A counterfeit clothes shop trading illegally in a premises that lacked any Covid-19 safety measures has been closed down.
On December 3, Manchester City Council Trading Standards, Home Office Immigration Enforcement and officers from Greater Manchester Police raided a premises in Bury New Road.
Acting upon a warrant obtained in relation to alleged immigration offences, officers cut their way through metal shutters which had been brought down after their presence was noticed.
Entering the premises eight people – six customers and two employees – were found. It is common during enforcement activity for people to be locked inside shops selling counterfeit goods in a bid to avoid detection.
The two employees were arrested by Immigration Enforcement officers as they had no legal right to be in the UK.
Given that this shop was operating illegally no measures had been put in place by its owners to ensure it was Covid safe. No staff or customers were wearing masks, no hand sanitiser was made available, the rooms were cramped with inadequate ventilation and lacked any space to socially distance.
The likelihood of Covid transmission within the premises was therefore extremely high, and given the higher rate of Covid infections in Northern wards of Manchester, it was vital that this operation was shut down.
On Wednesday December 9, Manchester City Council issued a direction to close the premises under the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No.3) Regulations 2020.
The order stipulates that a review will be held every seven days until the Council is satisfied that the business can trade safely. However, given illegal activity was taking place the premises is likely to be closed for some time.
Councillor Rabnawaz Akbar, Executive Member for Neighbourhoods for Manchester City Council, said: “This closure is an example of just what we are fighting against when we talk about the counterfeit goods industry. The criminals who perpetuate this trade do not care about anything other than the bottom line. If that means putting the public at risk and allowing them to shop in cramped premises in the midst of a pandemic then make no mistake, that is what they will do.
“We are aware of other places like this operating in the area and as a Council we will continue to gather intelligence on criminal activity, and ultimately use all of the powers at our disposal to close them down.
“These shops are illegal, they put money into the pockets of criminals and now more than ever are a clear risk to the safety and wellbeing of our communities.”