Gary Grant examines the main provisions of the latest coronavirus regulations imposing restrictions on opening hours and the service of food and drink.
The new coronavirus restrictions regulations were published just after midnight on 24 September 2020. Most of the changes come into force less than 5 hours later at 5am on 24 September. Which leaves plenty of time for operators and regulators to prepare for the new world order.
Certain changes that reduce the 30 person limit down to 15 (e.g. for marriages) and the new applicability of the Rule of 6 to ceremonies, rites and rituals, do not come into force until 28 September.
The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No. 2) (England) (Amendment) (No. 5) Regulations 2020 amend The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No. 2) (England) Regulations 2020 (“the Principal Regulations”).
The principal effects of the amendments are set out below:
1) They insert new paragraphs 4A and 4B into the Principal Regulations as follows:
Restrictions on opening hours of businesses and services
4A.—(1) A person responsible for carrying on a restricted business or providing a restricted service (“P”) must not carry on that business or provide that service during the emergency period between the hours of 22:00 and 05:00, subject to paragraphs (2), (3) and (4).
(2) Paragraph (1) does not prevent P selling food or drink for consumption off the premises between the hours of 22:00 and 05:00—
(a) by making deliveries in response to orders received—
(i) through a website, or otherwise by on-line communication;
(ii) by telephone, including orders by text message; or
(iii) by post; or
(b) to a purchaser who collects the food or drink in a vehicle, and to whom the food or drink is passed without the purchaser or any other person leaving the vehicle.
(3) Where P’s restricted business or restricted service is a cinema, theatre or concert hall, paragraph (1) does not prevent P carrying on that business or service at or after 22:00 for the purpose of concluding a performance which began before 22:00.
(4) Paragraph (1) does not prevent P carrying on a restricted business or providing a restricted service located in a motorway service area between the hours of 22:00 and 05:00.
(5) If a restricted business or restricted service (“business A”) forms part of a larger business (“business B”), the person responsible for carrying on business B complies with the requirement in paragraph (1) if that person does not carry on business A between the hours of 22:00 and 05:00, other than as provided for in paragraphs (2), (3) or (4).
(6) For the purposes of this regulation, a business or service is a restricted business or restricted service if it is listed in Part 1 or Part 2 of Schedule 3.
Restrictions on service of food and drink for consumption on the premises
4B.—(1) Subject to the restriction on opening hours in regulation 4A(1), during the emergency period, a person responsible for carrying on a business or providing a service listed in Part 1 of Schedule 3 which serves alcohol for consumption on the premises may sell food or drink for consumption on the premises only if—
(a) the food or drink is ordered by, and served to, a customer who is seated on the premises; and
(b) the person takes all reasonable steps to ensure that the customer remains seated whilst consuming the food or drink on the premises.
(2) Subject to the restriction on opening hours in regulation 4A(1), during the emergency period, a person responsible for carrying on a business or providing a service listed in Part 1 of Schedule 3 which does not serve alcohol for consumption on the premises may sell food or drink for consumption on the premises only if the person takes all reasonable steps to ensure that the customer remains seated whilst consuming the food or drink on the premises.
(3) For the purposes of paragraphs (1) and (2), an area adjacent to the premises of the business where seating is made available for customers of the business (whether or not by the business) or which customers of the business habitually use for consumption of food or drink served by the business is to be treated as part of the premises of that business.
(4) If a business or service listed in Part 1 of Schedule 3 (“business A”) forms part of a larger business (“business B”), the person responsible for carrying on business B complies with the requirement in paragraph (1) or (2) if that person complies with the requirement in relation to business A.
The restricted businesses
2) The restricted businesses set out in Part 1 of Schedule 3 are:
1. Restaurants, including restaurants and dining rooms in hotels or members’ clubs.
2. (1) Businesses, other than businesses listed in sub-paragraph (2), providing food or drink prepared on the premises for immediate consumption off the premises.
(2) The businesses are—
(b) convenience stores, corner shops and newsagents;
(c) pharmacists and chemists;
(d) petrol stations.
3.—(1) Cafes, including workplace canteens (subject to sub-paragraph (2)), but not including—
(a) cafes or canteens at a hospital, care home or school;
(b) canteens at a prison or an establishment intended for use for naval, military or air force purposes or for the purposes of the Department of the Secretary of State responsible for defence;
(c) services providing food or drink to the homeless.
(2) Workplace canteens may remain open where there is no practical alternative for staff at that workplace to obtain food.
4. Bars, including bars in hotels or members’ clubs.
5. Public houses.
6. Social clubs.
3) The restricted businesses in Part 2 of Schedule 3 are:
8. Bowling alleys.
11. Amusement arcades or other indoor leisure centres or facilities.
12. Funfairs (indoors or outdoors), theme parks and adventure parks and activities.
13. Bingo halls.
14. Concert halls.
4) The maximum number of people permitted in support groups, for marriage and civil partnership ceremonies and receptions is reduced from 30 to 15 people. The 30 maximum remains for funerals.
5) No longer are all sports gatherings an exception to the Rule of 6. The exceptions are now restricted to “an outdoor sports gathering or a permitted indoor sports gathering”. A permitted indoor sports gathering means a gathering which is organised for the purposes of allowing persons who have a disability and who are not elite sportspersons to take part in any sport or other fitness related activity, and (i) which is organised by a business, a charitable, benevolent or philanthropic institution or a public body, (ii) which takes place indoors on relevant premises, and (iii) the manager of the relevant premises complies with paragraph 5G (i.e. full risk assessment);
6) The earlier exceptions to the Rule of 6 for gatherings relating to ceremonies, rites and rituals that mark a life milestone are to be deleted.
7) The fixed penalty fines for breaching the new regulations 4A and 4B are £1,000 for a first offence rising to £10,000 for the fourth offence. In other cases, the fines are increased.
8) Consequent amendments are made to the local restrictions.