A PUB in Mossley was raided for illegally serving alcohol 24 hours after the Government introduced new guidelines to combat coronavirus.
And in the wake of widespread reports of licensed premises in Tameside flouting rules that doors should remain shut, the police and local authority mounted a massive crackdown on illegal drinking dens.
Acting on intelligence, police visited 20 licensed premises and Tameside Council officers a further 15 last night (Mar 25).
“The visits were intelligence driven and also with the gut feeling that something wasn’t right,” explained Cllr David Sweeton, chair of Tameside Council’s speakers’ panel (liquor licencing).
Cllr Sweeton added the police and local authority are acting all the time on intelligence and will be out on a nightly basis visiting pubs and other licensed premises.
He said: “This is a public health matter and people are taking the mickey.
“If pubs and licensed premises have lock-ins and entrance by the back door, it will not be tolerated.
“We made a raid as early as the Saturday (the day after pubs were shut).
“We can legally prosecute with fines and imprisonment and, once this emergency is over, we will take steps to remove their liquor licences.”
Cllr Sweeton added he expects the curtains at licensed premises to remain open.
And he called on members of the public to let the police and local authority know if any pub or licensed premise is opening illegally.
The problem is not restricted to Tameside with other police forces reporting widespread breaches.
Lancashire, Derbyshire and South Yorkshire have all been told of pubs holding “lock-ins” after the Government ordered licensed premises to shut.
Lancashire deputy chief constable Terry Woods said, “this has got to stop”.
“Any police action we take is about saving life. These rules are here now and it’s not a request, it’s a Government order,” he said.
Derbyshire Police received a “large number of reports” that pubs opened at the weekend, a force spokesman confirmed.
“Any licensee who fails to comply with the Government regulations and the terms of their licence may be handed prohibition notices and potentially unlimited fines,” the spokesman added.