Updated Health Protection Regulations for licensed premises and outdoor events
The Regulations – Summary
On the 18 July 2020 The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No.3) Regulations 2020 came into force. Melissa Toney, Head of Regulatory & Licensing, explains the implications for those with a licensed premises or event organisers.
The new Regulations empowers local authority to:
- restrict access to, or close, individual premises
- prohibit certain events (or types of event) from taking place
- restrict access to, or close, public outdoor places (or types of outdoor public places)
This is called a “Direction” which can be issued where 3 conditions are met:
- The direction responds to a serious and imminent threat to public health in the local authority’s area
- the direction is necessary to prevent, protect against, control or provide a public health response to the incidence or spread of infection in the local authority’s area of Coronavirus
- the prohibitions, requirements or restrictions imposed by the direction are a proportionate means of achieving that purpose.
There is a requirement to ensure issuing a Direction is evidenced based. The guidance states “Before making a direction, local authorities will need to gather sufficient evidence to demonstrate that these tests have been met.”
What are the consequences for licensed premises and events?
A Direction can be issued for individual premises and events. This means that your licensed premises or outdoor event could be subjected to a Direction. It is worth noting that a Direction can relate to individual premises and events requiring them to close or cease certain activities.
But a Direction is only effective if it is evidenced based. So, for example, if a local outbreak is linked back to your licensed premises or event, through track and trace information left by customers, a Direction could be issued requiring you to close your premise or cease certain activities. It would be unlikely for a Direction to be given if an outbreak is just in your local vicinity.
A Direction must be reviewed every seven days.
Right of Appeal
There is a right of appeal attached to the Regulations by those directly impacted by any Direction, including the owner or occupier of premises or event organiser against whom a direction applies.
The appeal is to the local magistrates court and would need to satisfy the court on the balance of probabilities that the decision made by the local authority was wrong – in that it did not satisfy the three conditions listed above – and bring forward any supplementary evidence to support the appeal.
A premise or outdoor event must comply with a Direction. The Direction is enforced by local authority designated officers, police officers and/or PCSOs.
If they “reasonably believe” that a person is in contravention of a prohibition, requirement or restriction as set out in a Direction, they could:
- issue a prohibition notice to a person who contravenes a direction, for example by failing to close a premise that has had a direction placed upon it to restrict or prohibit access (local authority designated officer)
- direct the event to stop, direct a person to leave the event, or remove a person from the event (police officer/PCSO)
- where the police consider that a person is, without reasonable excuse, in a public outdoor place that has been closed or where access has been restricted under a direction, they may direct that person to leave the place immediately and/ or remove the person from the place.
It is an offence for any person aged 18 or over not to comply with the requirements set out in the Regulations and a Direction, liable to a £100 fine.
Guidance on the application of these new regulations has been published, you can read them in full here.