Non-essential department store fined £17,000 for breaching lockdown rules

A department store has closed after it was issued with £17,000 in fines for breaching lockdown rules on non-essential retailers.

Middlesbrough Council did not name the town centre store which was issued with several fixed penalty notices and a prohibition notice for failing to close as required under COVID-19 regulations.

According to the council, the business has now said it will no longer trade while the restrictions are in place.

The local authority said some of the company's other stores elsewhere in the country could face enforcement action.

Four town centre phone retailers have also received £1,000 fixed penalty notices after they were observed selling directly from their premises.

Middlesbrough's 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."

Our town needs as short a period of lockdown as possible. The longer restrictions are in place the more damage they will cause. This is about protecting public health and also people's livelihoods and futures. To everyone who is doing the right thing - thank you. To anyone ignoring the rules, please think about the impact your actions have on Middlesbrough.

Andy Preston, Middlesbrough Mayor

Under current restrictions only essential retail such as food shops, supermarkets, pharmacies, hardware stores and off-licences should be open, together with other permitted retail such as garden centres.

Non-essential retail, such as clothing and homeware stores and shops selling electronic goods and mobile phones, should be closed other than for click-and-collect.