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Council serves Community Protection Notice on major retailer for failing to enforce mask wearing in store

A London borough has issued a Community Protection Notice to all B&M stores in its borough for failing to enforce the wearing of face coverings despite having received a Community Protection Warning Notice last month.

Barking and Dagenham Council issued the enforcement notice yesterday after council enforcement officers continued to observe the stores failing to ask customers to wear a face-covering whilst shopping. According to Barking and Dagenham, the retailer had also not made direct contact with the council following the warning.

The Community Protection Notice legally requires B&M to "stop applying a policy of non-enforcement of the requirement to wear a face covering and to stop allowing access to their stores to any person who is not wearing a face covering", unless those persons have a legal exemption.

The notice will also require the 'variety' retailer – which sells furniture, toys and electricals – to put in place a system of surveillance to ensure face coverings are worn on their premises.

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Barking and Dagenham said council enforcement officers would continue to monitor the stores to ensure they are taking all reasonable steps to comply with the notice and failure to do so could result in B&M facing criminal prosecution.

The retailer now has seven days to comply with COVID-19 regulations.

Cllr Margaret Mullane, Cabinet Member for Enforcement and Community Safety at Barking and Dagenham, said: "The welfare of our residents is our number one priority and this is why we have been working hard throughout the pandemic to ensure the safety of our whole community. We continue to work with businesses across the borough and high street retailers are not exempt – they have a duty to keep their customers safe.

"We've made it clear from day one that we will enforce on any business, big or small, if they are not following the rules and we are doing just that with B&M. I hope they listen and act on what we have asked them to."

The Community Protection Notice comes after Leader of the Council, Cllr Darren Rodwell claimed that he had been told by an official at the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to stop taking action against local shops that were failing to enforce mask-wearing.

Cllr Rodwell complained to the Business Secretary in a letter following the warning, but BEIS insisted that the department contacted the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham to "understand their position" and offer its "support to help resolve this matter".

B&M has been contacted for a statement.

Adam Carey

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