On this page:
COVID-19 scam alerts
Residents are urged to remain vigilant and aware of recent COVID-19 scams as unscrupulous people seek to take advantage of the coronavirus crisis. Visit the Action Fraud or National Trading Standards websites for information about current scams and advice on how to protect yourself and others from falling victim to scammers.
The current COVID 19 situation has been very fast moving and quickly affected our daily lives in many different ways. These changes in our daily habits can leave us open to scammers, either when we are away from the home and out shopping, at our front door or online.
It has been well documented by both government and media that many popular household products are moving out of shops very quickly. Since the crisis began, Trading Standards Walsall has been busy investigating reports that some smaller retail outlets have been putting mark-ups on certain high demand foods and goods, with some businesses stating to customers that their mark-ups are only a reflection in the increases charged to them by wholesalers.
Trading Standards Walsall is vigorously investigating these claims and in the meantime our officers are visiting and reminding retailers that if proof of sharp practice is found, such behaviour will not be tolerated. Where can secure evidence formal action may well be coming their way.
We are also reminding the borough to be very wary of online scammers and phishers, or people knocking on the door offering suspect services.
In the current climate fraudsters are targeting the West Midlands and these criminals will look try to approach us by all means—from the front door, by phone, post and online.
Trading Standards therefore asks you to be aware and vigilant while you shop on line and to ‘think before you ‘click’ to avoid phishing, suspicious emails or malicious attachments.
Staying safe from COVID-19 scammers online
- If you are looking at making purchases on sites you don’t know or trust then make sure you do some research into the company first. Especially any company offering cures or vaccines for coronavirus and online products claiming to cure coronavirus. They are fake.
- Be aware at your door: While we are observing social distancing in the West Midlands, there have been reports of people impersonating healthcare workers, offering ‘home-testing’ for coronavirus. This is a scam.
- Avoid those asking upfront for money to do your shopping or collecting medication for you.
Trading Standards advises
- NEVER reveal sensitive personal and financial information OR respond to emails saying that you can get a refund on taxes, utilities or requests asking for money from the police—these are bogus.
- REMEMBER: your bank or the police will never ask for these sensitive personal and financial information, including bank account details, over the phone.
- BE ALERT to new mobile phone applications that claim to give you updates on the virus. They can lock your phone and demand a ransom. Instead, only use trusted source for updates and information, such as the UK government website or social media accounts.
- RESEARCH online companies and websites you have not used before and you don’t know or trust. If you do decide to make payment, use a credit card as the majority of credit card providers insure purchases made online.
- REPORT any suspicious activities or fraud to Action Fraud.
eBay has introduced additional measures to prevent or quickly remove listings that are found to be unfairly priced above their retail value. Some of the products covered by the new measures include antibacterial gel, protective masks and toilet roll. You can report concerns around price hikes and rogue sales directly to eBay.
Their regional intelligence unit can request the seller’s contact information as part of an investigation, customers can submit a request through their online portal referencing the seller ID and item number.
If you require any further information, or wish to inform Trading Standards Walsall of a retailer you suspect of profiteering, please contact us on 0808 2231133 (lines are open Monday-Friday 9.00am to 5.00 pm). You can also visit the Citizens Advice Consumer Service website.
Consumer rights information
There are a wide range of contracts that have been affected due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The following sets out the Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) general views about how the law operates in this area, to help consumers understand their rights and to help businesses treat their customers fairly. Read the CMA COVID-19 pandemic, consumer contracts, cancellation and refunds guidance.
The CMA has launched a programme of work to investigate reports of businesses failing to respect cancellation rights during the COVID-19 pandemic. More information is available here:
COVID-19: CMA to investigate cancellation policy concerns
Business and venue closures and restrictions
On 27 March 2020 the Government Office for Product Safety & Standards released new guidance to local authorities in relation to business and venues closures and restrictions.
Following the government's decision to reopen certain businesses in a phaseed approach from mid-June, with non-essential retail on 15 June and pubs, restaurants, cafes, hairdressers and others from 4 July, many business are now permitted to be open provided strict social distancing and other COVID-19 risk management measures are in place. For further information, please see the reopening your business page of our website.
Reopening your business: Is your business ready to open?
Update: tanning salons statement
Our environmental health team has received a number of enquiries around the reopening of tanning salons. We have sought a legal opinion on this matter and can now confirm that tanning salons in Walsall must remain closed until we receive any further guidance from the government. This position is also consistent with other West Midlands authorities.
All businesses are advised to carefully monitor the relevant GOV.UK pages in relation to coronavirus messages so they are aware of when and how they are able to open for trade. Links to key government information about business closures are above, and please also see the reopening your business page on our website. Environmental Health Walsall continues to support businesses to comply with relevant legislation to protect public health.
Please read the UK Government guidance - closing certain businesses and venues for more information and a list of affected businesses.
Please read the UK Government guidance for employers and businesses on coronavirus (COVID-19) for information and guidance relating to businesses that are not required to close. This guidance also covers traders visiting people’s homes and those working in food businesses.
Shop safe Walsall — advice for businesses and customers
It is the responsibility of business owners to take all reasonable steps to ensure that controls are in place wherever possible limit the spread of COVID-19. To assist, the environmental health team has produced some information and resources to help businesses manage social distancing in their premises.
Walsall Council has written to businesses in the borough providing guidance, online resources and supplementary information to help businesses carry out risk assessments to look at how their premises operate and provide recommendations for systems that may need to be implemented to ensure anyone visiting their premises understands and follows identified control measures.
