CORONAVIRUS: Trading Standards granted new powers to close businesses

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Officers at Warwickshire Trading Standards have been given new powers to close any businesses that have been told to cease trading during the conronavirus pandemic by the Government.

On 23rd March the Prime Minister ordered that a large swathe of businesses and attractions ranging from restaurants and retailers to museums and cinemas, must close until further notice.

To ensure such businesses continue to stay closed until government regulations change, trading standards officers were given formal powers to shut any which continue to trade.

The government is also advising any businesses which are allowed to remain open during the pandemic to ensure that employees remain two metres apart from each other and wash their hands with soap and water frequently.

Officers from the district council have been responding to complaints that some businesses have not been following such measures, but have so far not had to issue any fines.

A spokesperson for Warwickshire County Council said:  “Warwickshire Trading Standards is currently providing advice to businesses and consumers requiring guidance on the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Business Closure) (England) Regulations 2020. Trading Standards Officers are able to advise businesses on whether or not they are allowed to remain open. Trading Standards Officers are also working with our District and Borough Council colleagues and with Warwickshire Police to enforce this legislation.

“We are pleased to say that the vast majority of Warwickshire businesses are taking their responsibilities seriously and are complying with the law and we would like to thank the business community for their support during this crisis.

“Businesses or consumers with business closure related queries can contact Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133.”

A spokesperson for Stratford District Council said: “The District council is continuing to respond to complaints and intelligence from Warwickshire partners about businesses operating illegally or failing to meet social distancing good practice. This includes site visits, but also contacting businesses by telephone or email.

“In accordance with government guidance, our approach is to offer advice initially and only move to formal enforcement when necessary. The vast majority of businesses are complying and we are receiving fewer complaints now that the new rules are established. Whilst we issued Prohibition Notices in the first week of the new law being brought in, we have not found it necessary to issue any fixed penalty notices so far.”