Durham pub beer garden's beach huts 'break Covid rules'

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image captionThe former beach huts have been specially adapted for the pub garden

A pub landlord has been told beach huts installed in his beer garden cannot be used by customers as they are deemed indoor facilities under Covid-19 rules.

Colin Curran, of the Farmer's Arms in Shadforth, County Durham, said he was told two sides would have to be taken off to make them compliant.

Mr Curran said "common sense" needed to be applied to government guidelines.

Durham County Council said the huts did not meet "national criteria" as less than half their perimeter was open.

image captionLandlord Colin Curran took over the business in March 2020 before the first lockdown

Pubs, restaurants and cafes in England are now able to reopen to offer outdoor table service to customers following the easing of lockdown.

Mr Curran, who spent £15,000 on outdoor improvements to the pub, said a council officer visited the premises and said the huts could not be used as they had to be 50% uncovered.

The landlord said he believed that would make them unsafe.

'Jump through hoops'

"Obviously the huts are right next to each other, so I thought that wouldn't make sense because you would be sitting closer than two metres distance from the next hut," he said.

"I think they need to apply a little common sense on the government guidelines and allow families and single households to dine in the sheds.

"The most frustrating part about it is when you look at the likes of non-essential retail reopening, they don't have to jump through these hoops that the government keep implementing on the hospitality industry."

The British Beer and Pub Association has estimated that only 40% of licensed premises have the space to reopen for outdoor service.

Alan Patrickson, Durham County Council's corporate director for neighbourhoods and climate change, said the authority always looked to "work with and support businesses".

"It is also our role to apply national legislation such as coronavirus regulations in order to reduce further transmission and try and keep everyone safe," he said.

"In the case of the Farmer's Arms, the structures in question do not meet national criteria which would allow them to be classed as outdoors as less than half their perimeter is 'open space'.

"We remain committed to working with the pub and any other county businesses to help them get back to successful trading."

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