500 Bristol businesses visited by council in five days: Bristol City Council COVID marshals

11 Nov 2020

500 Bristol businesses visited by council in five days

Council officers are receiving continued reports from residents concerned some businesses may be flouting the rules during lockdown.

Over 500 businesses in the city have been visited by council officers in the past five days to help them adhere to coronavirus (COVID-19) rules and ensure they are closed during the Government imposed lockdown.

To help reduce the spread of COVID-19, all non-essential shops, leisure and tourism venues, and services where there is close person to person contact, such as hairdressers and tattooists, had to close by law on Thursday, November 5 for a minimum of four weeks.

To minimise the impact on people’s livelihoods, non-essential retail stores can continue to operate click-and-collect and delivery services while bars, pubs and restaurants must stay closed except for delivery or takeaway services.

Since Thursday, council officers have visited over 500 businesses to remind them they should be closed, and are receiving continued reports from residents concerned some businesses may be flouting the rules. Enforcement and fines are always are a last option with the council instead helping businesses adapt. Any business that isn’t able to continue operating is eligible for business grants to help cover any financial loss.

Alongside this, Bristol’s new COVID marshals have visited businesses to check that those remaining open have measures in place to reduce the spread of infection, for example staff wearing face coverings, and space for customers to socially distance.

Bristol City Mayor, Marvin Rees, said: “We really empathise with businesses that have been forced to close and we are doing everything we can to ensure they are supported. We thank those businesses for following the rules even though this is extremely difficult for them.

“We are at a critical point in the pandemic and we need to do everything we can to prevent the spread of infection, so we can see restrictions lifted and ultimately save people’s lives and livelihoods. Even with a vaccine, the virus is going to be with us into next year and unless people step up their efforts now, we’ll all be facing extended periods of restrictions for some time to come. Please remember: hands, face, space, and stay at home as much as you can. Isolate if you have symptoms and get a test.”

Bristol’s Director of Public Health, Christina Gray, said: “This second national lockdown is undoubtedly a very difficult time for businesses and residents alike, however it’s vital that we all pull together to avoid Bristol’s numbers escalating further and to bring the virus under control in the shortest time possible. It takes a combination of COVID-secure environments and COVID-19 compliant behaviour to achieve this, ease the pressure on our health services, save lives and our city’s economy.

“Unfortunately, we are seeing some non-essential businesses trying to remain open, or others where social distancing, mask-wearing and other aspects of the regulations are not being put in place. This puts staff and customers at significant risk of infection, breaks the law and risks businesses getting a significant fine.”

Chief Inspector Mark Runacres at Avon and Somerset Police said: “It’s important we continue to work closely with our local authorities, including the COVID marshals, licensing and environmental health officers, to ensure legislation designed to keep people safe and stop the spread of the virus is followed.

“We’ve already given out a £10,000 fixed penalty notice to an events venue in Bristol for flagrant and repeated breaches of the legislation and we’re committed to fully supporting our local authorities with any enforcement action needed to prevent our communities being put at risk.”

Anyone continuing to breach requirements will face formal enforcement action, which in most cases includes being issued a fixed penalty notice, starting at £1,000. Businesses that continue to operate illegally or in a non-compliant manner can then face a prohibition notice to close, or be prosecuted. 

You can report a business, by calling 0117 922 2500 or emailing health.safety@bristol.gov.uk

The following businesses are subject to restrictions or closures:

  • Holiday accommodation must close unless the exemptions set out in law apply.
  • Hair, beauty and nail salons
  • Spas
  • Body and skin piercing services
  • Tattoo parlours
  • Those who provide personal care services from a mobile setting including their own home, in other people’s homes and in retail environments
  • Non-medical acupuncture and other cosmetic services
  • Entertainment and tourism venues - including indoor games, bingo halls, cinemas and museums
  • Car washes
  • Markets
  • Leisure venues - including gyms, swimming pools and indoor playgrounds
  • Places of worship - with some exemptions

A full list of businesses that should be closed can be found here.

Support for businesses 

Coronavirus support is available to businesses, including:

  • The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ('furloughing' workers), which has been extended until March 2021. Read more on this here
  • Deferring VAT payments
  • Deferring income tax payments due through Self Assessment
  • Applying for more time to file your company's accounts with Companies House
  • Paying sick pay to employees (statutory sick pay relief package for SMEs)
  • What to do if you can't pay your tax bill on time
  • Support for larger firms through the COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility
  • Protecting high street businesses from aggressive rent collection and closure
  • A winter economy plan to protect jobs and support businesses over the coming months

To find out more, visit the Government’s website here.

If you are a Bristol business and need to contact the council with a query, please email business@bristol.gov.uk

You can also sign up to receive our weekly business information newsletter here.