More than 100 local businesses across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole were inspected over the weekend (6, 7, 8 Nov) and offered guidance and advice to ensure lockdown restrictions are being followed correctly.
Fourteen environmental health and trading standards officers, supported by Covid Marshalls were on patrol over the three days following up on a number of complaints made that some local businesses were not complying with current government restrictions.
Councillor May Haines, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety, said: “Since the start of lockdown, our officers have been visiting local businesses to provide advice and guidance on the current government rules, including who can safely remain open and the types of services they can continue to offer at this time.
“We have found that there is a lot of confusion and mis-understanding among businesses and the public about what is permitted and what is prohibited during lockdown and so it’s important our officers are out and about working closely with businesses offering advice and guidance. On the whole, this support has been well received and business owners have taken on board the advice given. It is only when a business refuses to follow the restrictions, despite extensive engagement, that we have to consider taking enforcement action.”
During the weekend, officers had provided significant guidance and advice to the business owner of Happy Buddha shop in Poole, including the possibly of a penalty notice. Unfortunately, the advice was not followed, and a Fixed Penalty Notice was served.
The majority of advice provided over the weekend included advising businesses operating as a takeaway to remove outdoor seating, reminders to wear correct face coverings, display correct safety signage and operating as click and collect only.
The council will continue to support, make visits, provide advice to local businesses.
Find out more about the government restrictions.
Environmental Health Officers and Trading Standards officers will monitor compliance with these regulations, with police support provided if appropriate. Businesses and venues that breach restrictions will potentially be subject to prohibition notices, and a person who carries on a business in contravention of the Regulations may be issued with a fixed penalty (fine). Prohibition notices can be used to require compliance with the Regulations including requiring that an activity ceases. It is also an offence, without reasonable excuse, to fail to comply with a prohibition notice. If prohibition notices are not complied with, or a fixed penalty notice not paid, business proprietors may also be taken to court, with magistrates able to impose potentially unlimited fines.
Businesses can be fined by local authorities or the police if they fail to fulfil the obligations placed on them in law, fines will be issued:
£1,000 for the first offence
£2,000 for the second offence
£4,000 for the third offence and then £10,000 for the fourth and all subsequent offences
There is the provision however for 50% reduction to the fine if paid within 14 days.