Middlesbrough’s mayor warns venues putting ‘profits before people’ risk closure


Pubs and restaurants in Middlesbrough which put "profits before people" by failing to enforce Covid-19 safety measures risk being closed down, the town's mayor has warned.

Andy Preston said public health officials will visit venues with police on Saturday night after the town was put on the Government's "areas of concern" watchlist due to a spike in coronavirus cases.

He warned that if venues are found to be putting the public's health at risk by failing to adhere to coronavirus regulations, they could be immediately closed down.

Speaking to BBC News on Saturday, Mr Preston said: "We are seeing a lot of dangerous behaviour and a number of infections coming from pubs and restaurants, and in fact tonight we are out with the police and we are going to be visiting venues.

"And where we see bad practice, if we think the public's health is in danger, we may well close those venues down."

Asked if he would be prepared to close venues down "on the spot", Mr Preston added: "Yeah, if we see sufficiently bad practice, if the public's health is in significant danger, we will take everything we legally can to stay out of a lockdown."

Mr Preston said he was expecting for Middlesbrough to be put on the Government's "areas of concern" list.

He said during the Government's Eat Out to Help Out campaign in August, two-hour-long queues could be seen outside some restaurants.

Mr Preston said: "(There were) huge numbers of people bunched together, we saw tables way too close together, we saw a number of establishments putting profits before people, and that's what we are on the lookout for tonight."

He said while customers were in charge of their own behaviour, it was the venues' responsibility to "police" it, adding that if the town is forced into a local lockdown it will "damage" jobs and people's mental health.