'I've spent thousands making the place safe': Owner of Northampton bar fined under Covid guidelines defends his business

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The owner is planning to appeal the £1,000 fine

A business owner who has been fined for breaching Covid-19 restrictions has defended his actions as he claims he has always addressed the breaches put to him.

Jimmy’s Sports Bar in Harlestone Road, St James, was handed a £1,000 fixed penalty after visits from Environmental Health Officers, the latest of which took place on Saturday (October 3).

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Officers reported they had found customers standing in groups, when Government guidance states customers should only consume food and drink when seated, which on top of breaches from previous visits, was enough to issue the fine.

The bar was fined for breaches of Covid regulations. Photo: Kirsty Edmonds.The bar was fined for breaches of Covid regulations. Photo: Kirsty Edmonds.
The bar was fined for breaches of Covid regulations. Photo: Kirsty Edmonds.

However, the owner of the bar claims customers who were standing were told to sit down and any previous breaches he was told about by officers were addressed.

Harry Barnes, Jimmy’s owner, said: “People were standing up on Saturday but they were being told to sit down.

"We had a power cut on and we were deciding whether to stay open or not, so there was some confusion around that, but customers were told to sit down.

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“The officers have been coming into our place every week for the last eight weeks. I feel like we are being singled out.

“They pick fault rather than look at the positives, but every time they point something out I have worked to improve it.

“I have spent around £5,000 on equipment and technology to make the place safe.”

Since reopening, Mr Barnes says the bar area of the premises has been boarded to stop people standing at it, table service has been implemented with more staff on shift so customers are not walking around and when they do walk around to go to the toilet they are being reminded to wear masks.

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He has also said there is hand sanitiser on every table and temperature checks are in place, as well as the QR code and track and trace system.

Mr Barnes added: “We make mistakes, everyone is making mistakes as this is new to everyone, but we are learning from them.

“I am trying my best and I am trying to follow the rules. It’s new for everyone and we are having to adapt quickly.”

Mr Barnes also said it would be easy for him to shut due to the current situation, but he wants to remain open to keep his staff in a job, which, he says, is made more difficult with a fine he cannot afford to pay.

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A Northampton Borough Council spokesman added: “Our Environmental Health Officers visit all venues across the town with regularity, as we have a responsibility to safeguard public health.

“We use these visits to check compliance as well as advise businesses on new legal requirements and the latest guidance.

“Anyone in receipt of a fixed penalty notice can make representations to us challenging it. Any challenge will be processed in accordance with our complaints procedure.”

Mr Barnes confirmed that he will appeal the fine.

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