January 21, 2020

Local Authorities Handed New Powers to Enforce COVID Controls

Parliament has passed new legislation that grants powers to local authorities to enforce a wide range of coronavirus controls.

Local Authorities and other bodies have had enforcement notices in their tool box for a long time to impose Health and Safety Food Safety, and Fire legislation. But this new legislation gives local authorities more control when it comes to coronavirus and health and safety.

January Update

Since December 2020, both HSE and Local Authorities have been undertaking spot checks across the Transport and Logistics Sector.  Whist the main purpose was to ensure COVID Secure working environments were being effectively implement and managed, they also looked at the wider management of Health and Safety.

A recent HSE update states that in the main COVID controls were well managed but enforcement action was required around more traditional Health and Safety workplace hazard such as traffic management.  There is a suggestion that whilst employers have rightly focused on COVID control measures, this effort may have removed focus on other H&S matters.  There is an obvious need to employers to ensure a balanced approach and ensure that COVID controls don’t adversely affect existing Health and Safety control measures and management regimes.

The New Legislation

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Local Authority Enforcement Powers and Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020

These Regulations enhance the range of tools available to local authorities to enforce existing national measures and introduce a more staged process of enforcement. They came into force on 2 December and apply to England only.

Coronavirus Improvement Notices

Under the new Regulations, a local authority designated officer now has the power to issue a Coronavirus Improvement Notice (CIN). This requires a person who is breaching, or has breached, one of the provisions (listed in the regulation and summarised below) to end that breach and ensure it will not be repeated.

Coronavirus Immediate Restriction Notice

The Regulations also enable a local authority designated officer to issue a Coronavirus Immediate Restriction Notice (CIRN) on a person the officer believes is breaching, or has breached, one of the statutory provisions and there is a future risk to Coronavirus. The notice is to require either closure or part-closure of the premises and/or the breach to be stopped.

Coronavirus Restriction Notice

Further, the regulations set out that a local authority designated officer can issue a Coronavirus Restriction Notice (CRN) on a person the officer believes has not complied with a CIN and that non-compliance involves a risk of exposure to COVID-19. The notice has effect for seven days.

Offences and Fines

Prosecutions may be brought by a local authority, the CPS, and any person designated by the Secretary of State.

The new Regulations amend several other Coronavirus regulations; these are explained in the explanatory memorandum which accompanies the Regulation.

What Could Result in Enforcement Action?

Relevant controls which could result in enforcement action include:

  • size of bookings
  • appropriate distance between tables / workspaces
  • signage and information relating to face covering requirements
  • prohibition on preventing a person from wearing a face covering
  • requirement to close premises and businesses – all tiers as applicable
  • restrictions on opening hours of businesses and services – all tiers as applicable
  • restrictions on service of food and drink for consumption on the premises – all tiers as applicable
  • requirement to close businesses selling alcohol for consumption on the premises – all tiers as applicable
  • requirement to display QR code
  • requirement to request certain details of individuals
  • requirement to request certain details of those in a group
  • additional details to be recorded by a relevant person
  • requirement to retain details
  • requirement to disclose details upon request
  • requirement to refuse entry if details are not provided
  • requirement on employers of workers required to self-isolate

Businesses must ensure they are following relevant guidance and controls put in place minimise the spread of COVID-19. The local enforcement of legislation reminds us to stay vigilant about the new rules in place.

Is your business preparing for life after lockdown? If so, this brochure on returning to the office with health and safety in mind could be useful.

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About the author

Philip Barker

About the author

Philip Barker

Philip has worked for Moorepay for over nine years, starting as a Health & Safety Consultant in February 2008 before taking up the position of Consultancy Manager in January 2015. Coming from a retail background, both as a store manager and health & safety professional, he already had a good cross industry experience. Working at Moorepay has provided an opportunity to broaden both knowledge and experience across a wide range of industry sectors. Philip started his health & safety career after a number of years managing retail stores and holds a HNC in Environmental Health Studies, a Diploma in Environmental Policy and a NEBOSH Diploma.

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