Customers at a pub in the West Midlands have been told to self-isolate after an outbreak of coronavirus was linked to a barbecue at the venue.

Around 70 people attended the barbecue at The Soho Foundry Tavern in Smethwick last Sunday and three have since tested positive for COVID-19, Sandwell Council said.

The pub closed voluntarily on Thursday following the confirmed coronavirus cases.

August 2: Sandwell traders fear local lockdown

Public Health England bosses have now issued an “urgent appeal” to anyone who attended the barbecue to self-isolate as they may have been exposed to the virus, the council said.

Sandwell's deputy council leader Maria Crompton said: “We urgently need to alert anyone who attended the event last weekend to self-isolate until Sunday 16 August. If they have any symptoms they should book a test.

“Everyone needs to stay incredibly vigilant – the virus is still out there and the situation remains extremely serious – as this potential outbreak shows.”

Cllr Crompton also urged employers of those who need to self-isolate to “be supportive”.

“If someone needs to self-isolate for the required time to comply with the safety guidance, please do all you can to accommodate that,” she added.

Sandwell's director of public health praised the pub landlady's decision to close the venue voluntarily.

“They did exactly what we would want business owners to do in this situation,” Dr Lisa McNally said.

“They voluntarily took the decision to close and contacted us for advice. I would urge all businesses to do the same.

“Pubs need to be very careful at this time to gather contact details of customers and ensure social distancing at all times.”

The borough of Sandwell, which includes West Bromwich, Oldbury, Tipton and Smethwick, was in the top 10 areas in England with the highest rates of coronavirus infections earlier this month.

However, the number of new cases in the borough dropped by 30% in the past week.

The Local Government Association (LGA) has called for councils to have greater powers to close pubs to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Current guidance says licensed premises should take customer details and ensure they have infection control measures in place, but they are still voluntary.

The LGA wants these guidelines to be made mandatory immediately, and has called for local authorities to be given stronger powers to enforce them.

It wants a temporary COVID-19 objective added to the Licensing Act, allowing councils to shut premises that fail to collect contact tracing data or enforce social distancing, or even revoke their licences.

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New local lockdown restrictions came into force in Preston on Saturday due to a spike in coronavirus cases in the city.

The measures came a week after the same restrictions were brought in for residents in Greater Manchester, parts of east Lancashire and West Yorkshire, as well as Leicester.

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Topics #deputy council leader #Local Government Association #Manchester #Maria Crompton #public health england #SPOTIFY #United Kingdom