Pub manager fined £6,000 for defying lockdown closure order
A PUB manager was ‘reckless, self-centred and irresponsible’ not to close his bar when the first Covid-19 restrictions were put in place and was fined £6,000 by the Magistrate’s Court for his failure to do so.
The Britannia was found to be still open after 6.30pm on 20 March, when the early stages of the restrictions for the pandemic kicked in.
The measures were for all establishments such as pubs that did not serve plated food.
But when police went to the Britannia at 6.50pm, they found it still full of customers and two people were behind the bar.
Manager Philip James Martel, 56, of Flat 4, 2, The Grange, St Peter Port, admitted failing to comply with a direction made under the emergency powers regulations.
The Britannia is part of the Liberation Group, which the court heard was told of the direction that morning.
A notice about the pub closing at 6.30 appeared on its Facebook page at about 5.45, Crown Advocate Fiona Russell said.
But when officers went to the pub at about 6.50 they found music playing and some 30-40 people inside, including two behind the bar.
Mr Martel came out to speak to officers but was hostile towards them, swearing and dismissing the lockdown.
He refused entry to them and other officers when they arrived.
However, the pub gradually emptied and Crown Advocate Russell said everyone had left by about 7.30.
In defending Martel, Advocate Samuel Steel said the defendant wished to publicly apologise for his actions.
He admitted being naive about coronavirus at the time but had since learned a lot more about it.
He had tried to close the pub, and rang the bell to get people to leave at 6.30, but the patrons had been reluctant.
Although there were two people behind the bar, they stopped serving alcohol at 6.30 as per the direction.
He understood his responsibility. The pub’s designated official was his partner who was at home at the time, and it was she who had put the notice onto Facebook.
While he had not been co-operative with officers, the comments he made arose from his being concerned about his business, which he had taken over only nine months before.
He regretted how he had handled the situation.
‘Your actions were reckless, self-centred and irresponsible and you should be ashamed of yourself,’ Judge Gary Perry told Martel.
Even on that first day of the regulations, only a hermit would have been unaware of the serious pandemic that the world was facing.
‘Quite frankly, you put profit over public safety,’ said the judge.
Martel should have made plans to get people to leave and his excuse that they had refused was a weak one.
‘Let this be a lesson to you and anyone else in this community,’ said the judge, imposing a £6,000 fine as an alternative to 300 days in prison.