Action is being taken to combat those who flout coronavirus rules in the city with trading standards teams out in force across Stoke-on-Trent.
The news comes as we near the half-way point of the four-week national lockdown.
Officers have been advising business of the restrictions and offering them support to ensure they follow the guidance following up on complaints received directly from residents.
Since November 1, the city council has received over 200 complaints, enquiries and referrals about the legal rules and restrictions that apply during the national lockdown.
Complaints and requests have covered a number of areas including:
- 15 complaints mainly from employees of companies, saying colleagues had tested positive and staff were still being asked to go in or that they didn’t feel safe in the workplace
- Eight complaints about people not wearing face coverings
- 35 complaints about businesses open when they should be closed; these were mainly car washes, carpet shops, vape shops, a card shop and barbers
- 83 reports of non-compliance relating to illegal trading, lack of social distancing or other Covid-secure measures not being in place.
- 74 requests for advice from businesses asking if they could still open in lockdown.
Public protection teams have also seized over 300 face masks from two premises in Smallthorne which did not comply with product safety requirements. The masks had no CE labelling to show they conformed to safety requirements and had no UK manufacturer/importer details so follow up enquiries about their safety could not be made. Teams are also investigating a Turkish barber after being alerted by residents that the premises were offering mobile appointments.
Councillor Abi Brown, leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council: “Officers are advising businesses during the lockdown. Work has mainly focused on advising businesses that can open of what they need to do to comply. In some cases, businesses have been trying to comply but doing so in the wrong way. Residents have been reporting this to us and we’re working hard to tackle it head on as the action taken shows.
“The main difference between the first lockdown and this one is that people are looking at ways of getting around the regulations. Officers have sought clarification with government on whether carpet shops should stay open following complaints from residents, and our work on raising this nationally has led to specific government guidance being issued. Carpet shops must close, they can still offer click and collect and can complete their existing orders, but carpet shops must not be open. Car washes cannot open either, even if they are attached to a garage.
“As always, some of the best information we receive is directly from the public. We’d urge people to work with us closely to report issues. We’ll continue working alongside the police to increase compliance and ensure people understand that the rules must be followed and why it’s so important that they are.”
While compliance across the city by businesses and residents is generally good on the whole, residents should continue to report issues by emailing email@example.com or calling 01782 234234.
To combat further Covid-19 breaches, Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Staffordshire Police are working together to share intelligence.
Staffordshire Police are actively following up reports they receive about Covid breaches. This past week they have given two £200 Fixed Penalty Notices to Stoke-on-Trent residents. One to a 32-year-old man from Burslem, after officers attended his flat and found 20 people inside the one-bedroom property, and one to a man and a woman, both aged 28 from Tunstall, after officers attended and a party that was taking place at the property. They had received a previous warning.
Chief Inspector Mark Barlow, of the Stoke North Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “The majority of the public continue to comply with the rules and appreciate the risk that Covid-19 poses. We are working together with local authorities to try and stop the spread of the virus but people need to redouble their efforts, particularly relating to not mixing with other households and failing to isolate.”
For the latest information on council services and support during the coronavirus, and frequently asked questions, please visit www.stoke.gov.uk/coronavirus. For latest health advice on the coronavirus, please visit www.nhs.uk/coronavirus, and for further information on the virus visit www.gov.uk/coronavirus.
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.