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Council and police get tough on compliance during Covid Action Week

Compliance visits to over 400 of Watford public facing businesses and warnings to over 100 people flouting the face covering rules are just a couple of the activities that took place during Covid Action Week (17-24 October) in an effort to halt the spread of Covid-19 in the town.

The initiative which was delivered by Watford Borough Council Community Protection team in partnership with the local police force, aimed to raise awareness of infection rates across Watford and urged residents and businesses to take action now to stop the spread of the virus before fines, penalties and further restrictions are imposed on those defying the rules.

The Community protection team visited over 400 businesses during the week of engagement offering advice and ensuring guidelines to protect workers and customers are being followed.

• Warnings were given and revisits are underway to businesses where regulations were not being complied with. If businesses continue to break the rules, depending on what is wrong, they will be issued fixed penalty notices, served with legal notices to improve or in serious cases they will be required to close.
• Many of the business sectors were found to have really good safety systems in place. Licensed premises and restaurants in particular were well organised with the exception of a few smaller venues where people tend not to book and safety measures were more difficult.
• Many close contact service providers such as hairdressers and beauticians are doing a great job at keeping customers safe. Unfortunately however, the town’s barber shops stood out as a business sector that needs to do more for its customers. Advice has been given and enforcement action will be taken where necessary to make sure our residents and employees are kept safe.

In addition to the council’s visits to businesses, a dedicated team from the Police were out and about on Watford’s streets supporting businesses. The team issued warnings and fixed penalty notices to people who were not wearing a mask at all, or were wearing it incorrectly – round the neck or only covering the mouth. Officers issued warnings to over 100 people. Two people who refused to cooperate were issued FPNs. The Police and Council team are continuing patrols and monitoring. Targeted work continues and if you are concerned about a premises please send your report to enquiries@watford.gov.uk.

In an effort to raise awareness of the rising infection rates and the key actions people need to take to protect themselves and their loved ones, a digital advertising truck travelled to key hotspots across the town including the Town Centre, West Herts College, large supermarkets and retail parks using video and graphics to impart key messages to residents. These key messages were also shared across the council and the police social media platforms and local radio and other media outlets.

Elected Mayor of Watford Peter Taylor said. “The increased enforcement activity and public health awareness raising across the week demonstrates our zero-tolerance approach for any residents and businesses ignoring the restrictions. A further 100+ Covid-19 infections in Watford have been recorded over the past seven days - our businesses and residents must continue to do everything they can to keep the infection rate down. We are also seeing the impact of these increasing infection rates on Watford General Hospital as people from our communities are falling seriously ill and are needing hospital care. The following weeks remain crucial for the town.”

Watford Chief Inspector Ian Grout said: “Most people our officers encountered on the streets who were not acting as they should took immediate action to address their behaviours and it was encouraging that over the course of the week we noticed a general improvement in Covid-compliance in public spaces across the town. But if a person does not comply when asked by a police officer then we will not hesitate to issue Fixed Penalty Notices to those who are not exempt, yet continue to wilfully ignore what is mandatory. We will continue to work closely with Watford Borough Council so residents and businesses face the consequences of their actions for ignoring the rules.”