A pub landlord has accused the council of harassing his staff after they paid three Covid visits to his establishment in one week.

The landlord claims environmental health officers attended his Hyndburn establishment and asked for proof of medical exemption when they found one of his employees without a face covering.

The landlord, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said the member of staff was exempt from wearing a face mask or covering due to a traumatic ordeal she went through last year.

He said: "One of my bar staff was raped last year and as a result suffers panic attacks.

"She is exempt from wearing face coverings because of this.

"Last week Hyndburn council visited me three times because this staff member was not wearing a face covering.

"The officer he asked my why she was exempt. I told her, and she was not happy with the reason.

"The the day after an environmental health officer and two police came to talk about the 'apparent' breach, and asked me again why my member of staff was exempt.

"They gave me a warning letter and told me that the girl had to wear a visor when going to the tables.

"In the warning letter was a website address and when I went on it stated clearly that if staff were medically exempt they did not need to wear a face covering."

The landlord says he was visited again on Saturday evening by the police, and had to explain the situation to them.

He added: "I told them she was exempt and wears a card to say so.

"She has panic attacks whenever she thinks about what happened, and I’m so stressed about the situation.

"It fills me with dread when opening the pub doors as I'm just waiting for Hyndburn council to come in and having another go at me."

A Council spokesperson said council officers are carrying out proactive monitoring visits, often in partnership with the police, to help make sure businesses in the borough are Covid-secure, and where they find breaches, offer helpful advice.

The spokesperson said: "In most cases this is the end of the matter.

"A warning letter is the first stage of enforcement action.

"In this case we had ongoing concerns about the safety of planned events and the general approach to face coverings, so a second visit was made.

"At no stage was a member of staff asked to provide proof of an exemption but advice was given about alternative safety measures where a mask could not be worn.

"It is essential that our businesses support the 'hands, face, space' guidance to help reduce the spread of Covid-19 and protect our residents."

The government's official advice on who might be exempt from wearing a face covering includes, but is not limited to:

  • children under the age of 11 (Public Health England does not recommend face coverings for children under the age of 3 for health and safety reasons)
  • people who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability
  • where putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress