Businesses in Scarborough defying instructions to close during coronavirus outbreak could face unlimited fines

Businesses defying instructions to close their doors during the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak could face unlimited fines.

Monday, 23rd March 2020, 1:57 pm
Updated Monday, 23rd March 2020, 1:58 pm

The government has confirmed that it will fully fund local authorities, including Scarborough Council so that they have the power to enforce the tough new measures to stop people congregating in public.

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Businesses including pubs, cinemas, theatres and casinos were told to close from Saturday, as part of a government drive to reduce the spread of the virus, protect the NHS and save lives.

Some cafes only serving takeaway to key workers on South Bay. Picture: JPI Media/ Simon Hulme

Environmental Health and Trading Standards officers will monitor compliance, and businesses who fail to comply can also receive potentially unlimited fines. Continued non-compliance could then lead to the loss of alcohol licenses.

Under the Business Closure regulations introduced on March 21, officers will have powers to prosecute for a breach of regulations.

Local government secretary Robert Jenrick said: “We recognise the pressure the emergency COVID-19 restrictions place on small businesses, which is why the government has announced an unprecedented package of support to help businesses and workers.

“But we must follow the medical advice. That means staying at home, protecting the NHS and saving lives.

“So far we have seen this crisis bring out the best in us, but some people are risking the safety of others by failing to act on medical advice. People must do this immediately to save people’s lives.”

A number of businesses in Scarborough and Whitby, which had been allowed to stay open to serve takeaways, have now decided to close their doors after pictures of the two towns packed with people emerged on social media over the weekend.

John Senior, chairman of Scarborough’s South Bay Traders Association revealed in a Facebook post yesterday that the borough council’s chief executive Mike Greene had stepped in to try and address the situation.

He wrote: “Mike has asked that all non-essential businesses close with immediate effect.

“I am asking our members to close as soon as is possible in order to remove the temptation for unnecessary gatherings and help support the fight against Covid 19.”

This morning, Labour has called on the government to introduce a stricter lockdown to enforce social distancing.

The shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “We now call on the government to move to enforced social distancing and greater social protection as a matter of urgency.

“The Prime Minister must outline further necessary steps the government will now take to keep people safe, protect our NHS and save lives.”