The UK Government announced a broad range of new measures yesterday evening aimed at trying to ensure that, save in certain specified circumstances, individuals stay at home and keep away from each other. Whilst these appear draconian, they are not unexpected and (in general terms) follow the direction that several other countries have decided to take in order to try to reduce the speed with which Covid-19 is being transmitted.
These new measures are likely to have an impact on all individuals, in one way or another, directly or indirectly. Undoubtedly, they will have a significant impact on businesses, business owners and workers.
Key details of the measures are as follows:
1. Staying at home - You should only leave your home for one of four reasons. In general terms, the exceptions relate to (a) Shopping for basic necessities, (b) One form of exercise a day, (c) Medical needs, and (d) Travelling to and from work. Even when one of these exceptions applies, you should be minimising time spent outside of the home and ensuring you are 2 metres apart from anyone outside of your household.
2. Closing non-essential shops and community spaces - The Government is extending its order relating to the closing of non-essential shops and public spaces to a further set of businesses and other venues. A detailed list can be found in the additional Government Guidance entitled “Further businesses and premises to close” at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close
3. Stopping public gatherings - Public gatherings of more than two people are not permitted except in 2 cases (a) where the gathering is of a group of people who live together; or (b) where the gathering is essential for work purposes. There are limitations on both exceptions.
4. Enforcing the new measures - The police and other relevant authorities will have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings where people do not comply.
5. Duration of the new measures - These measures will initially last for three weeks from 23rd March 2020, at which point they will be reviewed. Accordingly, they are likely to be reviewed on or around Monday, 13th April 2020.
Further details of the above measures are available in the UK Government guidance.
A copy of the UK Government guidance entitled “Full guidance on staying at home and away from others” containing details of the measures can be found on the government website at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others?utm_source=a7405750-72ea-401e-8f39-0f5b6fa1eaca&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate
We have set out below a copy of the full text of the Government guidance, for ease of reference:
1. 1. Staying at home
2. 2. Closing non-essential shops and public spaces
3. 3. Stopping public gatherings
4. 4. Delivering these new measures
The single most important action we can all take, in fighting coronavirus, is to stay at home in order to protect the NHS and save lives.
When we reduce our day-to-day contact with other people, we will reduce the spread of the infection. That is why the government is now (23 March 2020) introducing three new measures.
1. Requiring people to stay at home, except for very limited purposes
2. Closing non-essential shops and community spaces
3. Stopping all gatherings of more than two people in public
Every citizen must comply with these new measures. The relevant authorities, including the police, will be given the powers to enforce them – including through fines and dispersing gatherings.
These measures are effective immediately. The Government will look again at these measures in three weeks, and relax them if the evidence shows this is possible.
1. Staying at home
You should only leave the house for one of four reasons:
• Shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible.
• One form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle - alone or with members of your household.
• Any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person.
• Travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home.
These four reasons are exceptions - even when doing these activities, you should be minimising time spent outside of the home and ensuring you are 2 metres apart from anyone outside of your household.
These measures must be followed by everyone. Separate advice is available for individuals or households who are isolating, and for the most vulnerable who need to be shielded.
If you work in a critical sector outlined in this guidance, or your child has been identified as vulnerable, you can continue to take your children to school. Where parents do not live in the same household, children under 18 can be moved between their parents’ homes
2. Closing non-essential shops and public spaces
Last week, the Government ordered certain businesses - including pubs, cinemas and theatres - to close. The Government is now extending this requirement to a further set of businesses and other venues, including:
• all non-essential retail stores - this will include clothing and electronics stores; hair, beauty and nail salons; and outdoor and indoor markets, excluding food markets.
• libraries, community centres, and youth centres.
• indoor and outdoor leisure facilities such as bowling alleys, arcades and soft play facilities.
• communal places within parks, such as playgrounds, sports courts and outdoor gyms.
• places of worship, except for funerals attended by immediate families.
• hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, campsites, caravan parks, and boarding houses for commercial/leisure use (excluding permanent residents and key workers).
More detailed information can be found here, including a full list of those businesses and other venues that must close. Businesses and other venues not on this list may remain open.
3. Stopping public gatherings
To make sure people are staying at home and apart from each other, the Government is also stopping all public gatherings of more than two people.
There are only two exceptions to this rule:
• where the gathering is of a group of people who live together - this means that a parent can, for example, take their children to the shops if there is no option to leave them at home.
• where the gathering is essential for work purposes - but workers should be trying to minimise all meetings and other gatherings in the workplace.
In addition, the Government is stopping social events, including weddings, baptisms and other religious ceremonies. This will exclude funerals, which can be attended by immediate family.
4. Delivering these new measures
These measures will reduce our day to day contact with other people. They are a vital part of our efforts to reduce the rate of transmission of coronavirus.
Every citizen is instructed to comply with these new measures.
The Government will therefore be ensuring the police and other relevant authorities have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings where people do not comply.
They will initially last for the three weeks from 23 March, at which point the Government will look at them again and relax them if the evidence shows this is possible.”
Need to talk?
If you would like to discuss any matters arising from the Covid-19 (coronavirus) outbreak, please contact us. We can help you to plan and prepare your business in a way that is right for you and your business.
If you would like more information about the impact of the Covid-19 (coronavirus) outbreak or would like to discuss a potential or existing issue, please contact us by telephone on +44 (0)20 3126 4520 or +45 38 88 16 00 or by email at email@example.com
This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full Legal Notices on our website.
©Orr Litchfield 2020