110 monitoring visits and 11 notices served on Bedford businesses breaching national lockdown

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Eleven businesses in Bedford that have stayed open illegally during national lockdown restrictions have been served prohibition notices by Bedford Borough Council’s Environmental Health team.

Two fines have been issued to businesses that refused to close.

Most non-essential businesses were required to close from Thursday 5 November as part of the Government’s measures to help slow the spread of coronavirus.

Following reports that businesses were operating illegally, 110 monitoring visits were carried out by the Environmental Health team and the town’s COVID marshals.

These businesses have ranged from leisure facilities to licensed premises such as pubs, to car washes.

Prohibition notices were issued to eleven of these businesses.

Two Fixed Penalty Notices have also been issued to businesses which refused to close.

If prohibition notices are not complied with or a fixed penalty notice not paid, a business may also be taken to court, with magistrates able to impose potentially unlimited fines.

Cllr Colleen Atkins, portfolio holder for community safety and regulatory services said, “The Government introduced restrictions on the public, businesses and services to reduce the day-to-day contact between people, slow the spread of COVID-19 and so protect the NHS and save lives.

“To date, 11 prohibition notices have been served and two fines issued to businesses that have stayed open illegally.

“Where businesses that are not permitted to open continue to operate during these restrictions the Council, working with partners including the Police, will take action on behalf of local residents.

“We all hope that these restrictions will be lifted after Wednesday 2 December, so we can enjoy a busy, productive and safe Christmas period.

“But that will only happen if we all play our part, and that has to include our local businesses.”

There have been 286 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Bedford Borough in the last seven days.

Chief Superintendent John Murphy, leading Bedfordshire Police’s response to coronavirus, said, “Although we appreciate that having to close down a business is difficult for those concerned, we can’t stress enough how important it is that we all have to play our part to help stop the spread of the virus, protect the NHS and to keep ourselves and others safe.

“We don’t take enforcement lightly, however businesses can not be allowed to break the rules.

“We will continue to work alongside the local authorities to ensure that they don’t, and we have the power to issue fixed penalty notices to anyone who is found on their premises.

“The current government restrictions are in place for a very good public health reason and we all need to adhere to them.

“We are grateful to those who are sticking to the rules and if we all do our bit, we will hopefully be able to return to our normal lives sooner.”

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