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Businesses Warned of Out-of-tier Bookings as Restrictions Begin to Bite

Published on: 23 Dec, 2020
Updated on: 23 Dec, 2020

By Julie Armstrong

local democracy reporter

Businesses such as restaurants and hairdressers in Waverley, the only part of Surrey not in the highest Covid tier, are being reminded not to take out-of-borough bookings.

People in Tier 4 can face a fixed penalty for being in an area with a lower level risk without due cause, or in fact even for leaving their home or garden.

So if they go to get their hair done or have a meal out where these businesses are allowed to stay open could be made to fork out £200 on a fixed penalty notice. This can be doubled for further offences, up to a maximum of £6,400.

And those living in the lower tiers, such as Tier 2 Waverley, should not cross their borough boundary without a reasonable excuse.

Grant Scriven, who has run The Windmill Inn in Ewhurst for 17 years, said: “I don’t understand how Waverley is in Tier 2. It makes no sense whatsoever.

“It’s very unfair on Guildford businesses. We can go into Godalming town centre here but not Guildford’s, so where’s the logic?”

Murray Butler, who owns Butler Farms, a poultry producer near Cranleigh, said for customers in Tier 4, he has to take their turkey to the border and hand it over at a safe distance. “It’s adding a huge amount of work,” he said.

“We’ve had a lot of cancellations, and everyone’s having smaller gatherings [due to last-minute government restrictions] so they’re wanting smaller turkeys.”

Some unlucky businesses have found themselves a mere stone’s throw on the “wrong” side of the Waverley border.

Cyder House Inn has had to cancel all its Christmas bookings, despite having a Godalming postcode. The Windmill Inn is only about 1km inside Tier 2, but is closed to both sides after Mr Scriven shut in the first lockdown. He plans to remain shut for the next six months.

“We will reopen as soon as it’s economically viable and safe,” he said. “We’re fortunate we can do that. The industry is being decimated. A lot of places around here have had the plywood up on the windows, the Bull’s Head, Park Hatch, gone.

“All those years of work gone down the pan, it’s devastating.”

Waverley Borough Council is asking businesses and their customers to help keep people safe by following the government guidance, found here.

A spokesperson said: “We’ve been in touch with the police and there will be additional patrols and visits to premises in Waverley, to remind businesses of their responsibilities and to reinforce messages about not taking bookings from customers from Tier 4 areas.

“Waverley Borough Council will also be reminding both Waverley residents and people from the surrounding areas, that government guidance states they should avoid travelling into or out of a Tier 4 area, except where necessary for work, education, caring responsibilities or other medical reasons.

“We are asking people to be responsible and follow this guidance, to help keep each other safe and to slow the spread of the virus.”

As of December 17, Waverley has Surrey’s lowest rate of infection based on Public Health England data, although it increased from 84 to 207 in the week before. Over the border in the Guildford borough, the rate is 260. Spelthorne has the highest infection rate in the county at 432.

Surrey Police thanked residents for their compliance and urged them to keep it up. A spokesperson said: “Surrey Police will continue to meet the challenges of the coronavirus regulations as 10 of the 11 county’s boroughs move into Tier 4.

“We know this a challenging and unprecedented time and everyone is doing their best to adapt and follow the rules in place for everyone’s safety and we are confident the high levels of compliance will continue.
“Our officers will continue to engage with our local communities, using our well-established policing approach of engaging, educating and explaining.

“But in exceptional cases, and only as a last resort and where people show a blatant disregard for the rules, we will take enforcement action.”

A Surrey County Council spokesperson said: “The tiering system ultimately relies on behaviour. If people don’t follow the guidelines, the virus spreads fast.”

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