A SOLICITORS firm linked to 18 cases of coronavirus has been closed down by Bolton Council.

Accident Injury Solicitors, in Blackburn Road, was served with directions by Environmental Health officers on Friday to close immediately.

The business will have to remain closed indefinitely until the council is satisfied improvements have been made.

New tighter restrictions were introduced in Bolton last week to curb the virus, as the town recorded the highest rate of new cases in the country.

AI Solicitors was shut down after family members related to employees working at the business raised concerns with the council about the company’s practices.

The family members alleged that the business was not informing staff of cases of Covid-19 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 (PHE) 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.

Both authorities felt due to the large number of cases linked with the firm, it had to close due to the imminent risk to public health.

Bolton Council’s executive cabinet member for environment regulatory services, Cllr 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.

“We are in indebted to members of the public for letting us know about these unsafe practices.

“I urge anyone who has concerns about their place of work, or any business, to let us know so we can investigate.

“This council takes a zero-tolerance approach to those flouting the Covid-19 rules.”

Dr Will Welfare from PHE North West added: “We are working closely with Bolton Council to provide expert public health advice and help stop the spread of the virus.

“We all have a part to play in preventing further transmission of the virus.

“Businesses should follow national government guidance, make sure they are Covid secure and keep their customers and employees safe.”

A joint taskforce between Bolton Council and Greater Manchester Police is also working together to make sure that businesses and individuals are complying with new regulations – on Friday, a barbers was closed down and four takeaways fined for flouting the rules.

Previously, a restaurant and vape shop have been closed down.

People can report concerns about businesses not complying to environmental.health@bolton.gov.uk.