Reports from members of the public concerned about Kent businesses breaching Covid rules have more than doubled since lockdown rules were imposed and non-essential stores were ordered to close.
KCC Trading Standards says such reports are currently running at more than 170 a week up from around 85 a week at the start of December. The most frequently complained about issues are:
- Stores which fail to challenge customers not wearing a face covering
- Non-essential businesses being open
- Businesses failing to manage social distancing among their customers
Enforcement teams across the county are stepping up their response with a crackdown on businesses which flout the rules while also providing additional information and guidance to those who are unclear on how to operate legitimately within the current restrictions.
Since the start of December, more than 70 businesses have received advice or formal notices requiring them to take additional measures to keep customers safe or to close until the lockdown is lifted. These include:
- Clarification on guidance on how a business can operate legally
- What types of business are permitted to be open
- Concerns about face masks not being worn
KCC Trading Standards will this week write to more than 1,000 businesses across the county reminding them of what the lockdown rules mean in practice and the penalties which can be imposed on those found to be in breach.
A free online ‘Ask the Experts’ event is also being held today to answer questions from business operators.
Steve Rock, Head of KCC Trading Standards, said: “The surge in reports we are seeing reflects not only the current tighter restrictions but also signals the public’s desire to shop safely and see operators acting responsibly.
“In many cases, by visiting a business and providing advice, our teams are able to resolve issues. In others, where owners are knowingly breaking the law, we will not hesitate to take necessary action requiring them to close immediately. If they still do not comply, we will look to issue a fixed penalty notice and it could end up in prosecution.”
The fixed penalties which can be issued for business restriction offences are: £1,000 for a first offence, rising to £2,000 for second, £3,000 for a third and £10,000 for each penalty notice issued thereafter.
The Kent ‘Ask the Experts’ webinar will take place at 1pm with representatives from KCC Trading Standards, Environmental Health, KRF Enforcement Cell and Kent and Medway Growth Hub.
To sign up for the webinar visit www.kent.gov.uk/lockdown3businessevent