A POPULAR restaurant has been forced to cancel all of its bookings for the next month after being told by the council its outside dining spaces didn’t meet Covid regulations.

The Green Room, in North Hill, Colchester, has been forced to stop serving diners in its greenhouses, which were created for summer last year.

All bookings between now and May 17, when indoor hospitality can reopen, will now have to be cancelled.

Owner Rob Brown said it was another blow for the firm, but he understood the council’s decision.

He said: “We were doing what we thought was right for our customers by creating the greenhouse area.

“We were victims of our own marketing in a way as it looks like someone flagged the issue with the council.

“We were sent a letter by the council which is fair enough.

“We took two walls out but obviously it still wasn’t enough. The only way we could have made it is to take the roof off, which kind of defeats the point.

“To be honest it wasn’t going to be a huge money maker as we only have three but it got six staff off furlough.

“We have now been shut for nine of the last 12 months and it has been really difficult for the staff.

“It is another blow for us and it had been really positive to welcome some staff back.

“But my interpretation of the rules clearly wasn’t good enough. I am sure around the country there are lot of places with set ups like us.

“Now we are focused on May 17 and the staff have at least had a little practice. The greenhouses will be back from that date.”

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The greenhouses were seemed unsuitable under Government Covid regulations as they were not at least 50 per cent open to the air.

A spokesman for Colchester Council said they sympathised with the restaurant but Government regulations were clear.

He added: “Given the limited amount of outside space at the premises, we have advised two rather than three greenhouses with their sides removed would meet the requirements, but the owners have decided this would not be commercially viable and so have postponed reopening.

“The Government has requested we apply the guidance consistently to support local businesses to reopen safely and ensure we continue down the path to a full easing of lockdown restrictions.”

The spokesman added the council can offer help and advice on interpreting the rules for hospitality firms.