Pubs in Gloucestershire introducing food to their service so they can open under Tier 2 restrictions have been told to inform the health authorities.
The Government has placed the county under Tier 2 to reduce Covid-19 infection rates, which is the middle tier.
A condition for pubs to reopen in a Tier 2 area is to serve a “substantial meal”.
Government guidelines defines a substantial meal as “a full breakfast, main lunchtime or evening meal”. Bar snacks do not count so ‘wet pubs’ have incorporated scotch eggs, rolls and sandwiches with table service in to their service.
Local authorities employ food safety officers to inspect businesses selling food to make sure they are operating safely, not making any health violations and are up-to-code with their allergen information, in line with the Food Standards Agency guidelines.
Health inspectors also seek to support the business, giving advice on how it can improve safety measures.
We contacted Gloucester City Council, Cheltenham Borough Council, Cotswold District Council, Forest of Dead District Council, Tewkesbury Borough Council and Stroud District Council and asked them what measures had been put in place to support pubs adding food to their service.
Below are the responses we received.
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Gloucester City Council has stated businesses who are substantially changing their operations, for example a night club [wet pub] becoming a restaurant or food takeaway, would need to discuss this with the licensing and environmental health teams. Depending on the outcome of this, a business may need to re-register.
A spokesman for Gloucester City Council said: “Our Environmental Health team have a good working relationship with Gloucester’s businesses and we want to see them thrive during the pandemic.
“We welcome any businesses which want to adapt during this time, and we have a range of food hygiene information available to help them do this in a way which keeps their customers safe.
“Food safety officers have been carrying out inspections throughout the pandemic in line with food standards agency guidance and Coronavirus guidance, and high risk businesses have continued to be a priority for inspections.”
A spokesman for Cheltenham Borough Council said: “Food business operators must ensure that the Local Authority always has up-to-date information on their establishment.
“They must notify the Local Authority of any significant changes to the operation. Significant changes are considered to include changes in or ceasing of the food activities and changes to the details previously supplied at registration.
“An existing registered pub must notify the Local Authority if it starts to serve meals or operate as a restaurant.”
Asked whether they would be conducting health inspections, they said: “All businesses which serve food (including ‘wet sales pubs’) are inspected by Food Safety Officers at a frequency determined by the type of business they are. and what they are doing.
“During the pandemic many food businesses have had to change their business operating model to ensure their continued viability and the council will help them to do this in a safe manner.
“Where the council becomes aware of such changes through proactive surveillance either from the business directly, spot checks from Covid Compliance Officers, Community Protection Officers, Police Officers or through complaints, these will be followed up by a Food Safety Officer.
“We are also working with the HSE [Health and Safety Executive] who are contacting all of our licensed premises to ensure they are operating legally under Covid restrictions. Any who are not or require further advice are given to council officers to follow up on site.”
Cheltenham Borough Councillor Andrew McKinlay (LD, Up Hatherley) cabinet member for development and safety, said: “Our priority is to continue to support residents and businesses during Covid 19 restrictions.
“Officers, I’m sure, will be a reassuring presence in keeping Cheltenham safe and secure offering clear guidance and information.”
A Cotswold District Council spokesman, said; “Any venues that have adapted to serve food must update their food business registration details. Businesses must let the council know in advance. Once we are made aware of a business we will contact them to provide advice and ensure they are operating safely.
“We contact all hospitality venues and pubs not selling food periodically as part of our food safety intervention programme. Our food safety officers are on hand to support all local businesses with Covid safe precautions and food safety advice and we will respond quickly to any reports raised with concerns.”
A Stroud District Council spokesman said: “Our team of Environmental Health Officers has been working closely with food and drink businesses throughout the pandemic to help them trade safely and within the law.
“There are very few `wet pubs’ in the district that serve only drink. Our enquiries have found that some have decided to remain closed, and at least one pub that has changed into a community shop is continuing for the time being. Those pubs that are now offering meals to satisfy Covid regulations must re-register their business to let us know – they can do that here https://www.stroud.gov.uk/business/food-hygiene-and-health-and-safety/register-a-food-business
“We will inspect pubs that have significantly changed their operation.”
Tewkesbury Borough Council said: “All pubs are registered with the council as food businesses irrespective of whether or not they serve food.
“In line with Tier 2 restrictions, we have contacted all hospitality businesses operating in the borough with additional advice on food safety. This advice is specifically aimed at those businesses that wish to start serving food as a result of the new restrictions.
“Businesses are required to inform us of any significant changes to their operation which are then followed up accordingly by our environmental health team.”