A pub is under investigation following the formation of a long queue of people outside it on Sunday night. They had arrived for its opening at midnight on Sunday, as Covid-19 restrictions eased in England.
The Oak Inn is located near to the city’s university and had advertised plans to open its garden and outdoor space just after midnight on Sunday. This came with the promise of heaters, marquees and blankets, to keep pub-goers warm.
It seemed that social distancing and the rule of six were being followed inside the garden, from what could be seen in footage shared on social media. However, there were concerns that this did not seem to also apply to the queue outside the venue.
A post on the venue’s Facebook, in advance of the opening, read: “So excited to be welcoming everyone back just after midnight tonight until 6am. No booking necessary … first come, first served!”
The scene came as Prime Minister Boris Johnson suggested the public should try “behave responsibly” as outdoor areas in pubs, restaurants, cafes as well as non-essential shops and a range of leisure venues were permitted to reopen.
A spokeswoman for Coventry City Council confirmed that the pub was under investigation, PA news agency reported.
She said: “People are beginning to enjoy the easing of restrictions and with the city beginning to reopen non-essential shops and hospitality venues from today, we would like to remind everyone about the importance of following the rules.
“This includes social distancing and staying two metres apart, wearing face coverings in public and washing hands regularly when visiting hospitality venues.”
She added: “We will be investigating any venue reported to not be following these rules or having difficulties with large queues or unmanageable amounts of visitors.”
Darren Lee, who owns the pub in question, said he could not respond to the council as it had not yet contacted him, reported PA. However he said that he believed the venue had worked within the rules.
“We always do things safely and properly … we were able to get outside as per the national guidelines,” he said.
He added that it had been a “great night” and that it was “fantastic” to be able to reopen the pub after months of lockdown.
The pub later shared a video its beer garden and customers, with the caption: “The Oak would like to thank all the amazing customers for a fantastic and brilliant atmosphere on our opening night. Did you manage to get one of our blankets?!”