A woman who visited a Sunderland pub after testing positive for Covid-19 is being probed by police.
The 20-year-old should have been self-isolating. Instead, she spent part of Saturday night in The Rabbit.
Pub bosses have now revealed four staff are having to self-isolate due to what some online have labelled “selfish” behaviour.
And ChronicleLive can reveal Northumbria Police are looking into what action – if any – can be taken against the unnamed woman.
Now a Sunderland MP has said those carrying the deadly virus who flout the rules should be dealt with “harshly”.
“People who are diagnosed with the virus are supposed to self-isolate at home,” said Labour’s Julie Elliot
“Anybody who doesn’t should be treated quite harshly and it is perfectly right for it investigated.”
The city centre bar is currently closed, and will reopen Friday following a deep clean.
According to the venue’s Facebook page, the woman entered at 7.30pm on Saturday.
Northumbria Police has since told ChronicleLive that officers became aware of the incident around 30 minutes later.
She was then “spoken to” and sent home to continue self-isolating.
The incident sparked a furious backlash on social media as the city struggles to control surging coronavirus cases.
Currently Sunderland has one of the highest infection rates in England, with threat of a local lockdown teetering ever closer.
According to Liam Duffield, bar manager at The Rabbit, he still has “no idea” how police knew the woman was Covid-positive.
However he “can understand the anger” from some parts of the community over what she did.
“Obviously it isn’t ideal for us, but at the end of the day, we have to move forward,” said Liam.
“But it is undermining how we are trying to operate safely for staff and customers.”
It is understood Public Health England officials have since scoured CCTV to see who may have come into contact with the woman.
Four members of staff at the High Street West pub are self-isolating as a precaution, Liam insisted that none have displayed symptoms to date.
“There is a good chance everyone is OK, but we just wanted to make sure and not take any risks,” he added.
On Facebook, the venue has insisted that it is “highly unlikely” anybody who didn’t have close contacted with the infected woman would have caught coronavirus.
“The guidelines suggest there is no need to get a test if you have no symptoms and no need to isolate if you haven’t had close contact with the individual, which due to social distancing and hygiene measures being followed out is highly unlikely,” added the venue.
How you proceed after this information is at your own discretion, but we advise you to follow government guidelines.”
However, as the city grapples with the virus, the MP has urged the public not to flout the rules but instead unite to try and drive the sky-high infection rate down.
She warned: “We are in a situation where some kind of local lockdown is inevitable in the North East as cases are rising
“But cases are only rising because people are not socially distancing probably.”
She urged the public to remember the “basics”, like hand washing
While she was unable to comment on the incident at The Rabbit, Northumbria Police are looking into what possible action can be taken.
Currently people can be fined if they don’t quarantine following a holiday, or if they break the ‘rule of six’.
As he announced Track and Trace back in May, Health Secretary Matt Hancock called on people to do their “civic duty” and self-isolate, though it is not believed to have legal consequences if people flout the guidance.
However a Northumbria Police spokesperson added: “Shortly after 8pm on September 12, we were made aware that a woman who had tested positive for Covid had entered The Rabbit pub in Sunderland.
“As a result The Rabbit voluntarily closed for deep cleaning and officers informed the local authority of the incident.
“The 20-year-old woman was spoken to by police and returned home to self-isolate.
“We will be working with Public Health and the incident is currently under investigation.”