The landlord of a pub linked to an outbreak of coronavirus has said he was “simply not strong enough” in enforcing government rules.
Custodio Pinto, of the Crown and Anchor in Stone, Staffordshire, said he regretted being “complacent” in enforcing regulations with customers.
Twenty-two people linked to the pub tested positive for Covid-19.
About 1,000 people were tested after health officials set up mobile units in the area.
Staffordshire Police said it visited the site on 18 and 19 July following social distancing concerns.
In a message on Facebook, Mr Pinto said he wanted to express his “deepest regret for all the anguish, disruption and sadness”.
“On July 18, I accept that I was simply not strong enough in enforcing the government’s Covid-19 secure rules, despite detailed preparation according to their guidelines,” he said.
He added that he now understood “the importance of maintaining supervised control” of the rules.
Traders said custom in the town “fell like a stone” following the outbreak.
Mr Pinto said he had “never intentionally set out to create any damage or disruption to the community of Stone” and was “prepared to do whatever it takes to rectify that”.
Following the outbreak, four pubs in Stone voluntarily closed, including The Red Lion on the High Street.
Bar manager Tanya Moran said the pub would remain closed until next weekend and was awaiting further guidance from the health authority.
“It is just bizarre being off again,” she said.
“Because I am on the High Street I can see the see town is deserted which is a shame.
“I know all the other licensees will be hoping trade increases this weekend, and we will be hoping for the same thing ourselves next weekend.
“I think the Eat Out to Help Out scheme has made a difference to some of the local restaurants, hopefully that will help.”
Ed Stant, secretary of traders group Stone Is Where The Heart Is, said: “Traders who have made comment are saying it is time to move on, look forward and show everyone just how safe an environment is to come and shop, eat and socialise…
“We are hoping for a busier weekend, the sun will be shining, it is nice and warm, the High Street is now full of hanging baskets and flowers, it is a beautiful place to be.”