LOCAL stores and shoppers have been warned after a Covid crackdown found businesses and people breaching lockdown.

Five shops in Sandwell were caught staying open illegally in a joint council and police enfoprcement operation, while shoppers who were not wearing masks were given warnings and illegal gatherings of people were broken up.

The five non-essential stores have now all shut and agreed to stick to the rules after being told they must close or be fined.

Sandwell Council say of the five businesses found breaking the law, two were market stalls, and the others were sports, home furnishings and photography shops.

Of the two stalls, one was selling non-essential items and one was trading without a licence.

Nearly 100 shops across the Sandwell Council area were visited last week by council officials and Police.

The five illegal ones were all in West Bromwich

Businesses which were open legally were given advice on how to operate safely and lawfully under the latest coronavirus legislation.

Shoppers were also warned when not wearing face coverings in shops and enclosed spaces where they are required to by law. People were also reminded they shouldn't gather in groups and should only mix with those they live with or are in a support bubble with. Those in breach of the rules were either asked to leave shops or disperse from groups.

Councillor Maria Crompton, Sandwell Council's Deputy Leader said: "The joint operation was very successful.

"It is heartening to know the vast majority of people and businesses in Sandwell are adhering to the national restrictions.

"I want to issue a reminder to those who are not complying with the government restrictions - this is a criminal offence and could result in a fine.

The latest lockdown restrictions are in force until Wednesday December 2.

They include:

• Residents must not leave or be outside their homes except for specific reasons.

• Wash hands (regularly); Cover face (in enclosed spaces); Make space (stay 2 metres apart – or 1 metre with a face covering).

• People should not meet with people they do not live with and should not have visitors except for essential carers and those in their support bubble.

• Businesses which are permitted to remain open must ensure they continue to follow the appropriate Covid-19 secure guidance for their sector.