BUSINESSES across Southend have been flouting Covid-19 guidelines with some bosses unaware that face masks and risk assessments are legal requirements.

Now business owners in the hospitality industry are being asked to join a meeting with the council’s director of health Krishna Ramkhelawon today.

Inspections found that some are “unaware of two important matters which are legal requirements under the current coronavirus regulations”.

Despite being pressed by the Echo, Southend Council refused to name offending businesses, seeking to offer guidance first.

Issues surround staff and customers not wearing face coverings, and businesses not displaying signs telling the public to do so.

Furthermore, businesses need to Covid-19 risk assessments to protect both staff and customers.

In a bid to avoid businesses being fined by police, the council is hosting a question and answer session today and has encouraged owners to attend virtually.

Councillor Trevor Harp, who oversees health in the borough, said: “Recent visits have shown that a small number of hospitality businesses are unaware of legal requirements regarding risk assessments and face coverings, so our latest email to them has provided a reminder on the national legislation relating to these issues and to help them manage their Covid-secure environments.

“In order to further support the hospitality sector I will be joined by Krishna Ramkhelawon, our director of public health to discuss the borough’s response to Covid-19 as part of a webinar and Q and A session that will take place at 10am today.”

Councillor Martin Terry, who oversees community safety, said he has seen problems even at large businesses such as Tesco.

He said: “We cannot underestimate importance of this.

“Over the summer we set up stakeholders group for local businesses and despite many visitors coming to the town we kept it safe and it remains the same now.

“If certain rogue elements don’t toe the line they will force the town into tier two or tier three and that is not in any one’s interest. Everyone must comply with the rules.”

He added that businesses who don’t follow the rules could face fines starting at £200 from police.