Instow pub owner hits back at 'heavy-handed' Covid enforcement

The Wayfarer Inn at Instow 

The Wayfarer Inn at Instow - Credit: Google

The owner of The Wayfarer at Instow has criticised a ‘heavy handed’ approach by police and North Devon Council after receiving fines for breaches of Covid-19 rules. 

Chris Hopkins has disputed the council’s version of events and said the total fines that had been issued were £2,000 for two separate incidents and not £4,000 for four breaches as stated by the council. 

Mr Hopkins said the breaches had related to people having a meal who had been in a work bubble rather than a social or family bubble. 

In a press release issued today (Tuesday, December 22) the council said the breaches had been for four incidents with fines totalling £4,000. 

At the beginning of the pandemic and during the first lockdown, the pub provided free accommodation and food for health and emergency workers who were unable to stay with their families. 

Mr Hopkins said: “We have gone out of our way to help the NHS and the police force, so to be treated like this, with 10-plus police officers coming through the door – it was almost like something off the TV, a crazy drugs raid. 

“We rely on customers being straight with us, that they are in social or family bubbles and we are struggling to police that – how do we enforce it or ask everyone if they are in these particular bubbles? 

“It is just the heavy-handed treatment by the police, one officer could have dealt with this. It’s down to education by the council - we are reliant on listening to Boris’s little speeches and trying to pick out what’s relevant. 

“Every pub you go into in the area is doing slightly different things, it’s just a complete impossibility.” 
Mr Hopkins, who is owner and licensee, said he had now taken the decision to close the pub until after the festive season. 

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He added: “We need support from the council, not persecution – tell us what to do and we will do it. 

“Every license holder across the county is in the same boat.” 

The Gazette has asked North Devon Council if it wishes to respond to Mr Hopkin’s version of events. 

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