Pub owner gets death threats and abuse after banning under-25s

11 September 2020, 17:11 | Updated: 11 September 2020, 18:00

The Oddfellows Arms has received a torrent of abuse since announcing the ban
The Oddfellows Arms has received a torrent of abuse since announcing the ban. Picture: Google

By Ewan Somerville

A pub owner says she has received a death threat after banning under-25s amid a spike in coronavirus cases among young people. 

The Oddfellows Arms in Sherburn-in-Elmet, near Leeds, and The Angel Inn in Sheffield have both said they will refuse to serve those aged between 18 and 25.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock blamed 17 to 21-year-olds for flouting social distancing rules earlier this week as new Covid-19 cases hit a three-month high. 

The Government has now banned social gatherings of more than six people indoors or outdoors, with certain exemptions, with larger groups risking fines or arrest. 

Maggie Holmes, landlady at The Oddfellows Arms, said she had introduced the under-25s ban after a number of youths tested positive for the virus in the small village of  Sherbern-in-Elmet.

She said she had received a torrent of angry and abusive messages and phone calls, including a death threat, leaving her in tears.

"It's been a really difficult 24 hours," she told LBC. "It's been phone calls and emails... saying it's disgraceful what I'm doing, that it's age discrimination, that I should be ashamed and that they hope my business fails.

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"There are lots of other pubs doing it so I'm not sure why this one has escalated so much... I've tried to shelter [my staff] from it."

Outlining the new rule, The Oddfellows Arms wrote on Facebook: "In light of recent events and an escalation in cases we are now not serving anyone in the age bracket 18-25.

"We have thought about this very carefully, we will continue to try and ensure our community, customers and staff are all kept safe in these difficult times."

The pub said it was “teetering on the risk of closure” but that it “simply cannot take the risk” of serving under-25s. 

In Sheffield, where some 50,000 students are flooding in to return to the South Yorkshire city’s two universities, The Angel Inn landlord David Sayles told customers: “Due to Covid-19 precautions, The Angel Inn will not be allowing any under 25s or any children, with immediate effect.”

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He said young people have been “running riot” in his pub, prompting the police to be called four times in the past fortnight. 

"To be honest, 18 to 20 year-old females is where the problem is,” he told Yorkshire Live.

“There's that much fighting between them and it's just one group after another but I can't just ban them because it'd be seen as sexist but even by barring under-25s I've apparently become discriminatory and I just think 'get a life'."

It comes after The Stag Inn, a pub half a mile away in Sheffield, banned under-25s last month.

A third of all cases in England last week were people aged between 20 and 29, with Leeds and Liverpool added to the Government’s coronavirus watchlist and new lockdown curbs introduced in Birmingham. 

But the Government has been accused of “scapegoating” young people for its own “contradictory” advice.