By Christopher Morgan
Kirklees Council has announced that they are partnering with West Yorkshire Police to take action against certain businesses that have been staying open during the lockdown.
Over the last two weeks, the Government announced that all pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes and shops selling non-essential items should close to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
However, some business such as pubs and bars have felt that they have had to stay open under the fear of permanent closure from a loss of business, despite being classed as ‘non-essential’.
Now though, the Council’s Environmental Health team will be enforcing the current and any future legislation in relation to premises which should remain closed – with the support of the police where necessary.
According to the council, most businesses are complying with the requirement, but some may continue to put lives at risk.
The Environmental Health Department, the Police, and the Licensing and Trading Standards will work together to enforce these closures.
They have urged members of the public who see any premises operating outside of these restrictions to contact the Council.
The police have been receiving a large influx number of calls in the wake of the lockdown, and are asking the public to consider before reporting matters to them.
They say that people should only contact the Police if there is a large gathering and they do not feel that it can wait until the next day, at which point the council will investigate.
They added that it is essential that people all work together and a use common sense approach at this time.
However, where there is a clear risk to public safety, people should contact the Police as usual by calling 101.
The council is also asking for food businesses and licensed premises who have been required to close but who wish to operate as a takeaway, to contact the council to let them know so they can continue to operate in accordance with the law.
As a result of the lockdown, West Yorkshire Police have also been granted new powers to deal with public gatherings of more than two persons or unnecessary travel.
Cllr Rob Walker, Cabinet Member for Environment, said: “Our officers are working with the Police and local businesses to make sure they are following Government guidance on social distancing, operating within the law.
“The list of businesses that have to close is changing on a regular basis, and this means that it is really important that people have somewhere to go to share their concerns and get clarity on whether something is illegal.
“We realise that this is a difficult time for everyone, and most, if not all businesses will want to comply with the new rules – if anyone has any questions I would encourage them to email the team who will be happy to offer advice and guidance.”
Further advice on what premises can be open at this time is available online from central government
The Government have also announced a range of financial help for businesses, which you can find out more about on the council website: www.kirklees.gov.uk/coronavirusbuiness