Several concerns for public health have been raised about the Stirling branch of JD Wetherspoons, Brig can reveal.
Members of the public have voiced their concerns about the lack of enforced safety measures at the The Crossed Peels, Wetherspoons’ Stirling branch amid the current Coronavirus pandemic.
The concerns have included a lack of social distancing with large groups gathering both inside and outside of the pub, tables being too close together and toilets on the premises being unclean and going unchecked for long periods of time.
Stirling citizens voiced their concerns to elected representatives, with Stirling’s MP Alyn Smith being contacted by numerous constituents.
Customers and members of the public were not the only ones to raise the alarm, with Smith being contacted by some staff members who believed that the bar was understaffed to safely operate and that they felt there was often too many customers in the bar.
Smith has contacted the chair of Stirling Council’s licensing board, Stirling North Councillor Danny Gibson, and the Chief Executive of Wetherspoons, John Hutson.
Smith has outlined that his office has received “multiple” complaints about breaches of coronavirus guidelines at the pub and that he does not want to see Stirling end up in a similar situation to Aberdeen, which was put into lockdown earlier this week after a spike in coronavirus cases.
Speaking with Brig Smith said:
“I’ve been seriously concerned after receiving multiple reports of social distancing not being exercised and enforced in The Crossed Peels, a Wetherspoon pub in Stirling city centre. Customers, staff members, and even passers-by have flagged the alarming number of people crowded in close proximity with each other.
“This week, the First Minister announced that Aberdeen city has gone into lockdown again, following a cluster of Covid-19 infections emerging in the area, many of which are linked to one pub in particular. This cannot be allowed to happen here.
“The Crossed Peels is a significant destination for people socialising in town, and the safety of customers, staff, and the wider public must be the primary consideration for the pub chain.
“Across the Stirling area, hospitality businesses have put additional measures in place that not only keep people safe, but also give people peace of mind that they are not entering a place that could potentially put them in danger. I have written to Wetherspoon’s Chief Executive, asking him to look into reports from The Crossed Peels and assess what more can be done to keep people safe.”
Stirling Council have confirmed that they have also received multiple complaints regarding The Crossed Peels and that their Environmental Health Officers and Police Scotland have made visits to the bar to ensure safety measures are enforced and make further safety recommendations.
Stirling Council confirmed that police officers and environmental health have visited Stirling Wetherspoons on “several occasions” regarding this matter.
The council have said that if Wetherspoons do not comply with these recommendations then they could take formal action against the business.
A Stirling Council spokesperson said: “The Licensing Board has received a number of complaints from members of the public regarding Coronavirus safety concerns at the Stirling branch of JD Wetherspoons on Spittal Street.
“We have passed these complaints on to Environmental Health who, along with Police Scotland, are responsible for ensuring compliance with the guidelines.
“The premises in question has been visited on several occasions, both by our Environmental Health Officers and on multi agency visits with Police Scotland, to highlight the essential need for the premises to operate in accordance with Scottish Government guidance.
“Complaints have centred around the premises’ night time operation and Environmental Health Officers have made further recommendations in addition to the measures already in place as to how the premises can maintain social distancing guidelines during these hours.
“The premises has been advised that if these guidelines are not adhered too, then formal enforcement action will be used.
“It is essential that Scottish Government guidance is followed by hospitality businesses throughout the Stirling Council area to ensure not only the safety of people who work in and visit the premises, but also the wider Stirling community.”
Since the revelations and Smith’s letter to Wetherspoons’ bosses, The Crossed Peels has introduced new safety measures and their Area Manager has been in contact with the Environmental Health Officer (EHO).
These new measures include additional staff members on shift, the beer garden has been closed and only six people will be allowed out to smoke at each time, the number of people allowed at each table has been limited to four, as well as the introduction of a one way entrance and exit system with door staff on duty each night to ensure these measures are enforced.
Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “ We take on board the points raised by Alyn Smith MP and Wetherspoon chief executive John Hutson has written to him on the issue.
“In essence the pub has been extremely busy since reopening and this has resulted in some of the problems that the MP pointed out.
“We have now deployed more staff in the pub, as well as door staff, shut the garden (except to allow a maximum of six people at a time to smoke) and limited the maximum group size round any one table to four people.
“The pub’s area manager has been in contact with EHO to advise of what we have done.
“Wetherspoon takes its responsibilities very seriously, and prior to reopening, developed thorough operating plans, which followed a great deal of consultation with staff, environmental health advisors and UK Hospitality (Scotland).”
Bars and restaurants opened in Stirling on July 15, with businesses completely transforming their operating plans to accommodate social distancing and other measures, such as access to hand sanitiser, additional cleaning, and staff equipped with PPE to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
At the time of publication, the number of confirmed coronavirus (covid-19) cases in the NHS Forth Valley area was 1,107, with ten of those cases being confirmed in the past week, and five of those being confirmed in the last 24 hours, highlighting the importance of social distancing and other preventative measures to protect against the virus.
Featured Image credit: Harry Williamson