Police State: COVID Cops Patrol Pubs, Question Drivers Leaving Virus Zones

Police officers wearing protective face coverings to combat the spread of the coronavirus covid-19 oversee an anti-vax rally protest against vaccination and government restrictions designed to control or mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus, including the wearing of masks and lockdowns, in Liverpool on November 14, 2020. (Photo by …
OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images

Police have been accused of “intimidating” customers in pubs and arguing with staff over whether meals were substantial enough to allow patrons to buy drinks, as the UK sees a return of draconian lockdown policing.

Some 99 per cent of the country has been forced under the top two tiers. While pubs must close in Tier 3 unless they can operate as a takeaway, Britons can only drink in pubs in Tier 2 if they are eating a “substantial meal”. The issue has given rise to farcical discussions with ministers questioned over whether a scotch egg or a Cornish pasty will pass the government definition of a meal.

Patrick Dardis, chief executive of Young’s pub chain and brewery, accused London police of being “overzealous” and “going into pubs unnecessarily” to order patrons to leave after eating, reporting incidents of “intimidation, bordering on harassment from officials in some of our pubs”.

“This whole petty argument about a Scotch egg, whether it is or whether it isn’t [a substantial meal] is not relevant. What it actually means is a table meal, a substantial meal is just made up nonsense,” Mr Dardis told The Telegraph on Thursday.

City of London Police officers reportedly told one landlord that they had extra staff to police drinking establishments and were prepared to fine repeat offenders £1,000.

Brexit leader Nigel Farage remarked on the reports, saying on Friday: “The attack on pubs is now remorseless. In Wales, they’re banned from selling alcohol and in England, drinkers are being harassed.”

Meanwhile, North Yorkshire Police have confirmed that they are patrolling border areas and are stopping and questioning drivers trying to leave Tier 3 areas, according to the Metro, telling Britons they can only leave the virus hotspots for ‘essential’ purposes.

“I realise there may be some confusion over what is deemed necessary in these circumstances, so I’d like to be clear here: it is neither necessary or acceptable to leave a tier three area and enter a lower tier area for a day trip or to visit a pub or restaurant for a meal.

“Please also be reminded that your tier restrictions travel with you and police can take enforcement action against you, if you should breach those restrictions,” Superintendent Mike Walker said.

Wales, which is governed on some domestic matters by a devolved assembly, made it illegal to travel to Tier 3 parts of England, Tier 3 and 4 parts of Scotland, and all of Northern Ireland.

Welshmen have also been advised to not travel to parts of the United Kingdom where the infection rate is lower, “to help prevent them taking coronavirus with them”, Wales’s First Minister Mark Drakeford claimed.

The restrictions are likely to stay in place until the New Year, and contravention of the rules could result in a £60 fine from police.

British police were widely criticised for their policing of the first lockdown, with forces stalking dog walkers with drones and fining Britons for going to the shops to buy “non-essential” items.

A retired UK Supreme Court judge remarked at the time that Briton was beginning to resemble a “police state”.

Lord Sumption said in March: “This is what a police state is like — it is a state in which the government can issue orders or express preferences with no legal authority, and the police enforce minister’s wishes.”

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