TWO social clubs in a close-knit community have been closed after a customer tested positive for coronavirus with reports of further confirmed cases.

East Stanley Workingmen’s Club and Stanley Empire Workingmen’s Club are both undergoing a deep clean and having staff tested, The Northern Echo understands.

A spokesman for East Stanley WMC said a customer had been in both venues on Sunday, and the club learned he had become unwell on Tuesday.

He said confirmation another East Stanley customer had tested positive for Covid-19 was received on Friday morning.

It is understood two staff members at the Empire club have also tested positive.

The spokesman said: “We had a confirmed case of Covid-19 in one of our customers.

“We found this out late on Tuesday night so we have taken the decision to close the club, do a full deep clean and have all of our staff tested.

"We are collating the track and trace data which will be sent across the relevant Government body.”

It is understood the man was taken to hospital for treatment after developing symptoms of the virus.

The spokesman said: “It is someone who is a regular customer and they are in on a weekly basis.

“We have just discovered we have got a second confirmed case. It is someone who was in on Sunday and during the week.

“It is a concern but with a workingmen’s club, and our customer demographic, we have probably got a higher proportion of vulnerable people than another kind of pub.

"There is a lot of customer crossover of all of the clubs in the area.”

The spokesman said it was not yet clear when the club would reopen.

He added: “We have a procedure in place for something like this, and we are following it. We have handled it as well as we can.

“We can only do as much as it is humanly possible to do. Our first priority is always to protect the staff and the customers, and everything else is second to that.

“We have got all of the right sanitisers and spend a lot of time reorganising how customer areas look with social distancing.”

“We are all in unchartered territory, but have got all of the right measures in place.”

Durham County Council has been informed of the issues.

Amanda Healy, the authority's director of public health, said: “We are aware of reports that a number of potential positive cases have been reported in the Stanley area and our Public Health team is currently investigating the situation.

“At this stage there is no immediate risk to the wider public and while we would urge people to remain vigilant, they should only book a Coronavirus test if they have symptoms (persistent cough, temperature, loss of smell/taste).

"In the meantime we can all help keep each other safe by following the basic rules of Hands, Face, Space – wash your hands for 20 seconds often, cover your face in public and stay two metres apart.”