A COUNTY Durham pub whose boss was ordered to pay more than £3,500 by the courts after breaching coronavirus restrictions has had its licence suspended.

And Anthony Nicholson, who owns Finnian's on Trafalgar Street, Consett, has been removed from the licence as "designated premises supervisor" (DPS).

Durham County Council's licensing sub-committee imposed the interim steps on Finnian's licence.

The measures will be in place pending a full review hearing, which will be held by April 25.

The committee held a private special meeting on Wednesday (April 30) afternoon when the matter was decided.

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It was reported last week that the council took legal action against Mr Nicholson for failing to follow health protection regulations on two separate occasions last June.

At the time, the country was in Step 3 of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown, which required customers of indoor hospitality to be seated while ordering, eating and drinking.

On June 20 the council received information showing members of the public being served at the bar, where individuals were also sat directly opposite Nicholson, with no social distancing measures in place and no screens or barriers in place to protect staff.

As a result, the 52-year-old, of Rosemary Close in Consett, was issued with a fixed penalty notice (FPN) requiring him to pay £1,000.

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On June 24, one of the council’s community protection officers witnessed members of the public sat at the bar, with no way to facilitate safe social distancing between customers and staff.

A second fixed penalty notice, in the sum of £2,000 was served on Nicholson. However, he chose to contest both FPNs.

The case was heard at Peterlee Magistrates' Court in Nicholson’s absence.

He was ordered to pay £1,000 for failing to ensure food or drink is ordered by, and served to, customers who are seated and £2,000 for failing to take all reasonable steps to ensure the customer remains seated whilst consuming food or drink on the premises.

He was also ordered to pay a £190 victim surcharge and court costs of £510, bringing the total to £3,700.

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Owen Cleugh, the council’s public protection manager, said: “Covid restrictions were in place at the time of these offences to protect the public and reduce the spread of the virus. Any breaches, which put the safety of workers and residents at risk, were taken seriously.

“Court proceedings are always a last resort. In this particular case, we provided the owner with advice on how to comply with the restrictions. Unfortunately, those recommendations weren’t implemented, and it is important that any breaches of the law are dealt with as part of our commitment to public safety.

"We are also very grateful to the vast majority of businesses in County Durham for their co-operation in following the restrictions and guidance throughout the pandemic.”


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