An Instow pub has been issued with four fixed penalty notices totaling £4,000 after breaching Covid-19 regulations.

Police officers received complaints from members of the public, prompting them to visit the Wayfarer Inn on the evening of Friday 18 December (traditionally 'Factory Friday') and found the premises not being run in a Covid safe manner by the person in control of the premises.

On attendance they found breaches of the Coronavirus Restrictions Regulations at the premises and subsequently customers were required to leave. The breaches were:

  • not having tables of different households adequately spaced
  • tables with persons from several different households sitting at them
  • not checking that groups attending were from the same household

As a result of the Police visits and the evidence gained on body cameras, North Devon Council are serving two Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) of £1,000 each on the Licensee, as the person in control of the premises.

A follow up visit by the Police on the evening of Saturday 19 December to the same premises found further breaches of the same regulations, leading to two further FPNs of £1000 each for the Licensee.

Covid-19 rates in the wider South West region increased by 250% last week. Devon is currently under Tier 2 restrictions meaning you can only meet socially with friends and family indoors who you either live with or have formed a support bubble with, unless a legal exemption applies. ‘Indoors’ means any indoor setting, including:

  • private homes
  • other indoor venues such as pubs and restaurants

Council Leader Cllr David Worden says: "We are grateful for the vigilance of our residents who report incidents of Covid breaches to us, which we are then able to follow up with the police. With the Covid infection rate rising in North Devon, incidents such as this not only put individuals at risk but also put the premises at risk of enforcement action.

"This joint action with our police colleagues proves how seriously we are taking breaches of this legislation. It is there to save lives and we will not hesitate to act on any reports of people breaking the law and putting our local community at risk.

"The number of cases within the age groups 20-39 and 40-59 has grown recently and so this is not an infection that is limited to older people. With the tiers being reviewed again over the Christmas period, we don’t want to see harsher measures introduced for the new year."

Local Policing Area Commander North and West Devon Superintendent Toby Davies says: "Officers have attended numerous licensed premises and businesses over the last few days. It is pleasing to see that the vast majority are respecting the regulations and doing their utmost to comply with the tier legislation, so that staff and customers can enjoy themselves in a safe and Covid secure environment. Sadly, however, a couple of premises visited were flagrantly disregarding the new measures with little social distancing and mixing of households. Where we witnessed blatant breaches, we have passed that evidence over to our two local authorities to consider formal action.

"It is important to point out that nearly all licensed premises and businesses visited over the weekend were making every effort to comply with the guidance, despite the incredibly challenging situation we are all in.

"Covid rates have been increasing significantly in our area over the last week, and we will continue to work with our local authorities to ensure we are doing everything possible to maintain the safety of our communities. Regretfully, for the minority who persist in acting irresponsibly and choose to ignore our efforts to engage, explain and educate - I am afraid we are left with no other option than to take formal action."

If anyone wishes to report a breach of social distancing legislation, they can call North Devon Council on 01271 388870 or report it online at www.northdevon.gov.uk.

For more guidance on safely visiting venues such as restaurants, pubs, cinemas and museums, visit the Government's website.