Malcolm Ireland, head of the Leisure and Licensing team at Harrison Drury, summarises the new coronavirus regulations on face coverings and Covid passes introduced in December 2021 (Last updated December 17).
It is very unlikely to have escaped your attention that new regulations relating to Covid have come into force over recent days. Here’s a quick summary of the latest rules and guidance.
What are the rules on face coverings?
The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Wearing of Face Coverings) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 came into force on 10th December 2021. The regulations amend the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Wearing of Face Coverings) (England) Regulations 2021 (“the Face Covering Regulations”), and you can see an up to date version of them here.
These are not the simplest of regulations and a number of commentators have suggested that they are more complex than they needed to be, but to very briefly summarise:
- The Face Covering Regulations impose an obligation to wear a face covering when entering or remaining in a relevant place
- The Face Covering Regulations state that shops, community centres, public areas in hotels and hostels, cinemas, and theatres etc are all relevant places
- The Face Covering Regulations state that face coverings need not be worn in restaurants (including restaurants and dining rooms in hotels), cafes, bars (including bars in hotels), public houses and “any other premises, or part of premises, which are being used wholly or mainly by people eating or drinking”. It should be noted that the final exemption does not apply to “any part of the premises in which people are not eating or drinking”.
- The Face Covering Regulations impose an obligation on those carrying on a business in a place where face coverings are required to display a notice, or take other measures, to make people aware that they are required to wear a face covering.
When are Covid Passes required?
The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Entry to Venues and Events) (England) Regulations 2021 (“the Covid Pass Regulations”) came into force on 15th December 2021. A full copy of the Regulations can be found here but again, in a heavily summarised form:
- The Covid Pass Regulations impose an obligation on operators to take reasonable measures to ensure that a person is not admitted to, or permitted to remain present at, a venue or event to which the regulations apply unless that person can demonstrate that he or she has been vaccinated against coronavirus or has had a negative qualifying test result no more than 48 hours earlier.
- The Covid Pass Regulations also impose an obligation on operators to produce and maintain a statement outlining what measures they intend to take to comply with the above.
- Acceptable evidence of vaccination includes the NHS Covid Pass.
- The Covid Pass Regulations make provisions for enforcement, including provisions for Improvement Notices and Restriction Notices, which can lead to the closure of a premises.
The venues and events which fall within the scope of the Covid Pass Regulations are outlined in Schedule 1 and include:
- Nightclubs and any other venue which is open between 01:00 and 05:00; serves alcohol after 01:00; has a dancefloor or other space for dancing; and, provides music (whether live or recorded) for dancing). It is worth noting that a venue does not fall within the scope of the regulations if it is not providing music for dancing or a space for dancing.
- Certain indoor events with 500 or more attendees;
- Certain outdoor events with 4,000 or more attendees; and,
- Events with 10,000 or more attendees whether indoor or outdoor
There are also a number of exemptions contained within the Covid Pass Regulations such as weddings and funerals.