Stone pub outbreak: Landlord regrets being 'complacent' in enforcing Covid-19 rules
The landlord of a pub in Stone, which has seen spike in coronavirus cases, has said he expresses his 'deepest regret' over the outbreak.
There have now been 22 confirmed cases linked to the Crown & Anchor pub from people who visited over July 16, 17 and 18.
Custodio Pinto, landlord of the Staffordshire pub, has said he was 'not strong enough' in enforcing Government rules and regulations and was 'complacent'.
In a post to the pub's Facebook page, he said: "First and foremost, I would like to express my deepest regret for all the anguish, disruption and sadness that the events that occurred in the Crown and Anchor last month have caused to so many.
"I have lived in Stone since 2001 where we have raised our three children and it has always been nothing but the greatest pleasure to be part of this fantastic community.
"However, on July 18, I accept that I was simply not strong enough in enforcing the Government's Covid-19 secure rules, despite detailed preparation according to their guidelines. I regret I was complacent in enforcing these rules with the customers.
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"I now appreciate and understand the importance of maintaining supervised control of all the implementations, particularly social distancing and Test and Trace.
"This virus gives you a false sense of normality while all around you seems ok. My error of judgement is down to me not being able to react quickly enough to the rapidly evolving situation, and for that I would like to apologise.
"I cannot emphasise how much I regret what unfolded on that Saturday.
"I made the decision to close in order to seek guidance. The one thing that is within my power is to take positive steps to ensure the Crown & Anchor goes above and beyond to reassure people that Stone remains a safe place to visit."
The pub, on Station Road, is finalising a reviewed risk assessment with environmental health officers from the local authority.
Mr Pinto added: "I have never intentionally set out to create any damage or disruption to the community of Stone, but the reality is that I have done so, and I'm prepared to do whatever it takes to rectify that."
Staffordshire County Council has said it has been able to map the spread of the virus and quickly trace the close contacts of those who tested positive after visiting the pub.
Around 1,000 people also stepped forward to be tested, with results from the walk-in testing proving negative.
Any positive results from the mobile testing unit are expected by the end of the week.
There is currently no date set for the Crown & Anchor to reopen.