When the Government brought in new business closure rules alongside social distancing Local Authorities were given the responsibility to help ensure businesses complied with the new restrictions. Across Dorset, the Council’s Trading Standards team have led on this with regard to non-food businesses, working together with environmental health officer colleagues focussing on food business.
Trading Standards provides trusted and tailored advice to local business on a wide range of business law. That helps businesses to grow in Dorset, which in turn improves our local economy. Consumers can be confident then too that Dorset businesses trade in a fair and safe way. Being asked now to ensure many Dorset businesses are closed during Covid-19 is not something that comes naturally to us.
The law on business closure, and other measures to control Corona virus spread, came into effect very quickly. The Trading Standards team immediately set up processes for working at home with all staff working in that way. Our advice to business moved to phone conversations and email.
Not all businesses have had to close and there have understandably been concerns and questions as to what the closure rules mean. Working closely with environmental health colleagues Trading Standards have been advising businesses on the new closure rules as they have developed. Environmental health officers have also had responsibility for advising on social distancing measures within certain business premises that are still legally open but where concerns have been highlighted.
The new law gave us a range of enforcement powers and we have support from Dorset Police if needed. We were given a Penalty Notice option too but so far Dorset Council Trading Standards have not had to use them. Instead business compliance has been achieved in the main by simply talking with business about what the closures mean to them. Some businesses have been able to diversify, or trade in different ways, and Trading Standards have encouraged and supported them with advice so they can do that legally and safely.
The law will change and adapt as Government review what is and isn’t working well, and it’s likely to have changed since writing this article. Rest assure that Trading Standards will continue to adapt too, fulfilling our duties in helping keep businesses trading legally and people safe.
Dorset businesses can speak with a Dorset Council Trading Standards business advisor on 01305 224702, or find information by visiting www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk
Buy With Confidence: We check traders so you don’t have to.
Look out for the Buy With Confidence logo