48 barbers across Stoke-on-Trent have been spot-checked, following repeated concerns around the level of covid-compliance across the city’s barber shops.
For the last two days Stoke-on-Trent City Council public protection officers, working alongside Staffordshire Police have undertaken proactive visits to barbers across the city. Whilst some were found to be compliant, 26 were given advice regarding non-compliance issues.
The team provided guidance to businesses on how to comply with the ‘Working Safely during Coronavirus - Close Contact Services’ guidance and answered questions if barbers were unsure on any of the current requirements.
Where non-compliance has been identified, revisits are planned to ensure that compliance is achieved. One barber, who had been visited previously following a complaint, was visited as part of the exercise today and further significant non-compliance issues were identified. The public protection team is currently considering enforcement action against this business which may include a fixed penalty notice, prosecution or, as a last resort, closure of the business.
Sean Beck, owner of barber shop ‘Sean Beck & Sides’ in Burslem, who were spot-checked today (16 October) and found to be compliant, said: “We have followed all the rules since reopening; our staff wear the correct personal protective equipment; a visor, face covering and in addition, disposable aprons and gloves. We only allow six people inside the shop at one time so we can adhere to social distancing and customers are temperature-checked on entry.
“Our customers have been fantastic in supporting us. They have followed the measures we have put in place and all wear a face covering. If anybody forgets we have disposable ones available for them to use.”
The exercise follows on from the council issuing community protection warnings in September to a barber shop in Burslem and to two barber shops in Tunstall after all three were found to be flouting the rules. Staff in both premises were not wearing personal protective equipment including face coverings and visors. The premises are still being closely monitored by public protection teams, and if they continue to break the rules will be issued a community protection notice, which could result in court action and closure orders.
Council leader Abi Brown said: “We are still seeing some barbers across the city are not following the correct guidelines. Whilst many have now taken our advice and warnings on board and have become compliant, some are still not and this is not acceptable.
“Complaints about barber shops and other establishments across Stoke-on-Trent flouting the rules are still high. Our teams will continue to go out across the city, advising businesses of their responsibilities. We are also acting on information from residents and using our own intelligence to ensure that premises are compliant.
“If premises do not follow covid-secure measures, it will not be tolerated and action will be taken. This is serious; we all need to take responsibility to stop the risk of the spread of the virus.
“Our plea to residents is if premises aren’t covid-compliant and don’t put your safety first then don’t go in there. The same applies if premises are too busy when you go into them. Take responsibility for yourself and your own actions.”
Staffordshire Police officers also took part in visiting the barbers, as it is the Police who have the powers to enforce warnings and fines to residents for not wearing face coverings where appropriate. The officers reinforced to premises visited that their customers should be wearing a face covering, unless they are exempt whilst in their premises.
Sergeant Phillip Ferns from Stoke North Neighbourhood Policing Team said: “We’re working together with Stoke-on-Trent City Council as we’re intent on doing all we can to reduce the spread of Covid-19 and avoid any further lockdown restrictions like those we have seen elsewhere.
“We want to thank the majority of people and businesses across Stoke-on-Trent and the wider county who are doing their best to comply with the restrictions which are in place to protect all of us, but there are some who are choosing to ignore the rules.
“Our work with Stoke-on-Trent City Council and its public protection team, is vital in keeping our families, friends and local community safe and, with their support, we will not hesitate to take stricter enforcement action, including issuing a fine, where we find that people are flouting the rules and putting us all at risk.”
Residents can report concerns they have about premises to email@example.com.
For more information and advice on the 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 significance of this action cannot be underestimated. If residents have symptoms, please get tested. All residents must continue to follow the guidance of wash hands, cover face and make space.
For more information on digital services, visit www.stoke.gov.uk, download the MyStoke App, or follow the city council’s social media channels.