Trading standards in Harrow and Brent issued fines totalling thousands of pounds for Covid-19 rule breaches last year.

The department’s annual report for 2020/21 showed 43 prohibition notices and 15 fixed penalty notices were issued to business across both boroughs, resulting in around £14,500 in fines.

Anu Prashar, senior regulatory services manager at Brent and Harrow Trading Standards, said the year was “dominated by Covid”, with teams tasked with enforcing almost 40 new pieces of legislation.

As well as enforcement action that led to financial punishments, the report noted more than 13,000 businesses in the region were checked in person, with roughly a further 3,000 advised verbally or in writing.

“There have been rapid changes and issuing of new legislation, some of which with relatively short notice that officers had to get to grips with interpreting, enforcing, and training,” it stated.

“The trading standards service continues to be at the forefront in providing rapid and very responsive solutions to the interpretation and implementation of the various legislative changes imposed on the nation and the regional tiers, as we have progressed through dealing with the pandemic.”

Alongside the advice and enforcement programme related to the impact of Covid, Ms Prashar explained trading standards worked to help tackle the spread of unsafe face masks and hand sanitiser.

According to the report, one million counterfeit ‘filtering’ face masks were removed from the UK market last year, more than 300,000 inadequate masks were destroyed, and 500,000 medical grade masks were relabelled following an investigation.

Furthermore, the Brent and Harrow branch intervened in the importation of more than 150,000 hand sanitisers due to incorrect labelling or misleading statements about their antibacterial qualities.