WEST MIDLANDS Police are stepping up efforts to enforce Covid-19 regulations in four regions with the highest infection rates, and ‘lowest compliance’ – Birmingham, Solihull, Sandwell and Wolverhampton.
Following some major breaches, fines will be issued to businesses and individuals flouting Covid-19 guidelines and restrictions – with police officers patrolling transport hubs, shops, education establishments, hospitality venues and open spaces to remind people of the safety measures in place.
This week up to 200 students filmed at a party at a university halls of residence in Coventry and the Castle Bromwich Hall Hotel in Solihull has been banned from holding events until January next year after around 200 people attended a funeral last Friday.
Closure notices have been issued to several venues including Blossoms bar and nightclub in Wolverhampton where capacity levels were continually exceeded and agreed social distancing measures blatantly disregarded, and PBs in Hockley, the first venue to have its licence revoked after the club was found to have no social distancing measures, no track and trace, and frequently played loud music, police say.
But hundreds more venues have implemented extensive Covid-19 precautions and council licensing officers are assisting business owners and managers to review risk assessments offering advice where it is needed.
Wolverhampton Commander, Chief Superintendent Andy Beard said: “This is a critical period in the fight against Coronavirus and no-one wants the restrictions to carry on for longer than they have to, particularly in the areas with increased measures.
“But it is necessary to control the spread and we will be taking a tougher stance on those breaching the restrictions. These regulations are law and we will be issuing fines to those found flouting them.
“We understand that some of the regulations are confusing and we will be explaining where we find breaches, but if people continually flout these measures, we will not hesitate to take action.
“We are working with other organisations to look at larger scale breaches, such as unlicensed music events or wedding and funeral gatherings, and more recently we have seen breaches at student accommodation and premises following the reopening of universities and colleges.
“We understand that this is a frustrating time for everyone but we must all follow the rules to help save lives.”
Coun Philip Davis, Birmingham City Council’s chair of the licensing and public protection committee, said: “Businesses have a responsibility – not only to their staff and customers – but to the wider community and there must be consequences when Covid-19 guidance is simply ignored. This is potentially a matter of life or death and Birmingham City Council will continue to work with West Midlands Police to enforce the guidelines.
“We have seen a range of contraventions which have led to a number of licence reviews, including one of which resulted in the premises’ licence being revoked for flouting Covid-19 guidelines and restrictions. Where businesses are flouting restrictions to such an extent that shows total disregard for people’s safety, we will not hesitate to take action.”
If anybody has concerns about the measures businesses have in place, they can tell the council by contacting the dedicated hotline on 0121 303 1116 or by visiting the council’s website birmingham.gov.uk/business-concern-COVID-19
Solihull Council has an online form for customers to report businesses based in Solihull that are breaking the government’s rules for coronavirus (COVID-19) safety. Find out more and access the form: https://solihullcouncil.custhelp.com/app/smbc/dio/report_it/forms/covid/report_noncompliance