“We have been targeted and discriminated against."
The owner of an Indian restaurant who was served with a Covid-19 closure order has said that he will be appealing against the sanction.
On September 23, 2020, officials said that Saffron Banqueting Suite had been shut down due to social distancing breaches and as a result, it posed a “serious and imminent threat to public health”.
The venue hosted an engagement party on the afternoon of September 19, 2020, that was attended by 45 guests.
However, the celebration was cut short after licensing officials from Oadby and Wigston Borough Council and county council public health officers arrived to say there were too many people.
They left and returned later by which time guests had gone home.
The rules currently allow for gatherings of 30 people at weddings and sit-down receptions though that number will be reduced to 15 from September 28 in a bid to tackle rising numbers of Covid-19 cases across the country.
Oadby has recently returned to local lockdown as cases there increased.
The councils said the venue had breached regulations.
Gary Connors, head of regulatory services for Leicestershire County Council, had said:
“It’s important we take action where we are aware of a serious and imminent threat to public health.
“We understand that this may inconvenience customers, but we have to put the health of Leicestershire’s residents first.”
However, Gurmakh Singh said he would be appealing the order.
Mr Singh, who has run the Indian restaurant for around 10 years, said:
“We have been targeted and discriminated against. We have a big venue, 4,000 square feet, and it has a capacity of 300.
“We had 45 people on tables of six. It was restaurant-style. All the tables booked separately.
“Everyone was socially distanced – no dancing, no mixing beyond the tables.
“You see pubs around here with a hundred people in them not socially distancing and nothing is being done to them.
“They don’t go after big corporations and fast food chains. They pick on small businesses like us.”
Mr Singh told Leicester Mercury: “There was no tip-off about this. I told the council what I was going to do.
“They came on Friday and said it was okay. Then on Saturday afternoon they came back and said there were too many people.
“We have track and trace and we know there has not been one case of Covid linked to us.”
“I will be appealing. It’s not fair.”
The councils have said that the order will be reviewed on a weekly basis.
A borough council spokeswoman said:
“As Mr Singh has indicated that he intends to take advantage of the appeals procedure, where the evidence on which the direction was issued will be tested in court, it would be inappropriate to comment in advance of that hearing.”