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Public health regulations

New police powers


29 March 2021
Public health regulations

New Health Protection (Coronavirus, Wearing of Face Coverings in a Relevant Place and on Public Transport) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 were introduced on 27 August, amending both of the two above regulations. In addition to the restrictive powers introduced by the Coronavirus Act, new Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations have also been passed which give police wide-ranging powers to enforce social distancing and the closure of certain premises. Distinct regulations were made for England and Wales respectively. Following amendments to the different regulations, there is now a divergent situation in England and Wales. 

England

The original regulations for England can be found here.

They were amended four times: here, here, here, and here.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No. 2) (England) Regulations 2020 came into force on 4 July, and can be found here. They revoked the previous regulations. They were amended for mainly clarification purposes here. These regulations were amended here on the 10 July, allowing additional businesses to be opened. New amendments were introduced on 14 September which brought in the so-called 'Rule of Six' and can be found here. Further amendments came into force on 24 September, which require businesses serving food and drink to use table service and close by 10pm, as well as increading the FPN amounts. They can be found here

Additional amendments were made here on 27 August, relating to the restrictions on holding or being part of a gathering of more than 30 people and introducing a maximum fine of £10,000 for contravening either regulation 5A or 5B.

In mid-October, the local lockdown scheme was re-structured as a three tiered system, relating to different alert levels.

New regulations were introduced on 4 November, bringing in additional restrictions across England for a month. They can be read here

On December 2, new regulations introduced a slightly different three tiered system. They can be read here. An additional Tier 4 was added on December 20. The amendment introducing this can be read here. On January 6, the regulations were updated to tighten the restrictions under Tier 4, and bring all of England into Tier 4. They can be read here. On March 8, the regulations were amended to loosen the Tier 4 restrictions slightly as well as introduce specific rules relating to travelling outside the United Kingdom. They can be read here

Across England:

  • Clear definitions of what constitutes a linked household apply.
  • Certain businesses must remain closed
  • Schools and universities are closed. 


Tier 1 is linked to the Medium Alert level: 

  • Gatherings of more than six people either in private dwellings or public land are not permitted unless they represent either one household or one linked household. There are a number of exceptions for activities including sport, attending court and significant life events. However, for many of these exceptions, people must attend as part of a group that consists of less than six people, and cannot mingle outside of that group.
  • Certain gatherings can continue with a maximum of 30 people attending funerals and a maximum of 15 people attending weddings or other commemorative events.
  • Hospitality businesses such as cinemas, bars or restaurants must close by 11pm with final orders for food and drink to be taken by 10pm, and only provide table service for premises serving alcohol.
  • Public attendance at events should be only 50% capacity or 4,000 outdoors and 1,000 indoors (whichever is lower).
  • Organised sport or exercise can continue outdoors, and indoors if the rule of six is met.


Tier 2 is linked to the High Alert level: the relevant regulations can be read here.

  • People are unable to socialise outside of their household or linked household in an indoor setting with some exceptions.
  • The rule of six applies to socialising oudoors.
  • Certain gatherings can continue with a maximum of 30 people attending funerals and a maximum of 15 people attending weddings or other commemorative events.
  • Hospitality businesses such as cinemas, bars or restaurants must close by 11pm with final orders for food and drink to be taken by 10pm, and only provide table service for premises serving alcohol, with restrictions on serving alcohol only with a main meal.
  • Public attendance at events should be only 50% capacity or 2,000 outdoors and 1,000 indoors (whichever is lower).
  • Organised sport or exercise can continue outdoors but is only permitted indoors if there is no mixing between households.


Tier 3 is linked to the Very High Alert level: the relevant regulations can be read here

  • People are unable to socialise outside of their household or linked household in an indoor or most outdoor settings with some exceptions.
  • The rule of six applies to meeting people at outdoor settings where you are able to mix outside of your household or linked household.
  • Certain gatherings can continue with a maximum of 30 people attending funerals and a maximum of 15 people attending weddings or other commemorative events.
  • Businesses that serve food and drink are to close for anything other than take-away or delivery services.
  • Accommodation such as hotels or B&Bs must close except for certain emergency situations.
  • Indoor entertainment venues must close.
  • There should be no public attendance at events. 
  • Organised sport or exercise can continue outdoors but is only permitted indoors if there is no mixing between households or group classes.


Tier 4 

  • People are not allowed to leave their home without a reasonable excuse which can include for recreational purposes
  • People cannot gather indoors or most outdoor settings with anyone outside their household or linked household with a few exceptions.
  • You can only meet one other person at certain public outdoor spaces, so that no more than two people can be together unless in a household or linked household.
  • You cannot attend or hold gatherings except for specific reasons including education, providing care or health services, certain work or voluntary responsibilities, legal obligations (including attending legal hearings) and communal worship.
  • There should be a maximum of 6 people attending weddings, and a maximum of 30 people attending funerals. 
  • Businesses that serve food and drink are to close.
  • Accommodation such as hotels or B&Bs must close except for certain emergency situations. 
  • Indoor entertainment venues must close.
  • There should be no public attendance at events.
  • Organised sport or excercise can only go ahead in very limited circumstances, including elite sport and where it involves certain vulnerable groups. 

 

New regulations were published on 29 March which introduced a step approach to restrictions, it can be read here. They reduced existing restrictions so that people may now meet outside in a group of up to six people, or two households.

