Coronavirus: regulations to keep bars and restaurants closed

In a move that most of us could have barely imagined two weeks ago, the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Business Closure) (England) Regulations 2020 came into force at 14:00 on Saturday 21st March 2020, and created powers to keep premises closed.  A copy can be found here.

The regulations contain a requirement that any person responsible for operating restaurants (including restaurants and dining rooms in hotels of members clubs), cafes (including workplace canteens, but with exceptions for the likes of hospitals, care homes and prisons), bars (including those in hotels and members’ clubs) or public houses must close the premises or any part of the premises in which food and drink are sold for consumption on the premises and cease selling food or drink for consumption on its premises.

The regulations further provide that any person responsible for carrying any of the following businesses must cease to carry on that business: cinemas, theatres, nightclubs, bingo halls, concert halls, museums, galleries, casinos, betting shops, spas, massage parlours, indoor skating rinks, indoor fitness studios, gyms, swimming pools or other indoor leisure centres.

The Regulations include a requirement that their necessity be reviewed every twenty-eight days by the Secretary of State.

The Coronavirus Act 2020 came into force on the 25th March.  The measures covered by the Act are diverse and wide-ranging but from a licensing perspective, the main points to note are:

  • The Act provides for powers to prohibit or restrict events and gatherings and / or close premises if the public health situation deems it necessary.
  • The Act makes provision to enable the use of video and audio links in some hearings so that a participant can appear at a hearing using live video or audio link, or a hearing could take place without there being a physical hearing and where all participants take part using video or telephone conferencing facilities.

The Act can be viewed in its entirety here and the Explanatory Notes can be viewed here.

We will of course keep you informed of further developments, but if you require any additional advice in the meantime don’t hesitate to get in touch with a member of the Licensing team