On Monday 4 January, Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the nation to announce the latest restrictions to be imposed upon people living in England. We summarise the restrictions in this update below. Most countries of the United Kingdom (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) entered a full national lockdown at midnight on Tuesday 5 January, with most of Scotland following suit. As a result, primary and secondary schools will close to almost all pupils for the foreseeable future, and all but essential workers have been instructed to stay at home until further notice.
England’s new lockdown rules
People in England may now only leave their homes for “essential” reasons. Such reasons include the following:
- Work or volunteering where it is "unreasonable" to work from home. This includes work in someone else's home, such as that carried out by social workers, nannies, cleaners and tradespeople;
- Education, training, childcare and medical appointments and emergencies;
- Exercise outdoors (no more than once a day). This includes meeting one other person from another household in an open public space to exercise;
- Shopping for essentials such as food and medicine;
- Communal religious worship;
- Meeting your support or childcare bubble; and
- Activities related to moving house.
Implications for businesses
As a consequence of these new restrictions, all non-essential shops, leisure and entertainment venues have been required to close. This includes indoor and outdoor sports facilities such as gyms and tennis courts and beauty venues such as hair salons. Pubs and restaurants may remain open, but only if they are providing takeaway food.
International travel, or travel around the UK is only permitted for essential reasons.
Only the following essential businesses can stay open to the public:
- Supermarkets, food shops, pharmacies and garden centres;
- Places of worship;
- Petrol stations and MOT services;
- Banks and post offices;
- Doctors and dentists' surgeries and vets; and
- Car parks, public toilets and playground.
England’s new coronavirus regulations
The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No. 4) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/1374) is an emergency statutory instrument which came into force on 5 November 2020 in order to enforce a second national lockdown in England from 5 November 2020. The Regulations were further amended on 2 December 2020 by the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (All Tiers) (England) Regulations 2020 in order to reintroduce the “tier” system first implemented in October but with even additional restrictions. These regulations, as well as the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No 3) Regulations 2020 which came into force in July 2020, have been further amended by the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No.3) and (All Tiers) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 in order to “clarify the powers of a police community support officer” and to strengthen the Tier 4 restrictions so that they apply to every area in England. Additionally, the expiry date for the regulations has been extended from 2 February 2021 to 31 March 2021. These additional restrictions legally came into force on 6 January 2021.
As a result, the following amendments have been made to the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No 3) Regulations 2020:
Regulation 2 of the 2021 Regulations amends regulation 12 so that most of the powers of enforcement previously conferred upon officers and constables are now extended to police community support officers (PCSOs). Following the amendment, where a PCSO considers an event to be held in contravention of the regulations, PCSOs may now direct such events to stop, direct people to leave such events and remove people from such events. They may also direct people to leave outdoor places where the PCSO considers that such people are in such places “without reasonable excuse”.
In addition, the following amendments have been made to the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (All Tiers) (England) Regulations 2020:
Schedule 3A now provides that visiting an outdoor place for the purpose of “open air recreation” alone or with one or more members of your household or your linked household or for the purpose of providing informal childcare for a child aged 13 or under no longer constitute valid exceptions for leaving your home. The same is now true for visiting any place where animals are exhibited to the public as an attraction (e.g. aquariums, zoos, safari parks, outdoor animal attractions at a farm and wildlife parks).
The new regulation also exists to further limit the exceptions for children to be outside of their homes. Now, anyone under the age of 18 may only leave their home where the child’s parent or a person with parental responsibilities takes them outside of the home for the purposes of “work or to search for work, undertaking training or education or to attend a medical appointment or to address a medical need”.
In addition, Schedule 3A paragraph 13 has been amended so that, whilst selling food and drink to be consumed off the premises remains an exception to the restrictions on service of food and drink, the sale of alcohol will no longer constitute an exception.
Furthermore, whilst the public are permitted to exercise outside once a day, they may not do so at outdoor gyms, sports courts, swimming pools, golf courts or any other outdoor sports locations as these are now all required to close under the latest regulations.
Lastly, all regions listed as Tier 3 under the regulations have now been moved to Tier 4. Under Part 3 (Tier 4 area) the following words now feature: “Every area of England, apart from the territorial waters adjacent to England and the airspace above England and those territorial waters, is within the Tier 4 area”.
The penalties for non-compliance with the regulations remain the same as those imposed during the November lockdown. See our previous article which deals with enforcement for further details relating to this.
Click here to view the new regulations in full.
The latest restrictions essentially constitute a reversion to the March 2020 lockdown, and will remain in force until 31 March 2021 at the earliest.