Covid: Businesses shut down, fines issued and one arrest by police and Tower Hamlets council patrols

PUBLISHED: 12:11 18 November 2020 | UPDATED: 12:52 18 November 2020

Police and council officers on patrol in Bow. Picture: Rehan Jamil

Police and council officers on patrol in Bow. Picture: Rehan Jamil

© Rehan Jamil

Dozens of businesses in the East End have been breaching emergency Covid-19 regulations with fines being issued against them and some premises being ordered to shut.

Police step up 'Covid' patrols after breaking up two illegal music gatherings in Poplar and Hackney Wick. Picture: Met PolicePolice step up 'Covid' patrols after breaking up two illegal music gatherings in Poplar and Hackney Wick. Picture: Met Police

Joint patrols involving police, Tower Hamlets Council and government officers have made 4,500 checks to make sure that businesses are not operating outside the regulations.

Around 60 were found to be “non-compliant”, it is understood.

These included cafes and restaurants allowing customers to sit in to be served food and drink or making seats available and allowing takeaway collections indoors after 10pm.

Patrols have also found organised gatherings, parties and large events such as unlicensed music events.

Police broke up one illegal gathering when hundreds of people were discovered at premises in Naval Row, near the Blackwall Tunnel Approach, earlier this month. Six people were arrested for breaching Covid-19 regulations and drug offences.

Unlicensed music events had to be disbursed in Poplar and Hackney Wick that night, among 11 that police raided across London.

“Enforcement is a last resort,” Chief Insp Pete Shaw warned. “We will not hesitate to make arrests or issue fines where breaches are serious and dangerous, such as unlicensed music events or parties.

“We don’t want people’s efforts made with personal sacrifice of our communities to be in vain through the irresponsible or illegal actions of some.”

One business owner refusing to close a non-essential shop was arrested after “repeated requests and warnings”.

Mayor John Biggs... Mayor John Biggs... "We will take action where people wilfully break the rules." Picture: Mike Brooke

Joining the police patrols are four government-funded officers alongside staff from the town hall’s own environmental health and trading standards departments.

Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs said: “We’re working with police where people wilfully break the rules and will take action to protect the community.

“I understand how difficult it is for businesses which have had their livelihoods affected, especially those which have had to close. But we all need to play our part to help stop the spread of Covid-19 and reduce infections.”

Around 20 officers are now carrying out daily patrols in areas where complaints have been made about people not adhering to Covid-19 rules.

They have already found businesses opening and serving customers which are not deemed “essential retail” which have been ordered to shut down, while some essential retailers have failed to display mandatory information about customers using face coverings.

Premises are being issued with fixed penalty notices or warnings about any breaches of Covid regulations.

The patrols are also using softly-softly approaches giving out advice on how to comply with the emergency regulations, answering questions from households and businesses and giving out reminders about wearing face coverings and keeping social distances.

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