21.These regulations correct and amend the original Face Coverings Regulations to extend the range of indoor premises (“relevant places”) in which visitors must wear masks. SI 2020/839 adds places of worship, crematoria and burial ground chapels, museums, galleries, cinemas, public libraries, public spaces in hotels (such as lobby areas) and community centres, nail, beauty, hair salons and barbers, tattoo and piercing parlours, massage parlours, storage and distribution centres, auction houses, spas, funeral directors, veterinary practices and premises providing professional services, unless an exemption or reasonable excuse applies. SI 2020/882 adds further relevant places, including casinos, members clubs, social clubs and conference centres and revokes the previous exemption from the requirement to wear masks for funfairs, theme parks or other premises for indoor sports, leisure or adventure activities. Regulation 3(1) also adds exemptions from the requirement to wear face coverings for elite sportspersons and their coaches, referees, professional dancers and choreographers in the course of their employment, training or competing. Additionally, pupils at a religious school are exempted if undertaking education or training in a place of worship.
22.SI 2020/906 integrates the two parallel fixed penalties structures so that, from 29 August, those failing to wear a face covering either on public transport or in “a relevant place”, without reasonable excuse, will ramp up to the next penalty step on the scale.
23.As part of the staged reopening of facilities, this instrument made further changes to the restrictions that apply nationally in England to allow casinos, indoor skating rinks, indoor play areas, bowling alleys, conference centres and exhibition halls to re-open from on 15 August 2020. (Some of the local lockdown instruments set out below disapply these provisions.)
24.These Regulations insert new regulations 5A and 5B into the Principal Regulations to impose restrictions in England on the holding of gatherings, both inside and outside, of more than 30 people. This is in response to a number of recent impromptu gatherings and “raves”. Due to the increased public health risk, anyone who plays an active part in making such an event happen, as well as the organiser, will receive a Fixed Penalty Notice of £10,000.
25.Regulations 3 to 6 make consequential amendments to integrate with the special local lockdown restrictions in specified “protected areas” (see below). Part 3 of these Regulations also make minor (but unrelated) technical amendments to earlier regulations.
26.These Regulations revoke and replace the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Blackburn with Darwen and Luton) Regulations 2020. Due to the falling infection rate, which almost halved from 18-24 July, Luton is now only subject to the same legal restrictions as the rest of England.
27.However, the closure of businesses listed in the Schedule, and restrictions on gatherings both inside and outside of more than 30 people, were retained for Blackburn with Darwen where the infection rate remains high. They were also extended to the City of Bradford. The closures and restrictions will last until they are terminated by a direction given by the Secretary of State and must be reviewed every 14 days. Following the first review, SI 2020/898 reduced the protected area to the area of the City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council and specified wards within the area of the Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council. The next review is due to be carried out by 8 September 2020.
28.In response to the high number of positive COVID-19 tests in Leicester in June 2020, the Government announced a local lockdown to limit the spread of the disease, which was implemented by the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Leicester) Regulations 2020 (S.I. 2020/685) on 4 July 2020. Subsequent instruments have amended the restrictions and the area that they apply to, including SI 2020/823, made on 31 July, which removed the Borough of Oadby and Wigston from the “protected area” with effect from 1 August. SI 2020/824, laid on 3 August, revoked the original Leicester Regulations (SI 2020/685) and the three subsequent amending Regulations, to reimpose restrictions on gatherings and the closure of listed businesses within the “protected area” of Leicester City Council only. Following the first statutory review of those Regulations on 17 August, the incidence of COVID-19 has declined and SI 2020/875 was made on 2 August to amend the Leicester restrictions so that services including spas and beauty salons, massage parlours and tattoo parlours, outdoor swimming pools and water parks can reopen. The next review had to be carried out no later than 31 August.
29.Data from Public Health England and the Joint Biosecurity Centre indicated that the incidence of COVID-19 in the certain areas of the North of England was significantly above the national average, and increasing, mainly due to transmission between households. Regulation 5 of SI 2020/828 therefore prohibits gatherings of two or more people from different households in private dwellings in the protected area, and prohibits people living in the protected area from gatherings in a private dwelling outside the protected area, unless those meetings are between linked households. Within the protected area, regulation 7(4) prohibits indoor gatherings for more than 30 people but permits more than 30 people in a public outdoor space under certain defined conditions. Regulation 2 of SI 2020/828 describes the “protected area” for these purposes as the areas of Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council, Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council, Bury Metropolitan Borough Council, Manchester City Council, Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council, Rochdale Borough Council, Salford City Council, Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council, Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council, Wigan Metropolitan Borough Council, Pendle Borough Council, Hyndburn Borough Council, Burnley Borough Council, Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council and Kirklees Metropolitan Borough Council. SI 2020/846 added the area of Preston City Council into the protected area.
