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”:
- Restaurants, including restaurants and dining rooms in hotels or members clubs.
- 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.
- Bars, including bars in hotels or members’ clubs.
- Public houses.
- Bingo halls.
- Concert halls.
- Museums and galleries.
- Betting shops.
- Massage parlours.
- Indoor skating rinks.
- 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.
3. On 26 March 2020, the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 came into force, amongst other things requiring (by means of similar wording to that contained in the above-mentioned Health Protection (Coronavirus, Business Closure) (England) Regulations 2020) the closure of specified businesses in which food and drink are sold for consumption on its premises (though allowing for selling of the same to be consumed off premises).
4. On 20 May 2020, The Pendulum in Wolverhampton became the first pub to have its premises licence revoked in summary proceedings brought by West Midlands Police for breaking the coronavirus lockdown provisions within the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020. The agenda papers of the City of Wolverhampton Council relating to the summary review proceedings can be viewed here. A report of the case published by the Institute of Licensing (that can be viewed here) states that:
- At the full review hearing, the police argued that full revocation of the licence was an appropriate and proportionate step in order to promote the licensing objectives given: (1) the seriousness of the breaches in a time of national emergency; and (2) the importance of deterring other operators who may be tempted to open up in defiance of the lockdown regulations (citing R (Bassetlaw District Council) v Worksop Magistrates’ Court  EWHC 3530 (Admin) (at paragraph 32) and East Lindsey District Council v Abu Hanif  EWHC 1265 (Admin).
- Wolverhampton’s licensing sub-committee determined to revoke the premises licence and impose an interim suspension pending any appeal by the operator.
- This case is an important early example of the use of summary reviews as a robust response to the small minority of irresponsible operators tempted to open up in defiance of the lockdown provisions.