Law firm office shuttered after being linked to 18 cases of COVID-19

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But outfit hits back, saying it’s trying its best under ‘tough’ circumstances — and that council got it wrong

A law firm linked to 18 cases of COVID-19 has been ordered to temporarily close its office with immediate effect.

Accident Injury Solicitors, located in Bolton, where hospital admissions for people with confirmed or suspected coronavirus are on the rise, was served with directions to close by the council on Friday, The Bolton News reports. It will remain shut until the council is satisfied improvements have been made.

AI Solicitors’ office was shut down after family members of employees working at the firm reportedly raised concerns with the council about its “unsafe practices”. They alleged that the firm was not informing staff of coronavirus cases in the workforce, and employees were being forced to work alongside others who had tested positive for the virus.

On investigation the council and Public Health England found 18 cases linked to the firm. Environmental health officers also found on a visit that seating arrangements were not far enough apart to manage social distancing, and cleaning arrangements were unsatisfactory.

Bolton Council’s executive cabinet member for environment regulatory services, Councillor Hilary Fairclough, said:

“The restrictions are clear — and in the case of this firm we had no choice but to take action. The firm clearly showed a disregard for the health of their staff and the wider community.”

She added: “This council takes a zero-tolerance approach to those flouting the COVID-19 rules.”

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Bolton was made subject to tighter restrictions last week as the town recorded “the highest case rate in the country”.

A spokesperson for the AI Solicitors told the website: “AI Solicitors takes social responsibility and the health of its employees very seriously, and takes issue with any insinuation that implies otherwise.”

“It is incorrect for the council to state that the firm has been closed down indefinitely, The premises has been closed and not the business, as our employees are operating remotely from their homes and have been doing a week before the council was even aware of any issue.”

They continued: “We are a locally owned and operated business and are trying our best to operate under a very unusual and tough time. We have done or utmost to follow all the guidance (which changes daily and unexpectedly) issued by the government both locally and nationally.”

“We would like to go on record and publicly ask the council respectively to amend the press release which has been issued both prematurely and inaccurately. If the matter remains unresolved we are open to proceeding with legal action.”

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