30.On 13 August restrictions on more types of business were removed from the National Regulations, but based on the epidemiological evidence and discussion with local leaders, it was decided not to allow these restrictions to be lifted in the protected areas in the North of England. SI 2020/865 gives effect to that decision by disapplying the relevant provision in the National Regulations and inserting business closures provisions into the North of England Regulations. These are temporary regulations and must be reviewed at least once every 14 days; no changes were made to the restrictions on gatherings after the first review. Following a further review of the epidemiological evidence, SI 2020/897 removed Wigan Metropolitan Borough Council and Rossendale Borough Council from the protected area. The next review was due by 28 August 2020.
31.This Order amends section 23 of the Enterprise Act 2002 (“the Act”) which sets out when a “relevant merger situation” may arise which may be investigated by the Competition and Markets Authority on competition grounds, and in which the Secretary of State may intervene under section 42 of the Act on the ground of public interest, including national security considerations. Under the Act, a “relevant merger situation” is created if two or more enterprises cease to be distinct and the thresholds of a “turnover test” or “share of supply test” are met. These thresholds were amended in 2018 for certain “relevant enterprises”, so that a business being taken over must have a UK turnover of over £1 million, rather than £70 million, and the requirement in the share of supply test to increase the share of supply was removed. The current “relevant enterprise” categories to which the lower thresholds apply are businesses involved in military or dual use technologies, computing hardware and quantum technologies. An earlier instrument added three new types of enterprise to the businesses to which the lower share of supply test applies: enterprises involved in artificial intelligence, cryptographic authentication and advanced materials. This Order ensures that the lower turnover test also applies to these three additional categories of enterprise. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) explains that the earlier instrument and this Order will come into force on the same day, and that this Order is intended as a “short-term measure” to protect key sectors of the economy at a time of uncertainty, including as a result of the pandemic, until more fundamental reform is taken forward through the National Security and Investment Bill. BEIS says that this Bill will be introduced “when Parliamentary time allows”. The Committee reiterates its call on the Department, as highlighted in our report on the earlier instrument, to give a timetable for the introduction of the Bill without delay, given the significance of the issues and the urgency to act.
32.This instrument removes temporarily various publicity and notification requirements in relation to Development Consent Orders (DCOs), which grant planning consent for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects. Under this process, there are obligations on applicants (or the Secretary of State where relevant) to put documents at specified locations, for example near the proposed project, for inspection at certain stages of the process. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) says that this instrument requires relevant documents to be made available for inspection on a website instead, which has to be maintained by or on behalf of the applicant or the Secretary of State (depending on the procedural step concerned). According to MHCLG, the instrument is necessary because of the restrictions on movement and accessibility that have resulted from the pandemic. The changes are temporary and will expire on 31 December 2020. While we understand the need for flexibility at this time, as the Explanatory Memorandum (paragraph 7.6) acknowledges, “the changes could have the potential to reduce access to information, and the ability to make representations, for those people who do not have internet access at home”. The House may wish to press the minister for an assurance that this new provision does not compromise the principle of fair access to information for all those who may be affected by relevant infrastructure projects.
33.This instrument removes temporarily the requirements on the Mayor of London and combined authorities that have powers to develop spatial development strategies, such as Greater Manchester and the Liverpool City Region, to make certain documents available for physical inspection and to provide hard copies on request. The documents will, instead, need to be made available on the relevant authority’s website. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government explains that spatial development strategies are needed to set out a framework for the future development of an area, including releasing land for housing, and for encouraging and directing investment into the area. The modifications are temporary and will apply until 31 December 2020.
34.Heavy vehicle roadworthiness testing was suspended in March 2020 due to the safety risk posed by coronavirus to testing staff. This had resulted in a backlog of over 200,000 incomplete tests by July 2020, when testing was reintroduced. This instrument allows the Secretary of State to issue certificates of temporary exemption (CTE) from the requirement to hold a test certificate for public service vehicles adapted to carry more than eight passengers and for goods vehicles, so that these vehicles do not have to be taken off the road. The Department for Transport will focus available testing capacity on the vehicles posing the highest road safety risk, while safer vehicles can be tested when capacity allows (criteria are set out in regulation 4). This new approach, which will necessarily involve the exercise of the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency ’s (DVSA) judgement, has been enabled by the changes introduced by the Business and Planning Act 2020. It is a permanent change which can be used whenever exceptional circumstances (including a fire, an epidemic, severe weather, or a failure in the supply of essential services) make it necessary. DVSA will monitor the effects on road safety.
