A bar owner has lost his license for serving customers in lockdown – despite claiming it was a children’s party and saying he was reported by a man in revenge for refusing an arranged marriage.
Police visited Rafael’s in Spalding on June 24 after being told customers were being served despite the Coronavirus restrictions closing all pubs, bars and restaurants.
The lights were off at the front of the Westlode Street premises, but around 20 people were drinking and eating at the back.
Owner and license holder Jorge Carmezim told the licensing committee on Tuesday that he knew what he did was wrong and regretted it.
But he also said it had been a children’s party for a friend and he was sure the person who contacted police was a man trying to arrange a marriage with his daughter, which Mr Caremezim didn’t want to take part in.
He also told the committee that he had received the district council’s Covid Small Buisness Grant, but had not utilised the furlough scheme.
The police’s licensing officer Sgt Kim Enderby told the committee meeting that the bar owner had carried on trading despite the rules.
“There is no excuse, no mitigation whatsoever. There were 15 people, two children and two staff,” he said.
Sgt Enderby said that throughout the county the vast majority of licensed premises had closed and co-operated with the restrictions and changed their business practice.
“This business appears to be one which has chosen to ignore the restrictions. There was no social distancing, no mitigating factors,” he added.
A video recorded on the visiting police officer’s body camera was shown to the committee members in private session.
The officer was let into the bar by a customer who was leaving, and it was clear that people had been eating and drinking, Sgt Enderby told the hearing, which met virtually via Zoom.
“Chairs were stacked up inside so it gives the impression nothing is going on,” he said.
Describing Mr Carmezim’s description of the event as a children’s party as “barely credible” he added the owner had chosen to ignore restrictions and risk transmitting the virus.
“This was not a bubble.”
Coun Jane King said: “It did not look like a birthday party for a child. There was no cake, or streamers
The license review was requested by Chief Constable Bill Skelly who recommended revocation because the breach was deemed to be so serious.
South Holland District Council panel ruled that the premises licence should be revoked, subject to appeal, due to a blatant disregard for the guidelines in place and a breach of all four of the licensing objectives.
Coun Anthony Casson, portfolio holder for public protection, said: “Lockdown has been incredibly difficult for businesses and individuals across the District and nationwide, who have been forced to close and face a loss of income due to the tough but necessary regulations in place.
“When the vast majority have followed these rules perfectly, despite the potential personal cost, it is important that we take steps against those who break them, potentially putting public health at risk.
“I am pleased that the panel have taken the strongest possible action available to them in this case, and hope that it will send a message to other businesses in the District that we can and will take action against such activity.”
The ban on alcohol sales at the premises will come into effect after 21 days, depending on whether an appeal is lodged in the Magistrates Court. For more information on Licensing laws and regulations, visit www.sholland.gov.uk/Licensing.