The government is once again using s.45C of the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 to impose distancing measures. By The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Business Closure) (England) Regulations 2020, the Government has ordered the closure of restaurants, cafes bars theatres etc with effect from 2.00 p.m. on 21st March 2020. (See list below) and a person who is responsible for carrying on a business which is listed in Part 1 of the Schedule must close any premises, or part of the premises, in which food or drink are sold for consumption on those premises, and cease selling food or drink for consumption on its premises during the relevant period of restrictions and if the business is a take-away (i.e. sells food or drink for consumption off the premises), it must cease selling food or drink for consumption on its premises during the relevant period.
PART 1 prevents the consumption of food on the premises but allows takeaways as long as food cannot be eaten on the premises at
a) Restaurants ( including restaurants and dining rooms in hotels or members clubs),
b) Cafes and Canteens including workplace canteens, (but not including cafes or canteens at a hospital, care home or school, canteens at a prison or an establishment intended for use for naval, military or air force purposes or for the purposes of the Department of the Secretary of State responsible for defence or services providing food or drink to the homeless)
c) Bars, including bars in hotels or members’ clubs and
d) Public houses.
(Note: food or drink sold by a hotel or other accommodation as part of room service is not to be treated as being sold for consumption on its premises and is considered to be a take-away).
PART 2 requires the immediate closure of Cinemas, Theatres, Nightclubs, Bingo halls, Concert halls, Museums and galleries, Casinos, Betting shops, Spas, Massage parlours, Indoor skating rinks, Indoor fitness studios, gyms, swimming pools or other indoor leisure centres.
An offence under these Regulations is punishable on summary conviction by a fine and the offence under paragraph (1) if committed by a body corporate is also considered to have been committed by its relevant officers if committed with the consent or connivance of that officer of the body, or to be attributable to any neglect on the part of such officer,
A person, designated by the Secretary of State, may take such action as is necessary to enforce a closure or compliance with the restrictions. (See also The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Business Closure) (Wales) Regulations 2020).
The Health Protection (Coronavirus: Closure of Leisure Businesses, Footpaths and Access Land) (Wales) Regulations 2020 which have required the closure of holiday sites, camping sites, amusement arcades and indoor play centres, and further seek to close footpaths crowded with persons who unwisely decamped to Wales for the period of the epidemic. As is becoming clear, the Government is placing heavy reliance in its legislative management of this crisis on s.45C of the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984. I predict that these provisions will be used for the regulations to enforce the so-called “lockdown”. Persons who carry on these businesses are responsible for closing them and as with The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Business Closure) (England) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/327), there is provision dealing with hybrid businesses and corporate offences. There is further provision relating to the closure of holiday sites. A person responsible for running such a site must use their best endeavours to require any person using a mobile home or caravan on the site when the premises is closed to vacate the premises: regulation 3(1). This does not apply to any person using a mobile home on the holiday site for human habitation under an agreement made under Part 4 of the Mobile Homes (Wales) Act 2013. Regulation 4(1) require footpaths to be closed by noon on 25 March 2020 if a relevant authority considers to be liable to large numbers of people congregating or being in close proximity to each other, or the use of which otherwise poses a high risk to the incidence or spread of infection in its area with the coronavirus.
It is an offence to contravene regulation 2 without reasonable cause, and obstructing without reasonable cause any person carrying out a function under the Regulations commits an offence.
As with the Business Closure regulations, enforcement and prosecution is by persons designated by the Secretary of State.
The Regulations have a 6 month sunset clause. We all hope that by then the sun may be setting on the worse of this virus.