The rules of lockdown

6th November 2020

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No.4) Regulations 2020 came into force on 5 November 2020 and are the latest in a long line of similarly named regulations.  They set out what can and cannot happen between 5 November and 2 December 2020 during the second national lockdown.

There are the usual restrictions on movement and gatherings, including a list of permissible reasons for leaving the home.  Regulation 6 contains 13 exceptions, many of which will be familiar from the first lockdown.   Prison visits, animal welfare reasons, and returning home from holiday are three of the lesser known exemptions.

Unless a relevant exemption applies, two people from different households may not meet together, indoors.

Businesses must close all parts of their business where food and drink are provided for consumption on the premises, as well as ceasing all sales of such food and drink unless it is for consumption off the premises.  Non-essential goods can only be sold by delivery or pre-ordered collection.

Schedule 1 sets out all of the businesses which must cease trading.  As you expect, many are hospitality, leisure and personal grooming operations, but it also encompasses other businesses that are not deemed to be providing essential services like gyms, car washes and auction houses.

Part 3 of schedule 1 also lists the businesses which are permitted to remain open, and this is broader than the initial lockdown in March. Garden centres, car repairers, MOT garages, hardware stores, building merchants and public toilets can remain open.  As a result, this lockdown may feel less restrictive than first time round.

Police, PCSOs, local authority officials and anyone else designated by the Secretary of State are given powers to enforce the regulations, issue prohibition notices, disburse groups and if necessary use reasonable force to remove people from gatherings.  Fixed penalty notices start at £200 and rise to a maximum of £6,400 for a sixth or subsequent offence.   Prosecutions can be brought to court as well.

Businesses are finding creative ways to continue to serve their customers or diversify into areas that are not restricted.  If you would like any advice on how the regulations affect your business, or what you need to do to ensure you are compliant, please contact Craig Burman or Ellen Preston-Gelderd.

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