35.This instrument ensures that various statutory entitlements in Great Britain that are based on a week’s pay and related to termination of employment are not reduced as a result of an employee being furloughed under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). The entitlements are redundancy pay; notice pay; compensation for unfair dismissal; payments resulting from a failure to provide a written statement of reasons for dismissal; payments resulting from a failure to comply with an order for reinstatement or re-engagement; and remuneration for time off to look for employment or arrange training. According to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the policy objectives of the instrument are to provide greater certainty in the calculation of a week’s pay and to ensure, for the benefit of furloughed employees whose employment is terminated, that the calculation of statutory entitlements relating to termination is based on their normal pay, rather than their furlough pay. BEIS says that the changes are time limited as they only concern employees furloughed under the CJRS. Equivalent legislation was commenced in Northern Ireland on 14 August.
36.This instrument grants time limited exemptions from the requirement to hold an electricity transmission licence to four offshore wind farms. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) explains that under the current rules, electricity generators build and test offshore wind farms and a tendering process is then used to select an independent offshore transmission owner (OFTO) to operate a wind farm. BEIS says that the pandemic has disrupted current tendering processes, so that generators are unable to transfer wind farms to an OFTO. The exemptions introduced by this instrument in effect extend the period during which generators can transmit electricity to the grid without a licence, to help ensure that projects have sufficient time to conclude commercial negotiations and complete the transfer of the asset to an OFTO. BEIS says that without the instrument, generators would be unable to continue generating and transmitting electricity lawfully. The exemptions will expire on the relevant date specified in the instrument, or upon transfer of ownership of the transmission asset to an OFTO if that is earlier. BEIS says that the Scottish Government were consulted on the exemptions, with particular reference to Beatrice wind farm, which is located within Scottish waters, and that they support the exemptions.
37.This instrument removes temporarily a requirement for offshore oil and gas operators to make certain documents available for public inspection at a specified UK address, if the effects of coronavirus, including restrictions on movement, mean that it is not reasonably practicable for the public to inspect the documents in this way. The documents relate to the application for permits required for the use and discharge of chemicals in connection with offshore petroleum activities and offshore storage and unloading activities. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) says that the temporary changes are needed as there will be potentially three permit applications in 2020 that will be subject to public inspection, and that without the changes the developments would be delayed because offshore oil and gas operators would be unable to make copies of the required documents available for public inspection as required. BEIS explains that the public will be able to obtain copies of the relevant documents by post or electronically and that the applicant must make a copy of the application available online. The changes will cease to have effect 12 months from the date the instrument comes into force.
38.This instrument amends the original Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (England) Regulations 2020 to take into account the outcome of the second statutory review of those Regulations, which was completed on 27 July 2020. The Regulations provide that a person who is required to be in self-isolation is not required to isolate themselves from a visitor who is there to provide certain services including care and medical assistance. They amend Schedule 2 to remove the exemption from the requirement to self-isolate for certain health or care professionals, and they update the list of elite sports competitions in Schedule 3. The instrument also corrects the original Regulations (as amended) to address concerns raised by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments so that the time periods specified are capable of being identified more precisely.
39.These six sets of regulations all amend the principal Regulations, to add or remove specific countries from the lists in the Schedules that set out whether passengers arriving in England from those destinations will be required to self-isolate for 14 days. All changes are based on the latest assessment by the Joint Biosecurity Centre, with Public Health England, of COVID-19 infection rates in those countries:
40.These Regulations amend the provisions made in an earlier instrumentfor the conduct of local authority meetings held before 7 May 2021, and for public and press access to these meetings. The new Regulations amend the definition of “local authority” in the earlier instrument to include Mayoral Development Corporations, Transport for London, Urban Development Corporations and parish meetings. The amendments enable these bodies to hold and alter the frequency and occurrence of meetings without requirement for further notice and for members of these bodies to attend meetings remotely. The amendments also modify the statutory requirements relating to public and press access to meetings and decisions made by local authorities, so that such access may be provided remotely. The Regulations also disapply provisions requiring a parish meeting to hold an annual meeting and modify provisions requiring a parish meeting to give public notice of meetings. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government says that the instrument ensures that the temporary flexibility for local authority meetings applies to local authorities in the broadest sense, so that they can conduct their business whilst protecting the health and safety of members, officers and the public during the pandemic. The changes are time limited and apply only to meetings taking place before 7 May 2021.
