Thursday, 23 July 2020

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Wearing of Face Coverings in a Relevant Place) (England) Regulations 2020 + Other amendments

The law is stated as at 23 July 2020. Amendment is likely.

On 14 July, the government announced plans to required "face coverings" to be worn in shops and supermarkets with effect from 24 July.

The legislation finally arrived at 1.15 pm today when The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Wearing of Face Coverings in a Relevant Place) (England) Regulations 2020 were laid before Parliament. An Explanatory Memorandum is available.

As with other similar Regulations, the legal basis
is the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 (as amended). The Secretary of State considers that the requirements imposed by these Regulations are proportionate to what they seek to achieve, which is a public health response to the threat.

In accordance with section 45R of the 1984 Act the Secretary of State is of the opinion that, by reason of urgency, it is necessary to make this instrument without a draft having been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament.

Regulation 1 brings the Regulations into force on 24 July 2020. They apply to England only.

Regulation 2 deals with Interpretation. In particular, “face covering” means a covering of any type which covers a person’s nose and mouth." Hence, a face covering is not necessarily a "mask" of the type shown in the image with this post.

The phrase "relevant place" means (a) a place listed in Part 1 of the Schedule; or (b) a transport hub.

Shops are included in the term "relevant place".

Regulation 2(2) provides - "In these Regulations, “shop” means any building, room or other indoor establishment which is open to the public in whole or in part and is used wholly or mainly for the purposes of retail sale or hire of goods or services, but not including the premises listed in Part 2 of the Schedule."

Regulation 3 - No person may, without reasonable excuse, enter or remain within a relevant place without wearing a face covering.

This requirement does not apply to those listed in Regulation 3(2). The exceptions (a to h) include children under age 11, a person "responsible for a relevant place or an employee of that person acting in the course of their employment" etc.

Regulation 4 - Defines "reasonable excuse" - it is a non-exhaustive list.  Where a person (P)

(a) P cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering—

(i) because of any physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability (within the meaning of section 6 of the Equality Act 2010(1)), or (ii) without severe distress;

(b) P is accompanying, or providing assistance to, another person (“B”) and B relies on lip reading to communicate with P;

(c) P removes their face covering to avoid harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury, to themselves or others;

(d) P is entering or within a relevant place to avoid injury, or to escape a risk of harm, and does not have a face covering with them;

(e) it is reasonably necessary for P to eat or drink, P removes their face covering to eat or drink;

(f) P has to remove their face covering to take medication;

(g) a person responsible for a relevant place or an employee of that person acting in the course of their employment, requires that P remove their face covering in order to verify P’s identity;

(h) in a registered pharmacy, an employee of that registered pharmacy acting in the course of their employment, requires that P remove their face covering in order to assist in the provision of healthcare or healthcare advice to P;

(i) a relevant person requests that P remove their face covering.

Regulation 5 - deals with Enforcement.

(1) Where a relevant person considers that another person is, at the time of entering the relevant place, not wearing a face covering, in contravention of the requirement in regulation 3, the relevant person may deny entry to the relevant place to that person.

(2) Where a relevant person considers that a person is not wearing a face covering, in contravention of the requirement in regulation 3, the relevant person may (a) direct that person to wear such a covering; (b) direct that person to leave the relevant place.

(3) Where a person does not comply with a direction given to them by a constable under paragraph (2)(b), the constable may remove them from the relevant place.

(4) A constable exercising the power in paragraph (3) may use reasonable force, if necessary, in the exercise of the power.

The term "relevant person" is defined in Regulation 5(9) as (a) a constable; (b) a police community support officer; (c) in relation to any transport hub from or to which a TfL public transport service is provided, a TfL officer; (d) a person designated by the Secretary of State for the purposes of this regulation.

Regulation 6 - Offences.

(1) A person who contravenes the requirement in regulation 3 commits an offence.

(2) A person who obstructs, without reasonable cause, any person carrying out a function under these Regulations commits an offence.

(3) A person who, without reasonable excuse, contravenes a direction given under regulation 5(2) or regulation 5(5) commits an offence.

(4) An offence under this regulation is punishable on summary conviction by a fine.

Regulation 7 - Fixed penalty notices

Regulation 8 - Prosecutions

Regulation 9 - Review - requires a review of the Regulations after 6 months.

Regulation 10 - Expiry - after 12 months.

A note:

Oxford University - Science blog - 14 July 2020 -  where the medical opinion about face coverings is discussed.  Face coverings in "relevant places" (including shops) will be compulsory from 24 July, and the prohibition may be extended to other indoor spaces. The move follows last week’s COVID-19 face coverings study from Oxford’s Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science on behalf of the Royal Society and British Academy.

A simple illustration of the spread of exhaled breath is to visualise a frosty morning. The wearing of a face covering to help reduce spread of this virus makes sense -



Other amendments:

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No. 2) (England) Regulations 2020  (SI 2020/684) are amended from 25 July - see link in the Table below.

There are also amendments to the Regulations relating to Leicester which apply from 24 July.

1 comment: