North Yorkshire businesses warned against anti-lockdown 'Great Reopening' campaign this weekend
Businesses in North Yorkshire planning on taking part in an illegal anti-lockdown campaign dubbed 'The Great Reopening' have been warned they face £1,000 fines.
The illegal social media movement is urging non-essential businesses to defy lockdown rules by reopening their doors this Saturday in a nationwide act of civil disobedience.
It's unclear who is behind the movement and if any businesses will take part, but police and health officials have warned they will take "ultimate action" against those who do.
Richard Webb, corporate director of health and adult services at North Yorkshire County Council, said he hopes local businesses will ignore the campaign.
"There will be no Great Reopening," he told a North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum briefing on Wednesday.
"I thank businesses for everything they've been doing, but my plea to all businesses is to ignore this campaign.
"My warning to those who choose to take part in this campaign is that the enforcement authorities, police, trading standards, environmental health and others will have no choice but to take ultimate action against you.
"I would ask that you continue to act as you have been doing throughout this lockdown and before and that we fight together this deadly virus."
A Facebook page called The Great Reopening states: “Business owners, open your business.
"We must unite and stand together for our freedom.”
Under coronavirus regulations, non-essential businesses that open during lockdown face fixed penalties of £1,000 or fines of up to £10,000 in court. Prohibition notices may also be imposed.
A spokesperson for the National Police Chiefs’ Council said: “We are at the most dangerous stage of this pandemic and each of us has a personal responsibility to do everything we can to stop the spread of Coronavirus.
"We will not hesitate to issue fines to those deliberately breaching the regulations with no regard for the safety of others."
By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter