Council issues social distancing reminder in response to Bedford pub queue

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Pictures, like this one taken outside the Pilgrim's Progress pub in Bedford Town Centre, have forced the council to issue a reminder of social distancing guidelines. Image: @kevin27677521/Twitter
Pictures, like this one taken outside the Pilgrim's Progress pub in Bedford Town Centre on 15 August 2020, have forced the council to issue a reminder of social distancing guidelines. Image: @kevin27677521/Twitter

Bedford Borough Council has issued a reminder to Bedfordians to maintain social distancing after the Mayor was sent a picture of long queues outside a Bedford Pub by a Bedford Independent reader.

Twitter user, ‘Kevin’, tweeted the mayor a picture of people queuing outside the Pilgrim’s Progress on the corner of River Street and Midland Road in Bedford Town Centre.

It appeared to show very little social distancing amongst people waiting to get into the pub, despite Government guidelines being given to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Mayor Dave Hodgson initially replied to the tweet saying: “Our enforcement and public health teams were alerted to this and all speaking to all businesses involved in our night-time economy.”

But now the council has issued further reminders to people heading out on the town at night to observe social distancing.

“Businesses in Bedford Borough continue to work hard to adapt and keep up to date with government guidelines to allow them to open safely,” said Cllr Louise Jackson, Portfolio Holder for Health and Wellbeing.

“Please continue to follow advice, social distance, hand hygiene and share contact details for test and trace.

“These simple measures will help stop the spread of the virus and avoid a damaging local lockdown.”

A Bedford Independent reader tweeted Bedford’s Mayor a picture of people appearing to not be following social distancing guidelines. Image: @kevin27677521/Twitter

Appeal to businesses

The reminder also comes after councillors asked businesses across the Borough to help prevent a spike in coronavirus cases.

Read: Urgent plea to businesses to help Bedford avoid ‘disastrous’ local lockdown

Bedford Borough Council has now further added to this, saying their Environmental Health officers (EHO) are working to provide “advice and support” to businesses.

“Coronavirus has not gone away,” continued the statement, “to avoid a local lockdown, residents are being urged to continue to social distance, wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser and wear a face covering in busy places.”

They also centred on the food and drink trade adding that diners and pub goers must, for now, leave their contact details with the business for NHS Test and Trace.

“Test and Trace will help to reduce the spread of the infection and save lives – play your part,” they said.

Cllr Jackson added that they will take further action against businesses who don’t appear to be supporting national guidelines.

“We’re speaking to businesses where this appears to be a problem and have contacted the Police who have the powers to take enforcement action if people are failing to follow the rules”.

It has not been made clear if the Pilgrim’s Progress pub is one of those businesses the council is working with, or which other businesses may also have been visited by EHOs.

“Name and shame” businesses

Many people on social media have suggested that the council should “name and shame” businesses who have not followed government guidelines.

One local resident commented: “So wish the council would not give blanket statements. Name shame and fine businesses and stop damaging compliant businesses by association.”

A spokesperson from Wetherspoons, who own the pub, said: “Our staff regularly patrol the queues to the pub and remind people to socially distance.

“If people do not socially distance then they are not admitted to the pub. We will reinforce this message to staff.”

If you are presenting symptoms of coronavirus, which include: a new persistent cough, high temperature, loss or change in taste or smell, please book a test via nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119.

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