Businesses in North East Lincolnshire are being urged to abide by the Government guidance on COVID-19.
The warning from Council officials comes as many businesses in our area prepare to reopen for the first time since lockdown started.
Council Leader, Councillor Philip Jackson, has spoken out to urge local business owners to consider the safety of their customers when deciding when and how to re-open.
He said: “We’re doing everything possible to support businesses and to restart the local economy, but businesses need to work with us and abide by the rules.
“The guidance set out by the Government is very important to stop the spread of the virus and it’s vital that traders are responsible when starting to reopen.
“We have put measures in place on our high streets to encourage social distancing, and this morning we went out to meet traders and business owners to talk to them about these measures.
“Most were very supportive of the measures and recognise that whilst we don’t want to discourage shoppers, we have to comply with the Government guidance and we need to keep people safe. Added to that, we have made it clear that these measures are under constant review, and we will look to amend them as businesses feed back to us.”
The Council has a number of powers that it can use to fine and close businesses who are not cooperating with the law. Under Health & Safety at Work and Public Health legislation, businesses who disregard the safety of their staff and customers can end up facing court action and a steep fine.
The Government also recently introduced COVID-19 emergency regulations which detail the businesses which can and cannot open at this point. Under these powers, the Council can issue businesses which breach the rules with a fixed penalty notice and a prohibition notice.
Cllr Jackson’s message was supported by Cllr Ron Shepherd, Cabinet member for Safer and Stronger Communities, who added:
“My message to traders and business owners is to by all means start to reopen in line with new guidance, but if you can’t accommodate the two metre social distancing measures, you shouldn’t be reopening at this point.
“We’ve already dealt with more than 200 reports from the public about businesses not following the guidance and won’t hesitate to act if the health of the public is at risk.”
From Sunday 14 June the Council introduced a number of measures to make it easier for residents to remain socially distant whilst shopping, including widening footpaths and suspending some parking bays to offer extra space to move about.
The Council has also created a range of printed materials including posters and vinyl floor stickers that are free for businesses to use. There is also a digital toolkit with further electronic resources to use.
The materials can be downloaded from www.nelincs.gov.uk/business-support.
Residents can report businesses who do not follow Government guidance by completing a form on the Council’s website, or contacting Trading.firstname.lastname@example.org
Businesses can also contact the Council to seek advice on putting social distancing measures in to place.