Samuel Smiths pubs have banned people from using phones, in an attempt to foster "social conversations".
Various pubs across the country have been sent a memo making clear that people should not be allowed to use their phones or chat in the bar, and that if they wish to they should be directed outside in the same way as if they were smoking.
It follows a similar rule that saw swearing banned in the pubs. The strange rules are said to be enforced by the company's 73-year-old owner, who is rumoured to enter the pubs undercover to check that they are being kept to.
The phone rule enforces a wide-ranging ban on phones and tablets, as well as including particular bans on "pictures of sport" and "music apps".
"The brewery's policy is not to allow customers to use mobile phones, laptops or similar inside our pubs," reads the memo, which was first reported by the Manchester Evening News.
"If a customer receives a call then he or she should go outside to take it in the same way as is required with smoking.
"Whether outside or inside, tablets and iPads must be prohibited.
"Customers must not be allowed to receive transmitted pictures of sport or download music apps on the brewery's premises either inside or outside."
It concludes with a message that the "brewery's policy is that our pubs are for social conversation person to person".
Phone calls to various pubs confirmed that the memo had been received, and that the ban was currently going into effect. One manager said the rule was being loosely enforced for now, but that it might become stricter as time goes on.
Staff working at other pubs said they were yet to hear about the rule.
Calls to Samuel Smith's central office were unanswered.
One pub manager said that while it can be "detrimental" to have people on the phone, any restriction should be informal and policed by the individuals themselves rather than being a strict rule.
"It’s a intrinsic part of modern society and that may be an issue but it’s not one for Sam Smiths to solve," said Heather Griffin, who manages the Rutland Arms in Sheffield, which is not a Sam Smiths pub. "If they’re as hard line about it as they are with swearing that unfair cause people need their phones in certain situations and having it makes people feel more comfortable.
"I just think it comes across as quite pretentious – like they think they are somehow better than people who enjoy to use their phones for whatever use they want."
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