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The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Business Closure) (England) Regulations 2020

These emergency regulations came into force on at 2.00pm on Saturday 21st March. They make it an offence not to comply and give designated officers…

Executive summary

These emergency regulations came into force on at 2.00pm on Saturday 21st March, will be reviewed by the Secretary of State every 28 days and expire after six months. They close premises selling food and drink for consumption on the premises (not takeaways) and premises such as cinemas and theatres (where there are mass gathering). They make it an offence not to comply and give designated officers the right to take necessary actions to enforce the power.

The regulations

Businesses to cease selling food and drink on premises - the following must either close or cease selling food and drink on the premises:- restaurants (including hotel and club restaurants), cafes (including work canteens but not those in hospitals, care homes or schools, prisons or those used by the armed forces or providing services to the homeless), bars (including bars in hotels and clubs) and public houses.

Other businesses to close - the following businesses which attract a large number of persons must cease (i.e. close):- cinemas, theatres, nightclubs, bingo halls, concert halls, museums and galleries, casinos, betting shops, spas, (curiously) massage parlours, indoor skating rinks and indoor fitness studios, gyms, swimming pools and other leisure centres.

If any of the above form part of a business that part must close.

People responsible - the owner, proprietor and manager are responsible for the business and must comply with the above directions.

Enforcement – (a) It is an offence not to comply (without reasonable excuse) with the above (b) It is an offence to obstruct without reasonable excuse anyone carrying out a function under the regulations (c) A person designated by the Secretary of State can take any necessary steps to enforce closure. By designation dated 22.03.20 All police constables are designated to take such action as is necessary to enforce a closure or restriction imposed by the Business Closure Regulations. An officer appointed by a local authority to enforce is also designated to take such action as is necessary. All local authorities and police forces are designated to bring proceedings for any offence under the Business Closure Regulations.

Duration - The regulations will last as long as they are necessary for public health, must be reviewed every 28 days and expire after six months.

Practical tips

  1. It is an offence so if the arrest is necessary police officers have a power of arrest.
  2. Your PACE powers of entrance, search and retention of evidence will be available.
  3. Remember the obstruction offence too. The regulations don’t say who the people are who carry out functions under the regulations but it is clearly any public officer who has a responsibility to ensure compliance.
  4. Who to arrest – the people responsible: the owner, proprietor or manager or in the case of a company the officer who committed, allowed or through neglect is responsible for the breach.
  5. When it comes to enforcement ‘necessary’ steps is a wider power than ‘reasonable.’There seem to have been some blatant breaches – any committed after 2pm on Saturday the 21st can lead to arrest and prosecution.

If this update raises any issues for you, or you would like to discuss further, please liaise with your usual contact in the Weightmans Police team or speak to John Riddell at john.riddell@weightmans.com.

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