Leeds bar closed down after police find multiple Covid-19 lockdown breaches
A Leeds bar and grill has been closed down after "flagrant and wholly unacceptable" breaches of lockdown rules.
Bob’s Bar and Restaurant, in Sheepscar Street South, has had its licence revoked by Leeds City Council after the authority and the police presented a "catalogue of failings and breaches" to a licensing meeting.
The council had been speaking to venue owner and premises licence holder, Mr Asfaha, since January 2020 regarding issues about the CCTV and loud music being played.
Problems continued once the Covid pandemic hit, with police finding 17 people inside at 1.30am on 15 June, 2020, during the first lockdown.
Mr Asfaha told officers he had invited five friends for his birthday, but officers had found 12 other people hiding elsewhere, according to the licensing committee decision report.
Members of the public also reported having witnessed a number of lockdown breaches - including staff and customers not wearing masks, tables not spaced out adequately, condiments left on the tables and the lack of a track and trace system track and trace system.
Customers were also reported to have been smoking shisha within the premises.
Complaints about breaches continued through the local tier system and national lockdowns.
A statement read during the meeting on Mr Asfaha's behalf stated that he had spent a lot of money on the businesses and was suffering from stress.
It was also claimed that on the occasions mentioned he was not operating the business but "thanking his friends for their support".
But at the decision hearing, a police officer said Mr Asfaha had "no interest in upholding the law or the licensing objectives".
In their decision report, the committee said: "While the Committee sympathised with Mr Asfaha's situation and appreciated the massive difficulties the pandemic had created for his business, many other businesses were under the same or similar pressures but had not reacted by breaching the regulations or the licensing objectives, even if it had led to the demise of some of those businesses.
They added: "Modifying the conditions would not address matters, as Mr Asfaha had demonstrated a failure to abide by the current conditions and the Committee had no faith in him changing his ways."
Mr Asfaha has the right to appeal.
A Leeds City council spokesperson, said: "It is crucial that bars and restaurants within the Leeds area are aware of the various licencing conditions as well as continuing to operate within the Covid-19 regulations.
"Whilst the council continues to support the reopening of the hospitality sector across Leeds, it is important that the sector does so in a safe and Covid secure manner.
"This successful action by the council will help protect Bars and Restaurants as well as residents who continue to follow Covid-19 regulations."
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