A shsiha bar was one of three businesses operating illegally during the Covid-19 lockdown have been fined in Bolton.

Greater Manchester Police and Bolton Council enforcement officers were responding to reports from the public since the second national lockdown began on November 5.

Last week, a gym, a shisha bar and a sports facility in Bolton were all fined after failing to comply with lockdown rules.

Firms which continue to operate illegally during the lockdown face an initial £1,000 for a first offence – with fines doubling for each subsequent offence up to a maximum of £16,000.

When police and trading standards visited one gym, the owners claimed to be elite athletes who were allowed to train under the lockdown rules. But after failing to provide evidence, a second visit resulted in the issuing of a £1,000 fixed penalty notice.

The owner of one shisha bar has been issued with two fines totalling £3,000 after officers found customers visiting the premises illegally.

The breaches were captured on CCTV and in one case as many as 50 people were seen entering the shisha bar. The owner was tracked down to an address in Salford.

Bolton Council’s Executive Cabinet Member for Environment Regulatory Services, Cllr Hilary Fairclough, said: “Our enforcement teams have been working closely with the police during the lockdown to ensure businesses and residents understand and comply with the rules.

“The vast majority of people across the borough have worked hard and made great sacrifices to bring the infection rate down. Rates are starting to fall, which means we can all hopefully spend Christmas with our loved ones.

“Unfortunately, there are a small number who are choosing to ignore the rules. I understand it is difficult for businesses whose livelihoods have been impacted but we need everyone to keep doing their bit to keep the rates down.

“We have a number of other gyms and shisha bars on our radar at the moment and we won’t hesitate to take action if there are breaches of the regulations.”

Chief Inspector Nicola Williams of GMP's Bolton Division added: "In this current climate it is extremely difficult for our hospitality venues and we sincerely appreciate the effort that the majority have already taken to ensure they are Covid compliant.

"Unfortunately, in some cases and despite the engagement work that my officers have done alongside the local authority, we have had to fine establishments for breaching these regulations.

“We want to ensure that all premises understand that we are working in partnership with the council to track and gather appropriate evidence to issue fines and take further action where necessary.

"It has been a difficult year however these restrictions have been put in place to protect the health and welfare of our communities, and as such as we must all play our part in keeping to them to get through this pandemic."