Portsmouth City Council launches Covid-19 rule breach enforcement team

A NEW team has been created to tackle potential coronavirus safety breaches within city businesses.

By Fiona Callingham
Thursday, 10th September 2020, 12:33 pm
Updated Thursday, 10th September 2020, 5:58 pm

Specialist coronavirus liaison officers have joined forces with regulatory services at Portsmouth City Council to help local businesses stick to Covid safety measures.

And in extreme cases the officers have the power to take action in the interest of public safety – including restricting access to businesses, prohibiting certain events or even closing premises if necessary.

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Palmerston Road South in Southsea was recently pedestrianised to allow bars and restaurants to service more customers outside. Picture: Byron Melton

A new system has also been created to allow residents to easily report any concerns they have about businesses not operating safely via the city council website, which will then be investigated by the team.

Portsmouth City Council's deputy leader, Councillor Steve Pitt, praised the work of businesses to tackle the pandemic so far but stressed the importance of following the rules.

‘It's been brilliant to see how readily businesses have responded to the challenges of coronavirus by putting in place new procedures to keep staff and customers safe, such as vital test and trace systems,’ he said.

‘If people do have concerns that a business may not be operating safely, the new reporting tool makes it straightforward to flag potential issues. We can then act quickly to identify any problems, help businesses comply with the rules and make sure they avoid the most serious consequences of non-compliance.

‘Businesses can also make sure they're up to date with the latest coronavirus guidelines and legislation for their organisation via our dedicated business web pages and phone line.’

The coronavirus liaison officers will also work alongside other council departments such as the council's licensing team, the police and public health professionals when considering potential safety breaches.

Businesses can find information and support to help them stay on top of coronavirus safety regulations on Portsmouth City Council's coronavirus web pages at portsmouth.gov.uk/businesssupport

Or they can call the dedicated business support line on (023) 9284 1641 which is open from Monday to Friday between 7am and 7pm.

Anyone with concerns about a business in Portsmouth that may be operating unsafely can contact the council's dedicated coronavirus enforcement team via the web form at portsmouth.gov.uk/coronavirussecurityreporting

‘Marshals plan is ludicrous’

A COUNCIL leader has branded Boris Johnson’s Covid marshals as ‘ludicrous’ after it emerged they would not be able to fine people for lockdown breaches.

Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, who on Wednesday said the announcement was ‘knee-jerky stuff’, continued his criticism today.

It comes as the planned marshals would not be funded by government, the Portsmouth City Council leader said.

Government has confirmed the marshals will not have powers to fine people for meeting in groups of more than six from Monday. Police can fine people £100 for doing so, with repeated fines for repeated breaches doubling each time to a maximum of £3,2000.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson told The News: ‘It’s ludicrous to raise people’s expectations that something will happen and then the government to not provide either the powers to do it, or the money to do it.’

He added: ‘It’s unbelievable. When the prime minister announced this he must have known that this would just not happen. You can’t have a country run in this sort of way, particularly in a pandemic.’

Additional reporting by Ben Fishwick.

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