The powers were given to local authorities by government in July. Photo by radovan on Unsplash.

Hull City Council uses new COVID-19 powers to close and restrict two hospitality premises

Hull City Council has issued direction notices to two venues in the city for operating unsafely during the coronavirus pandemic and exposing people to COVID-19 risks.

The Alley, on Cottingham Road, has been ordered to close.

Skippers, on Grampian Way, must now follow safety rules imposed by the local authority or face further action.

Both businesses had been offered support from Hull City Council and were given warnings regarding their practices, but both have failed to improve.

Councillor Mike Thompson, portfolio holder for public protection at Hull City Council, said: “Nobody wants to close businesses. These notices are very much a last resort when every other form of encouragement and engagement has been ignored.

“We are all in the middle of a pandemic. Lives are being lost. We are seeing infection rates rising across the country and more restrictions being introduced by government on the hospitality industry. Hull City Council will simply not stand by and watch a small minority choose to put the safety of our residents and the future of other businesses at risk.”

Hull City Council was given emergency powers by government earlier in July. The powers are only issued if there is considered to be a serious and imminent threat to public health.

These directions are among the first to be used in Hull by Environmental Health, and The Alley is the first business that has been ordered to close.

Councillor Thompson continued: “However, the vast majority of businesses in our city have responded to these vital measures, from day one, positively and responsibly. We have a responsibility to these businesses to take action against those that have not.”

“It’s terribly frustrating and disappointing to see a small amount of businesses behaving in such an irresponsible and selfish way.”

At The Alley, the issues of concern included very poor social distancing arrangements, management failing to enforce the rule of six, staff not wearing face coverings when serving customers and no effective system for collecting customer details with regards to NHS Track and Trace.

Public Protection officers found that at Skippers customers were failing to safely social distance at the bar area, mixing with other groups and dancing. They also found that management were failing to put in place adequate safety measures.

Hull City Council will review the conditions imposed every seven days.

Khaled Choudhury, principal environmental health officer at Hull City Council, said: “The operating environment of these two businesses were wholly inadequate and exposed staff and residents to a serious threat of COVID-19 transmission. Taking into consideration the way the venues were operating and the recent rise in transmissions across the city in line with the national picture, we concluded that this action was needed, especially as the businesses have failed to respond to advice.”

Anyone who believes that a business is failing to operate responsibly can contact Hull City’s Council’s Public Protection Team here.

Businesses can find out more about the rules and guidance that is in place on the government website.

Nigel Larkin and Phil Rye who have been appointed to dismantle skeletons including the Right Whale at Hull Maritime Museum.