PUB owners could face up to 2 years in jail for failing to keep thirsty customers safe in their locals.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma said protections are in place for staff who feel unsafe while working under the new “one metre-plus” restrictions when pubs and restaurants open again next month.
Boris Johnson confirmed yesterday that pubs will get the green light to throw open their doors again from July 4.
But they will have to abide by strict new guidance to keep their staff and customers safe.
Anyone found to be running an unsafe environment will face prosecution.
Mr Sharma told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “There is a legal duty requirement for businesses to keep their workers safe, for those who interact in those businesses to keep them safe.”
He added “If people are ignoring the rules and they are not keeping a workplace safe, then there are clearly measures that can be followed and it is possible for there to be enforcement notices, there are going to be checks that are carried out, spot checks by the Health and Safety Executive, which they are already doing.
“And in the case where someone is not following an enforcement order and not fixing things in a workplace, then, for the most serious offences, people can go to prison for up to two years.
“These are real powers and real teeth that are in place.”
The Cabinet minister said concerned employees should get in touch with their local Health and Safety Executive and local authority as a first port of call.
The Executive has been gicven extra funding to hire more staff to help police the new rules.
And they will be carrying out spot checks on businesses too.
Health and safety law requires employers, who continue to operate under the current circumstances, to do “what is reasonably practicable” to protect their staff and members of the public.
To fulfil this duty in addressing the risk from Covid-19, all companies must review their risk assessments and put in place measures to ensure that the government guidance is implemented.
Boris told the nation yesterday: “Frankly I can’t wait to go to a pub or a restaurant, even if it may not be wholly compatible with the new diet that I’m on.”
He said Boris said he hoped July 4 will be a great day of celebration as Britain returns to the boozer — but he warned the nation: “Don’t overdo it.”
He did not want “great writhing scenes” to send the Covid-19 infection rate back up.
Among the new rules in pubs when they open next month, people will have to:
- Leave their contact details with the venue for 21 days in case there’s an outbreak
- Loud music and football matches will be banned as they encourage people to chant and shout – possibly spreading the virus
- Order from their table, and won’t be allowed to go up to the bar
- No live music performances will be allowed
- Bars have been told to remind drinkers that police have the power to hand out fines if they break social distancing too
- Only one other household will be allowed to go with you to the pub – and they have to keep a distance
Pubs, restaurants, hotels and reams of other venues will be allowed to reopen from July 4, which has been dubbed ‘Super Saturday’.
But some venues including gyms, nail bars, salons and spas still have to stay shut for now.