Scarborough Council leader 'appalled' at pubs and restaurants ignoring Covid-19 guidelines: 'If people acted responsibly then we may not be in this situation'

Bars and restaurants not following Covid-19 guidelines have led to Scarborough being listed as an Area of Concern by Public Health England, the borough council’s leader has said.

Friday, 18th September 2020, 2:40 pm
Updated Friday, 18th September 2020, 2:55 pm

Cllr Steve Siddons said a small number of people and businesses in the hospitality industry had behaved in a way that “appalled” him and said that stories of little or no social distancing taking place had been reported.

From crowded bars to football games and large groups being let in, Cllr Siddons said that action now must be taken to stop a local lockdown, which he said would be “catastrophic” for the borough and the council.

Cases in Scarborough have been spiking since late August with 89 new cases recorded so far in September. Many of those were around Whitby and the north of the borough.

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Although being named as an Area of Concern does not come with any extra restrictions, it is the first step on the path to a local lockdown if the situation does not improve.

The borough was added to the list today along with Selby.

Earlier this week, the North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum (NYLRF) said it was reinstating “full emergency mode” and declaring a major incident in regard to the rise in cases.

Steve Siddons

Cllr Siddons, speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, said people had to act now in order to change course.

He said “Today’s news isn’t about a lockdown, it is about people behaving responsibly and that is clearly not happening in enough numbers.

“There are some people who are not behaving responsibly and I have had some reports that I am appalled about.

“Some businesses, particularly hospitality businesses, are just not abiding by any rules at all and it’s just a bit of a free-for-all.

"If they don’t stop this then we are going to end up with a lockdown and their businesses are going to be closed and that is the last thing we need in the towns after the last six months.

“So I think it is time that people and businesses took personal responsibility and do what they are supposed to be doing which is to wash their hands, keep social distancing, wear a facemask and behave properly when they are indoors, be that in pubs, restaurants or wherever.

“If they do that then we have half a chance of getting away with this and getting the numbers back down again but if we don’t we are going to end up in a proper lockdown at some point and that is going to be catastrophic for local businesses.”

Scarborough Council recently revealed that the pandemic had so far cost it more than £10 million and it was planning to borrow around £4 million to cover the losses that were not included in government support.

Cllr Siddons added: “We can’t afford a second lockdown as it will have an impact on all sorts of services we provide. We will have to provide more services, which costs more money and we are not necessarily getting that money back from the government.

“But it also means we lose income from things like car parks which has had quite an impact on us over the last six months so it is not in anyone’s interest.

“Businesses are hopefully just managing to keep their heads above water at the moment and we want them to continue to do that and we want those few who are not abiding by the rules to obey the rules and do those simple things.

“When businesses have customers come in they need to protect them and not behave irresponsibly. I am really quite angry about that.”

The authority’s budget released last week showed its revenue from car parks alone was down by nearly £2.5 million in 2020.

The Labour leader of the council said that reports coming back to the authority about a small number of businesses had concerned him greatly.

He added: “There have been examples of people going into pubs where there has been queuing at the bar and no social distancing and nobody policing it.

“I have been told about a place where when they were only allowed six people at a table they said ‘we will just put you on tables next to each other and you can mingle about as it suits you’.

“I have been told about places that have not been doing proper cleaning, not taking contact details, no management of people coming in and out, making people queue for drinks rather than offering table service which are all sensible things that will keep interaction down.

“Please don’t start telling me that the rules are unclear and difficult to understand because I’m sorry, it is pretty easy for people to understand the basics, which is wash your hands, put your mask on and keep social distancing and don’t mingle in large numbers.

“There was another example, and I won’t name them, when the Leeds United match was played on Saturday evening that had crowds and crowds of people in a local bar. They were all shouting and screaming at the football, which again is exactly the sort of thing you are not supposed to be doing.

“If people acted responsibly then we may not be in this situation. It is a small number of people as always, many people are behaving responsibly.”