A car wash owner from Egham has been fined £3,000 by magistrates for repeatedly flouting Coronavirus rules, which required his business to close during the pandemic lockdowns.
Mr Marin Angelov of High Street, Egham did not attend Guildford Magistrates’ Court for the hearing and was found guilty in his absence of six offences. In addition to the fine he was also ordered to pay £2,443 legal costs.
Angelov’s car wash, which is based in a corner of the Hummer Road car park in Egham was visited seven times by Runnymede Borough Council environmental health staff, Covid Marshals, and police officers.
Each time Angelov was warned that running the business during lockdown periods was in breach of Coronavirus regulations. It was a restricted business that was not allowed to operate.
After the first visit on 5 November 2020, Angelov was initially resistant to closing, but then did so, the court heard. However, he was seen on a follow up visit two days later running the car wash again.
On that second visit Angelov was advised he was in breach of Coronavirus restrictions, and that he should not run the business until 2 December to meet the restrictions.
But on another follow up visit on 21 November, he was again cleaning cars.
As a result, when he was visited again on 1 December and was still operating a car wash he was given a fixed penalty notice, which was not paid.
When the lockdown period in early 2021 was in force, Angelov was again seen breaking the rules by running the business on two occasions.
After recording a pattern of behaviour during the two lockdown periods, on 18 March 2021 the Council issued a prohibition notice which was ignored by Angelov.
This pattern of behaviour ultimately resulted in breaches of legally enforceable Coronavirus regulations including;
- Various sections of the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No4) Regulations 2020, and
- The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (All Tiers) Regulations 2020.
For each of the four offences in 2020, the court issued a £250 fine and for each of the two offences in 2021, a £500 fine was issued. Magistrates also levied a £1,000 fine for the failure to comply with the prohibition notice.
Speaking after the hearing, Cllr Nick Prescot, Leader of Runnymede Borough Council, which brough the prosecution said:
We were reluctant to prosecute people running local businesses during the worst of the pandemic, but in this instance, the rules were clearly being flouted over a long period of time.
While many other businesses took the responsible step of temporarily closing, applying for government grants and furloughing their staff, Marin Angelov did not. It must have been particularly frustrating for other car washes to see him breaching the rules.
Our staff and the police gave him plenty of warnings and advice before taking court action, but when rules are broken which could put local people at risk, it is our duty to take the steps we did.
Businesses of all sizes were able to claim support, and the Council’s environmental health team and Covid Marshals visited hundreds of premises to give advice on what could and could not be done during the lockdown periods.
Cllr Prescot continued:
Had Mr Angelov complied with the advice given to him during the first visit, or even just paid the fixed penalty notice, or followed the prohibition notice and closed his business down, a court hearing could have been avoided and the whole issue settled. His choice of putting people at risk has now landed him with a criminal record.
Now the restrictions limiting which businesses can operate have been lifted by Government, Angelov is operating his business legally.
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