PUBS are breaching rules put in place to slow the spread of coronavirus one North-East council has said.

Under government rules shops selling non-essential items are closed, along with cafes, pubs, restaurants, nightclubs and other places where people meet in groups.

But, Gateshead Council has said its getting up to five reports a day of premises that are serving customers despite the lock-down measures with around half of these reports relating to pubs.

Now, the authority has set up a special reporting line for people who are concerned about businesses which are still operating but which should be closed.

The dedicated email address also allows members of the public to report concerns about businesses which are not ensuring that staff and customers are able to maintain safe social distancing and hygiene measures.

Council officers will initially provide advice to local businesses and concerned residents and employees.

However, the authority also has legal powers to issue fixed penalty notices and prohibition notices if necessary, and legal action against businesses who ignore the government’s anti-coronavirus measures will also be considered.

Anyone who wishes to report a business that is trading in contravention of the government’s lock-down measures should send details of the premises, the time of day and the nature of the problem they witnessed to and the council will investigate.

Coun Malcolm Brain, cabinet member for economy, said: “These are worrying times for local business, but is essential that we all follow the government’s guidance on social distancing – in fact, people’s lives depend on it.”

In Newcastle concerned residents can report businesses that are breaking the rules by emailing

This comes after police had to speak to staff at two North Shields pubs after finding people on the premises against government advice.

Both venues closed voluntarily and weren’t forcibly shut.

Under rules now enforceable by law, gatherings of more than two people not from the same household have been banned.

Rule breakers could also be issued with closure notices banning access to the premises for a specified period.

Durham County Council said that residents should report their concerns to the police.

A spokesman for Durham Constabulary urged the public to use “common sense” and said they can’t dispatch officers for small infringements.

“We expect the public to exercise common sense during the current situation,” he said.

“We won’t be able to dispatch officers for every minor infringement of these rules, but clearly we would want to know about any mass gathering of people so that we can deal with it.

“We would recommend people go to our website which is regularly updated with the latest advice and guidance”.