Second wave of coronavirus results in imposition of fresh restrictions

The Prime Minister has today (22 September 2020) made a statement on coronavirus to the House of Commons (that you can download below), in which he announced new measures within England to address the fast-increasing speed of the second wave of infection, adding that the devolved administrations will be taking similar steps.

Measures intended to slow down that speed include the following:

  1. Office workers who can work from home should do so; in key public services – and in all professions where home-working is not possible, such as construction or retail – people should continue to attend their workplaces.
  2. The following will apply from Thursday 24 September 2020:
    • Table service only (meaning that food and drink must be ordered from, and served at, a table) at pubs, bars, restaurants and other licensed premises (but not at (a) takeaways or (b) fast food/food-to-go outlets without a premises licence to sell alcohol)
    • All hospitality businesses must close at 10pm (and not re-open before 5am); this includes takeaways although deliveries can take place thereafter
    • The requirement to wear face coverings will apply to staff and customers in indoor hospitality (except, in the case of customers, when they are seated at a table to eat or drink), although those already exempt from existing face covering obligations will continue to remain exempt
    • Businesses will need to display the official NHS QR code posters so that customers can ‘check-in’ as an alternative to providing their contact details once the app is rolled out nationally
  3. Mandatory face coverings will also apply to staff in retail (from Thursday 24 September) and all users of taxis and private hire vehicles (from Wednesday 23 September).
  4. Retail, leisure and tourism COVID-19 safe guidelines will become legal obligations; businesses could be fined and closed if they breach the rules.
  5. With effect from Monday 28 September 2020, the ‘Rule of 6’ will be tightened up in the following respects:
    • A maximum of 15 people will be permitted to attend wedding ceremonies and receptions; up to 30 will still be able to attend funerals
    • The ‘Rule of 6’ will be extended to all adult indoor team sports
    • The penalty for not wearing face covering or for breaching the ‘Rule of 6’ will be doubled to £200 for the first offence
    • Businesses must remind people to wear face coverings where this is mandated
    • Employers must not knowingly require or encourage someone who is being required to self-isolate to come to work
    • A maximum £10,000 fine will be introduced for businesses that breach the rules
  6. There will be no re-opening of business conferences, exhibition halls and large sporting events on 1 October 2020 as had been hoped.
  7. Greater funding (£60million initially) will be provided for police and local authorities to enforce the rules (with the option to draw on military support where required to free up the police)

The Prime Minister made it clear that the Government reserves the right to impose “significantly greater restrictions … if necessary”, adding that “unless we palpably make progress, we should assume that the restrictions I have announced will remain in place for perhaps six months”.

You can download below the following government publications (where necessary, updated as at 22 September 2020):

This latest announcement has resulted in the following immediate reactions:

1. UKHospitality has called on the Government to deliver a package of support for hospitality, its Chief Executive Kate Nicholls stating as follows:

These restrictions are a further, potentially fatal, blow for many hospitality businesses. In isolation, they may appear moderate, but the cumulative effect is going to be hugely damaging. Consumer confidence is going to take another hit and we cannot hope to recover while confidence remains low.

The shift back towards working from home is going to hit city centre hospitality very hard. These businesses have already lagged behind as office workers and tourists have stayed away and they are going to take another battering.

Most disheartening is the announcement that they are potentially in place for six months. Lots of businesses will not survive this and we are going to see more and more people lose their jobs unless we have the support to counterbalance these restrictions.

The Government must immediately announce an exhaustive package of financial support, otherwise our sector is facing ruin. Employment support must be extended. The furlough scheme is already wining down and it comes to a complete halt at the end of October. Unless it is extended for our sector, businesses are inevitably going to have to make staff redundant. We are looking at a steady stream of job losses for six months, otherwise.

We also must have longer-term support to enable businesses to rebuild in 2021. The VAT cut for the sector must be extended as must the business rates holiday. We also need a rent-debt settlement package, otherwise whole businesses are going to go under with widespread redundancies.

2. Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer and Pubs Association, has stated:

As an industry we recognise the need to continue to support the Government and local communities to manage the risk of rising infection rates.

We take our responsibilities in helping to curb the spread of COVID-19 incredibly seriously and pubs have adapted well to the “new normal” over the past few months and will continue to do so, creating safe environments for socialising. A curfew is particularly heart-breaking for those pubs in areas where infection rates remain under control. There seems to be little available evidence that pubs, with their strict adherence to Government guidelines, are unsafe, so we are unsure that this blanket measure will make a major difference.

Make no mistake, a 10pm curfew will devastate our sector during an already challenging environment for pubs. Pubs were struggling to break even before today and these latest restrictions will push some to breaking point. Removing a key trading hour on top of fragile consumer confidence and the reduced capacity pubs already face will put thousands more pubs and jobs at risk.

During the current circumstances every hour of trading it crucial to the survival of pubs – for many this curfew will render their businesses unviable. The Government now needs to act fast in putting together a comprehensive support package to ensure that thousands of pubs don’t close their doors for good because of this curfew. We need an immediate sector specific furlough scheme to save the hundreds of thousands of jobs that pubs support, extended VAT cuts and business rates holiday and a substantial cut to the rate of beer duty in the Autumn Budget. Only a comprehensive support package like this will save thousands of pubs and many more pub jobs.

