COUNCIL bosses have slapped a pub with a prohibition order after discovering they were breaching Government guidelines and had remained open.

Authorities had been tipped off that The Bonnie Blue Oak in Oak Road, Tiptree was still serving on the premises.

The front of the pub had the windows covered but access was being used at the rear of the property.

Speaking to The Gazette, the landlord, who declined to give his name, refuted the claims they had remained open.

He said a meeting was being held in the pub to discuss launching a takeaway service but they were, and still remained, closed to the public.

He added that they accepted the reprimand from the council.

The pub was served with a notice by Colchester Council on Monday ordering them to cease trading of food or drink sold for consumption on the premises or face the possibility of an unlimited fine.

The pub can continue to run a takeaway food service only.

It is the first pub in Colchester to be issued with a Prohibition Order since the coronavirus restrictions were introduced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier in March.

The action by Colchester Council’s licensing team has been backed by Essex Police.

The council's public safety boss Mike Lilley (Lab) said tough actions would be taken against landlords who wilfully flouted the rules during the coronavirus crisis.

He said: “The government has been really clear that many places, including pubs and bars, should close as part of the measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus and save lives.

“It is really important that landlords understand we will take action against them if we find they are opening in breach of the rules.

“They face the potential of an unlimited fine if they fail to comply with the notice, as well as the possibility that we will review their licence.

“Where we receive evidence of premises opening illegally, we will investigate and take action, because they are acting irresponsibly and putting lives at risk.”

The notice came into effect immediately and there is no appeal. It will stay in effect until the end of the emergency period.