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Coronavirus Kent: Whitstable Oyster Company apologises over gatherings

A Whitstable company has apologised after crowds were pictured gathering outside its premises.

The Whitstable Oyster Company responded after images circulated around social media yesterday, prompting furious responses from residents and officials.

The images came just a day after Boris Johnson said pubs, clubs and restaurants should shut as soon as possible to stop the spread of coronavirus.

A Canterbury City Council spokesman said: "We join the public in deploring the scenes in Whitstable yesterday that have been widely shared on social media.

"We all need to work together to fight this virus and common sense is one of our biggest weapons.

"People should follow the government's advice both to the letter and in the spirit in which it is intended.

"The council's powers are limited in these circumstances so we are working urgently with the police on what action can be taken."

"The Oyster Company is absolutely committed to supporting Government guidelines at these difficult times"

The company has since apologised, and said all of its take-away premises will now be shut until further notice.

They have also promised to donate to the national emergencies trust coronavirus appeal.

A company spokesman said: "The Whitstable Oyster Company wishes to apologise for any offence caused by our decision to open our takeaway premises near the beach yesterday.

"Yesterday, according to Government advice, we shut all of our restaurants and bars with seating. We also closed the Hotel Continental.

"In line with Government advice, our takeaway premises including the Kiosk at the Horsebridge and The Forge opened legally, along with other outlets in the area and the Harbour.

"It was certainly not our intention to play a part in encouraging or facilitating the gathering together of people, and that now having being the case, we again apologise unreservedly.

"The Oyster Company is absolutely committed to supporting Government guidelines at these difficult times."

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