A Kent business owner has warned of confrontation with customers after the introduction of the ‘rule of six’.
Linda Pontoriero, who runs Buenos Aires Nights in Ashford and Maidstone, says she and her staff have already been challenged about the new regulations, that come into force from today.
People booking tables at her steakhouses have been trying to bend the rules by suggesting that larger groups could sit separately in the restaurant, she says.
“Some people try, if it’s 12, they want two tables of six,” said Linda.
“When they come in they say can we put the tables together and we have already explained the situation.”
Even if they sit in different parts of the restaurant, she explained, there is always the danger of them getting up and going over to the other table.
“Sometimes they get aggressive, even with the staff,” she added. “You have customers challenging you.
“We are not taking separate tables – it’s six people and that’s it.”
While she said she preferred the tightening of restrictions to a return to a more strict lockdown, she pleaded with the Government for more clarity.
“As a business, we need to follow what the Government says,” she said.
“It’s not my personal opinion, if I agree or not.
“Boris needs to make it clear.”
Other businesses have also warned that the new restrictions leave them with an uncertain future.
Ashford-based couple Sarah Jayne and Andy, who run touring tribute act show Country Superstars as Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers, have had only two shows since lockdown started.
“With Boris’ new law we are uncertain whether the venues we do have booked in will go ahead and, if they don’t, that is a huge financial impact on us as with the past six months,” Sarah Jayne said.
She said the company usually works in theatres, festivals and at adult-only leisure resorts across the country.
But these have all been cancelled or rescheduled and they have been forced to perform at venues they would not usually attend – with no certainty that they will still be able to accommodate them.
Events have already been cancelled in light of the new guidance, including the White Cliffs Christmas Experience in Dover .
The changes to social distancing guidance were announced by PM Boris Johnson on Wednesday. So, what are the new rules and how should they be followed?
From today, meeting up in a group of more than six people will be illegal.
The rules apply to people of all ages and whether meeting indoors or outdoors, at home or a pub.
In a change from what was previously allowed, the six people can be from six different households.
Places of worship, gyms, restaurants and pubs, all of which are deemed Covid-secure, can still host more than six people in total – but will be limited to groups of six sitting together.
Schools and workplaces are not affected by the new rules.
Weddings and funerals can still go ahead with a limit of 30 people.
Those caught flouting the new rules risk a £100 fine which would double each time there was a further breach up to £3,200.
Kent Police Assistant Chief Constable Claire Nix said: “Kent has had a very good compliance rate when it comes to adhering to the national health advice around the coronavirus.
“However, the Government has made it clear that the risk of increasing infections is too great to ignore and stricter social gathering rules will come into effect to help keep everyone safe.
“Kent Police officers will continue to engage, explain and encourage people to follow the latest advice and enforcement will be used as a last resort.”
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