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The Dragon Bar – back in business.

Hastings bar reopens after Covid closure

One of the three Hastings bars forced to shut after a customer contracted Covid-19 reopened this week. With new cases being regularly confirmed in the town, the council has urged citizens to follow official guidance. Nick Terdre reports, photos by Russell Jacobs.

The Dragon Bar in George Street reopened on Wednesday, manager Robbie Smith told HOT. It had been closed since the previous Friday when it was informed by a regular customer who had been there the previous Monday that he had tested positive for coronavirus.

All the staff were subsequently tested and allowed to return to work on being informed of a negative result. Some of the results took several days to come through, Smith said.

The Bat and Bee – no reopening date yet available.

Two other town centre bars which closed after having a customer test positive for the virus remain shut. The Owl and the Pussycat in Robertson Street told HOT it was hopeful of opening next week – it normally operates from Wednesday to Saturday – but had yet to make a final decision.

The Bat and the Bee was unable to say if a definite date had been set for reopening. All staff who had been tested had proved negative.

New cases in Hastings

Hastings, which saw a jump in confirmed cases in late August, has also experienced further instances in recent days. On 7 September one new case was reported, four on 8th, two on 9th, none on 10th, six on 11th and two on 12th.

According to HOT researcher Russell Hall, based on data up to 8 September the Imperial College estimates that R, the retransmission rate, had a 96% probability of being above one in Hastings – meaning that on average each infected person passes the infection on to more than one person. While there is currently only a 3% chance of the town becoming a hotspot (with seven-day cases per 100,000 exceeding 50), in two weeks’ time the likelihood rises to 21%, according to IC.

A significant increase in cases nationally has brought a new set of restrictions from the government which come into effect on Monday, including the legal ban on gatherings of more than six people.

Hastings Borough Council has called on businesses and residents to keep following guidelines. Council leader Kim Forward said, “We know local businesses are working hard to ensure their premises are safe by meeting the Government guidance and taking contact details from customers for the NHS test and trace scheme.

“The recent good practice of the Dragon Bar, the Bat and Bee and the Owl and Pussycat, after becoming aware that a customer had tested positive for COVID-19, is really positive. They acted quickly and followed public health guidance to ensure the safety of their staff and customers.

“These incidents serve as a reminder that the virus is still a real threat and emphasises the need for supporting the test and trace scheme.”

Sources of guidance

“There is information on NHS and government websites about the test and trace schemes, both for business owners and customers. We also have guidance on our website about how to keep businesses COVID-secure, and also for residents and visitors as to what to expect when out and about in our town.

“We are here to help so please contact our environmental health team if you need assistance with understanding any of the safety guidance or how to put measures in place in your business; you may feel the need for this support as the Government begin to announce more changes to the guidance regarding social gatherings.

“If you are a customer, please make sure to leave your contact details when asked to, it only takes a moment and could save lives. If you have any concerns about the lack of safety measures in a business, please contact our environmental health team by emailing environmentalhealth@hastings.gov.uk.”

Darrell Gale, director of Public Health at East Sussex County Council, said: “We are not yet seeing an excessive increase of cases in East Sussex; but we may begin to if people don’t maintain social distancing and hand hygiene, don’t wear face coverings; if they don’t isolate when they have symptoms and if they start attending events that have not been approved.

“Pubs will always be a place where we may see positive cases occurring, as they are social mixing environments. Closing to clean and to reach out to the customers who may have been in contact with a positive case is very sensible and good practice, which we are glad to see has been exercised by these premises in Hastings.

“I strongly encourage everyone, whether a customer or a business owner, to follow the necessary Government guidance to help prevent the spread of this virus.”

 

Posted 08:13 Sunday, Sep 13, 2020 In: Covid-19

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