Wales politics

Welsh pubs and restaurants ignoring Covid rules could be shut

Reopening a bar Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Businesses that flout coronavirus could be told to improve, or be forced to shut

Businesses including bars and restaurants could be forced to shut if they ignore rules to contain coronavirus under new powers.

Hospitality businesses were allowed to open indoors in Wales from Monday.

But International Relations Minister Eluned Morgan said pubs and restaurants must collect customer details and maintain social distancing.

She threatened action to enforce the rules, and said new powers would come into force this week.

Mrs Morgan also told customers they can only meet members of their household, or their extended household bubble, while indoors at pubs and restaurants.

Under new powers councils will be able to issue improvement notices to businesses if they do not take measures required.

If they ignore that - or if there is a clear and serious breach of the rules - they could be told to close.

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Media captionEluned Morgan said action may need to be taken if actions threatened other people's health.

Ms Morgan warned pubs, cafes, restaurants and hotels that they "must" follow rules to avoid the spread of coronavirus if they are to stay open.

"You must maintain physical distancing on your premises and - if you are a hospitality business - you should capture your customers' contact details," she said.

Customers should raise the matter with the venue if they are not asked for their details, and should only gather indoors in pubs, cafes and restaurants with members of their extended household, she said.

She said the Welsh Government, councils and the police can "take action if some people's behaviour becomes a threat to other people's health".

"Changes to those powers this week will mean that this includes closing premises if this is necessary," she added.

'Small minority'

Cardiff restaurateur and pub owner Cerys Furlong has raised concerns about social distancing at some businesses.

She said she had seen premises with chairs and tables not spaced out, and said customers had told her about not having their details taken.

Hospitality firms are being asked to take customer details should they be needed for contact tracing.

A "small minority" of businesses not taking account of Welsh Government guidance "are not only putting the health and safety of their staff and customers at risk" but also the "future operations" of sensible businesses that are, she said.

"If we are forced into a second lockdown because of reckless behaviour from the minority, then thousands more jobs will be lost, and businesses will close permanently," Ms Furlong added, speaking on behalf of the Welsh Independent Restaurant Collective.

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Media captionPubs have reopened indoors in Wales for the first time since March

The Welsh Local Government Association said the powers would enable councils "to move more swiftly to issue improvement notices, or even direct businesses to close, should they not take reasonable steps to comply with regulations."

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