Hampstead creperies told to close by Camden Council because of 'Covid risk'
- Credit: Rédouane Ait Iich/Hampstead Village Voice
Hampstead’s creperie stand-off has taken a new twist – as the council tries to close down the next-door rivals under Covid regulations.
La Crêperie de Hampstead, which has operated for more than 40 years, was shut down by the town hall on Friday (January 22) after it was deemed there was a “significant risk” of transmitting the virus.
Its neighbour in Perrin's Lane, La Creperie, set up in direct competition by the King William IV pub in November, has disputed the same closure notice – which it claims is unlawful – and has remained open.
Both outdoor stalls have attracted large queues during the pandemic, with concerns raised over social distancing.
The traders say they have done all they can to meet Covid regulations including the use of masks, markings and marshals.
Camden Council says it had “no option” but to order the creperies to close due to their winding queues, and a “lack of social distancing and face coverings being worn”.
Rédouane Ait Iich, manager of La Crêperie de Hampstead, told the Ham&High the closure was “totally unfair” and that it felt like a form of “harassment”.
“Hampstead is a busy area, we are not the only ones having a queue outside. Everybody has a queue,” he said.
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“But we know this is a pandemic and this is very serious, and that is why we did everything to protect staff and customers.”
Rédouane said he didn’t know when his creperie would be allowed to reopen, adding: “If this is due to Covid and the queues, the council should close all of Hampstead.
“We don’t understand why it is only us when we did everything to protect people.”
The King William IV’s creperie sent a letter to Camden Council, refusing to close on Saturday (January 23).
The pub stated its direction to shut down was “wrong in law” for asserting that the creperie was responsible and liable for any breach of social distancing by the public.
Robert Griffiths QC, representing the pub and its landlord Jimmy McGrath, told this newspaper: “It is very important that the Covid regulations are interpreted in such a way as to balance the public interest with the private interest.
“This includes the need to protect local businesses from unlawful interference with legitimate trading activities.”
A Camden Council spokesperson said: “The large queues coming from both these businesses, together with a lack of social distancing and face coverings being worn, were causing congestion on the pavement and presenting a serious and imminent threat to public health.
“Unfortunately, we had no option but to ask these businesses to stop trading, despite our efforts to work with them to resolve these problems.
“We’d like to remind all our residents that the risk of catching and spreading Covid-19 remains very high – and we are asking people to stay at home apart from absolutely essential reasons to save lives and protect the NHS.”