3. As reported in PoliticsHome, the All-Part Parliamentary Group for Beer has written to coronavirus testing chief Dido Harding, asking her to provide the evidence behind the new 10pm pub curfew and the decision to only allow table service, and Toby Perkins MP, who chairs the separate APPG for pubs, has called on the government to release more information on how they made their decision, stating:

There are a lot of pubs that have gone to tremendous efforts to be socially distancing and safe places. I’d be interested to see the evidence for this. Has the government picked up from actual evidence that people were being careful at the start of the night but less as the drinks flowed? The department for health has the data in terms of track and trace and if this decision has come from that then that would be interesting but it’s really a case of them telling us on what basis the decision has been made, then we can scrutinise.

4. On behalf of the Betting & Gaming Council (that had yesterday made clear that London’s casinos were offering to close their bars if plans for a Covid-19 curfew in the capital was to go ahead), its CEO Michael Dugher has said:

Boris Johnson may well have signalled the death knell for the casino industry by including them in the list of venues which will be forced to close their doors at 10pm.

He has taken this decision despite the sector offering to close its bars and restaurants inside casinos at 10pm and despite the fact the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport argued that casinos – which do up to 70 per cent of their trade after 10pm – should be exempt from these restrictions.

In his statement, the Prime Minister said ‘we will ensure that businesses can stay open in a Covid-compliant way’. But his own public health officials saw for themselves the sophisticated anti-Covid measures which casinos have put in place – and then gave them the go-ahead to re-open just last month because they are Covid-safe.It is now absolutely vital that the Government throws the industry a lifeline by putting in place an urgent economic package to alleviate the damage that this decision will cause. That must include an extension to the furlough scheme beyond 31 October, while there is also merit in Labour’s calls for a £1.7bn ‘High Street fightback fund’ to help those businesses affected by the curfew.

The 10pm curfew will slash casino incomes by up to 75 per cent and likely lead to half their workforce – some 7,000 people – being made redundant.

Without immediate and substantial financial help from the Government, perfectly viable casinos – which between them paid £1.3bn in tax to the Treasury in the last three years – will simply go to the wall. How does the Prime Minister hope to power an economic recovery if he’s sat back and allowed whole industries to go to the wall?


1. You can read here the Institute of Licensing summary regarding the new restrictions introduced in each of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

2. You can access via the below links:

  • The updated government guidance “Closing certain businesses and venues in England” (that can also be downloaded below) confirming that, amongst other things:
    • nightclubs, dance halls, and discotheques and sexual entertainment venues and hostess bars remain “closed in law” and
    • all indoor and outdoor hospitality including, cafes, bars, pubs, and restaurants, must close from between the hours of 10pm and 5am, although “they may continue to operate a delivery and drive-thru service. Cafes and restaurants in motorway service stations are exempt from the early closing requirement”.
  • The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Wearing of Face Coverings in a Relevant Place and on Public Transport) (England) (Amendment) (No. 3) Regulations 2020, that came into force on 24 September 2020 and:
    • include theatres, restaurants, bars and public houses in the scope of the “relevant places” where members of the public are required to wear face coverings, except for in some limited cases such as when it is reasonably necessary for a person to remove their face covering to eat or drink;
    • require employees and other persons providing services in certain “relevant places”, including in shops, cafes, restaurants, bars and public houses to wear face coverings when they are in close proximity to members of the public unless they are exempt or have a reasonable excuse.
  • The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No. 2) (England) (Amendment) (No. 5) Regulations 2020 that make changes to give effect to the above-mentioned restrictions announced by the Prime Minister on 22 September 2020 (including the restriction providing that “a person responsible for carrying on a restricted business or providing a restricted service… must not carry on that business or provide that service during the emergency period between the hours of 22:00hrs and 05:00hrs”), and come into force at 10pm on 24 September 2020 (with the exception of the provisions relating to weddings, wedding receptions, funerals and significant event gatherings, that come into force on 28 September 2020)
  • The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Self-Isolation) (England) Regulations 2020, that came into force on 28 September 2020 and Regulation 4 of which amends the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Collection of Contact Details etc and Related Requirements) Regulations 2020
  •  The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Obligations of Undertakings) (England) Regulations 2020 , that came into force on 28 September 2020. Amongst other things, these regulations:
    • require “a person responsible for carrying on a business of a public house, cafe, restaurant or bar (including a bar in a hotel or members’ club) during the emergency period” to:
      • “take all reasonable measures to stop:
        • singing on the premises by customers in groups of more than six; or
        • dancing on the premises by customers” (although this is non-applicable at a wedding or civil partnership ceremony or reception by the couple to whom the ceremony relates); and
      • “ensure that no music is played on the premises which exceeds 85db(A) when measured at the source of the music” (although this is non-applicable to any performance of live music);
    • require the display of a notice at the relevant area of premises (i.e. where a person is required to wear a face covering) informing persons on those premises of the requirement to wear a face covering; and
    • prohibit a person responsible for carrying on a business at such a relevant area from preventing, or seeking to prevent, a person on the premises who is subject to the requirement to wear a face covering from doing so (in relation to which an offence is created, punishable by way of a fine of a fixed penalty of up to £10,000).
  • A helpful article by licensing barrister Charles Holland and Peter Rogers (Managing Director, Sustainable Acoustics Ltd), setting out the legislative background to the above-mentioned 85db(A) music level requirement and reviewing its effectiveness and enforceability in terms of an acoustic test, is accessible on the Institute of Licensing website here.