Council officials are investigating reports hairdressers and barbers in Epping Forest have been flouting social distancing practices for businesses.

Environmental Health Officers have been visiting hairdressers, barbers, beauty salons and nail bars in the district following reports of inadequate measures to protect customers and staff.

Health officials have also been worried by poor levels of social distancing, hygiene, and track and trace records being kept by some pubs, cafes and restaurants.

The council has declined to name the establishments being investigated.

The move follows the latest government guidance if ‘no more than six’ to help combat rising coronavirus infection rates.

Council leader cllr Chris Whitbread said: “This is a worrying trend. Infection and death rates are low, but the numbers are increasing. It is essential that everyone plays their part if we are all to keep our loved ones, especially our older family members and friends safe.

“If you see unsafe practices such as masks not being worn, social distancing being ignored or any other cause for concern, speak up to stay safe. Talk to the manager and explain your concerns. If you don’t get a satisfactory reply, walk out.

“Even if you are young and feel relatively safe, the danger of passing the infection on to older and more vulnerable loved-one such as a parent or grandparent is not worth the risk.

He added: “Businesses that follow the guidelines have nothing to worry about. No one has the right to put your family’s life at risk through carelessness or disregard for the covid rules. Supporting those businesses that follow the rules will ultimate drive up the standards of all.”

Dr Mike Gogarty, Essex’s director of public, said: “Coronavirus isn’t going away and we must all continue to follow this guidance to reduce the spread.”

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