Published: 00:00, 26 September 2020
A landlady says it is unfair pubs are being 'blamed' for a rise in Covid-19 cases, and says they are cleaner than supermarkets.
Valerie Gillingham, who has run the Fishermans Arms in Maidstone for five years, described new government guidelines which mean pubs and restaurants have to close at 10pm as a 'kick in the teeth'.
She said pubs are now being 'watched closely' despite the changes that have been put in place to keep people safe.
She said: "On Thursday night the police did a drive by at 10.10pm, slowing down and staring through our window. I had the doors closed by 10pm.
"We're all desperately trying to adhere to the guidelines they've given us; we're doing everything we can.
"But my partner went to shops and people were not wearing masks. I have a friend who works in a shop and they can't challenge people who aren't wearing masks, where as we're being watched more closely."
Miss Gillingham, 51, took to social media pleading with people to continue supporting their local pub.
The post, shared from another user, listed all the measures that can be put in place at pubs to ensure visitor's safety.
This includes hand sanitiser at the door, wearing masks, cleaning surfaces between customers and using the track and trace system.
The post questions: "Why do you consider (pubs) to be unsafe when you have been wandering around shops with a higher risk of transmission?"
The post encourages people to "visit" a pub to witness "the lengths" they have gone to to stick to guidelines.
It adds: "They may not be there at all next time you look up from your phone or keyboard whilst you've been busy calling for them to close."
Miss Gillingham, a mum-of-two, says she shared the message because she was fed up of seeing comments blaming pubs.
She adds: "I've seen so many posts on Facebook about the numbers going up because of Eat Out to Help Out.
"And yes there have been pubs playing loud music with people mixing together, but I find most pubs are sticking to the rules.
"We are cleaner than supermarkets. We have sanitiser by the door and clean tables between each customer. Tables are spread out."
Mrs Gillingham says the new 10pm closing time has put people off going to pubs now.
She added: "I'm not sure what difference 10pm will make. People might come out earlier. People can still buy alcohol at the shop and then invite others to go back to their home."
As well as pubs and restaurants now closing at 10pm, the new rules brought in by the government includes restricting wedding guest numbers and telling people to work from home if they can.