Most London businesses have so far respected the law on business closure during the Covid-19 lockdown, according to data from London borough enforcement teams. Just 2% of the businesses visited over the past two months have had to be instructed to close by local authority officers.
The latest data from councils shows that trading standards, alongside environmental health and other council officers, have visited 38,808 businesses and advised on business closures and social distancing since the lockdown came into force on March 16.
Across London, enforcement officers found 731 businesses failing to comply with the rules. When instructed to do so, 529 businesses closed. But where traders didn’t comply, borough teams have issued 262 Prohibition Notices, forcing them to do close.
The most common examples of businesses that have been found breaking the lockdown rules include barbers, hairdressers and beauty salons, mobile phone shops and vape shops.
Local authority enforcement teams have also dealt with 2,426 enquires relating to social distancing from businesses, employees and the general public and have given advice to businesses as to how best to manage this safely.
London Trading Standards Operations Director Stephen Knight said: “Borough Trading Standards teams are central to the local effort to ensure the continuing lockdown is effective. Whilst the vast majority of businesses have so far complied with the law, we are seeing an increasing number of businesses attempting to open illegally as the lockdown goes on.
“Borough trading standards officers are working extremely hard to help businesses find ways to trade safely, where possible within the rules. However, enforcement action will be taken where necessary to keep Londoners safe.”
Keeping communities safe
Cllr Clare Coghill, London Councils’ Executive Member for Business, Europe and Good Growth, said: “Businesses are playing a critical role in the capital’s response to Covid-19 by respecting lockdown measures designed to limit the spread of the virus and keep Londoners safe. Most businesses have acted in a responsible way and helped protect Londoners through this immensely difficult time.
“Boroughs are grateful for all the businesses across the capital that put the wellbeing of their communities first by complying with the restrictions introduced since the coronavirus outbreak. Covid-19 clearly remains a massive challenge. We understand businesses want to get back up and running, but this must only be when it is safe to do so. Although lockdown guidance has recently changed, it remains unsafe for certain businesses and venues to open to the public.
“We need London’s businesses to keep sticking to the rules. Boroughs’ trading standards teams will continue working with businesses and help ensure that measures which are so important for protecting public health are respected.”
Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) Chief Executive, Leon Livermore, said: “I am pleased to learn that the vast majority of London businesses are behaving responsibly and respecting the coronavirus lockdown.
“The pandemic has brought new, unprecedented challenges to trading standards and its enforcement, and London Trading Standards is working around the clock with our partners in the consumer protection landscape and business to protect Londoners. I applaud the excellent work and commitment of Borough Trading Standards teams across the metropolis.
“I know that this is a difficult time for many businesses, but they must respect the law and work closely and transparently with trading standards. Only by working together can we beat the virus, protect consumers and support businesses through this emergency.”
The latest government guidance on which businesses should be closed can be found here.