The Chequers pub team

Article by Poppie Webster: A pub has been forced to temporarily ban outside “vertical drinking” after boozers continued to flout social distancing rules.

Bosses at the Chequers, on Billericay High Street, will now stop punters from drinking standing up and instead only allow groups of four to drink while seated at a table after having to remind guests “every two minutes” to stay apart.

It comes after a busy re-opening for the team, who will now prohibit any guests wandering from table to table during their visit with the hope of keeping everyone safe.

 Owner, Cath Thwaites, said:

“Saturday and Sunday was absolutely fine, we ran things on an invite only basis so we could get back on our feet again after such a long time. When we re-opened to the public on Monday, it seemed like a lot of people who had had a few beers and were standing outside didn’t even know what social distancing was. We had to constantly remind them every two minutes to stay at their table and stop wandering to another- this was not kids, but grown men.”

Cath continued:

“It’s fine out in the garden, but just out the front seems to be an issue. Whether or not it’s because they see people they know, or anything like that I’m not sure, but it just gets out of hand. Before we had the rule that there could be six around a table throughout the pub - four seated and two standing. As soon as we realised this wasn’t working, we had to change things. Now everybody has to stay seated. Our ethos at the pub is really friendly, we want guests to feel they can always chat to people, so we’re trying to explain things to them from a distance rather than it being so impersonal. We’re telling them how to follow the one-way system, where the hand sanitisers are, where they can safely go for a cigarette. It’s so nice to see our regulars and staff after such a long time.”

She added that unfortunately the rule means losing some numbers, but they must put staff and customer safety first.

Billericay East Councillor Andrew Schrader, said:

“There will definitely be a degree of seeing how things work, recognising if it doesn’t and thinking what can we change to keep our staff and guests safe. The Chequers have done this with their ban on vertical drinking- they are taking things seriously. We as a community must respect that and they should be applauded.”

Article by Poppie Webster, The Echo