Crackdown on businesses flouting closure order

Sheffield City Council and South Yorkshire Police have used new enforcement powers to close two businesses that were operating outside of Government guidance, despite the current Coronavirus restrictions.

The new Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 was announced by the Government last week.

Under this legislation local authorities and the police can close premises that are flouting the closure ban.

Sheffield City Council and South Yorkshire Police warn they will be investigating and taking enforcement action to close businesses, with the police also handling public gatherings and movement issues.

Last Friday – 3 April – after receiving reports about Prince of Vape on, Prince of Wales Road, in Sheffield, the council’s health and safety officers visited the premises and served the notice to the owner requiring it to close. Failure to comply would lead to prosecution.

Councillor Mark Jones, cabinet member for Environment, Streetscene and Climate Change at Sheffield City Council said: “It’s been encouraging to see that most Sheffielders are adhering to the social distancing guidelines and staying at home unless absolutely necessary.

“I know this is a really difficult time for many residents and businesses, but the Government has been very clear – stay at home. And there’s an essential reason for this, to save lives.

“We simply cannot allow business owners to ignore the guidance, it’s our duty to make sure they listen.

“We now have the power to enforce this and we are. There is support available to help businesses to get through this pandemic. So I urge them to remain closed, for their own safety as well as everyone else.”

The Staffordshire Arms pub in Burngreave was also served the prohibition notice on April 3.

Members of the public had reported that the owner was still serving people on his premises, a clear breach of the legislation.

Sheffield City Council says it investigated the evidence and issued the notice, which was served by South Yorkshire Police on its behalf.

John O’Malley, liquor licensing manager for South Yorkshire Police, said: “The majority of licensed premises in Sheffield, and South Yorkshire more widely, have been fantastic during what is a really difficult and uncertain time.

“I hope that this closure order, on a premises that has shamelessly gone against the legislation, sends a message that we are taking this seriously and we are taking action.

“It is also important that licensed premises understand that there could be longer term consequences linked to any breaches of the legislation, so it is wholly in their interests to comply.

“I’d like to thank all of those landlords who have done so, with great patience and professionalism, and I’d encourage the public to report any breaches they see or hear.”

Other reports have been made to the council and South Yorkshire Police and these are being investigated. Both organisations say anyone found to be operating in contravention of the new rules will face enforcement action.

Greg Fell, director of public health in Sheffield, said: “It’s concerning to hear that some businesses are still not observing social distancing and other Public Health England guidance.

“We will take action because we have to. Every interaction outside the home is a potential virus transmission point and we must reduce those points of contact in order to reduce the spread of this virus.

“I will keep saying it, stay at home, save lives. It’s the most important thing you can do now to prevent this illness overwhelming our health services and to protect yourselves and your loved ones.”