The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Business Closure) (England) Regulations 2020, providing coronavirus closure powers have been published over the weekend and came into force immediately from 2pm on Saturday 21 March 2020.
The regulations were made under Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984.They provide a criminal sanction (unlimited fine) and enforcement powers to ensure the closure of bars, pubs, restaurants, nightclubs, theatres, cinemas, gyms, museums, spas, massage parlours, bingo, concert halls, casinos, betting shops, indoor skating rinks and swimming pools and leisure centres. Exclusions include food and drink take-aways, cafes in hospitals, schools, prisons, supplies to homeless, hotel room-service (see regs for full details).A person designated by Secretary of State may take such action as is necessary to enforce closure. (Await clarification of who is a designated person).
Gary Grant, Vice-Chairman of the Institute commented : “The Government is acting with break-neck speed to provide the legal powers that give teeth to the Prime Minister’s announcement on Friday 20 March that all pubs bars, restaurants, and other specified premises, must close down in an effort to suppress the coronavirus outbreak. We wait to hear whether local authority officers will be designated as enforcement officers in addition to the police.”
The Government has produced guidance for businesses and other venues subject to the social distancing measures.