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New legislation will help police and trading standards enforce closures

Home Secretary says landlords who flout law will lose their licences and not be allowed to re-open

Police officers will support trading standards and environmental health officers, where needed, to enforce compliance with the Health Protection (Coronvirus, Business Closures) legislation the Home Office has said.

A directive published by the Government said: "As of 2pm on 21 March 2020, closures are now enforceable by law in England and Wales due to the threat to public health.

"A business operating in contravention of the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Business Closures) Regulations 2020 will be committing an offence."

It said the rules would extend to Scotland and Northern Ireland, adding: "Environmental health and trading standards officers will monitor compliance with these regulations, with police support provided if appropriate.

"Businesses that breach them will be subject to prohibition notices, and potentially unlimited fines.

"As a further measure, and if needed, businesses that fail to comply could also face the loss of their alcohol licence."

Councillor Simon Blackburn, chairman of the Local Government Association's safer and stronger communities board, told the PA news agency: "Anyone who sees a business breaching Government closure restrictions should report it to their local council so it can investigate and take appropriate action.

"We are working with the Government for clarity over enforcing business closure restrictions and to ensure councils have all the resources they need to keep residents safe."

Labour MP Chris Elmore raised concerns in the Commons over some landlords reportedly flouting the law.

Speaking during Home Office questions, he asked: "Over the weekend I was horrified to receive calls from constituents telling me that some pub landlords were trying to let customers come in through the rear entrances of their pubs, leading (to) my local authority sending licensing officers to ask them to leave the pubs.

In response Home Secretary Priti Patel said Landlords flouting the closure of pubs said: "There are fines that'll be put in place, but also for licensed premises, they run the risk of losing their licences and their livelihoods."

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