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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, the LGA said.
Cllr Nesil Caliskan, Chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said:
“The vast majority of businesses are implementing the necessary measures to protect people’s safety, and councils are working hard to support premises in these efforts.
“However, some councils are beginning to see isolated cases where the guidelines are not being followed and they are limited in what they can do to stop it.
“This is clearly a danger to communities, putting people at risk of infection.
“It needs to be mandatory for premises to follow this government safety guidance and councils need the right powers to intervene and take action if necessary.
“It does not take long for this virus to spread if allowed. While councils do not want to have to shut anywhere down, business owners need to know that councils have the power to act if local communities are put at risk.”
The LGA called for a temporary public health or COVID-19 objective in the Licensing Ac to enable councils to take action where premises are not protecting the public during the pandemic – such as collecting people’s contact details or maintaining social distancing.
It said: “Licensing laws currently do not allow councils to take action on public health grounds, such as where COVID-19 guidelines are not being followed. They would need to use general health and safety legislation, which is less specific and makes it harder to intervene.
“Councils have recently been given powers to close premises, but these can only be used where there is already a serious and imminent risk to public health. The LGA says extending licensing powers would mean they can act quickly and proactively in cracking down on places that flout the guidance, to prevent problems in the first place instead of only being able to act when it is too late.”