FOOD businesses on London Road have been praised for heeding calls by Leicester City Council and police to prevent large queues of customers forming outside.
Emergency measures were announced on Monday to put in place a new Outdoor Public Place Direction to prohibit queueing, gathering or congregating outside food businesses along a section of London Road.
The order applies to a section of London Road between the railway station and Victoria Park, including Highfield Street, and is aimed at stopping queues and crowds caused by customers wanting to take advantage of the Government’s Eat Out To Help Out Scheme, which offers discounts on meals between Mondays and Wednesdays during August. It also requires the public to book a table when visiting the area.
Six food outlets on London Road were also issued with Individual Public Health Premises Directions by officers from Leicester City Council’s regulatory services team to ensure they put in place strict systems to manage queues safely and only admit customers who have booked in advance.
The move was under national COVID-19 legislation giving councils the power to take action to prevent the spread of infection.
Queues on Tuesday night had decreased significantly as businesses and customers had heeded the messages which included ensuring customers had booked, not arriving more than 10 minutes before their reservation, and observing social distancing if queuing was necessary.
Leicester deputy city mayor responsible for regulatory services, Cllr Piara Singh Clair, said: “I am very pleased to see that the message seems to be getting through to customers and businesses that uncontrolled queueing and gathering outside restaurants on London Road is completely unacceptable, and poses a significant health risk.
“Staff from the council, security staff and police have been engaging with queues and talking to the businesses over the last few nights, and I’m glad to say that the numbers of people queueing have significantly reduced.
“But we need to ensure this continues with the combination of the new Outdoor Public Place Direction to prohibits queueing by people who haven’t booked, and businesses taking responsibility to ensure they have adequate measures in place to prevent unacceptable levels of queueing.
“Ourselves, the police and security staff will continue to monitor the situation, engaging with customers and businesses to reinforce the important public health message behind preventing uncontrolled queueing and ensuring adequate social distancing.
“We have a range of enforcement powers, including fines and if necessary closing down businesses if there is evidence that they are contributing to the problem.”
Businesses can face fines ranging from £100 to £3,200 for repeat offences, or closure under a prohibition notice as a last resort. Customers who are witnessed repeatedly flouting the social distancing regulations can also be fined.
The new regulations came into effect from Monday, August, 17, and is in place until the end of August with Leicester City Council undertaking regular reviews. Letters and information explaining the new rules have been given out to businesses.
Staff from security firm Showsec are in place each evening on London Road to provide support in engaging, explaining and encouraging people to socially distance. They are joined by local police to help with messaging and who, if required, will have the powers to enforce the new measures.
While the whole section of London Road is subject to the Outdoor Public Place Direction, specific Public Health Premises Directions have also been issued to Jimmy’s Killer Prawns, An Najeeb, Kobe Sizzlers, Konak, Boo Burger and Toros Steakhouse.
The regulations will be in force on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays until August 31, to coincide with the Eat Out To Help Out offer.