A Dundee pub has become the first in Tayside and Fife to be closed for breaching coronavirus restrictions as the landlord admitted he couldn’t keep on top of the rules.
Andrew Hendry, landlord of GJs Bar and Diner in Mains Road, had both his personal and premises licence revoked after police visited his bar 10 times in two weeks in September.
Officers said Mr Hendry was continually “unable or unwilling” to follow coronavirus guidance, including requirements to wear masks, keep drinkers socially distanced, and hold records of contact details for Track and Trace.
Mr Hendry, 58, admitted he had “made a few mistakes” but said he found it hard to follow all of the rules and make sure his customers were too.
He said he had to let some staff members go due to earnings lost during lockdown which made it harder to police his punters.
“I have made a few mistakes and I do apologise, it certainly wasn’t deliberate,” he said.
“The rules were changing a lot at the beginning. Customers were telling me what they thought the rules were and were always at the capers, trying to pull a fly one here and there.
“I run a community pub and we have a good reputation.
“I’m a Hilltown man born and bred and I know all of these people [customers] so it’s difficult to pull them up for not following rules when you’ve known them all your life.
“I had to let my staff go and it was hard to handle on my own but I was on top of it most of the time.”
In September, Mr Hendry appealed to the Scottish Government for clearer guidance for pubs after one police visit.
When Dundee City Council’s licensing board revoked the licences on Thursday, police said a suspected lock-in earlier this month, which Mr Hendry said was a family meal, was the latest in a string of breaches.
Police Scotland’s Leigh-Ann Gregge told the board: “A decision was taken that Mr Hendry had been spoken to on numerous occasions and still appeared either unable or unwilling to adhere to the current guidance and regulations.
“It was felt appropriate to make a review request to the licensing board. Despite all of the guidance he has been given he still appears unwilling or unable to work within the parameters of the guidance.”
Breaches included staff failing to wear masks, customers congregating at the bar, “ineligible” Track and Trace records and sound being played from the television, which should have been on mute.
Mr Hendry is now seeking legal advice and plans to appeal.
“I’m just in limbo until I can get an appeal in but I do think I’ve been treated harshly,” he said.
“In the meantime I’m going to keep smiling, we’re in a global pandemic so that’s all we can do.”
GJs was the third pub licence to be reviewed at Thursday’s meeting. Balgay Hill Bar was given a four-week suspension for breaches, while the Albert Bar was given an eight-week ban.
But board convener Stewart Hunter said GJs was the centre of the most severe breaches seen by the licensing board.
“This is much more serious than breaches we have dealt with previously,” he said.
“Officers from both police and licensing visited. I think this is a really serious case.”