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19 firms trading during coronavirus lockdown told to close

PUBLISHED: 14:05 08 April 2020 | UPDATED: 14:41 08 April 2020

Businesses have been forced to close for what could be months as the Government tries to control the coronavirus spread Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Businesses have been forced to close for what could be months as the Government tries to control the coronavirus spread Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

Nearly 100 complaints about businesses staying open during the coronavirus lockdown have so far been fielded by Suffolk’s trading standards – with 19 firms told to shut down.

In the fortnight since lockdown was imposed, officers have received 98 reports by phone and email of businesses remaining open.

Callers have reported retailers, gyms, factories, builders and campsites.

Of the 98 reports, 19 businesses were contacted by trading standards and told they must shut.

MORE: The Suffolk workplaces remaining open during coronavirus lockdown

Suffolk County Council would not specify what kinds of businesses were told to close – but confirmed each company was found to be open when they shouldn’t have been under government guidance issued on March 23.

This said non-essential businesses such as salons, clothes shops and gyms should no longer be trading.

A spokesman said: “The remaining reports received were either for businesses that can remain open so no contact was required, or their complaint related to social distancing.”

Concerns about social distancing have also been referred to environmental health and the Health and Safety Executive to investigate.

Complaints involving profiteering were passed on to the Competitions and Marketing Authority – which has a tasking group investigating.

Earlier in lockdown, workers told this newspaper they feared spreading coronavirus at firms remaining open.

Some staff at Xpo in Stowmarket, which delivers paint, raised concerns about cabs being ‘double-crewed’ despite them only being 2.5m wide.

Bosses at the company said ‘double-crewing’ is now being stopped. They said the firm is adhering to Government guidance and allowed to open under current guidelines.

MORE: All the latest coronavirus news in your area

Some employees at Woven call centre in Ipswich were worried about hot-desking spreading germs, though the firm said it has “stringent and regular” cleaning procedures in place. All workers sit at least 2m apart, a spokeswoman added.

Delphi Diesel Systems, in Sudbury, had most staff coming in for a few days after the Prime Minister’s lockdown announcement.

But nearly 200 employees have since been made redundant, before the company shuts entirely.

A spokeswoman said: “In order to limit the numbers of employees on site and reduce exposure (to Covid-19), the vast majority of the 190 employees have had their redundancies brought forward.”

MORE: Factory staff have redundancies brought forward over coronavirus

In a joint statement, the Health and Safety Executive and Trades Union Congress said most employers are going to “great lengths” to ensure social distancing.

However, they warned actions will be taken against firms not complying with government guidance.

Workers with concerns that cannot be resolved through their union or employer can contact the HSE.

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