The manager of a troubled pub in Bristol has been slapped with fines totalling £3,000 after repeatedly breaching Covid restrictions.
Steve Aldom, manager of The Bull Inn in St George, appeared at Bristol Magistrates’ Court this morning (Monday, November 29) where he pleaded guilty to two counts of failing to comply with a prohibition notice under coronavirus steps regulations.
The court heard how over three visits between April and May this year, Bristol City Council officers discovered people drinking inside, large groups sat around tables in a marquee and no venue QR code for the NHS Test and Trace app.
During the first two visits, Bristol was in ‘Step 2’ of Covid restrictions, meaning customers were required to be outside and sat at tables in groups of up to six people from different households.
People could only go inside the pub to use the toilet and had to wear a face covering at any time they were not seated.
The case started on April 13 when council officers visited Aldom, 69, after a member of the public raised concerns that the Crews Hole Road pub was not Covid safe due to an enclosed marquee at the front of the premises which had customers inside.
The officers found that the marquee was not 50 per cent open for ventilation, as required, and that there were people inside the pub sitting and standing while drinking, as well as inadequate signage for a one-way system.
Aldom, who lives at the pub, was subsequently served a prohibition notice on April 14, which was later breached twice.
The first breach was recorded on April 16. Officers found that the sides of the marquee had been removed but there were approximately 15 people standing around a table, as well as no signage telling patrons they had to remain seated.
The second breach was recorded on May 21. Officers found there was no QR code for the NHS Test and Trace app.
While there was a book for people to log their visit, this was not manned and officers observed three people coming in off the street without either entering their details in the book or wearing face masks.
The officers also saw other people standing close together in large groups and chatting without face masks.
On both occasions officers also noticed music at the pub was being played at an ‘excessive volume’ both outside and inside the pub, causing people to shout.
As a result of the breaches, Aldom was served with two Fixed Penalty Notices for the sum of £1,000 and £2,000 in respect of the first and second breach respectively as an alternative to prosecution.
But after failing to pay within 28 days, he was told to come to court.
Aldom’s business partner and the premises licence holder, Ian Morray, was also served with the same Fixed Penalty Notices, which he paid within the 28 days.
Issuing the fine to Mr Aldom, Magistrate Valerie Castell told him: “Clearly it has been important for everyone to step up and maintain public safety.
“I appreciate it may sometimes be difficult but there is a responsibility for keeping people safe on your premises.”
On top of the £3,000 in fines, Mr Aldom was also ordered to pay £600 in court costs.
After the hearing, he told BristolWorld: “This happened at the height of the pandemic when everything was new to us.
“Since the marquee came down, everything went back to normal. We just went back to being a family-run pub.
“It was a learning curve and we now want to move on.”