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Pub landlord banned from using new £50,000 chalet as it breaks Covid rules

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Jason Kalen says he is ‘livid’ after his new chalet structure fell foul of Covid rules (Picture: SWNS)

A pub landlord has been told he won’t be able to use the £50,000 chalet he’s had built in the garden because it breaks Covid rules.

Jason Kalen, who runs The Marlborough in Wiltshire, built the wooden structure, which includes a bar, pizza oven and TV, to offer people a more comfortable place to sit when outdoor drinking starts up again.

But just days before he was due to open, his local council has told him the chalet doesn’t comply with regulations as it is not sufficiently outdoors.

Mr Kalen – who claims he strictly followed Wiltshire Council’s advice to the letter – says he’s ‘livid’ and will now likely have to throw away some of the beer he’s ordered.

The council are insisting that outdoor roofed structures have to have at least 50% of their walls open to the elements when they are in use.

Mr Kalen told the BBC: ‘It’s disgusting. Less than a week before we’re supposed to open saying it doesn’t comply. It makes no sense.’

The structure was mostly built during the first lockdown in 2020 and finished in the second.

Mr Kalen said: ‘I built it to their [Wiltshire Council] specifications. I’ve got a breathable roof with a one inch gap around the outside, I’ve got double doors, I’ve got ventilation through the ground up. Then we get an email saying it’s not permitted.

Mr Kalen says he tried to follow all the rules when building the structure (Picture: SWNS)
Wiltshire Council said the building breaks Covid rules because the walls are enclosed (Picture: SWNS)
Mr Kalen started building the chalet in the first lockdown (Picture: SWNS)
The chalet has a pizza oven, bar and TV (Picture: SWNS)

‘It’s the lack of timing. They should’ve sent this a month ago, it’s just not fair.’

Mr Kalen predicts he’s losing around £5,000 a month currently and will now have to wait a month longer to use the chalet when indoor drinking is permitted from May 17.

Jess Gibbons, the council’s director for communities and neighbourhood services, said: ‘Following confirmation by the government on Monday night that we will definitely be moving to step 2 of the roadmap on 12 April 2021, we emailed over 800 alcohol licensed premises in Wiltshire with guidance on outdoor hospitality.

Punters will now have to wait until May 17 to use the new space (Picture: SWNS)
The pub spent £50,000 on creating the outdoor drinking room (Picture: SWNS)
Wiltshire Council said the rules ‘shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone’ (Picture: SWNS)
All pubs in England have been shut since early January (Picture: SWNS)

‘This guidance is not new – it is the same as the guidance issued previously, following the last re-opening just prior to Christmas which was covered by the “all tiers” regulations.

‘It is based on the legal rules for smoking shelters in the smokefree legislation from 2007 which licensees will be very familiar with.

‘This should not come as any surprise to the hospitality industry – we received numerous complaints about outdoor seating areas becoming very enclosed during the last re-opening period prior to Christmas.’

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