The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations 2020
On 26 March the Secretary of State, the Welsh Ministers, and the Scottish Ministers introduced regulations respectively granting local authorities further powers to enforce business closures and restrictions on movements and public gatherings. These new regulations revoke and supersede their respective predecessors enacted on 21 March 2020, The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Business Closure) Regulations 2020.
The new regulations now categorise the UK as being in an “emergency period” from 26 March until further notice. The new regulations will be reviewed every 21 days and are intended to last no longer than is necessary to adequately tackle the threat of Coronavirus. Businesses selling food or drink for consumption on the premises as well as various sports and leisure facilities are among those instructed to close their venues while essential shops and utilities are permitted to remain open.
The new regulations also grant statutory powers to enforce the social distancing measures that have been announced by government over the past week. Persons leaving their homes must now have reasonable excuse to do so such as buying basic necessities, to exercise, to seek medical assistance, or to travel for work purposes where it is not possible to work from home. Public gatherings of more than two people are also now prohibited except where those individuals are members of the same household or in a limited number of other exceptions including where the gathering is essential for work purposes or the individuals are providing emergency assistance.
Constables and community support officers now have the power to issue prohibition notices to those contravening the new provisions or direct or transport those individuals’ home. Offending individuals may also face a fine and officers of body corporates will also be guilty of an offence where an individual commits an offence attributable to the consent or neglect of that body corporate.
Advice: Under the new regulations many businesses have no choice but to close their premises and send their employees home. Where employees are willing and able to work employers closing their premises will still be obliged to pay them irrespective of whether they can work from home or not. Homeworking is recommended where possible and our employment team are able to work with businesses to update working from home and data protection policies to suit the current realities. Where homeworking is not possible employers may consider using the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme but we would recommend contacting our employment team in advance to properly navigate the uncertainty and complexities surrounding this new scheme.
For further information please contact our employment team.
Claire Knowles - Partner
Mark Alaszewski – Associate
Rebecca Mahon - Solicitor
Adam McGlynn – Trainee Solicitor