Twenty lockdown flouters across the city have been fined after police caught them gathering in groups.
The police action comes as Stoke-on-Trent City Council has received 54 complaints over the past week about retailers and other businesses trading illegally.
Residents tipped off trading standards officers, who have now given the firms advice and support, outlining what they can and can’t do under coronavirus restrictions.
Staffordshire Police and the council have also been sharing intelligence to catch people breaching Covid-19 rules.
In the last week, police enforcement has included:
- Handing a Shelton man a £200 fixed penalty notice after officers found two other people inside the property who didn’t live there. The resident had previously received a warning;
- Finding three men parked up at Festival Park, who were from different households. They were each given a £200 fine;
- Fining three men after officers found them playing poker at a house in Stoke-on-Trent;
- Attending reports of a large gathering at a Longton property. Police arrived to find four adults and nine children there;
- Issuing nine fixed penalty notices to people gathering at an address in Etruria.
Chief Inspector Rob Hessell, of Stoke-on-Trent South Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “The vast majority of people in Stoke-on-Trent are doing their best and have made huge personal sacrifices since March such as missing weddings, funerals and family celebrations in an effort to halt the spread of coronavirus.
“I want to take this opportunity to thank the public for this and recognise the collective efforts of our partners, NHS staff, emergency services and our own frontline officers, who are doing all they can to protect us all.
“I know the vast majority of the public will support us as we continue to take action against those who choose to deliberately break the law.”
Council leader Abi Brown said business compliance during the pandemic was ‘generally good’.
But she added: “As we come out of the national lockdown next week and enter Tier 3 coronavirus restrictions, it is important all businesses follow the new restrictions.
“Retail premises will reopen, which I know is something many are pleased about as we get ever closer to Christmas. However, these new rules should not be flouted and our officers will be continuing to offer advice to businesses.
“As always, some of the best information we receive is directly from the public. We’d urge people to work with us closely to report issues; your reports make a real difference to helping us tackle the virus in the city.”
People can report possible breaches in Stoke-on-Trent by emailing email@example.com or calling 01782 234234.
Meanwhile, six Covid stewards have this week started working across the city, visiting high footfall areas and communities.
Their role is to offer advice and signpost people to support. This includes giving information about the lockdown rules, how to book a coronavirus test, when to self-isolate. How to get test and trace payments, and how to access to mental health services.
Mrs Brown said: “They have already been out visiting Tunstall, Hanley, Longton and Stoke, in particular, the markets and bus stations.
“If you see them out and about, the stewards are approachable and friendly so please ask them questions if you have any. The stewards are here to support our residents.”