A restaurant in Orpington which opened less than three months ago has been closed after customers and staff allegedly kept breaching coronavirus guidelines.
The Greek Meze, on Orpington High Street, was ordered to close by Bromley Council after customers reported loud music being played, people dancing and a lack of social distancing both inside and outside the venue.
The restaurant, which opened on July 6, was given a Community Protection Notice and then a three month closure order on Wednesday, September 23. It will remain closed until at least Friday, October 9, when there will be a hearing at Bromley Magistrates’ Court in relation to the closure order.
According to Bromley Council, there has been “repeated breaches” of Covid-19 guidance and premises licence conditions at the restaurant.
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The council’s protection team, as well as the Metropolitan Police, visited the premises on a number of occasions but management ‘failed to comply and subsequently breached a Community Protection Notice’.
A number of customers who have dined at the restaurant in recent weeks have also expressed concerns to Bromley Council about the lack of social distancing measures in place.
According to the council, loud amplified music could be heard coming from the premises, while some people flouted rules and danced inside the restaurant.
Staff and security made ‘no attempts to control or rectify the situation’, a spokesperson for Bromley Council said.
Pictures on The Greek Meze website show belly dancers, dressed in a skirt and bra, dancing in front of customers inside the restaurant on Saturday, September 12.
In the photos, one dancer has £10 and £20 notes stuffed inside her bra.
The images also show tables of more than six sitting together, and in one instance a group of at least 20 – seemingly celebrating a birthday – can be seen sitting on one large table.
In another set of photos taken on Saturday, August 29 customers can be seen dancing inside the restaurant in-between tables.
A DJ is also pictured playing music.
On TripAdvisor, one diner called social distancing measures a “disgrace”.
Posting two weeks ago, they said: “Food was good, drinks good, social distancing was a disgrace it didn’t exist.
“Hostess was kissing people as they come in. Belly dancer pulling people up from their seats. No details taken on entry, hand wash empty at the door. Staff not wearing PPE or not wearing it properly.
“People and tables not spaced apart. The bar was a free for all you could order and stand there and drink. I get some people don’t believe in this pandemic but we all have to do our part don’t we. I’d go back if all the above was sorted.”
According to The Greek Meze website, the restaurant prides itself ‘on serving delicious home-style and traditional Greek cooked food’.
In a statement on Friday (September 25), the restaurant said: “Hello everyone! We are closed till further notice due to Covid-19 restrictions. Thank you for sharing amazing memories, food and drink with us. We hope to welcome you back soon.”
Councillor Kate Lymer, executive councillor for public protection and enforcement at Bromley Council, confirmed the council is working with The Greek Meze ‘to ensure they comply with the regulations’.
She said: “We are working tirelessly with businesses across the borough to help advise them what measures they need to take to protect members of the public and staff, comply with legislation and be Covid secure.
“We are doing what we can to prevent local outbreaks and we all need to do the same and I do want to thank businesses for the work they are doing. In addition to our normal licensing and inspection work, we continue to proactively work to ensure that Bromley’s businesses are complying with the Covid related legislation as appropriate.
“Closing a business is not what we want to see but it is absolutely vital that we all get this right. Taking this enforcement action was the last resort and we continue to seek to work with this business to ensure they comply with the regulations.
“Businesses and residents should be in no doubt that we cannot and will not take risks where there are public health and safety concerns.”
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