"We've gone viral!"
A law firm in Bolton was ordered to shut its office after health inspectors found it was "flouting" the Covid-19 safety rules.
Bolton Council closed down the office premises of Accident Injury Solicitors, after being alerted to the firm's practices by family members of employees. The firm had failed to tell staff that there were Covid-19 cases in the workforce, and had "forced" them to work alongside others who had tested positive for the virus, according to the allegations.
Public Health England and Bolton Council investigated and found 18 cases linked to the firm. Environmental health officers who inspected AI Solicitors premises found that seating arrangements were too close together for social distancing and there were "unsatisfactory" cleaning arrangements. The authorities closed the premises "due to the imminent risk to public health".
RollOnFriday understands that AI Solicitors continues to operate remotely, although the firm did not respond to a request for comment.
“The restrictions are clear – and in the case of this firm we had no choice but to take action." said Hilary Fairclough, cabinet member of Bolton Council's environment regulatory service.
“The firm clearly showed a disregard for the health of their staff and the wider community," said Fairclough. "We are indebted to members of the public for letting us know about these unsafe practices." She added, “this council takes a zero-tolerance approach to those flouting the Covid-19 rules.”
An SRA spokesman told RollOnFriday that the regulator was "aware of the issue" and would "gather all relevant information before deciding on any next steps.”
The virus has stymied other firms attempts to get staff back in the office.