City centre bar allowed to reopen 48 hours after being shut down for 'complete breakdown in social distancing'

A city centre bar has been allowed to reopen two days after it was shut down for flouting coronavirus lockdown rules. Viadux, an event space that replaced the old Bauer Millet garage on Albion Street, was the first venue in the city to be shut by the council using new powers handed to local authorities to help curb the spread of Covid-19. Officials served owners Fac251 with the closure direction on Thursday, saying they had witnessed ‘a complete breakdown in social distancing’.

It was the first time Manchester council made such a direction since the health protection regulations were passed last month. Officials said the venue would have to remain closed until further notice with a review to be carried out by the council every seven days. But on Saturday afternoon it was confirmed Viadux is now permitted to reopen ‘after working with council officers to ensure Covid 19 safety measures are in place at the venue’.

In a statement, the council said the bar is subject to strict new measures and faces closure if they are not followed.

Officials said they witnessed a ‘complete breakdown in social distancing’ at the venue

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They include; not allowing customers into the indoor area of the premises unless using toilet facilities, a maximum capacity of the outdoor area of 126 customers, ensuring all customers are seated unless accessing seating areas or using toilet facilities, preventing ‘vertical drinking’ [drinking while standing up], ensuring no DJs are allowed on the premises and no events are held at the venue. In response, Viadux bosses hit out at the council’s decision to use their legal powers, calling the closure notice ‘heavy-handed’. A spokesperson said: “This is very new legislation, we feel it was applied far too quickly and without any consultation with the owners of the premises.

“Having now met with Manchesters EHO [Environmental Health Office], we discussed their view on the guidance and have now agreed to implement further steps to help get Viadux open again. “The main issue is the Government’s guidance is highly subjective and very often contradictory, especially when it comes to music levels. Manchester’s local lockdown has then further changed guidance locally.

“We just wish the EHO office would have simply spoken to us before issuing heavy handed closure notices five days after the event. “This would have enabled us to rectify any issues exactly like they have been now, whilst not losing 20 employees shifts for the weekend. “The former Inspiral Carpets keyboardist Clint Boon was DJing the outdoor event and comments ‘Sorry Manchester…

Boon Army !!'” The row comes after licensing officers first visited the outdoor venue, under the Metrolink lines behind Manchester Central and near Deansgate-Castlefield, last Saturday, August 8.

The venue must now allow people indoors or to drink standing up

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The council said officers found an event ‘had got out of hand with a complete breakdown in social distancing by a crowd of people singing and chanting’, with ‘no serious attempt by the bar’s management to control it’. A DJ was playing ‘extremely loud’ music and seating was too close to meet Covid-19 regulations, with less than one metre spacing, the town hall said.

The council said the venue had ‘failed to implement appropriate social distancing controls; failed to manage the behaviour of customers on site; and failed to control the nature and volume of entertainment’. Viadux opened last year as an indoor events venue, before expanding into the space outside with a bar, wooden pallet furniture, a street food truck and a DJ booth inside an old VW camper van. The M.E.N has contacted Viadux for comment.

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