On Tuesday 26 January 2021, a decision was made at the Licensing (Licensing and Gambling) Sub-Committee to revoke the premises license for Cenos Bar and Restaurant on Highfield Lane following breaches of the Coronavirus regulations.
At around 5:45pm on Friday 27 November 2020 a Police Licensing Officer observed approximately 15 people drinking at the bar inside the premises. At that time, the country was back under lockdown as a result of The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No. 4) Regulations 2020 which came into force on 5 November, requiring pubs and bars to close to the public and only operate via takeaway services. Hampshire Constabulary issued a £1000 fixed penalty notice as a result of the breach of Regulations and a review of the premises licence followed.
The Sub-Committee took the view that this was a serious incident and a clear breach of the Coronavirus regulations, which in turn impinged on the licensing objectives of the prevention of crime and disorder and public safety.
The Sub-Committee was concerned about the response the designated premises supervisor (DPS) and Premises Licence Holder, evidenced by his lack of cooperation with the police, unwillingness to share CCTV evidence, and the notices on the premises which were at best open to misinterpretation.
The Sub-Committee concluded that revoking the licence was the only proportionate response.
Chairman of the Licensing Sub-Committee, Councillor Cathie McEwing, said:
“It is evident that the DPS and License holder failed to recognise the seriousness of the threat to public health that COVID-19 represents and the importance of behaving in accordance with both the legislative provisions and government guidance in order to control the spread of the virus. COVID-19 presents a very significant threat to the health and lives of many, and its control is something the world is striving for. Cases are still very high and pressure on University Hospital Southampton’s Intensive Care Unit and our social care system remains extremely high.”
“While regular engagement with business owners is the council’s preferred route, given the extended offending and the lack of co-operation by the License holder, revoking the license was both lawful and proportionate. With a national lockdown now in place, we ask the public to please follow and respect the restrictions. We hope this sends a message to other businesses that breaching the regulations will be dealt with robustly to ensure everyone’s safety.”