Councillors have confirmed that ‘mystery shoppers’ are to be used to monitor hospitality venues who may breach new lockdown restrictions across Greater Manchester.
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham stated in a press conference yesterday that councils have been receiving reports that some licensed premises are failing to take the details of customers to comply with contact tracing rules.
The public has been urged to report any businesses failing to comply, but now the authorities are planning to employ people to pose as secret customers to follow up on any complaints.
This comes after Health Secretary Matt Hancock made the announcement on the evening of Thursday 30th July that people in certain areas of Northern England – crucially including all 10 boroughs of Greater Manchester – would no long be permitted to congregate privately with others outside their household or support bubble.
Official government legislation to enforce these restrictions legally came into force yesterday.
It has been confirmed though that staff working at hospitality establishments will not be expected to “interrogate” people to check if they are in the same household, or bubble.
Mr Burnham announced that there will be targeted enforcement on those establishments found to be repeatedly flouting the restrictions. He said: “If pubs are failing to take people’s details when they arrive, and we are receiving lots of reports that it’s still variable, then we will use targeted enforcement or mystery shopping to ensure all premises are maintaining the right procedures.”
“It will be difficult for the police to enforce households not mixing in premises and the onus is on the individual [to adhere to the rules] in that respect alongside the establishment.”
“We are appealing for people to listen to the guidance, it’s been put out there for good reason for everybody’s health but we will be ready to enforce these new rules but very much focusing on repeat offenders.”
Sir Richard Leese – Deputy Mayor for Greater Manchester and Leader of Manchester City Council – added that establishments would be held accountable for specific measures, such as providing disposable menus, supplying hand sanitiser and placing tables two metres apart.
He said: “Do we expect them to interrogate customers to ensure they’re all in the same household or bubble? No, not really because again individuals do need to take some responsibility. But if we have got pubs or restaurants that aren’t doing their bit, it will not necessarily just be the pubs and restaurants we’d be taking to task.”
“In the cases of pubs owned by breweries we’d be going to their companies as well and making sure they’re taking responsibility for what is happening in the premises that they own.”
For further information and guidance amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, do refer to official sources via gov.uk/coronavirus.