The Mustard Seed bookshop and tearoom in Nottinghamshire has been ordered to close its doors under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act.
The closure order was served by Nottinghamshire Police following a visit from council officers to the premises where, according to Gedling Borough Council, it appeared the business was open and had people inside, despite a prohibition order issued last Tuesday that stated the Mustard Seed could only operate as a takeaway.
Four fixed penalty notices, totalling £17,000 had already been issued to Christian owner, Chris Stala, for a failure to abide by regulations during the second lockdown from 5th November.
In an interview with Premier, Ms Stala, who believes the pandemic is exaggerated, cited her Christian faith, the Magna Carta and common law as grounds for staying open.
She said she had hoped to remain open as a community hub to help those with mental health problems, but wouldn't be trading.
On Friday, Gedling Borough Council’s legal team was granted a closure order from Mansfield Magistrates’ Court.
The order required the business to close with immediate effect. Failure to do so can result in imprisonment, a fine or both. Anyone found entering the premises could also face a fine or imprisonment.
In a statement, leader of Gedling Borough Council, Councillor John Clarke said:
"Following repeated breaches of the notices we served on the Mustard Seed, which clearly stated that they need to follow the guidance and regulations during lockdown, we have no option but to close it down. We have given the owner several chances to do the right thing and they’ve made the decision to ignore our message. Things are now so serious that they risk imprisonment, which nobody wants to see.
"Our priority has always been to protect our residents and to support the many businesses that have been affected so badly by this pandemic yet are following the rules. It is clear, that the owner believes that they do not need to adhere to the government guidelines and we are now in this position. We would urge people not to visit the premises, it is closed and we will be monitoring it closely."
In a statement, Inspector Chris Pearson of Nottinghamshire Police, added:
"We all need to play our part to help stop the spread of Coronavirus and keep our local communities safe. This closure order shows that no-one is above the law when it comes to that and, working with our partners, we will not hesitate to take action against businesses which persistently flout the regulations set by the Government, putting lives at risk and increasing the risk of the virus spreading.
"We all have an incredibly important responsibility to adhere to the rules to prevent the spread of this deadly disease."
Premier has contacted Chris Stala for comment.