Essex level two lockdown: Southend businesses confused over how to identify customers in Essex


Southend companies have expressed confusion and frustration over how to screen customers since the new level two restrictions were introduced in Essex. Southend itself is excluded from the level two measures enforced in the Essex County Council area, which has seen restrictions placed on the mixing of households inside.

But it has raised questions about those arriving in the borough from elsewhere in Essex.

It has been suggested that businesses should ask customers for their ID to make sure they’re part of the same bubble or household – or their address to make sure they’re on the same level.

With winter and the 10pm curfew approaching, businesses are already facing trade tensions and the latest change could only put more pressure on businesses.

Some are calling for more clarity on how to control visitors, while others believe it is up to members of the public to follow the rules.

That’s what three Essex business owners have said about monitoring customers under the new tier rules.

“Where’s the line?” “

Southend is currently still under Tier One

Monte Carlo manager Jonjo Remblance believes Southend businesses need more guidance.

“In terms of clarity and direction given, I don’t think that makes it easier for us,” he said.

“To be honest, I think when it comes to the coronavirus and the situation, there’s no easy way to deal with it.

“I don’t think there’s a good way to say someone should have been done but what I do think is we should at least be a little more certain. ”

Jonjo said they’ve been running Track and Trace since they opened and are now using the app according to government guidelines – but they’re not entirely sure how the latest change will affect things.

It is uncertain about the prospect of having to make an identification, as some companies elsewhere in the country have suggested.

“It’s something that would be very difficult for us,” he said. “In terms of the necessary protections, you have to do what you have to do, but some forms of identity don’t have an address.

“So, are you asking people to bring utility bills?” Where’s the line? ”

He added, “Again this comes with the advice, there haven’t been any separate messages on what we need to do. Do we ask what level people belong to?

“As long as they’re groups of six, we can handle it.

“I think the onus is on companies to monitor this, but where I think there needs to be a lot more accountability is on the individual and members of the public. ”

The only thing Jonjo knows for sure is that the more restrictions there are, the more difficult it will be.

“I think it’s going too far”

The Borough Hotel in Southend

Further along the waterfront on Marine Parade is the Borough Hotel.

Co-owner Joan Tiney couldn’t believe it when she realized the county was divided by the new level system.

She said: ‘At first I thought it was all of Essex, then I found out it was Southend and Thurrock were left out and stayed at level one.

“In a way I was happy and then I thought it was very strange where we lived in our own private house that we could walk to Rochford in five minutes but someone was five minutes away. on foot can not come to the pub. It’s frustrating.

“I don’t see how we can do it. I’ve seen that some companies will ask for passports, but what’s the point of not having your address? Much of it is advisory and I can’t see it happening. “

The pub has been strict about tracking and tracing and people wearing masks appropriately, but Joan doesn’t think they’ll be able to start asking for people’s addresses as well.

“When it comes to asking people where they’re from, I think it goes too far,” she says.

“They come up with these brilliant ideas but don’t think about how they work.

“I think if that’s the case, the responsibility lies with the customers. You know as well as I do that if you have two different households where one group comes in and the other comes from around the corner, you don’t know who to whom. ”

For The Borough Hotel, they have a large amount of trade coming from Southend and Rochford.

“We have a lot of customers from London, which is also now Tier Two,” Joan added.

“I think this is all a bit ridiculous and I think the sooner it all ends the better.

“I feel like I am a teacher who must teach children”

The Alex pub and bar in Southend

Sarah Gage, general manager of Alex in Southend, said the ever-changing rules made her feel like a “teacher.”

“For me that’s not really a problem – it’s just that people start playing by the rules and then it changes,” she said.

“Then we have to rewrite the rules with everyone and it gets frustrating. The rules are constantly changing. I feel like I’m a teacher who has to teach kids when all people want to do is come over for a meal and a drink and you just want to talk to them and follow the rules. ”

Even for the staff, the rules are complicated.

“I live in Basildon and yet I work in Southend,” Sarah explained.

“So if I finish working I can’t have a drink with the chef because I’m from Basildon and he’s Southend – even though we’ve just been working a ten-hour shift.”

“He went to his hairdresser the other day who lives in Benfleet but works in Southend. ”

When it comes to controlling things, like any business, they can only do their best.

“The only way to do it is for 60% of customers to track and trace on their phone,” she said.

“To do that, they have to put their zip code in with the first four letters of the zip code and that’s where you see where they live.

“If they can’t do that, we have to take their information and we have to ask for their zip code. When one says SS1 and the other says RM4, you just have to say ‘I’m so sorry I can’t sit you together.

“But everyone will understand and say that I live in SS1. “

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“Who am I to ask someone for their address?” “

The Alex has faced upset customers who disagree with the rules, but overall people have complied.

Sarah said: “We’re just saying it’s not a business decision, it’s a government decision, so don’t take it against us – we’re just playing by the rules.

“They are frustrated but the majority understand and understand better

“Who am I to ask someone for their address?” It’s all well and good to ask for ID, but when students live in a dormitory they may not be registered in their dormitory, or the military, their addresses may be at home because they move around so much. .

“I have members of my family who live together but who are not all registered at the same address and who are still registered at the parents’ home and who can no longer go for a beer together.

« [Financially] it is worrying and I will not say it; he’s a real dory because it’s worrisome but you just have to remember that we’re all in the same situation. ”

The Southend Borough Council has said it is asking companies to take a “pragmatic” approach, submit to a risk assessment and support testing and tracing.

Cllr Trevor Harp, Cabinet Member for Social Welfare and Adult Health, says: “We understand this is a complex time for businesses and local residents, and that’s why we said last week that a pragmatic and sensible approach needs to be taken regarding the new national COVID alert system while the areas of Essex CC and Southend are at different levels.

“While local businesses should work to ensure that restrictions on the new national COVID alert system are adhered to, we have made it clear that we will not try to catch businesses and want to support them during this time. .

“Individuals are also required to follow national regulations, so for those who live in the Essex CC area, they should not mix indoors with people who are not from their home or bubble s. ‘they visit Southend-on-Mer.

He added, “We know that companies have a lot of measures to implement, and in terms of priority we want them to focus on COVID security, they have a proper risk assessment in place and they support the national test and trace system, as the majority already do.

“We know that the difference between the levels of levels adds a layer of complexity and that is why we take a pragmatic approach and want them to focus on the key measures that apply nationally.

“As a council, we do our best to make sure our residents and businesses are aware of national regulations and only by working collectively will we be able to handle the current situation and contain the spread of the virus.”


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