A BELFAST pub has been forced to suspend its hugely popular service delivering freshly-poured pints of Guinness door-to-door amid claims by police that it is in breach of licensing legislation.
The Hatfield House had been keeping spirits up across the city with an ingenious Guinness-on-wheels service which, thanks to a mobile beer tap and keg, allowed them to delivered perfectly-poured pints of the black stuff to customers self-isolating during lockdown.
Extra measures were taken by staff to ensure every pint was delivered contactless, with staff operating the van required to wear face mask and latex gloves and pints of Irish stout left on doorsteps in plastic glasses.
However, the long-standing Belfast pub has been forced to shut down the service, at least temporarily, after the PSNI accused them of being in breach of legislation.
In a statement posted to Facebook, a spokesperson for The Hatfield House said PSNI officers had stopped their vehicles over the past few days to warn them about the service.
“Folks we are devastated but for the minute we have been forced to suspend the delivery of our Guinness pints," they said.
“Before commencing this service we carried out a detailed risk assessment of our operations to ensure the safety of our staff, their families and ultimately you, the customer and to ensure that the home delivery service we are providing is in total compliance with all relevant health and safety and licensing legislation.
“Our lawyers have advised us that we are in strict compliance with all relevant current legislation.
“We launched this service to try to bring a smile to people’s faces and keep a few more of our amazing staff in jobs amidst these most trying and dire times.
“However, despite all of this, the PSNI have sought to wrongly shut down the Guinness pint delivery service.
“We have asked the PSNI on numerous occasions to outline which relevant piece of legislation we are alleged to have breached but to date they haven’t been able to do this.
“Yesterday four of our staff were followed by two unmarked PSNI cars for over 45 minutes – the health and wellbeing of our staff is too important to us and at a time when our staff are stressed and worried about a number of issues we cannot allow the PSNI to add to this.
“So, for the minute the Guinness delivery service is on pause until we can guarantee to our staff that they will not be subjected to harassment and perceived intimidation such what they were put through yesterday.
“There are four delivery drivers today that are not required as our Guinness pint delivery service has been suspended.
“Their jobs have now been placed at risk but we won’t be letting anyone go as this venture was never about money, it was about jobs for our staff and smiles for our customers.
“We want to give all the Guinness drinkers in Belfast a massive thank you. We have loved serving you and loved seeing your happy faces when we arrive with your pints of Guinness.
“If we have to take this matter to the courts for determination we will because we firmly believe we are on the right side of the law.
“We are continuing to deliver food and drink so pick up the phone and give us a shout. Stay home, stay safe and let us bring the pub to you.”
Belfast District Commander Chief Superintendent Jonathan Roberts told The Belfast Telegraph: “PSNI is aware of employees from licensed premises dispensing alcohol at various locations in Belfast from an adapted vehicle.
“Yesterday officers on patrol in south Belfast spoke with a number of individuals and files are now being prepared for submission to the Public Prosecution Service in relation to potential breaches of the Licensing (NI) Order 1996.
“During recent weeks, officers have discussed with various licensees what constitutes a breach of the licensing legislation and have advised them that where necessary we will take enforcement action.”