ABUSIVE cafe and pub customers are being urged to ‘play ball’ with the rules and stop taking their coronavirus frustrations out on under-pressure staff.

One County Durham café owner said her team had been verbally abused and pushed by stroppy customers who have argued or refused to adhere to Covid measures introduced to keep the business open and customers and staff safe.

Paula Kempin, of The 68 Café and Catering Company at Toft Hill, near Bishop Auckland, has seen people pushing staff, refusing to wear face coverings or provide accurate Track and Trace information, ignoring one way systems and getting angry or storming off when challenged.

She said: “The onus is on us as a business to make the premises safe, to adhere to the rules, and I’ve spent literally thousands to stay open.

“I could close for a few months and probably be better off but I stay open for my team, which I treasure, and loyal customers.

“Sadly, the treatment my exceptional team and myself get from some people is simply not on.

“They are not second class citizens but people working very hard to maintain good customer service in really challenging times.

“My blood has boiled at times, seeing some people act so rude and stroppy.

“Times are bloody hard and frankly everyone has stress so everyone needs to be kind or just grow up and be civil.”

The Northern Echo:

Mr Kempin has heard reports of bad language and uncooperative customers in pubs and takeaways too.

Bishop Auckland licensee Christian Burns said bad behaviour is unacceptable but he does sympathise with customers.

He said: “I don’t blame customers for being sick and frustrated, it is hard for everyone and the rules don’t make sense to a lot of us.”

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of trade association UK Hospitality, said: “Businesses have gone to great lengths to make their venues safe and they are operating under extreme pressures.

“Customers need to play ball, too.

“We have not heard of widespread bad behaviour by customers, but any examples are not to be tolerated.

“Customers who knowingly give false test and trace details or refuse to distance or wear masks are putting people, and the business, at risk.”