THE owner of a Durham City bar and restaurant has been ordered to pay hundreds of pounds for operating illegally during the coronavirus pandemic.

Cetin Koroglu, who owns 19 Twenty Bar and Grill on Durham City’s Elvet Bridge, served customers outside of legal trading hours in October 2020.

An investigation by Durham County Council found that Koroglu, of Harewood Close, York, breached health protection regulations by serving diners during hours which were restricted at the time due to Covid.

Peterlee Magistrates Court heard that, on October 23, 2020, council compliance officers attended the restaurant after 10pm and observed two men standing in the open doorway of the premises.

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They also saw several people sat at a table inside the restaurant and, upon entering the premises, found six to eight people sat at a table which held plates, wine glasses and carafes of wine.

During the visit, council staff spoke to 52-year-old Koroglu and several customers left the building.

The court also heard that Koroglu was issued with a fixed penalty notice of £1,000, on November 13, 2020, to be paid within 28 days, but that the penalty notice was not paid.

Koroglu did not attend the magistrates court hearing but had pleaded not guilty to one count of breaching health protection regulations, at a previous court appearance.

He received a fine of £100 and was ordered to pay £200 towards the council’s legal costs, as well as a £34 victim surcharge, to be paid within 14 days.

The magistrates stated that the level of fine imposed took into account the suffering of the hospitality industry during the Covid pandemic.

Owen Cleugh, Durham County Council’s public protection manager, said: “Mr Koroglu breached coronavirus regulations which were put in place to protect the safety of the public and keep infection rates down.

“Our decision to prosecute Mr Koroglu sends a clear message to those who act irresponsibly that it is not acceptable to ignore legislation, and our teams will always seek to take action against those who flout trading laws and licensing conditions.

“We are committed to supporting legitimate businesses and I hope that this outcome will reassure other traders that did their best to ensure compliance, that there were sanctions for those who didn’t.”


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