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Coronavirus emergency restrictions on business and movement of people

Subject: Coronavirus emergency legislation


The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 (2020 No. 350) came into at 1.00 p.m. on 26th March 2020. They replace the first set of the Covid-19) pandemic regulations (the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Business Closure) (England) Regulations 2020) which required the closure of food and drink establishments.

In summary, the Regulations impose the following restrictions on businesses in England during the emergency period:

*             Food and drink businesses where there is consumption on premises must be closed. Businesses included are restaurants, cafes including workplace canteens, bars including bars in hotels and members’ clubs and public houses. There are some exceptions for cafes and canteens at hospitals, care homes, schools and some workplaces.

*             Entertainment, sports and other leisure businesses and venues must remain closed. Included are entertainment and sports venues such as cinemas, theatres, concert halls, museums, gyms, swimming pools, playgrounds, hairdressers/barbers, beauty salons, nightclubs, museums, outdoor markets (except for stalls selling food), car showrooms and Auction Houses. There are exceptions for some premises to broadcast a performance and for blood donation sessions.

*             Shops offering goods for sale or hire or providing library services must close (except for certain businesses deemed essential). Making deliveries or  providing services in response to orders received online, by telephone/text or by post is permitted as is provision of hot or cold food for consumption off the premises.

*             Businesses deemed essential are free from the above restrictions of operation. These businesses include food retailers and markets, licensed shops selling alcohol, pharmacies and chemists, newsagents, building supplies and hardware stores, petrol stations, car repair and MOT services, bicycle shops, taxi or vehicle hire businesses, banks and other lenders, post offices, funeral directors, laundrettes and dry cleaners, dental services, opticians, and other medical services, veterinary surgeons and pet shops, agricultural supplies, storage and distribution facilities, car parks and public toilets.

The provision of hotel, boarding house and other holiday accommodation must cease during the emergency period except for residents, people unable to return to their main residence and certain essential or unavoidable purposes.

Places of worship and community centres must remain closed during the emergency period, except for funerals, to broadcast an act of worship, whether over the internet or as part of a radio or television broadcast and to provide essential voluntary services or urgent public support.


Businesses not within any of the above categories may remain open.

The regulations themselves will expire on 26 September 2020. In addition, by virtue of the parent Act (the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984), the regulations will automatically on 23 April 2020 unless approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament. The regulations must be reviewed by the government at least once every 21 days with the first review being carried out by 16 April 2020.  As soon as a requirement is no longer necessary it must be terminated by a declaration.  There is a requirement to publish declarations.

The regulations may be enforced by a police constable or police community support officer, and by a person designated by the government and (in relation only to business/premises closures, not movement and gathering restrictions) a person designated by a local authority. Contravention of any restriction is an offence punishable on summary conviction by a fine. Instead of prosecution, a fixed monetary penalty may be imposed, in an an amount of £60 reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days. In the case of a second or subsequent contravention, the amount increases.


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