By Jay Tavares-
A solicitors’ firm in Bolton has been indefinitely shut after 18 cases of coronavirus in its office led to it being shut by the local authority.
Accident Injury Solicitors was served with directions by environmental health officers on Friday to immediately close.
The office of AI Solicitors was shut down after family members related to employees working at the firm raised concerns about its practices.
The family members accused the firm of not informing staff of cases of Covid-19 in the workforce, and employees were being forced to work alongside others who had tested positive for the virus.
Environmental health officers visited the premises and found seating arrangements were not far enough apart to manage social distancing, and cleaning arrangements were ‘unsatisfactory’. The council and Public Health England found 18 cases linked to the firm.
A joint taskforce has since been set up between Bolton Council and Greater Manchester Police , to ensure businesses and individuals are complying with new regulations, with a barber shop and four takeaways shut down last week.
Restrictions were brought in for Bolton after the local infection rate reached 120 cases per 100,000. Households in the area have been banned from mixing in public outdoor settings and restaurants. Cafes and pubs are restricted to takeaway only.
Bolton Council’s executive cabinet member for environment regulatory services, Cllr Hilary Fairclough, said: ‘The restrictions are clear – and in the case of this firm we had no choice but to take action.
‘The firm clearly showed a disregard for the health of their staff and the wider community.
‘We are in indebted to members of the public for letting us know about these unsafe practices.’
The spokesman added: ‘It is incorrect for the council to state that the firm has been closed down indefinitely, The premises has been closed and not the business, as our employees are operating remotely from their homes and have been doing so a week before the council was even aware of any issue.
“We are a locally owned and operated business and are trying our best to operate under a very unusual and tough time. We have done or utmost to follow all the guidance (which changes daily and unexpectedly) issued by the government both locally and nationally.’
A joint taskforce has been set up between Bolton Council and Greater Manchester Police to make sure businesses and individuals are complying with new regulations, with a barber shop and four takeaways shut down last week.
Special measures were brought in for Bolton after the local infection rate reached 120 cases per 100,000. Households are banned from mixing in public outdoor settings and restaurants, cafes and pubs are restricted to takeaway only.