Pub giant Wetherspoon is to carry out a review of its Keswick premises after receiving complaints about customers queueing outside without social distancing and forcing passers-by to walk into the road by blocking the pavement.
Photographs show groups of people standing close together in Bank Street at the company’s Chief Justice of the Common Pleas pub during the day and evening on Saturday September 5, in breach of the Government’s two-metre rule.
The photos were taken by David Petty, the owner of a nearby guesthouse, who says they “clearly demonstrate that Wetherspoon are not controlling their outside areas or adhering to the Government’s covid social distancing guidelines.”
Mr Petty adds: “People continue to have to walk on the road to get past groups of people blocking the pathway outside Wetherspoon. People queuing are coming up past the hardware store and urinating up the alley.”
He says neither the police nor Allerdale Borough Council, who he has contacted, has taken any action and claims that even Wetherspoon staff had to walk on the road to get past a group to reach the main door without saying anything to those waiting to come in.
Support has come from Keswick’s deputy mayor David Burn, who said: “There is no sign of any social distancing.
“These queues, which can block the whole pavement, are forcing other people on to the road so that they can get past the pub.
“I am also told there has been a marked increase in noise caused by people in queues outside both Wetherspoon and the Crafty Baa opposite.
“Apparently they shout across the road to each other, which may not be too worrying unless you live nearby, but I am told that bad language is used which is upsetting for people.”
Cllr Burn had been disappointed when Allerdale gave Wetherspoon a temporary post-lockdown licence this summer to use tables and chairs in its staff car park up to 8pm until September 30.
He praised the pub chain for adhering to the time limit to clear them away each evening but added: “I am still concerned, however, that a precedent has been set and that we yet face a further planning application for the permanent use of the car park in this way.”
He had led a successful campaign against Wetherspoon’s plan to convert the car park which it leases from Allerdale into a permanent beer garden.
Keswick Town Council and local residents had claimed this would create excess noise and disturbance. Wetherspoon lost its appeal last year after planning permission was refused by the Lake District National Park Authority.
Cllr Burn described the latest development at Keswick’s biggest pub as “more disturbing.”
The issue has been put on the agenda for Keswick Town Council’s meeting on Thursday.
Eddie Gershon, the national spokesman for JD Wetherspoon, told the Keswick Reminder: “Our pubs are operating to reduced capacity to ensure social distancing is maintained.
“This can, on occasions, lead to customers wanting to enter the pub having to queue outside until a table is available.
“Our pub teams, assisted by door supervisors when on duty, will try and manage such queues by reminding customers of the need to observe social distancing and wait in an orderly fashion.
“It is unclear from the pictures the exact circumstances but we will review with the pub management team to see if any additional measures are required to control customers queuing outside the pub.
“We are not aware of any concerns being raised by the local health authorities about this issue or the measures we have in place at the pub generally.
“Since reopening, we have operated comprehensive social distancing and hygiene practices in all our pubs.
“These include; reduced capacity levels, the spacing out of tables, the installation of floor screens between tables and the addition of till-surround screens to the bar.
“Staff are conducting regular surface cleaning and hand sanitisers have been installed in each pub.While it is not possible to create an entirely risk-free environment, adherence to social distancing guidelines and rigorous implementation of hygiene standards minimises the risk.”