Hotel loses alcohol licence after photos of drinkers captioned ‘what lockdown?’

A seaside hotel has lost its alcohol licence after a group of drinkers posed for pictures with pints – captioned: "What lockdown?"

Photos shared on Facebook show the men slumped in chairs surrounded by empty pint glasses during an illegal lockdown booze-up.

Police raided The Grosvenor House Hotel, in Skegness, Lincolnshire, and seized CCTV which showed owner Russell Sparks behind the bar.

Footage showed him serving alcohol to customers on November 13 and 14 last year, nearly two weeks into the second lockdown which closed all pubs.

As well as 15 men packed into the bar area, it showed some of the punters smoking inside, which has been illegal since 2007.

The hotel owner described it as an "error of judgment", but police said CCTV showed punters being handed "pint after pint".

A government closure order started at midnight on November 4 to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Officers investigated after they received an image on Facebook showing a group of men drinking and posing for photos.

Sergeant Kim Enderby, Lincolnshire Police’s alcohol licensing manager, said: "I thought after 29 years in the police there wasn't a lot left to shock me but the way in which this venue was operating was awful.

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"They were being served pint after pint by the owner of the premises Mr Sparks.

"Obviously this hotel bar should have been closed; people should not have been allowed inside to drink alcohol.

"But of equal concern was the total lack of social distancing measures in place.

"At one point over ten men were crammed around a small table drinking and posing for what we think were the Facebook posts."

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There were no face masks and no measures had been put in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19, Sgt Enderby added.

He went on: "The males were seen to be drinking and smoking whilst children sat and ate at a table behind them.

"Mr Sparks claimed it was an error of judgement on his part to open the bar but that is a poor excuse."

The "blatant disregard for both the closure order and social distancing measures” demonstrated a “lack of management and control over these premises," the officer said.

He added: "We are not yet out of this pandemic – whilst the vaccine rollout is well underway, we still need everyone to be sensible and follow the regulations."

The hotel has 21 days to appeal against the decision by Skegness District Council on Tuesday, otherwise, the suspension will begin with immediate effect.

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