Shops and other businesses will face swift closure and high fines if they breach “Covid-secure” safety guidelines after the national lockdown ends, Downing Street has revealed.
Councils in tier 2 and tier 3 areas will be able to impose swift penalty notices of up to £4,000 as part of the crackdown to accompany the shift to regionalised tiers next week, Boris Johnson’s spokesperson said on Tuesday.
The new powers, part of the PM’s “Covid winter plan”, will create several levels of sanctions when a local authority discovers that companies are not following the rules on social distancing, protective equipment or other measures.
A new “coronavirus improvement notice” will demand that shops or other firms rectify any breaches within 48 hours.
A “coronavirus immediate restriction notice” will order a 48-hour shutdown and a “coronavirus restriction notice” will result in a seven-day closure.
Breaches of the improvement notice will result in fines of up to £2,000, whereas breaches of the restriction notices will trigger fines of £4,000.
Police will become involved if there are failures to meet a council’s demands.
“Local authorities play a crucial role in encouraging compliance with regulations and taking enforcement action when premises do not follow the rules,” the spokesperson said.
“These new powers will ensure local authorities are equipped with the right tools to ensure rapid improvement where premises are not Covid-secure.
“The powers are something that many local authorities have been asking for, which is why we have introduced them.”
Under the plan published on Monday night, “premises that are posing a risk to public health” were warned they would face new sanctions.
“The government is clear that these powers should only be used where necessary and
proportionate to do so, and by trained local authority enforcement officers,” the plan said.
“Local authorities will continue the approach they have taken to date; engaging, educating and encouraging premises to comply, and only taking enforcement action to address the most pressing public health risks.”
No.10 said that the new powers would be contained in secondary legislation due to go before MPs next week.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.