OWNERS of a popular bar criticised amid reports customers are not social distancing say they are doing their utmost to protect staff and customers during the most difficult time ever experienced.

Bar 100 at Club Amadeus in Northallerton reopened at weekends at the end of July. Screenshots from social media site Snapchat sent to the Darlington and Stockton Times allegedly show people gathering at the bar and outside.

Owner George Crow, who has been in the business for 41 years, said they don’t accept they are overcrowded and have been operating at 30 per cent capacity, going down to 20 per cent capacity this week with the opening of an upstairs bar and believe they are doing a good job.

“Photographs can be deceiving,” he said. “We have always operated track and trace, and there are hand sanitisers and security screens at the bar.

“Because of the new restrictions we are going to open upstairs which is the cabaret bar to give us extra room. We don’t have DJs, and there are tables and chairs on the dance floor, we will be down to about 20 per cent capacity but we are doing our utmost to keep staff and customers safe.

“For the club to be closed we still have costs. The way we are operating is not great, but it is something, and we have most of the staff working, it is important that we tick over.

“We have had no problems at all since reopening in July, there are few people, and there are seats for everybody. We operate on a one in one out basis, and a doorman is going round all the time.

“We think we are doing a good job and we are very conscious about safety, it is in our own interests to be careful. I have been doing this for 41 years, and there have been issues at times but this one, coronavirus, really takes the biscuit, it really is unprecedented.”

One critic, who asked not to be named, said the company have a part to play in ensuring social distancing to stop coronavirus cases getting worse. He added: “I think the government are doing a good job with regards to how they’re managing the pandemic, however it is up to large companies to manage their properties correctly. I believe properties such as Bar 100 which is open as a pub should be inspected as they are still operating like a normal club.

“Cases will just get worse and they have a part to play in it for our local area.”