Leicester 'Eat Out' queues continue despite emergency rules

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Queue on London RoadImage source, Leicester Media
Image caption,
A large queue could still be seen on Monday evening

Large queues appeared outside a row of restaurants in Leicester hours after emergency measures were brought in to stop crowds gathering.

Leicester City Council introduced extra restrictions after the government's Eat Out to Help Out discount scheme led to long queues of diners on London Road.

The new Outdoor Public Place Direction bans people from lining up without a restaurant reservation.

Leicester became subject to the UK's first local lockdown on 29 June.

The measures, covering a stretch between Leicester railway station and Victoria Park, came into force on Monday.

The authority said it followed "problems with uncontrolled queuing" outside several restaurants.

But large crowds reappeared in London Road that evening, prompting police to tweet a warning for people to avoid the area if they did not have restaurant bookings.

Image caption,
Signage has been added to London Road

Six restaurants on London Road have also been given orders by the council to put in place "strict systems to manage queues safely and only admit pre-booked customers".

One of these, Toro's Steakhouse, said they had been glad of the extra help.

A spokesman said: "The council and police presence was prominent yesterday [Monday] and it was great to have them assisting and advising us.

"However, this perhaps should have been the case from the beginning of the scheme as the rules had caused some confusion with customers.

"It's of paramount importance crowds are controlled as we do not want another lockdown - we've already lost an additional month of business."

Leicester City Council said the measures were introduced using national legislation giving local authorities extra powers to protect the public from Covid-19.

Last week, Ivan Browne, the city's director of public health, said he had a "huge issue" with the Eat Out To Help Out scheme.

He told a Royal Society of Medicine webinar: "When I'm walking up my road and seeing people queuing up, it's a concern."

A government spokesperson said: "The hospitality sector has been amongst the worst affected by the lockdown and Eat Out to Help Out is helping consumers safely support the sector."

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