TJ Hughes store fined for breaking lockdown rules
The TJ Hughes department store in Middlesbrough has been issued with fines totalling £17,000 by its local council for breaking lockdown rules.
The store was also given a prohibition notice by Middlesbrough Council for failing to close under Covid-19 regulations.
The store has voluntarily complied with the notice and closed its doors but is challenging the decision as it believes it is entitled to remain open as it sells food, hardware and gardening items.
TJ Hughes chief operating officer Jason Harmer told the BBC: “TJ Hughes takes public health extremely seriously. We also always seek to act within the parameters of the law.
“We have voluntarily closed some of our stores on a site by site basis but TJ Hughes has a responsibility to its staff and others to continue trading safely.
“It is therefore the intention to legally challenge the local authorities’ positions. It is wholly nonsensical that TJ Hughes stores be asked to close when other similar mixed retail stores remain open nationwide.”
In addition, Middlesbrough Council has issued four town centre phone retailers with £1,000 fixed penalty notices. Although the businesses concerned were permitted to operate collection services, the council said they were observed selling directly from their premises.
Middlesbrough head of public protection Judith Hedgley said: “We have found a number of shops trading which are not essential retailers. In some cases they have tried to get around the restrictions by selling or claiming to sell a small amount of food, medicines or items that are actually essential.
“Some shops have even started to sell such items like face coverings then claiming they are essential on this basis. The laws are in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Middlesbrough’s infection rate is among the highest in the country. We must all follow the restrictions to stop the spread.”
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