Bar owner backs shutdowns for troublespots
A six-month shutdown could be used as the ultimate sanction in a tiered penalty system to make sure bar owners clean up their acts, a leading figure in Bermuda's hospitality industry said yesterday.
Chris Garland, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce's restaurant division, said a “three-strike warning system” could be examined.
He explained: “If they put a warning system in place, it shows that there has been some initiative put on the business owner.
“The second warning could be the 24-hour closure — 24 hours to clean up whatever it is you're not doing right in your system and security.
“The third could be a lengthy suspension, it could be a week.
“Or there could be a four-strike system where the fourth is the loss of licence for six months. These things could all run out after one year — you reset the bar.”
Mr Garland said a minority of venues appeared to fall short on safety and security measures.
He explained: “Customer and staff safety should be very important to all liquor-licensed establishments.
“Unfortunately, some establishments are not seen as taking enough precautions due to isolated incidents in and around their facilities.”
Mr Garland was speaking after the bar at Bailey's Bay Cricket Club was shut for 24 hours on the orders of Commissioner of Police Stephen Corbishley after a brawl outside the premises earlier this month.
He said: “Temporary closures can be effective if used to accomplish a common good.
“The police and Liquor Licensing Authority should use this as an opportunity to assist with an establishment's internal security plan and go over any glaring issues.”
The director of Harbourside Holdings, which owns Flanagan's, Outback, The Snug Café and The Loft in Hamilton, and Divots in Warwick, added that there were several ways to tackle violence associated with licensed premises.
He said police should work more closely with business owners to “create a consistent line of communication” and suggested the introduction of “fair penalties for incidents in and around establishments”.
Mr Garland said his proposals came from 15 years of experience in the hospitality business, which had helped him “get a sense of what seems to work” in the industry.
He added more lighting and cameras were needed on the harbour side of Front Street and that it would be helpful to “incentivise those with clean records, and publicly support them” with the introduction of star ratings for clean security records.
Mr Garland said a personal wish was to see regular cruise ship callers return to Hamilton.
He added: “I would be interested in seeing the statistics regarding this issue, but it appears that the security problems in Hamilton have become worse as the cruise ships have diminished.”
He said a move towards “mega ships” at Dockyard had resulted in the loss of the “constant atmosphere” cruise ships gave to the city, as well as sounds and lights from the vessels, movement of people and a visible police presence.
Mr Corbishley, sworn into office at the start of August, has praised the “successful, law-abiding and highly successful licensed businesses” in Bermuda that tend to have strict door policies.
But he said some venues did not maintain the same standards.
Mr Corbishley added that he planned to work with bar owners to advise on safety requirements, share information and offer support to ensure the “wrong kind of people” were not attracted to their premises.
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