Critical services are still required to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic and in Argyll and Bute, the council’s Regulatory Services is working with Police Scotland to ensure that these businesses work safely to protect their staff and the wider community.
This is a common approach, agreed across all Scotland’s 32 local authorities. Both council officers and police will take the approach of Engage, Explain and Enforcement. Enforcement will only happen if public health is compromised, or the business will not co-operate.
The council will lead on enquiries relating to ensuring that businesses comply with closing, where appropriate, or maintaining social distancing if open. Police Scotland will be responsible for the wider social distancing and movement of people requirements.
National guidance states that businesses providing critical services include:
- Food stores;
- Take away food establishments;
- Energy companies;
- Utility services; and
- Critical infrastructure companies.
Councillor David Kinniburgh, Policy Lead for Planning, Protective Services, and Licensing (PPSL), said: “The majority of people are doing the right thing – staying at home and respecting social distancing when they have to go out.
“However, if we want food in our shops, bins lifted, electricity for homes and hospitals, and internet so we can work at home safely, other people have to leave their homes to make sure these vital services are available for the rest of us.
“So you will see some businesses and services continuing to operate and those that do will be expected to take precautions to protect against COVID-19. The council is here to help ensure they do so safely. If anyone has particular concerns they are welcome to contact Environmental Health by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phoning: 01546 605519 during working hours (Monday to Friday 0900 to 1700).
“But whoever is around, it is really important too to focus on what we can all individually do to keep ourselves protected by checking www.nhsinform.scot . Working with the police, we as a council will do all we can to support businesses to look after their staff.”
Concerns raised with Police Scotland should be made via the 101 non-emergency number.
The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 places responsibilities on local authorities and Police Scotland for the control of the close of business/premises and the movement of people respectively.
The powers to councils relate to the closure of business categories specified in Schedule 1 of the Regulations, and to ensure that the social distancing arrangements in place in open premises are appropriate to minimise the spread of COVID-19. There are powers to issue Prohibition Notices and whilst Fixed Penalty Notices can be issued, only the Police can do so at this time.
Police Scotland have powers to restrict the movement of people, enforce non-essential travel and gathering.
We have prepared FAQs for businesses, which should be closed, based on national guidelines: https://www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/coronavirus/business-closure-faqs