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Coronavirus: Police launch crackdown on pubs in Birmingham over customer data failings
14 August 2020, 19:22
Rule-breaking pub landlords in Birmingham are facing a police crackdown for failing to take customers' details amid concerns about a rising Covid-19 infection rate in the city.
The latest data showed the second city had a rate of 23.6 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days to 10 August - up from the previous week - according to the NHS Digital dashboard.
A climbing rate has caused "concern" among health chiefs, placing Birmingham behind only Sandwell - the worst-hit local authority area in the West Midlands so far.
But on Friday, health bosses said the trend in Sandwell has been decreasing while Birmingham's is rising.
City council leader Ian Ward said the local authority's focus is now on getting the increase under control as "thousands of students" will be returning to universities in September.
Citing concerns over businesses failing to report cases to Public Health England (PHE), council leader Cllr Ward urged them to do so as soon as they identified either a confirmed or suspected case of Covid-19 among staff or customers.
The council chief added it was the only way to make sure the test and trace system was effective enough to "keep on top of any outbreak".
Waheed Saleem, the West Midlands deputy police and crime commissioner, said pubs, bars and clubs needed to act "in a responsible manner".
He added: "Pubs and clubs - they also have a very clear responsibility to ensure they're following the guidelines, that they are getting information on those individuals who attend.
"We will work closely with the licensing authorities to crack down on those premises that don't follow rules and are breaking rules.
"These rules are there for everyone and they're there for a reason."
"The virus is still out there. We must remember that," he added.
Mr Saleem also warned about illegal raves and said officers would be getting tough following the announcement on Thursday that organisers could get a fine of up to £10,000.
Clive Wright, a West Midlands convenor for the Department of Health and Social Care, said Birmingham's infection rate rise was down to multiple factors.
He said: "It looks as though it's a combination of people socialising and not maintaining social distancing and perhaps hospitality settings or other gatherings of people and this may be the underlying problem.
Addressing the concern over pub landlords flouting their obligations, he added: "We are very keen to be working very closely with the police over coming weeks because what we're noticing across the West Midlands is that as weeks go by the rigour in which pubs in particular are recording names and addresses of customers is dropping off in some locations.
"We'd like to encourage the police to re-emphasise to the pubs that they do need to be recording that information.
"It is vital that if there is an outbreak they have the names and contact details of all of their customers."