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Reaction from Bexley and Dartford as London enters tier 2 Covid restrictions

Pub bosses have responded to the introduction of tighter tier 2 restrictions in the capital.

James Irving is landlord of the Crayford Arms pub, which despite its DA postcode falls under the London borough of Bexley , just a mile away from the border with Dartford .

James Irving, 26, landlord of the Crayford Arms in Crayford High Street, near Dartford
James Irving, 26, landlord of the Crayford Arms in Crayford High Street, near Dartford

The 26-year-old publican says as far as he was aware it was business as usual and he could continue to operate a table service in line with the Covid-19 guidelines.

He said: "As far as I know the rules don't actually change. Licensing has contacted me to say there are no changes so don't panic."

Under tier 2, two households are permitted to meet in outdoor settings , provided they adhere to the rule of six.

However, the government is advising that people do not socialise with others they do not live with outdoors in public spaces like parks or in pub beer gardens.

Asked whether the new rule change on public meets will affect trade he said: "We are not the police. If they come in and say they live together we have to trust the individual."

The border between London and Kent
The border between London and Kent

James, who only took over the running of the High Street pub in February before it was placed into lockdown just a month later, said his customers were respecting the rules and that he was operating contract tracing in line with the guidance.

Since being allowed to reopen in July he says trade has improved and he hopes not to see a return to stronger restrictions, fearing they might not survive a total shutdown again.

Back across the border in Kent, Pam Bingham runs the Ship pub in Dartford .

She is worried tougher restrictions for London might result in a potential "overspill" into pubs like hers close to the border.

She said: "I'm such a small pub that I know I'd be quite restricted really because of my locals.

"I have only got a small seating area and the thing is it is very awkward if I have a lot of strangers come in as I'd be turning my own locals away."

The landlady added it could be a bit of a "moral problem" if she had to turn away customers coming from Crayford.

"They are bound to come – it is not that far away, it is less than a mile away from us really so it could be very difficult.

"But on the other hand we are a public house and people are allowed to come in but we will have to restrict them."

The Crayford Arms, Crayford
The Crayford Arms, Crayford

Bromley MP Sir Bob Neill slammed the decision today in an address to Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

He told Parliament: "It is neither targeted, nor proportionate, nor appropriate to use a London wide average in so large a metropolitan area where so little commuting is now taking place."

The Tory backbencher called for support from the Chancellor of the Exchequer for those hospitality and events businesses in the suburbs who he said would now suffer as a direct result.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock responded to say they had considered a "borough by borough approach" but because of the integrated nature of London and rising cases they decided on a uniform tier change.

Meanwhile, a Bexley resident has spoken out saying she felt the rules had been "sprung on people".

Jackie Smith said: "For me it is the speed with which they introduced it.

"I have got family living close by but I have friends who live in Dartford.

"My understanding is Dartford is going to stay in tier 1 so I could go and see that friend within the rule of six but they could not see me."

The 50-year-old added there was likely to be "so much cross over and confusion".

"If you live in Bexley you are constantly crossing over into the county and also into Essex which is going into tier 2."

"We would go to Darent Valley Hospital so presumably that is in tier 1 but it is going to be servicing people living in tier 2 restrictions," she added.

Jackie, whose 12-year-old daughter is autistic and attends a specialist school in Bromley, also bemoaned the lack of detail regarding "social care bubbles", adding she felt the confusion would add to many families' growing list of concerns.

Darent Valley Hospital is close to the border
Darent Valley Hospital is close to the border

The mum, who works in the public sector, believes the new rules will be particularly difficult to understand for older people and businesses whose postal addresses say Kent but who actually fall under the local government jurisdiction of the Greater London Authority.

"Trying to explain it to my 81-year-old mother is quite challenging but thankfully she lives with me," she added.

Jackie went on to add she was not against increasing lockdown measures but believes there is a case for keeping Bexley, Bromley and other boroughs with lower Covid-19 case numbers under tier 1 restrictions and continuing to monitor the situation.

The restrictions were revealed earlier today by minister Helen Whately .

For the latest coronavirus news and advice, click here.

For the latest news from Bromley and Bexley

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