Businesses in Lancashire warned about 'back door trading'
More than 100 businesses in Lancashire have been given warnings about "back door trading" since the Covid-19 lockdown was imposed.
Trading Standards officers say they have been contacted more than 500 times by people concerned at traders letting customers in when they should be closed.
And Lancashire County Council has warned traders to obey the law or face action.
"Although we recognise that it is very difficult for traders at the moment, we urge everyone to look at the bigger health picture," said cabinet member Coun Albert Atkinson.
"Coronavirus is an unprecedented challenge for all of us, and we all have to play our part in stopping its spread, protecting the more vulnerable in our communities and reducing the pressure on our NHS."
Since the lockdown was introduced in March, Trading Standards say they have dealt with more than 500 questions or complaints, issued more than 100 warnings and, in cases where traders have disregarded warnings, prohibition notices have been served on businesses.
Although the Government has eased the restrictions, most businesses, including hairdressers and barbers, are still banned from opening by law. The most significant easing of restrictions in the latest government announcement has been for garden centres, permitting them to open.
The Government has made it clear that closed traders and shops will only be allowed to reopen when it is safe to do so.
Closed businesses include spas, salons, tattoo parlours, hairdressers, gyms, betting shops, car showrooms and venues where people gather, such as bingo halls. Auction houses and many retailers deemed non-essential, such as clothing, toy and outdoor shops are also included.
Coun Atkinson added: "Local businesses are an important part of the Lancashire economy and we are trying to support them.
"Our Trading Standards officers have advised hundreds of traders since this crisis began - but banned businesses need to obey the law, otherwise we will not hesitate to take action."