Council cracks down on Woodford restaurant for flouting COVID-19 rules

Published: 8 September 2020

Redbridge Council has taken swift and decisive action against the owners of a restaurant and bar in Woodford Bridge that was failing to comply with social distancing guidelines.

The council has notified the owners of the premises that the first floor must only be used for customers who need to use the toilet. They have also instructed the owners not to provide live or recorded music, including a DJ and lighting equipment.

On Friday, 28 August, officers from the council visited the premises to carry out a compliance inspection. Upon arrival, the officers observed a bustling restaurant with little to no compliance with COVID-19 social distancing guidelines.

Groups of people were seated and standing within the premises. On the first floor, where there is a second bar, open dance area, and disco lights, more than 40 people were standing with less than ten people seated. The open floor area was congested, while a DJ was also playing music.

The officers paid a follow-up visit to the premises on Sunday, 30 August. When they arrived, they could hear loud (removed bass) music and see flashing disco lights from the first floor DJ booth. The music was turned off and stopped a short time after the officers arrived. On inspection of the first-floor bar area, officers found the open floor space to be very sticky due to drink spillages, and the cleaners were mopping the floors.

When they left the premises, large groups of people were found gathered in the car park with no social distancing being observed. There was also no management of people leaving the venue.

The venue owner admitted to council officers that he had failed to adhere to the legislative guidelines to keep people safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cllr Mark Santos, Cabinet Member for Health, Social Care, Mental Health & the Ageing, said: "This should serve as a warning to other businesses that think they can defy the rules without consequences. The health and safety of people in the borough is our number one priority, and we will do whatever we can to protect them.

"It is concerning that some people are under the impression that things are back to how they were before Coronavirus, and are mixing without any thought or consideration for physical distancing. We want people to enjoy themselves and let off some steam when they go out, but the reality is that we're still in the middle of a global pandemic, which is still causing serious ill health and claiming people's lives. We all need to be very careful.

 The Leader of Redbridge Council, Councillor Jas Athwal, said: "In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, we've worked hard to support local businesses. The vast majority of businesses across Redbridge are being extremely careful and vigilant, installing safety measures, and protecting their staff and customers' health. However, unfortunately, in this case, as the business owner admitted, no safety measures were installed, and government guidelines were ignored.

“Following the council's intervention, the business owner must now get their house in order with immediate effect. It is all of our responsibility to keep ourselves, our friends, family members, and neighbours safe – we each have a part to play, including local businesses."

If people are aware of any businesses that are now not following the COVID-19 rules, they should report this online

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