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Café owners with “complete disregard” for Covid rules ordered to close, lose licence

A café has been ordered to close by Manchester Magistrates' Court for three months and had its licence revoked by Manchester City Council for a similar length of time after its owners were found to be serving customers in breach of Covid-safety rules.

The local authority made the closure application after learning of reports to police about the Kate & Luc Café Restaurant in Burnage, Manchester.

According to members of the public, the café was "rammed" at times and serving over 30 people indoors without social distancing measures or mask-wearing.

Members of the public also claimed the café was being advertised on anti-lockdown Facebook groups.

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The application for the closure order was made pursuant to section 80 of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, which enables a local authority to close premises for up to 48 hours and to seek an order from a Magistrates' Court that the premises remain closed for a further 3 months.

The closure order was made by the Magistrates’ Court on 10 February. It will remain in place until 9 May 2021.

The licence for the café was meanwhile revoked for three months this week (15 March) at a hearing of the city council’s licensing sub committee.

Manchester's Licensing Out of Hours Compliance Team (LOOHT) told the sub committee that the owners had shown an inability to uphold the licensing objectives and had "complete disregard" for the Licensing Act 2003, the authority and Greater Manchester Police (GMP).

LOOHT claimed the owners also had "complete disregard" for customers' safety and any of the wider community that may have come into contact with the premises over the last few months during the pandemic.

The LOOHT added: "The licence holders have chosen to operate in a way that would further increase the spread of Covid 19. They have refused any advice, verbal or written from council officers. They have sought to profit by operating as normal whilst numerous other café/restaurants have followed instructions to remain closed and/or operate within the Government Guidelines and Regulations."

Greater Manchester Police told the council that it was "firmly" of the opinion that the premises were undermining the Licensing Objectives of the Prevention of Crime and Disorder, the Prevention of Public Nuisance and Public Safety.

The police force said: "GMP has been receiving reports from members of the public regarding the premises allowing customers to eat and drink inside the premises since the middle of January this year. The DPS has also not been at all cooperative with officers and has behaved in a defiant manner with regard to lockdown rules."

GMP had learnt of the café after receiving numerous reports from mid-January through to mid-February.

One member of the public reported via telephone that posts were made on a private Facebook group called "Trafford Residents against Lockdown" notifying members the cafe was open. Members of the group were encouraged to "support" and visit the business.

According to a report from the Local Democracy Reporting Service, covered by the BBC, Mr Domanski told the sub-committee that he had lost nearly 90% of his income, affecting his mental health and causing “too much stress”.

The report added that a representative of Mr Domanski said he had been diagnosed with a mental health disorder and that the enforcement visits had caused him distress, "impeded his actions" and provoked a "fight or flight" response.

"We tried hard with all the restrictions," said Mr Domanski. "We just couldn't do it and I gave up."

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