Businesses praised for complying with coronavirus legislation

Published: Thursday, 26th March 2020

Stoke-on-Trent City Council has welcomed the co-operation from the vast majority of non-essential businesses in the city which have closed in line with new Government legislation to tackle coronavirus

Stoke-on-Trent City Council has welcomed the co-operation from the vast majority of non-essential businesses in the city which have closed in line with new Government legislation to tackle coronavirus.

The council’s public protection team is actively enforcing the rules regarding closures and have been forced to close just three shops city-wide so far which had continued to trade as normal – a mobile phone shop, a barbers and a vape shop.

The closures are now enforceable by law in England due to the threat to public health. A business operating in contravention of the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Business Closures) Regulations 2020 will be committing an offence.

Officials are patrolling the city throughout the week and making visits to businesses to ensure they are following the national legislation, and are able to respond and advise businesses if they are open and shouldn’t be. If businesses ignore the advice and continue to remain open, the legislation allows a notice to close to be issued and prosecution as a final resort. If there are queries about business opening or to report a business which should be closed, people should contact public.protection@stoke.gov.uk or call 01782 234234

Cllr Abi Brown, leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council, said: “It’s absolutely vital that businesses and retailers abide by these new measures, which have been put in place by the Government for all our safety. I’m pleased to say the vast majority of businesses in the city have been compliant with the new legislation and acted responsibly, and we thank them for their co-operation. We understand this is an incredibly difficult time for them and we will do everything we can to help and support at a local and national level.

“We have had a few reports from the public of businesses which are still open that possibly shouldn’t be, and of some alleged pub lock-ins, and these are being investigated. The legislation is clear that all but the most essential businesses should now be shut. We all have to work together during this difficult time, to protect one another and prevent the spread of coronavirus as much as possible.”

The Local Government Association has worked with Government and agreed to develop a scheme that suspends parking charges for health workers, social care workers and NHS volunteers for on-street parking and open car parks as they go about their critical work.

Cllr Brown added: “The city council wholeheartedly respects and supports this initiative. Key workers and critical workers can now park for free in the city. This will allow them to access the facilities they need to while carrying out their invaluable support to the most vulnerable in our society, work to save lives and keep our city and country running. It’s a small gesture by us to say thank you for everything they are doing.”

Longton Market will be open to the public on Friday and Saturday this week but will shut at close of business on Saturday, joining Tunstall and Hanley markets in closing. Stoke Market will remain open to the public.

Taxis and private hire vehicles can continue to work in the city, but the advice is absolutely clear - people should stay at home if possible. That is the way to save lives and protect our NHS. The public should avoid travel unless absolutely essential, with the only reasons to leave houses set out in Government guidance.

The city council has today agreed emergency powers to make urgent decisions in an emergency situation, such as the coronavirus outbreak. The changes to the authority’s constitution were approved at a full council meeting which was attended by a small number of representatives from each political party on the council, with physical distancing in place. It is part of a review of the constitution that has been taking place over a number of months at the authority, and since the new city director joined the council in January.

For more information and advice on coronavirus (COVID-19) please visit Public Health England: https://publichealthmatters.blog.gov.uk/2020/01/23/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-what-you-need-to-know/ and the NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/.

All residents are reminded about the critical importance of regular handwashing with soap and hot water for 20 seconds. The importance of this action cannot be underestimated.

For more information on digital services, visit www.stoke.gov.uk, download the MyStoke App, or follow the city council’s social media channels.