Published: 11:46, 16 October 2020
| Updated: 11:54, 16 October 2020
A council says more businesses will be checked to make sure they are operating safely during the coronavirus pandemic.
Swale council says it is writing to thousands of firms in Sittingbourne, on Sheppey and in Faversham to let them know that it will be increasing the number of spot checks carried out to make sure they are complying with their legal duties.
The new Covid-19 alert system announced by the Government this week set out what restrictions are in place for each area of the country.
Swale was placed in the 'medium' alert level, meaning there are no changes to the restrictions that are in place. These include a 10pm hospitality curfew and a ban on most gatherings of more than six people.
Cllr Roger Truelove, leader of the council, said: “We’re currently at the medium alert level and we need to do all we can to make sure that doesn’t change.
“The vast majority of local businesses have done brilliantly at adapting their operations to keep their staff and customers safe, and we are immensely grateful to them for that.
“Unfortunately, we have had reports of some not following the rules.
“This isn’t just irresponsible and illegal, it’s also putting the hard work of those businesses who are complying with the rules at risk.
“If cases continue to rise, there is the real threat that we will see further restrictions being imposed. This could see businesses being forced to close, and more damage to the local economy.
“To try to help avoid this, we’re bringing in officers from other teams to increase the amount of spot checks we carry out to make sure businesses are operating legally.
“We expect most will have everything in place to operate in a Covid safe way, and if there is genuine misunderstanding, we will be giving advice and guidance on what they should be doing.
“But, if employees or the public are being put as risk, we can and will if necessary, take the appropriate legal action - including fines of up to £10,000.
“The spot checks will also be a chance for us to hear first-hand from firms about any issues they are having, so we can try to help, or make the relevant authorities aware.
“As well as these checks, we will continue to work with our partners across the county to do all we can to help protect residents.
“I again urge everyone to do their bit by following the guidance to help stop the spread of this virus."