Stone MP pleads with residents to socially distance

An MP has pleaded with residents to maintain social distancing after an outbreak at a Staffordshire pub where crowds had packed into a beer garden.

MP Sir Bill Cash
MP Sir Bill Cash

Other businesses are now taking precautionary measures, with The Swan Inn, The Talbot Inn, The Red Lion and The Lounge in the town deciding to close this week and Reggie's of Stone will be closing an hour early on Fridays and Saturdays.

Stone Farmer's Market has also been cancelled this Saturday.

Sir Bill Cash, the MP for Stone, said the situation at the Crown & Anchor was "completely unacceptable".

He said: "It is essential that people are aware that social distancing in public houses is maintained rigorously and that common sense is the best approach to this.

"It was completely unacceptable for that number of people to congregate in the Crown & Anchor and it's really a matter of social responsibility to ensure that everyone remembers that they can pass on this virus very easily.

Video footage of the pub beer garden, which has since closed, shows how customers were packed in against guidelines that say people should stay more than one metre apart:

"So please will everybody be very careful in their social distancing."

He added: "I've been receiving reports from the director of social care and from the borough council and from county councillors and I'm grateful for the work that is already being done, but we must remain very vigilant and maintain social distancing."

But a councillor has described Stone as a "ghost town" and said businesses are concerned about a drop in footfall after a coronavirus outbreak linked to a pub.

Stone Councillor Jill Hood said it is a "really safe town".

She said: "I've been in touch with the majority of businesses and I know they are working hard to keep the town safe.

Stone Councillor Jill Hood

"The Red Lion has closed which is a great shame. The town is like a ghost town, there is nobody.

"Businesses are very concerned about the lack of footfall but they are very confident they have put safe measures in place.

"When you go into the shops they really have made a big effort and it's a real shame.

"It's been a long lockdown and they've spent a lot of money and they need to keep the footfall.

"I do absolutely think it is safe. I've been shopping today and I haven't seen anyone not wearing face masks, both in the High Street and in the shops.

"We are a really safe town.

"In light of what we're doing for the testing, if it does unfold that we have a massive outbreak, then we will take action."

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