There are also new Health Protection (Coronavirus, Wearing of Face Coverings on Public Transport) (England) Regulations 2020 for England only which require people to wear a face covering on public transport: here

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Wearing of Face Coverings in a Relevant Place) (England) Regulations 2020 were introduced on 24 July, which require people to wear a face covering in shops and at any transport hubs. They can be read here. They were amended here on 8 August, widening the number of places where a face gathering must be worn to include community centres, cinemas and public areas in hotels.They were amended again here on 21 August, changing certain exemptions.  They were amended again on 24 September here, to include public houses.

For both sets of regulations, there are a number of exceptions to the requirement, and certain reasonable excuses are also listed for when somebody does not have to wear a face covering. This includes if there is a medical reason for them not to, if it would cause severe distress or if they are accompanying someone who relies on lip-reading.

The regulations can be enforced, and if people refuse to comply with a direction to put on a face covering or to leave the area where one is required, they may be guilty of an offence and a Fixed Penalty Notice may be given.

New Health Protection (Coronavirus, Wearing of Face Coverings in a Relevant Place and on Public Transport) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 were introduced here on 27 August, amending both of the two above regulations. They increase the FPNs that can be given, if somebody has already been given a FPN for not wearing a face covering. These were amended on 24 September here, to amend the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Wearing of Face Coverings in a Relevant Place) (England) Regulations 2020 to remove staff who are working at a public-facing business from being exempt from wearing a face covering.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions)(England)(No.3) Regulations 2020 were introduced on 17 July, and can be found here. They give local authorities powers to close down specific premises and events, as well as restricting public access to certain outdoor spaces. The Secretary of State must be notified by any local authorities using these powers. Certain individuals linked to the premises, events, and outdoor spaces may appeal decisions in magistrates' court. Local authority designated officers or police officers can enforce these regulations, and Fixed Penalty Notices can be issues if people refuse to comply with directions to enforce decisions by local authorities.  

New regulations were introduced on 28 September covering the requirement for self-isolation, and can be found here. Individuals who have tested positive for Covid-19, or been in contact with someone who has tested positive, must self-isolate for a set period. 

Regulations were also introduced requiring businesses to collect details of those on their premises, which can be found here

Failure to comply with either of these regulations can lead to a FPN of £1,000 (£500 if paid within 14 days) for the first incident, £2,000 for a second notice, £4,000 for a third notice and £10,000 for a third notice.

Wales

The relevant original regulations for Wales can be found here

They have been amended six times: here, here, here, here, here and here.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 2) (Wales) Regulations 2020 came into force on 13 July, and can be found here. They revoked the previous regulations. They have been amended four times, herehere, here,and here

Following local lockdowns, on 23 October introduced a national "firebreak" lockdown across Wales until 9 November. The regulations can be read here.

  • people must stay at home, except for very limited purposes including
    • To obtain or provide medical assistance or other care
    • For work or provision of voluntary services 
    • To donate blood
    • To attend a funeral in certain circumstances
    • To fulfil a legal obligation such as attending court
    • To carry out various activities associated with moving house
    • To avoid injury or escape a risk of harm
    • To provide care or assistance to vulnerable people
  • people must not visit other households or meet other people they do not live with
  • certain businesses and venues, including bars, restaurants and most shops must close
  • secondary schools can provide learning online only for the week after half-term, other than for children in years seven and eight. Primary schools and childcare settings can remain open.
  • face coverings continue to be mandatory in the indoor public spaces that remain open (subject to certain exemptions and exceptions), including on public transport and in taxis


New regulations came into force on 9 November. They can be read here

  • There are restrictions on gatherings in private dwellings and outdoors unless they only involve a household or extended household. Gatherings outdoors are also restricted to no more than four people (excluding children). Reasonable excuses include:
    • accessing medical assistance
    • accessing educational services
    • meeting a legal obligation
    • accessing child care
    • continuing child arrangements between households
  • There are restictions on people organising gatherings of more than 15 people indoors and 30 people outdoors, with a few exceptions including showing films, markets, religious services or sporting events involving elite athletes.
  • There are restrictions on travel into and out of Wales.
  • There are requirements to self-isolate if someone has been in contact with someone else who has tested positive for coronavirus, with some exceptions including seeking medical assistance or meeting a legal obligation, if it is not possible to do so without leaving home. 
  • Certain businesses must remain closed.
  • Face coverings must be worn on public transport and certain indoor public places, although reasonable excuses are listed. 


New regulations were brought in on 18 December, setting out four alert levels. They can be read here. All of Wales was categorised as being in Alert Level 4 from 20 December. The rules relating to this can be read here

  • People must stay home and should not travel outside of the area they live without a reasonable excuse.
  • People must not visit other households or meet with people they do not live with 
  • Most premises are required to close.

Enforcement

In both jurisdictions, existing arrangements for shared parenting can continue, including transporting children between households. 

The police [as well as anyone designated by the local authority or Secretary of State in England] are empowered to enforce the regulations by making certain directions, and they may use reasonable force to remove someone from a gathering, if necessary. If children or young people under the age of 18 are not complying with requirements or police direction, those with parental responsibility are expected to make sure they comply.

The regulations also state that any failure to comply with requirements relating to closing businesses, travel restrictions, public gatherings or to follow police directions is a possible criminal offence. Police are able to issue a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) to anyone over the age of 18 years who they believe has committed an offence under these regulations.

In England, the first FPN is for £200 (£50 if paid within 14 days), but a second FPN issued to the same person should be £400 and any further notices can be for double the amount of the previous one, up to a maximum of £6400 for a sixth or any subsequent FPNs.

In Wales, the first FPN is for £60 (£30 if paid within 14 days), but any further FPNs issued to the same person should be £120.

The Justices Clerks Society have provided detailed information on all coronavirus related offences: the most recent version was published in December 2020 and can be accessed here.

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