On 26 March 2020, the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 came into force, imposing restrictions on people’s movements and gatherings, and requiring the closure of certain retail and public premises, in the interest of public health in light of the coronavirus pandemic. A review of these regulations must take place at least every 28 days to ensure the restrictions remain necessary. Those regulations are now referred to as the No.2 regulations, given amendments made. They were last amended on Thursday 24 September 2020. Separately, BEIS’ regulations: the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Obligations of Hospitality Undertakings) (England) Regulations 2020 came into force on Saturday 18 September, where hospitality sector business had placed on them obligations which had previously only featured in HMG guidance.
Taking into account scientific advice, and taking into consideration the Government’s assessment, we now require further amendments to the regulations to give effect to changes as announced by the Prime Minister on 23 September 2020 to take effect at midnight on Sunday evening-Monday morning 28 September 2020.
The changes coming into effect are:
That where relevant premises are identified by the Health Protection (coronavirus, wearing of face coverings in a relevant place) (England) regulations 2020, that businesses will have to display signage or use other means to remind people of their legal obligation to wear face coverings;
That in cafés, restaurants, bars and public houses, that singing, dancing and loud music are not permitted, save for specific exceptions being permitted;
That provisions which were included in BEIS original coronavirus regulations regarding respecting the rule of six in relation to taking bookings, admitting parties or allowing mingling of groups, this has been extended beyond hospitality as it was originally drafted, to mirror the scope of the Health Protection (coronavirus, collection of contact details etc and related requirements) regulations 2020.
These regulations should come into force after midnight on 28 September 2020. The hope was to have laid before Parliament on 25 September 2020 but we were timed out as Parliament rose at 15:00hrs.
These regulations follow the made affirmative procedure. These changes are being made under the emergency procedure, approved by Parliament, because it is necessary for Government to respond quickly to the reduced rate of transmission and our assessment of the current situation. While any restrictions and requirements imposed by law place a significant burden on business, the rising R number in England, and other more restrictive measures elsewhere, mean that it is incumbent on Government to act swiftly to prevent more onerous restrictions or closures being required.
The provisions outlined in these new regulations are necessary to prevent, protect against, control or provide a public health response to the incidence or spread of infection in England with the coronavirus. These additional restrictions offer an opportunity for businesses to operate with restrictions, rather than close. These amendments have been prepared urgently. In order to provide urgent clarity and certainty to the public and businesses of the changes being made and what activity is and is not allowed, I have decided that it is necessary for these regulations to come into force on 28 September 2020 and to then be laid before Parliament forthwith.
Under section 45R of the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984, the relevant instrument may be made without a draft having been laid and approved by Parliament if it contains a declaration that the person making it is of the opinion that, by reason of urgency, it is necessary to make it without a draft being so laid and approved.
I have included such a declaration in these amending regulations.
I hope you understand why we proceeded in this way, and stand ready, as ever, to answer any questions you may have.
Publicly available Government guidance on www.gov.uk is being updated to ensure it fully corresponds with the amended regulations. These remain strict measures, but they are measures that we must take in order to protect our NHS and to save lives.