The letter includes signage that can be printed and displayed within premises if business owners wish. A copy of the letter is available to download here.
Businesses may also find this government designed poster useful to download and display to confirm measures taken in your premises to keep people safe.
A Shop Safe poster has also been developed (including community languages) for businesses to display in their premises to remind customers of social distancing measures. Businesses can also download a poster without community languages.
There is also advice for shoppers and community members about what measures to take to help protect themselves and their loved ones when shopping.
Printed copies of all materials as well as further advice and information around protecting staff and customers is available by contacting environmental health team firstname.lastname@example.org
For any customers who may be concerned about social distancing or any COVID-19 related matters at any premises, please contact the team at email@example.com
Health and safety at work
It should be noted that businesses staying open have a duty under The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 to protect their staff and should update risk assessments to take account of this new environment we are all working under.
Information in relation to health and safety responsibilities can be found at https://www.hse.gov.uk/
Enforcement and Complaints
The government has provided powers to local authorities including Walsall Council to take legal action against businesses that do not comply with the Business Closure Regulations.
The penalty for failure to comply could be:
- A closure notice issued by the council
- An unlimited fine at court
- For licensed premises a review of that licence.
Most businesses will act responsibly and comply with these requirements until the current emergency situation is over, however if anybody has concerns or has evidence of businesses ignoring these Regulations please contact environmentalhealth@Walsall.gov.uk.
It would be useful to provide:
- Name and address of the premises (with postcode if possible)
- Day and time the business was open or is opening
- How people are accessing the business e.g. through a back door, side door or calling in advance and being let in the front door
- Photo or video evidence if possible. The council will accept photo or video footage however do not place yourself at risk by doing this.
- A crime number, if the matter has been reported to the police and you have the crime number.
We will keep the details of the person making the report anonymous in the first instance however if the matter progresses to court we may ask if you are prepared to act as a witness.
If you are a business and are worried about these regulations or are having difficulty understanding the requirements please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have queries or concerns about a licence you have please contact email@example.com or taxilicensing@Walsall.gov.uk or seek your own independent legal advice.
Information for licenced traders
When can alcohol be included in a retail delivery service?
Where a premises licence authorises the sale of alcohol for consumption ON the premises only, it is an offence to sell, or deliver alcohol to customers for consumption anywhere other than in the licensed premises. It is a criminal offence to sell alcohol other than in compliance with the authorisation of a premises licence granted under the Licensing Act 2003.
Where a premises licence does authorise the sale of alcohol for consumption OFF the premises, alcohol may be sold, in sealed containers, and may be delivered to customers for consumption away from the licensed premises. However, when providing a delivery service it is important to note that item of alcohol sold must originate (be added to the order) from within the licensed premises and cannot be supplied from any other place.
Delivery Service and Challenge 25
If a licence-holder operates a delivery service, the law requiring the person delivering the alcohol to ensure the customer is over 18 remains the same. The delivery person MUST operate the Challenge 25 policy, requiring any person who looks as if they may be under 25 to prove that they are over 18 by producing acceptable ID, such as driving licence, passport or ‘PASS’ ID card. If the customer is unable to prove their age, the delivery must not be made.
Making changes to a licence
If a premises licence does not authorise sales for consumption off the premises, the licence holder may submit an application to vary the licence to add sales off the premises. To find out how, or to make an application visit the Premises Licence page on our website.
The application process is explained and the application documents can be found by under 'Apply for a variation'.
Temporary event notice (TEN)
A temporary event notice (TEN) is for temporary provisions where members of the public or businesses wish to sell or supply alcohol, provide regulated entertainment or late night refreshment for a one-off event. There are certain restrictions in place under the Act on applying for a TEN, for example a person who does not hold a personal licence is limited to applying for five TENs in a calendar year.
For further information please visit the TEN page on our website.
It is a criminal offence to sell alcohol if no premises licence or temporary authorisation is in force and could result in the prosecution of any person, including: the person making the sale, a person witnessing or allowing the sale to take place and a person in control of the premises.
On conviction, a person may be liable for an unlimited fine and up to six months in prison.
If you would like any further information about licensing, please email us at Licensing@walsall.gov.uk
Information for food business operators
Walsall Council has written to all food retail and take away premises as well as all producers of food that are remaining open during the COVID-19 outbreak regarding issues surrounding the availability of products and services and increased risk to businesses and customers. This communication is further made available at the links below.
Food safety for community cooking and food banks
The below Food Standards Agency guidance provides food safety information and requirements for individuals or groups wishing to prepare meals at home for their community.
Information for businesses: Additional potential legionella risk concerning the COVID-19 pandemic
Walsall Council has written to business premises concerning the COVID- 19 pandemic and how it could present a potential increased legionella risk within water systems. We are asking all businesses to review their health and safety arrangements in relation to their water system management in the light of the increased potential risks associated with changes to the normal operation of their business.
This communication is further made available below.
Keeping poultry in Walsall
Information for residents purchasing chickens for egg production
While you do not need a licence to keep chickens or poultry as pets or to produce eggs for your household, anyone considering buying chickens or poultry during the COVID-19 pandemic period should think carefully before doing so and MUST follow certain rules. These rules are detailed on the Keeping Poultry in Walsall page on our website.
If you are considering keeping your own poultry due to the current COVID-19 crisis, please remember that the lifespan of hens is 5-10 years, and consider whether keeping hens is something that would be practical for you and your household to maintain after the emergency is over.