A seaside hotel in the UK has had its alcohol premises licence revoked after pictures were posted online of men drinking pints with the caption “What Lockdown?”
Lincolnshire Police initially received Facebook images of large groups gathered at the Grosvenor House Hotel in Skegness during the latest coronavirus lockdown.
The force attended the hotel on November 19 and CCTV showed it had been open and trading on November 13 and 14.
Police said the business was in contravention of the British government closure order which started at midnight on November 4.
The owner of the hotel, named by the force as Mr Sparks, described it as an “error of judgment” but police said CCTV showed attendees being handed “pint after pint” by management.
The hotel has 21 days to appeal against the decision by Skegness District Council Licensing Sub-Committee, otherwise the suspension will begin with immediate effect.
Sergeant Kim Enderby, alcohol licensing manager for Lincolnshire Police, said: “Following that initial Facebook image being sent to my team we carried out a thorough investigation.
“I thought after 29 years in the police there wasn’t a lot left to shock me but the way in which this venue was operating was awful.
“Nearly two weeks after the November lockdown had started we found footage of over 15 people in the bar area.
“They were being served pint after pint by the owner of the premises, Mr Sparks.
“Obviously this hotel bar should have been closed; people should not have been allowed inside to drink alcohol. But of equal concern was the total lack of social distancing measures in place.
“At one point over 10 men were crammed round a small table drinking and posing for what we think were the Facebook posts.
“There were no face masks being worn by customers or staff, nothing had been put in place to try and prevent the spread of the virus.
“Mr Sparks claimed it was an error of judgment on his part to open the bar, but that is a poor excuse.”
Sgt Enderby said the “blatant disregard” for the closure order and social distancing measures demonstrated “a lack of management and control over these premises”.
He added: “We are not yet out of this pandemic – whilst the vaccine rollout is well under way, we still need everyone to be sensible and follow the regulations.
“The decision of East Lindsey District Council to revoke this licence sends a really strong deterrent message to anyone owning or running licensed premises. They need to follow the guidance, operate lawfully and responsibly.
“We will not hesitate to take action against any licensed premises whose operation presents a risk to the public, where there is criminality and where the licensing objectives are undermined.”