Merton Council cracks down on businesses who flout COVID-19 safety rules

Merton Council used new enforcement powers this week, (2/11/20) to close Santiago’s shisha bar in Mitcham until January 2021, since it was not complying with Regulations imposed to prevent the spread of Coronavirus. 

The new powers were given to English Local Authorities in July to assist local authorities and the police in cracking down on businesses who weren’t compliant with COVID-19 safe business practices.

Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) from the Regulatory Services Partnership, the shared service serving Merton, Richmond and Wandsworth, first visited the premises at the end of September because of an on-going complaint regarding odour from Shisha and carbon monoxide affecting a flat above the Premises.  At that time, a friendly but firm letter was hand delivered to the premises stating that no smoking of shisha may take place in enclosed public places and details were given of the steps required to be taken to comply with restrictions imposed by various Coronavirus Regulations.

This warning was not followed and the owner showed a complete lack of cooperation when the EHOs returned in October.  It was then deemed necessary to give a Direction to close the premises after the officers noted a number of contraventions of the Coronavirus Regulations including:

  • Failure to enforce social distancing between customers  
  • The sharing of hookah pipe mouthpieces with other customers
  • Smoking inside and breaking the indoor smoking ban in force since 2006
  • Failure to comply with the Tier 2 (high alert) Covid-19 rule of no mixing with anyone outside your household or support bubble
  • Customers not wearing face coverings

The Leader of Merton Council, Councillor Stephen Alambritis MBE said:

 “We must all follow the national and local restrictions to help keep Merton safe. We are working closely with businesses in our communities to be ‘friendly yet firm’ in helping them follow the new regulations.  We appreciate the pressure our local businesses are under, however, such blatant breach of COVID-19 safety measures during a national pandemic will not be tolerated.

“The actions carried out at these premises demonstrated a flagrant disregard for the safety of employees and the public at a time when the London Borough of Merton and London was in the high Covid-19 alert level due to the prevalence and increasing numbers of persons with Covid-19. We found it necessary to close the premises given the serious and imminent risk the continued opening of the premises posed to public health and the spread of Coronavirus.

“Further restrictions are now in place across the country and all venues like this should be closed until Thursday 2nd December. However, we will not hesitate to act again to enforce these measures on any business in Merton which breaks these rules.”


Notes to Editors

  1. For further information contact Merton Council press office: tel: 07983 624691
  2. To read the full notice served visit:
  3. Prior to making this Direction, the Council has consulted with and sought advice from the Director of Public Health, and has consulted with Public Health England, and has contacted NHS Test and Trace
  4. The new direction is in effect until at least 17 January 2021.