Covid patrols stepped up in Harrogate to stop diners and drinkers breaching new Tier 2 rules
Night-time coronavirus patrols are being stepped in Harrogate as diners flock back to pubs and restaurants under the new tier system.
Council and police officers have already visited more than 100 businesses in the district since Wednesday when Tier 2 restrictions came into force with stricter rules around pubs, restaurants and socialising indoors.
There will be more patrols this weekend when officials will give advice and support to people on the latest Covid-related rules.
Under the restrictions, all pubs, bars and restaurants can only serve alcohol with a "substantial meal" and must close at 11pm.
The indoor mixing of households is not allowed and officers are also on the look out for anyone from neighbouring Tier 3 locations looking to take advantage of the looser restrictions.
A spokesman for Harrogate Borough Council said no fines have yet been issued and that most businesses were keeping to the rules.
“This week our licensing officers, accompanied by colleagues at North Yorkshire Police, have been out and about across Harrogate district offering advice and guidance to hospitality businesses," the spokesman said.
“Most businesses have understood the new rules correctly, and those who haven’t have been given further information to ensure customers have a safe and enjoyable visit.
"Businesses have been very willing to make any necessary adjustments."
Businesses in all tiers are legally required to take customers' contact details, so they can be traced if there is an outbreak. Businesses can be fined up to £10,000 for failing to do this, for taking reservations of more than six, or not enforcing social distancing.
Staff in hospitality venues must wear masks, as must customers when not seated at their table to eat or drink. The penalty for not wearing one, or breaking the ''rule of six'' is £200 for a first offence.
North Yorkshire Police said it is carrying out high-visibility patrols along the county's borders to discourage people entering from higher-risk areas.
The force said councils are leading the enforcement of business restrictions and that police should only be required to attend a business as a "last resort".
Superintendent Mike Walker said: “It is our responsibility to keep the public of North Yorkshire safe, and we take that responsibility incredibly seriously.
“So, until the threat this virus poses is eradicated, we will continue to play our part in containing it. We will continue to engage with the public when we are out on patrol in our towns, villages and cities and we will speak to people and explain the regulations and encourage them to adhere to the guidance.
“As we know, the best way to beat this virus is to work together, so we will continue to work closely alongside our local authority partners and other agencies to ensure our response is coordinated and effective."
By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter