A NEW Forest pub has been fined £1,000 for “blatant” breaches of Covid-19 regulations after being found serving drinks without food and hosting a birthday party with households mixing.
The offences were discovered when licensing officers from Hampshire police carried out routine checks at the Elephant & Castle in Commercial Road, Totton, around 7.30pm on Saturday.
Customers were seen drinking alcohol at tables where no food had been ordered – contrary to requirements put in place by the government for areas in Tier 2 restriction zones.
The officers also saw people playing pool at the pub’s pool table, as well as groups standing in the beer garden playing table football while drinking.
At the time, they found “minimal” food being prepared in the kitchen, with the number of customers in the bar far outweighing the small number of food tickets being prepared.
Checks of the hostelry’s CCTV footage revealed customers entering, standing at the bar and walking around inside without wearing face coverings, and drinking numerous alcoholic drinks without meals.
The footage also showed a birthday party taking place without people staying in their household groups or eating food with their drinks.
Having engaged with the pub’s licensee, the officers reported him for summons in relation to the £1,000 fixed penalty notice for breaching current health protection regulations.
They are now set to work with the licensee, alongside New Forest District Council, to ensure the regulations are followed in future.
Sgt Robert Cohen from the force’s licensing team said: “This was a blatant breach of the current health protection regulations.
“We are working hard to ensure that everyone is observing the restrictions in place and is safe during the pandemic.
“The guidelines in place around hospitality are clear, it is very disappointing therefore that this pub felt that it was appropriate to put everyone at risk and operate as if the pandemic is not taking place.”
He continued: “We are working with partners, including the city council, to ensure where businesses or individuals breach the regulations, that this is addressed quickly to provide reassurance to the community.
“We hope this sends a message to other businesses that breaching the regulations will be dealt with robustly to ensure everyone’s safety.”