Manchester pubs flouting guidance, undercover report finds

Pubs and bars in a Manchester borough are ignoring Covid-19 guidance and potentially endangering customers, an undercover Sky News investigation has found. 

A team of undercover reporters posed as walk-in customers at a range of pubs and bars in a Greater Manchester suburb, and discovered the majority of sites were flouting guidance surrounding Covid-19 safety.

Nine out of 10 venues visited were not following government guidance by asking for customer’s contact details for track-and-trace systems, while two venues ignored social distancing altogether. 

The investigation was conducted in a borough where Covid-19 cases were rising, and recent new restrictions in the area mean that customers visiting pubs should only do so in their household or support bubble. 

Despite local authorities urging staff in the area to collect customer contact tracing details, a staff member at one pub told a reporter no contact details had to be left ahead of leaving the premises. 

The employee then said they did not “know what to do for the best” when it came to gathering customer information.

Although it is not mandatory for pubs and bars to collect contact details in England, the government has called on venues to assist track-and-tracing by keeping a temporary record of customers and visitors for 21 days.

At another venue, where social distancing was not adhered to, a staff member told reporters they had “had it with the licensing and the police and everything”, adding it was difficult to keep people apart, but that this was not “the only pub around here” to struggle with following guidance.

Following the sting, Sky News is now calling for local authorities to be given greater powers to shut down unaccommodating sites or “take action” against venues not following the guidance.

Greater Manchester mayor, Andy Burnham, told Sky News he was “really disappointed” and warned that pubs would need to “get their houses in order”.

Councillor Nesil Caliskan, the chair of the Local Government Association’s safer and stronger communities board, added she was “concerned” by the investigation’s findings, and is now asking the government to take action.

She said: “Please give us the powers to go in and close or take action against those businesses who aren’t following the guidance because ultimately this is about trying to prevent a second wave.”

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