(Title Image: ITV Wales)
You’ve probably already seen, heard or read something about this, but I thought it was worth going through recent Public Health regulations in full (regulations – pdf; explanatory memorandum – pdf) as there are some differences with how the lockdown/social distancing is being enforced in Wales compared to the rest of the UK.
The regulations came into effect on 26th March 2020, but the Senedd will need to approve them within 28 days (on or by 23rd April 2020 by my count) for them to remain in force.
The Welsh Government is to review the regulations every 21 days with the first review due by 15th April 2020.
As for the specifics:
Closure of businesses
- A number of business premises have been ordered to close to the public including restaurants, cafes (except canteens in hospitals, workplaces etc.), outdoor markets, car showrooms, auction houses, bars and pubs – this covers beer gardens and outside seating areas too.
- Takeaway food services, deliveries and online/telephone orders can continue at a “closed” premises.
- Entertainment, cultural and leisure venues – including cinemas, leisure centres/swimming pools, playgrounds, funfairs, theatres, bingo halls, museums, casinos, betting shops, beauty salons and massage parlours – also have to close to the public but will be allowed to remain open if providing performances/games/reading material etc. on television, radio or the internet.
- Tourist accommodation has to close unless it’s being used to house the homeless/vulnerable, provide emergency accommodation or hosts essential services like blood donation centres.
- Franchises have to comply with the closure in their entirety, not on an outlet-by-outlet manner.
Businesses which can remain open
- Premises which can remain open during the emergency period include food retailers, off licences/corner shops, breweries, pharmacies, homeware and building suppliers, petrol stations, car repair companies, bicycle shops, taxi companies, laundrettes/dry cleaners, dentists, vets, agricultural suppliers, storage and distribution hubs, car parks and public toilets.
- A strict 2 metre (6ft6) social distancing policy (except between two members of the same household and carers) must be applied by those premises remaining open, including (where applicable) restricting the numbers of people who can enter and exit at any one time (this isn’t being enforced in England). This was later extended to include workplaces in general.
Restrictions on movements and public gatherings
- Places of worship are closed to the public except for funerals (including the broadcast of funerals) or to provide voluntary services (food banks, homeless services, blood donation etc.).
- 2-metre distance rule applies for funeral services, burials and at crematoriums (this isn’t being enforced in England as far as I can tell).
- Community centres are closed except to provide essential voluntary services.
- Nobody should leave their main residence except for shopping/seeking services at an open business; accessing critical public services (i.e. social services, DWP, childcare, victim services); fulfilling bail requirements; taking exercise no more than once a day; for medical reasons; to provide care to a vulnerable person; to donate blood; or for work and/or voluntary activities. The homeless are exempt and children of separated parents can move between their parents’ households.
- People can only attend funerals for close family members or members of their household – or as a carer for a funeral attendee – but can only attend funerals for friends if no member of the deceased’s family is attending.
- People can still move house “where necessary” (though moving house has been discouraged) and can leave their house to “avoid injury or illness or to escape risk of harm”.
- No more than two people can gather in public unless all people gathered are members of the same household; it’s essential for work; is at a funeral; to move house; provide care for a vulnerable person; provide emergency assistance; to participate in legal proceedings or fulfil a legal obligation.
- Public authorities (councils, National Trust, Natural Resources Wales, National Park Authorities) have the power to close public paths and access to land – particularly areas liable to large numbers of people congregating close to each other or otherwise pose a risk of spreading infection.
- Where public authorities have closed a public path they need to put a notice at the site of closure and on their website.
Enforcement and fines
- Police officers, PCSOs and anyone designated by the Welsh Government or public authorities will have the power to issue on-the-spot fines to anyone they believe is breaching movement restrictions.
- They can also order someone to return home (or order someone’s children to be taken home) or take them themselves through the use of reasonable force – though only if it’s deemed necessary and proportionate. The powers extend to breaking up and dispersing gatherings in public.
- A general power of entry has been granted to allow those enforcing the regulations to enter any premises they believe may be flouting the regulations.
- The on-the-spot fine is £60, reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days following its issue.
- If a person has already been fined once, the fine is increased to £120 (in England, the fine keeps doubling to a maximum of £960).