New regulations providing coronavirus closure powers have just been published and are in force from 2pm on Saturday 21 March. The regulations are made under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984.
The regulations stipulate that during the relevant period a business that includes a restaurant bar or cafe must:
- close any premises, or part of the premises, in which food or drink are sold for consumption on those premises, and
- cease selling food or drink for consumption on its premises; or
if the business sells food or drink for consumption off the premises, cease selling food or drink for consumption on its premises during the relevant period. There is an exemption for providing food and drink to the homeless.
The relevant period has now started and comes to an end when an order is issued to that effect by the government. The regulations provide a criminal sanction (unlimited fine) and enforcement powers.
The effect of this order is that:
- Restaurants, bars, cafes must close save for delivery off the premises. The outside areas are considered to be part of the premises to be closed.
- Office canteens, cafes and restaurants are to be closed.
The Government is encouraging food and drink delivery and is relaxing planning restrictions. However some premises will be subject to licence conditions restricting the sale of alcohol off the premises (for example most Westminster restaurants) and possible late night food takeaway. So please check your licences for restrictive conditions.
It may be possible to obtain urgent temporary event notices to relax such conditions. Longer term and if the government does not order a “turn a blind eye” approach, variations will be needed. It is worth noting that cumulative impact policies should not apply to applications that cover the coronavirus period as the cumulative impact the policies are designed to counter will no longer exist.