‘Hugging, kissing' in mayor’s pub –one of 21 Covid breaches
- Credit: Wisbech Town Council
A town mayor has been called before licensing authorities after a dossier compiled by police revealed 21 breaches of Covid-19 regulations in his pub.
Police say they have evidence of customers, staff and Cllr Aigars Balsevics, the mayor of Wisbech, “mingling/mixing freely and on many occasions seen having physical contact with each other”.
It included “hugging, kissing, shaking hands and even mock fighting/wrestling”, says the evidence revealed by Fenland District Council who have issued a licensing review notice for the pub.
Ironically the notice – pinned on the front door of the mayor’s pub The Angel in Alexandra Road, Wisbech – came on the day latest Covid figures show Wisbech has one of the worst infection rates in the country.
Wisbech North has been revealed as one of the UK’s biggest Covid-19 hotspots after recording the greatest number of cases in the country.
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In the last seven days, up to February 12, 89 coronavirus cases have been recorded in Wisbech.
Also, in the top 10 is Wisbech South which, according to experts, could be due to a large-scale outbreak at one of the county’s factories or care homes.
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Wisbech North ranks second place in the whole country in coronavirus cases per 100,000, clocking 782.3, just under South Cave, Newbald & Little Weighton.
The council dossier says Mayor Aigars Balsevics committed many breaches himself.
CCTV from the pub on the day the offences are alleged have to happened – Christmas Eve – will be shown to a panel of councillors that will determine the review.
Environmental health officers at Fenland Council say the evidence “demonstrates that health and safety and Covid 19 regulations at the Angel were breached on December 24 2020.”
It says Cllr Balsevics, the designated premises supervisor (DPS) and his staff were “aware and helped to facilitate those breaches.
“The evidence demonstrates the DPS disregard of the licensing objectives (Public Safety and Prevention of Crime and Disorder).”
And it “brings into question whether the DPS can be considered a responsible person to be in control of the sale of alcohol and manage a licenced premise in accordance with the licence conditions and the four licensing objectives”.
The Angel is an ‘on’ licenced bar/club operating under a premises licence issued by Fenland District Council. The premises licence holder is Elgood & Son Ltd.
Police visited the Angel at around 9pm on December 24 and reported their concerns to Fenland District Council.
CCTV footage was requested and obtained from The Angel covering the afternoon and evening of the December 24, 2020.
Fenland Council has produced a summary of the breaches and non-compliance with what they term “good practice” at the Angel on Christmas Eve.
1: Cllr Balsevics failed to properly train/instruct, supervise and monitor staff resulting in them not adopting Covid 19 safe practices e.g., not wearing face covering, not washing or sanitising hands after physical contact with others or touching potentially contaminated surfaces, not cleaning and disinfecting tables and serving customers at the bar
2: No attempt by the DPS or staff to stop mixing of individuals from different households thereby exposing them to the risk of Covid 19 infection.
3: Customers, staff and the DPS mingling/mixing freely and on many occasions seen having physical contact with each other i.e., hugging, kissing, shaking hands and even mock fighting/wrestling. This occurs in the main bar, pool room, function room and beer garden.
4: Cllr Balsevics, as DPS, seen working at the premises during the afternoon (from 3pm onwards) and evening (except at times between 20:00 and 21:00) “so was fully aware of the Covid 19 breaches”, says the council.
5: A Covid 19 secure risk assessment for the premises had been completed in July 2020. The control measures identified in the risk assessment were not implemented on December 24, 2020.
Regulations operating at the time meant alcohol could not be sold after 10pm – they were still being sold at 10.30pm.
6: Customers, staff and the DPS were observed mingling/mixing freely and on many occasions seen having physical contact between different tables and different households i.e., hugging, kissing, shaking hands and even mock fighting/wrestling. This occurred in the main bar, pool room, function room and beer garden.
7: Customers not remaining seated and not served alcohol at tables (except when police officers are on the premises)
8: Staff delaying police officers' access into the premises whilst SIA (Secure Industry Authority) staff member is seen attempting to get customers to sit down
9: Customers mingling/mixing (physical contact), not wearing facing coverings whilst moving around the premises, being served at the bar; occurred again after police officers left the premises
10: No attempt by the DPS or staff to stop mixing of individuals from different households
11: Customers “had clearly not had a substantial meal and if they had eaten any food at all, they had not left the premises within a reasonable time after eating.” says the council.
12: Substantial amounts of alcohol being supplied to customers including on occasions trays of ‘shots’ of alcohol being distributed by customers to other patrons.
13: Customers seen going behind the bar to pour alcoholic drinks for themselves and other customers.
14: Customers and staff (including the DPS and SIA security staff member) not wearing face coverings when moving around and mingling/mixing in the premises.
15: Whilst police officers were on the premises a female bar staff was observed putting a mask on to serve customers at tables. This practice did not occur before or after the police visit.
16: A QR code is required for people who enter the premises to scan or to obtain relevant details. QR Code displayed but not seen to be used by customers or staff encouraging them to use it.
17: No evidence of attempts by DPS, SIA security staff member or other staff to obtain relevant contact tracing details from customers.
18: No attempt to implement the Covid 19 controls identified in the risk assessment dated July 3, 2020
19: No adherence to Government/PHE/NHS message of hands, face, space which has been the core message in controlling the spread of Covid 19
20: No attempt to clean and disinfect tables between use
21: Staff and DPS not washing hands or using sanitiser on their hands after serving customers, collecting used glasses, having physical contact with customers
Fenland Council says: “The DPS of the Angel public house, during a telephone conversation with a police licensing officer, admitted that he was fully aware of the Covid 19 controls required to be implemented at his pub and accepted that he was ultimately responsible for ensuring compliance”.
Last May Cllr Balsevics, who runs three pubs in the town – The Angel, The Three Tuns and the Kings Head – became the first Eastern European-born person to become mayor of Wisbech.
Approached for a response today, Mayor Balsevics declined to comment.