Companies in Southend have expressed confusion and frustration about how customers are being monitored since the introduction of new level two restrictions in Essex.
Southend Itself is excluded from the Tier 2 measures applied in the Essex County Council area, which has seen restrictions on indoor household mixing.
But it has raised questions about those coming into town from elsewhere in Essex.
It has been suggested that companies may have to require customers for their ID cards to make sure they are part of the same bubble or family – or for their addresses to ensure they are of the same level.
With winter fast approaching and so is the 10pm curfew, Companies are already facing pressure On trade and the recent change could put more pressure on companies.
Some are calling for more clarity about how visitors are controlled, while others believe the onus should fall on members of the public to follow the rules.
Here’s what three Essex business owners have to say about monitoring customers amid the new class rules.
“Where’s the line?”
Monte Carlo director, Junjo Remblance, believes companies in the South End need more guidance.
“In terms of clarity and guidance provided, I don’t think they make it easy for us,” he said.
“ Honestly, I think regarding the coronavirus and the situation, there is no easy way to deal with it.
“I don’t think there is a right way for anyone to say it should have been done but what I do think we should at least have a greater certainty.”
Jonjo said they have run Track and Trace since they opened and are now using the app as per government guidelines – but they’re not entirely sure how the recent change has affected things.
He is unsure of the possibility of having to prove identity, as some companies elsewhere in the country have suggested.
“It’s going to be very difficult for us,” he said. “When it comes to the necessary protection you have to do what you have to do, but some forms of identity do not contain the address.
“So are you asking people to bring their utility bills? Where’s the line?”
“Once again it comes with directives, and there were no distinct messages about what we need to do. Do we ask which class of people?”
“As long as they’re groups of six, we can manage them.
“I think the responsibility has been placed on the companies to monitor this situation, but when I feel that there has to be a lot of responsibility falls on the shoulders of the individuals and the public.”
The only thing that Jeonju knows for sure is that the more restrictions are introduced, the tougher things will be.
“I think it goes too far.”
The Borough Hotel is located along the waterfront in Marine Parade.
Joint lease holder Joan Tiny didn’t believe it when she realized the county was divided by the new caste system.
She said, “At first I thought it was all Essex then I found out it was Southend and Thorock was disqualified and stayed at the first level.”
“Somehow I was happy, and then I thought it was very strange that we live in our own house, where we can walk to Rochford in five minutes, but someone within five minutes on foot can’t come to the bar. It’s frustrating.”
“I can’t see how we can work. I have seen that some companies will ask for passports but what is the point when they don’t have your address? A lot of them are advisory and I can’t see it happen.”
The pub has been strict about tracking and tracing and people wearing masks appropriately, but Joan doesn’t think they’ll be able to start pushing for people’s addresses, either.
“When it comes to asking people where they came from, I think it goes a long way,” she said.
“They came up with these bright ideas but aren’t even thinking how it should work.
“I think through sound if that’s the case, the onus is on the customers. You know, I also do that, if you have two different families where one group comes and the other comes from around the corner, you don’t know who’s who.” “
As for The Borough Hotel, they have a great deal of commerce coming from Southend and Rochford.
“We have a lot of clients coming from London which is now also a second level,” added Joan.
“I think the whole thing is a bit silly and I think the earlier everything stops the better.”
“I feel like I’m a teacher compelled to teach the kids”
Sarah Gage, Alex in Southend’s general manager, said the ever-changing rules make her feel like a “teacher.”
“For me, that’s not a big deal – it’s just that people start sticking to the rules and then they change,” she said.
“Then we have to repeat the rules with all of them, which is frustrating. The rules are constantly changing. I feel like I’m a teacher who has to teach the kids when all the people come to eat and drink and you just want to talk to them and follow the rules.”
Even for employees, the rules are complicated.
“I live in Basildon and yet I work in Southend,” Sarah explained.
“So if I quit, I can’t have a drink with the chef because I’m from Basildon and he’s Southend – even though we just worked for ten hours.
“He went to his hairdresser a few days ago who lives in Penfleet but works in Southend.”
When it comes to keeping an eye on things, like all businesses, they can only do their best.
“The only way to do this is that 60 percent of customers track and track their phones,” she said.
“To do this, they have to put their zip code along with the first four letters of the zip code and that’s where they live.
“If they can’t do that then we have to take their information and we have to ask for their zip code. When one of them says SS1 and the other says RM4, you just have to say” I’m really sorry that I can’t sit with you together.
“But everyone will follow it up and say I live in SS1.”
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“Who am I to ask someone for their address?”
Alex has encountered some dissatisfied clients who disagree with the rules, but everyone has to comply.
Sarah said, “We just say this isn’t a business decision, it’s a government decision, so don’t take it on us – we just stick to the rules.”
“They are really frustrated, but the majority understand and understand more
“Who am I to ask someone for their address? It is okay and good to ask for an ID card but when students live in dorms, they may not be registered in their residence, or people in the military may have their addresses at home because they have moved around so much.
“I have family members who live together but not all of them are registered at the same address and they are still registered in parental homes and now cannot have beer together.
“[Financially] It’s troubling and I wouldn’t say that; It’s all great because it’s troubling but you just have to remember that we’re all in the same situation. “
The Southend Borough Council said they are asking companies to take a “hands-on” approach, undergo risk assessment, support testing and traceability.
Cllr Trevor Harp, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Welfare and Health says: “We understand that this is a complex time for local businesses and residents, which is why we said last week that a pragmatic and sensible approach should be taken regarding the new implementation of the National COVID Alert System while the Essex CC and Southend districts are At different levels.
“While local businesses should strive to ensure compliance with the restrictions related to the new national COVID alert system, we have made it clear that we will not try to catch up with businesses and want to support them during this period.
“There is also a responsibility on individuals to adhere to national regulations, so for those who live in Essex CC they should not mix indoors with anyone who is not of their family or their bubble if they are visiting Southend-on-the-Sea.
He added: “We know that companies have a lot of measures to be implemented, and in terms of priority, we want to focus on making sure that they are safe from the Coronavirus, have an appropriate risk assessment in place and support the national testing and tracking system, as the majority already do.”
“We know that the difference in levels of levels adds a layer of complexity and that is why we take a pragmatic approach and we want them to focus on the main measures that apply at the national level.
“As a council, we are doing our best to ensure that our residents and companies are aware of the national regulations, and only through collective action will we be able to manage the current situation and contain the spread of the virus.”
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