Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Police are engaging with businesses to help ensure that they have the necessary COVID safety measures in place, ahead of more rigorous checks and enforcement.
As the infection rate in Leeds continues to rise, city leaders are calling on bars, restaurants, and takeaways across the city to help to stop the spread of coronavirus—and prevent the need for further restrictions—by following COVID-secure guidelines.
To ensure that venues in Headingley are COVID-secure ahead of thousands of students returning to the city and an expected increase in trade, officers from Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Police are visiting 200 bars, restaurants and takeaways this week as part of a joint operation.
Teams of police, environmental health and entertainment licensing officers will offer support and advice on social distancing and safety measures and will check premises have the right precautions in place. Businesses will also be encouraged to create and display an official QR code that will work with the new NHS Coronavirus app and make essential contact tracing easier.
Each venue will be given a pack with key information, instructions on when and how they can report a coronavirus outbreak as well as a new poster to display reminding customers of the simple but important steps they must follow.
Customers can stay safe and help save lives while enjoying Leeds’ vibrant hospitality sector by providing contact details when prompted, using contactless ordering and payments where possible, following social distancing procedures, staying at their table where possible, and regularly washing or sanitising their hands.
Similar activity will also be taking place in other towns and cities across West Yorkshire. Following the new Rule of Six legislation, West Yorkshire Prepared, the region’s Local Resilience Forum, has asked partners to work collectively to ensure the implementation of the new law across the region. Local Authorities and the police have been successfully working in this way throughout the pandemic, but this is the first time a cross-regional approach has been taken with dedicated teams acting simultaneously across the county.
Anyone wanting to report a venue they believe isn’t operating safely should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Councillor Mohammed Rafique, executive member with responsibility for Environmental Health at Leeds City Council, said: “Many businesses in Leeds are already taking all of the right steps to operate in a COVID secure way and protect staff and customers from coronavirus. However, at this crucial time for the city it is vital that every venue is applying these measures consistently.
“We will continue to support and advise businesses to do this. But we won’t hesitate to take enforcement action against any business that is putting public health at risk.
“Residents of all ages can stay safe and help save lives when enjoying our city’s fantastic bars and restaurants by following guidance on social distancing, handwashing, and providing their contact details when prompted. If a venue feels unsafe, the best thing to do is to avoid it.
“By working together and following the law, we can all help control the city’s infection rates and by doing so protect our friends, family and communities from coronavirus.”
Inspector Andy Loftus, who heads the Leeds North West Neighbourhood Policing Team at West Yorkshire Police, said:
“This is a crucial time for Leeds given the heightened concerns around Coronavirus rates in the city, and we are continuing to work closely with our partner agencies at local level to help keep people safe.
“It is obviously vital that people stick to the latest regulations and restrictions to help reduce the spread of the virus, and licensed premises and other venues have a key role to play in supporting this important aim.”
Martin Wolstencroft, chief executive of Arc Inspirations, said: “Hospitality is an industry that prides itself in looking after people and keeping our customers, teams and communities safe and well.
“As experienced and responsible operators of pubs and bars across the city, we take our responsibilities in running safe and secure venues incredibly seriously. Our venues offer spaces for people to enjoy being with friends and family at the centre of our communities and high streets.
“We are committed to following the Government’s new guidelines and are determined to show customers that we are professional, proactive and caring. We're encouraging every venue in Leeds to do the same.”