Action has been taken against a pub in Colchester after it failed to adhere to government coronavirus guidelines.

The Bull, in Crouch Street, Colchester, is one of the first to be served direction by Essex County Council under the Coronavirus Act 2020 for failing to observe safe Covid practices.

The authority said despite advice and warnings, the pub did not stick to the guidance as set out in the legislation, which grants the government emergency powers to handle the pandemic.

The Chequers Pub, in Harlow, also faces closure if it does not follow the rules.

The directions, served yesterday by director of public health at Essex County Council, Dr Mike Gogarty, require that the premises follow basic Covid safe measures and adhere to their own risk assessments.

If they do not do so, the council will consider making a further direction to close the premises.

Environmental health officers from Harlow Council and Colchester Borough Council say they will continue to try to work with both premises to ensure they follow guidelines and are adhering to their risk assessments.

Dr Gogarty said: “It is disappointing that these premises have not ensured that their premises are Covid safe and that this action is therefore necessary.

“The Coronavirus Restrictions Regulations give us the power to step in and ensure people are being protected. We need to take collective responsibility for preventing future spread of the virus.

“Most businesses are working really hard to ensure adherence to Covid regulations, they want to protect customers and minimise the risk of a local lockdown and we must not allow the actions of a few to undermine this.

“We have worked closely with Colchester Council and Harlow Council to make this decision and hope that it serves as a reminder to every business in Essex of the importance of ensuring their premises are Covid-safe.”

Mike Lilley, Colchester councillor responsible for public safety, said: “These are very challenging times and it is disappointing that this action has had to be taken.

"The premises in question have been given previous warnings in relation to these issues.

"We must take direct action to protect our residents and do our part to keep the county, and country, safe.”

Mark Cory, leader of Colchester Council, added: “I fully support taking action on premises when Covid safety measures are breached.

"With rising cases of the virus, we must act quickly and firmly.”

Councillor Danny Purton, Harlow Council’s portfolio holder for Environment, said: “I welcome the action taken today by Essex County Council using their coronavirus powers working with our environmental health team and Essex Police.

"The majority of businesses in Harlow are complying with the rules, but we warned several weeks ago that action will be taken against businesses that fail to work with us and other agencies to make improvements.

“This really is the last chance saloon for The Chequers Pub or they could face closure. I know some will say that the pub has already been given too many chances with continued breaches, but there is a legal process that has to be followed to get to this point.

“We will continue to work with all to monitor this situation and ensure compliance. The health and safety of all is our number one priority and we must work together to ensure we do what we can to limit the spread of this virus.”