Star Pubs & Bars and Stonegate Pub Company.

The investigation has led to calls for local authorities to be given greater powers to shut or take action against venues not following the guidance.

The Local Government Association has now called on the Government to introduce a 5th licensing objective; ‘public health’. 

To date, the rules around covid secure enforcement has been rather unclear.  The call by the LGA is an attempt to provide some clarity because the introduction of a ‘public health’ objective will allow licensing authorities to instigate premises licensing reviews in cases where their operation can be shown to be adversely affecting this objective.

Calling for “tougher licensing powers” to crack down on COVID-19 safety breaches, the LGA said: “Pubs and other licensed premises should be made to comply with COVID-19 safety guidelines with councils given the powers to close down places where rules are being flouted and communities are put at risk of infection.”

If you are facing legal issues with your premises licence, contact us for a free, no obligation assessment of you case with an expert licensing barrister.

Stephen McCaffrey

Regulatory defence barrister specialising in alcohol and entertainment licensing law, appeals and defence.

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