AROUND 450 coronavirus safety issues have been dealt with at pubs and other premises licensed to serve alcohol around the borough since lockdown began.

Patrols have been carried out at hundreds of businesses, by licensing, trading standards and environmental health officers, following the easing of restrictions, to ensure that newly reopened premises are following the Covid-19 guidelines.

Problems observed have ranged from premises being open when they shouldn’t have been, through to businesses needing advice on keeping Covid secure.

Bury Council's public protection team, which has been handling the issues, has also been called out to complaints about PPE and social distancing in pubs, bars and restaurants.

On one of their most recent operations, carried out last Friday night, the team visited 21 premises in Tottington, Ramsbottom, Whitefield, Prestwich, Radcliffe and Bury town centre.

These premises were one club, five pubs, 11 bars, three restaurants and one off-licence selling alcohol to be consumed on tables and chairs outside.

Prestwich and Whitefield Guide: Patrols were carried out at premises across all six towns last week to ensure Covid-19 guidelines were being followedPatrols were carried out at premises across all six towns last week to ensure Covid-19 guidelines were being followed

One pub in Radcliffe was issued a warning letter on a revisit following a poor inspection on the weekend after reopening.

Another pub in the town was found to have poor contact tracing and tables far too close together.

Bury Council's executive director of operations, Donna Ball, reported that advice was given to remove some of the pub's tables and ensure furniture was at least 1m apart.

Staff were also told to ask customers for details for contact tracing rather than just relying on them writing in a book.

A revisit will be arranged to ensure this remains adhered too, Ms Ball said.

She added: "Both premises gave the reason that customers were reluctant to give details, but it’s up to all of us to take this seriously and even consider not letting them in if they don’t."

In Bury town centre, some 50 per cent of cafes and restaurants were issued with stronger advice on contact tracing recording on their unannounced visits.

Prestwich and Whitefield Guide: Some people were reportedly not social distancing while visiting Bury pubs last Friday eveningSome people were reportedly not social distancing while visiting Bury pubs last Friday evening

They will further receive follow-up contacts to ensure they have adhered to the guidance.

Ms Ball said: "There were a few problems experienced in the evening in the town centre with people waiting outside public houses premises who were not socially distancing and this will be addressed as further visits are planned by public protection officers and the police over the coming weeks to follow up.”

However, most of the pubs were found to be adhering to restrictions, with proper table spacing, contact tracing arrangements, an occupancy limit and table service.

At the north of the borough, in Ramsbottom, no major issues were reported.

A scheme introduced in Square Street ­— which has been sectioned off for restaurant customers to sit outside ­— was also praised and said to be 'working well with a Covid-safe environment observed'.

Reflecting on last Friday's visits, Ms Ball said: “On the whole we found the venues well run and adhering to guidelines.

"We asked questions regarding contract tracing, cleaning regimes and looked at how the tables and customers were spaced out, both inside the premises and in beer gardens."

Prestwich and Whitefield Guide: Cllr Jane Black and council leader Cllr Eamonn O'Brien outside the Crooked Man bar in Prestwich.Cllr Jane Black and council leader Cllr Eamonn O'Brien outside the Crooked Man bar in Prestwich.

Bury's executive cabinet member for the cultural economy, Councillor Jane Black, explained that the council has been taking a ‘4 Es’ approach – Engage, Explain, Educate and Enforce ­— to help get pubs, restaurants and other businesses back open.

However, she noted that sanctions such as prohibition notices or fines will be issued to rule breakers.

The council is further recruiting people to conduct spot checks and ‘mystery shopping’ trips to ensure regulations are observed.

Cllr Black said: "Overall we are very pleased with the response of the business community, the great majority of whom have taken the necessary measures to make their premises Covid-compliant, keep their customers safe and stop the virus spreading.

“This approach has worked so far, and we will continue to work with licensed premises to rectify problems rather than order closure. However, we will take that sanction if the problems persist."