Preston firms warned against ‘back door trading’ during lockdown

Posted on - 22nd May, 2020 - 12:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Business, Politics, Preston Council, Preston News
Many businesses across the city were forced to close during lockdown Pic: jojomelons
Many businesses across the city were forced to close during lockdown Pic: jojomelons

Businesses in Preston are being warned about ‘back door trading’ as complaints surge.

It comes as Preston City Council has urged firms in the city to seek out advice ahead of any reopening and ensuring they are Covid-19 compliant.

But Lancashire County Council has issued a warning to businesses which must remain closed, in line with government restrictions.

The county council says they have issued more than 100 prohibition warnings to businesses continuing to trade illegally since the end of March when lockdown began.

And they say they’ve received hundreds of complaints about businesses not implementing social distancing measures or letting customers in ‘through the back door’.

Cabinet member for technical services, rural affairs and waste management county councillor Albert Atkinson said: “Although we recognise that it is very difficult for traders at the moment, we urge everyone to look at the bigger health picture.

“Coronavirus is an unprecedented challenge for all of us, and we all have to play our part in stopping its spread, protecting the more vulnerable in our communities and reducing the pressure on our NHS.”

Businesses which have not been allowed to reopen include spas, salons, tattoo parlours, hairdressers, gyms, betting shops, car showrooms and venues where people gather, such as bingo halls. Auction houses and many retailers deemed non-essential, such as clothing, toy and outdoor shops are also included.

County councillor Atkinson warned: “Our Trading Standards Officers have advised hundreds of traders since this crisis began – but banned businesses need to obey the law, otherwise we will not hesitate to take action.”

Read more: Union advise DWP workers of their rights at Preston office amid coronavirus fears

Meanwhile Preston City Council moved to say they would never issue a closure notice to any business without speaking to the firm first.

A spokeswoman for the city council said: “We are aware of a closure notice at an office building in Preston which the council did not issue.

“We do work with businesses who may have employees with Covid19 symptoms, offering the same advice and support and wouldn’t force a company to close its doors without engaging in a dialogue first. We have a strict protocol for any closure notices appearing at a premises’ location.”

The city council has urged business owners to get in touch with its environmental health team for help, support and advice on implementing social distancing measures.

Chief executive of the city council Adrian Phillips said: “People might not yet be completely confident about returning to work, so careful planning and honest communication between employers and employees is essential to identify and minimise risk.

“We want to work with businesses and have detailed advice on our website to assist with planning the re-opening of a business and the standards that should be achieved for everyone’s safety.”

There’s dedicated advice for food businesses wanting to reopen and also workplaces wanting to reopen.

Clarification: This article originally included a picture of closed businesses in Fishergate, Preston city centre. There is nothing to suggest these businesses have not complied with government guidelines during lockdown. We would like to make that clear, and apologise for any offence or upset caused to those businesses, their staff and their owners. We hope they will be able to get back trading soon.

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