COUNCIL bosses have promised tough action against pubs and restaurants who allow groups more than six.

The new rule of six legislation was introduced by the Government on Monday in order to limit the spread of coronavirus.

Colchester Council bosses have written to all of the borough’s licensed premises to remind them of their responsibilities to limit the size of groups and said track and trace is mandatory from Friday.

Speaking at the council’s crime and disorder committee officer Melanie Rundle said: “If any groups larger than six - if there is a table of 15 in a pub, café or restaurant it is absolutely something my team would investigate and take action.

“We will be keeping a close eye on events and other things which people are organising.”

When asked whether covid marshals - Government backed people employed to enforce social distancing - would come to Colchester, public safety boss Mike Lilley (Lab) said he was sceptical.

“We have had a strategy which has worked very well in Colchester,” he said.

“There has been work with zone wardens, the police, and the public who have reported things.

“Most people have stopped when given a friendly warning and we would like to continue that.

“We have not really got the money to employ marshals - and they have no real power - I have seen salaries advertised for £30,000 per year.”

Chief Inspector Rob Huddleston, Colchester’s district commander, said patrols across 65 public hotspots were planned but people would get fair warnings before any enforcement occurred.

“We have those priority areas - parks, beaches, even alleyways where some people hang out.

“Obviously we cannot get to all 65 of those places every day but we have a mechanism to ensure we can access them at random intervals so we are not predictable.

“We have used the ethos of engage, explain, encourage and then finally enforce if we to during the height of the lockdown.

“When I went out people either had a rationale to be out or apologised and made their way home quickly.”