Sunderland businesses threatened with prosecution if they flout Covid regulations
City businesses have been threatened with prosecution if they are found flouting coronavirus regulations.
Failure to enforce social distancing or carry out cleaning regimes are among the most common issues being found at firms.
And it has prompted Sunderland City Council to team up with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to ensure bosses are sticking to the rules.
“Being Covid-secure needs to be the priority for all businesses in Sunderland,” said Graeme Miller, leader of the city council.
“It’s a legal duty for businesses to protect their workers and others from harm and this includes taking reasonable steps to control the risk and protect people from Covid.
“But where businesses are not managing this or don’t appear to be trying, we will take immediate action.
“This could range from providing specific advice and issuing enforcement notices to stopping certain work practices until they are made safe and, where businesses fail to comply, it could lead to prosecution.”
All shops, hairdressers, gyms and other venues are expected to be allowed to reopen from April 12, while pubs and restaurants will be allowed to serve food and alcohol to customers sitting outdoors.
Ahead of this Wearside’s environmental health officers and officers from the HSE are expected to begin contacting firms to check they have measures in place to ensure compliance with Covid regulations.
Businesses have also been told they could be subject to spot inspections to monitor whether these are being followed.
A common issue already found by HSE assessor is rules, particularly around cleaning, not being adhered to at peak times.
Cllr Miller said: “We are going to be talking to local businesses as we have done throughout the pandemic, and visiting and inspecting sites across the city to understand how they are managing risks in line with their specific business activity.
“Being Covid-secure needs to be the priority for all businesses in Sunderland.
He added: “All businesses are in scope for spot checks, which means businesses of any size, in any sector can receive an unannounced check to ensure they are Covid-secure.
“Making sure businesses have measures in place to manage the risks is important to our communities, as well as supporting the local and national economy.”