A Northern Quarter micropub is closing its doors until coronavirus restrictions are lifted, describing them as 'the nail in the coffin of reality'.

The Ancoats Lad landlord Phil Bell said social distancing restrictions would only allow seven or eight customers inside the premises at a time - down from its usual capacity of around 25 to 35 people.

He has posted a list of the 'demanding' coronavirus health and safety measures bars must now follow - including the now legal requirement to take guests' contact details for track and trace purposes - outside the building with a letter to customers explaining the closure.

"Using the template and the regulations we will be allowed 7 / 8 persons in our bar," it reads.

"Plus we have to social distance behind the bar? Can you imagine running a business on that basis?

"They are killing the hospitality industry, they are crashing the economy, no matter what our masters in London and Manchester say.

"We have thought about it, long and hard, what we are to do next, we have had our mind made up for us with the new restrictions."

The Ancoats Lad on Oldham Street

Mr Bell said he 'cannot take any more' after being sent a letter from the council threatening enforcement action.

"The new restrictions apply even more pressure on a bar as small as ours, it is stressful waiting for the licensing and police to come around (just in case we have done something wrong)," he wrote in the note.

"It's stressful having to tell people or as we like to say 'our friends' to sit down and 'where to sit', saying to some 'sorry you can't come in we are full' with seven persons.

"These are the reasons we have decided to close for the foreseeable, or should we say 'unpredictable' future."

Manchester Council confirmed licensing officers had visited the premises three times but said no formal enforcement action had ever been taken. 

A 'warning' letter was issued on September 3, the local authority said.

Mr Bell told the M.E.N he had taken measures to operate safely since reopening in July, including installing hand sanitising stations and posting signs warning people with symptoms not to visit.

"Somebody sneezed in the bar and we sent them out. That's the only thing we can do, being responsible," he said.

"We can't do anything else. It's nigh-on impossible."

Mr Bell said he had also imposed a 9pm curfew - preempting the new national 10pm hospitality curfew.

"We did a curfew ourselves, we've closed from 9pm since July," he said.

"You've got to have a certain amount of responsibility in life and, to me, when you go past 9pm people do get a bit giddy.

"To be honest, I think it's sensible."

Mr Bell said the council had been 'over the top' and 'over-zealous' with its enforcement of the rules.

He added: "There's due diligence, where you try your best, and then there's vigilance," he said.

"We've been open since July 4 and we've had no Covid cases in here.

"It's crazy - in Manchester they have gone over the top. They are over-zealous."

The council denied it had been heavy-handed in its approach to enforcement.

Only one bar - Mahiki - has been ordered to close down completely, and only after 'weeks of consultation and attempted mediation', the town hall said.

Other premises, including Viadux on Deansgate and Tinapa in Openshaw, have been temporarily shut and allowed to reopen after safety protocols were reviewed.

Councillor Rabnawaz Akbar, executive member for neighbourhoods, said: “The past six months have been incredibly difficult for hundreds if not thousands of businesses across Manchester.

"Owners have been asked to put in place measures and policies that have never been required before and with that there will of course come confusion and frustration.

"As a council we have had the difficult task of having to ensure a constantly changing array of rules, guidelines and laws are being implemented for the sole reason of keeping the public safe.

"We knew early on that the best approach would be working in partnership with businesses to ensure that premises could be opened safely, as a result only a small number have been closed temporarily in order to implement Covid-safe practices, and only one has been closed permanently.

"The new 10pm curfew put in place by the government just days ago will present another set of challenges for an already beleaguered sector.

"I would like to assure businesses that the Council will be on hand to support any who need our help, but also say that we will continue to lobby the government to provide more financial support for a sector that is in desperate need."