New emergency coronavirus regulations provide immediate powers to close hospitality, leisure and gambling premises

New emergency regulations providing coronavirus-related closure powers – The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Business Closure) (England) Regulations 2020 – came into effect at 2pm today (Saturday 21 March 2020). You can download the Regulations below.

The government’s Explanatory Note to the Regulations states as follows:

These Regulations require the closure of businesses selling food or drink for consumption on the premises, and businesses listed in the Schedule, to protect against the risks to public health arising from coronavirus. The closure lasts until a direction is given by the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State is required to keep the need for these restrictions under review every 28 days. No impact assessment has been prepared for these Regulations.

These Regulations (made under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984) therefore provide the power to enforce more immediate closure of the following categories of premises (within England) than was envisaged in our website posting of yesterday entitled “Government tells pubs, clubs, restaurants, casinos etc to close and announces further financial support”:

  1. Restaurants, including restaurants and dining rooms in hotels or members clubs.
  2. Cafes, 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;
    • services providing food or drink to the homeless.
  3. Bars, including bars in hotels or members’ clubs.
  4. Public houses.
  5. Cinemas.
  6. Theatres.
  7. Nightclubs.
  8. Bingo halls.
  9. Concert halls.
  10. Museums and galleries.
  11. Casinos.
  12. Betting shops.
  13. Spas.
  14. Massage parlours.
  15. Indoor skating rinks.
  16. Indoor fitness studios, gyms, swimming pools or other indoor leisure centres.

The regulations will expire on 21 September 2020 (i.e. at the end of six months after they have come into force).

Anyone who, without reasonable excuse, contravenes the requirement to close (contained in regulation 2) will commit an offence for which the penalty is an unlimited fine.

Similar provision in relation to the same types of premises in Wales has been made by The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Business Closure) (Wales) Regulations 2020.


1. In Scotland, where an additional licensing objective of “promoting and improving public health” applies, the Police were granted powers on 22 March 2020 to serve emergency closure orders (on the grounds of the threat posed to public safety) on any licensed premises that refuse to comply with the UK Government instruction to close. You can read the Police Scotland announcement to this effect on Twitter here.

2. On 22 March 2020, the government issued guidance entitled “Businesses and other venues subject to further social distancing measures” about implementation of the government’s requirement that the above-mentioned businesses and venues located in England and Wales close and not open for trade with effect from Saturday 21 March 2020. In addition, it issued a “Designation Letter” (also downloadable below) which designates relevant local authority officers and the police as those responsible for enforcing the above-mentioned Regulations.