RESTAURANTS and food outlets across the city are being told to take responsibility for tackling the problem of uncontrolled queueing by customers who have turned up without a booking.
City council enforcement officers issued the reminder ahead of what they expect to be a busy final week of the Government’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme, which offers customers cut-price meals each Monday to Wednesday throughout August.
The advice comes as two more food businesses in London Road were issued with Individual 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.
Heavenly Desserts in London Road, and Dawat in neighbouring Highfield Street, now join the list which already includes Jimmy’s Killer Prawns, An Najeeb, Kobe Sizzlers, Konak, Boo Burger and Toro’s Steakhouse.
In addition to tackling individual premises, Leicester City Council imposed a wider Outdoor Public Place Direction, which prohibits queueing, gathering or congregating outside food establishments by people who hadn’t booked in advance, and who weren’t observing social distancing measures, along an entire section of London Road between the railway station and Victoria Park, as well as Highfield Street.
Under the regulations needs to review directions at least once every seven days. A review of all directions has taken place deemed it necessary and proportionate that they remain to control or prevent the spread of infection.
And while the current orders only cover the area around London Road, food businesses across the city are being urged to ensure they follow the same measures to ensure the safety of their customers and staff.
Leicester deputy city mayor responsible for regulatory services, Cllr Piara Singh Clair, said: “I’m pleased to say that the message seemed to be getting through last week with many of the businesses in London Road taking the necessary steps to address these problems.
“However, the issue is still ongoing and causing a significant health risk.
“We are expecting this week to be even busier than normal, as we near the end of Government’s Eat Out To Help Out offer.
“We’ve issued Individual Premises Directions to two more businesses where problems have been witnessed, as well as reviewing the broader Outdoor Public Place Direction covering that whole section of London Road.
“The review decided that these measures are necessary and will remain in place this week.
“It’s also important for all food businesses across the city to heed the public health message – that customers need to book in advance and not arrive more than 10 minutes before their reservation, and that any queueing needs to be done safely and with social distancing in place.
“Leicester has already had to endure an extended lockdown, so it's vital for customers and businesses alike to stick to these rules to avoid the risk of further COVID-19 infections and possible further restrictions.”
The actions have been taken under national COVID-19 legislation giving councils the power to take action to prevent the spread of infection.
Staff from the council, security staff and police have been engaging with queues and talking to the businesses on London Road, to reinforce the important public health message behind preventing uncontrolled queueing and ensuring adequate social distancing.
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 regulations will be in force on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays until August 31, to coincide with the Eat Out To Help Out offer.