March 23, 2020 10.40 am This story is over 18 months old

‘Irresponsible’ businesses ordered to close as crowds ignore COVID-19 distancing

Some continued to trade as normal

East Lindsey District Council has called on businesses in the region to close amid reports that some remained open to the public over the weekend despite government advice.

On Friday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered all cafes, bars and restaurants to close in an effort to prevent the spread of Coronavirus.

But council leader, Craig Leyland, raised concern that some businesses in the district were trading as normal, which he described as “completely irresponsible”.

“I have always championed the need for our businesses to thrive and passionately promoted East Lindsey as a place to visit,” he said.

“I know businesses employ many people, have bills to pay and were looking forward to a successful start to the season.

“However, I ask, for the health of our residents, that all businesses that fall into these categories follow the government instruction.”

You can follow live updates on Coronavirus from around Lincoln and Lincolnshire in our live blog.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson called on the public to follow the government’s advice on social distancing.

As of Sunday, March 22, the number of COVID-19 cases in the UK went up to 5,683, with at least 281 dead.

14 cases have now been confirmed in Lincolnshire, with at least two patients in hospital care.

Yesterday, Mr Johnson called for people to follow the advice from government and stay at home.

Matt Warman, Boston and Skegness MP, and Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Marc Jones, also called on the public not to travel to the county’s coast.

It follows reports that some people ignored the advice on social distancing and flocked to parks, beaches and markets over the weekend.

Mr Johnson said the government would consider tougher measures, such as travel bans, if the advice was not followed.

In Lincolnshire, some resorts and attractions such as Butlins, Hardy’s Animal Farm and Bevoir Castle have already closed their doors to the public.

The spread of the virus raised concern that some businesses will “go to the wall” without support and that insurers should back companies which are forced to close.

Belvoir Castle, near Grantham, is closed until further notice due to Coronavirus. Photo: Belvoir Castle.

Stewart Hardy, who runs Hardy’s Animal Farm in Ingoldmells, warned that failure to help would lead to some companies going under.

“There will be a lot of businesses who go to the wall,” he said.

“If they do not go under, they will take on a debt burden which makes growth difficult.

“But, I think generally the government have done a good job in difficult circumstances.”

As part of plans to help the economy, Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer, introduced a stimulus package last week.

It includes a Coronavirus business interruption scheme, which will be provided as a loan by the British Business Bank through participating providers.

Companies will also be helped through business rate relief, as well as other small business grants.

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