Businesses have been warned they could face fines of up to £4,000 if they fail to follow new Covid-19 safety rules.
Local councils have been given new powers by the Government to enforce the regulations, which came into force on December 2 at the end of lockdown.
They allow authorities to take swift action against any business site they think poses a risk to public health – including shutting them down immediately.
The new powers will enable local authorities to issue three different notices to businesses – the Coronavirus Improvement Notice (CIN). the Coronavirus Immediate Restriction Notice (CIRN) and the Coronavirus Restriction Notice (CRN).
The improvement notice will give a business at least 48 hours to comply with coronavirus safety rules. Failure to meet the terms of the notice could lead to a £2,000 fixed penalty notice (FPN).
The CRN will be issued by a local authority when a premises has failed to comply with the terms of a Coronavirus Improvement Notice and will force the closure of the site for an initial seven days. It can then be withdrawn or allowed to expire where the premise has taken necessary steps to remedy unsafe practices.
An early review can be requested by the recipient of the notice, if early compliance is achieved. Failure to comply with a CRN during its operational period will result in a £4,000 fine.
Businesses thought to be an immediate health risk can be closed on the spot under a Coronavirus Immediate Restriction Notice for an initial 48 hours. A further seven-day closure could then be ordered at the end of this period if the site is still thought to be a health risk.
A CIRN can be withdrawn or allowed to expire where the premise has taken necessary steps to remedy unsafe practices.
Failure to comply with a CIRN will also result in a £4,000 fine.
More details of the regulations – and the powers available to local authorities – can be found here