41.This instrument enables schools to record when a pupil is not attending in circumstances relating to the coronavirus pandemic, by introducing a specific new category of non-attendance for the 2020–21 academic year. The change applies to all schools, including independent schools, in England, except schools where all pupils are boarders, and builds on an earlier instrument which suspended temporarily the attendance recording obligations of schools until the end of the 2019–20 academic year. The Department for Education (DfE) explains that while attendance will be mandatory for all pupils of compulsory school age and the ability to issue penalty notices and to use other parental responsibility measures will be restored from the beginning of the new academic year, the changes in this instrument will enable consistent recording of non-attendance due to coronavirus across England and make such non-attendance clearly identifiable in school attendance registers to help schools’ local planning. According to DfE, the new category of non-attendance also supports the Government’s commitment that parents who follow public health advice on shielding, self-isolating or staying at home during a local lockdown will not be penalised and that their child’s attendance record will not be adversely impacted by following official advice. While the temporary changes made by this instrument are practical and understandable, we take the view that schools will need to take particular care, so that the new category is not used inappropriately, in particular in relation to vulnerable pupils who would be disadvantaged further by not attending school.
42.This Order establishes 1 April 2021 as the valuation date for the next revaluation of non-domestic rates (known as business rates). The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government says that revaluations are intended to reflect in business rate bills the relative movements in rental values since the last revaluation. During the revaluation process the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) updates all rateable values having regard to the rental market at a set date: the so-called valuation date. The valuation date is set two years in advance of the revaluation itself to give the VOA time to collect and analyse rents and set rateable values. Under current legislation, the next revaluation would take effect on 1 April 2022 based on pre-pandemic property values as of 1 April 2019. To reduce the uncertainty for businesses affected by the pandemic, the Government announced in July 2020 that the next revaluation of non-domestic property in England will instead take effect on 1 April 2023. This instrument sets a new valuation date of 1 April 2021 to ensure that the revaluation better reflects the impact of the pandemic on property values.
43.This instrument makes pandemic-related changes to some of the Regulations that set the regulatory framework for primary care in England. In particular, it allows for the form filling and provision of evidence (particularly signatures) connected with prescriptions and the provision of dentistry and ophthalmic services to be waived during the pandemic to reduce the risk of cross infection. The amendments also delay the production of pharmaceutical needs assessments by the Health and Wellbeing Boards of local authorities until 1 April 2022 and allow new pharmacy and appliance contractor premises a longer period in which to open before the permission to do so lapses.
44.SI 2020/829 updates the Statutory Sick Pay (General) Regulations 1982 to align with the amended Guidance issued by Public Health England on 30 July 2020 to provide that a person continues to be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for up to 10 days instead of seven, if they have to self-isolate because they have tested positive for coronavirus or have symptoms of coronavirus.
45.SI 2020/892 extends eligibility for SSP to people who are required to self-isolate for up to 14 days prior to admittance to hospital for planned or elective surgery.
46.Given the public health need for people to isolate at home and to prevent homelessness, Practice Direction 51Z (‘PD51Z’) was introduced on a pilot basis on 27 March to protect renters and homeowners from eviction until 25 June. This was put on a statutory basis and extended until 22 August 2020 by SI 2020/582. Following concerns about rapid increases in infections in local areas this instrument amends Part 55 of the Civil Procedure Rules, the practical effect of which is to extend the current stay on possession proceedings for a further four weeks until 20 September 2020. The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) states that this short further delay will allow time to be sure that all practical arrangements to protect renters are in place, before the stay is lifted.
47.In supplementary material the MOJ stressed that they are trying to balance differing needs fairly. Recently implemented legislative changes now require landlords to provide tenants with six months’ notice in most circumstances when seeking to evict, and to provide the court with information on how the tenant has been affected by COVID-19. However, there are some circumstances that are causing landlords, tenants and neighbouring communities untenable levels of stress and financial strain. Once the stay ends, courts will prioritise these most serious cases, particularly those involving anti-social behaviour and serious rent arrears. MOJ said that these additional provisions will be in force until 31 March 2021, reflecting the need to provide tenants with additional protections during the winter months and decisions will continue to be guided by the latest public health advice.
10 Health Protection (Coronavirus, Wearing of Face Coverings in a Relevant Place) (England) Regulation which was subject to comment in our , Session 2019–21 (HL Paper 116): 5th item in the COVID-19 Section.
11 Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No. 2) (England) Regulations 2020 ().
12 Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Blackburn with Darwen and Luton) Regulations 2020 (revoked) ().
13 Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No.2) (England) Regulations 2020 ().
14 The original share of supply test set out that a relevant merger situation is created if a merger results in the creation of, or increase in, a 25% or more combined share of sales or purchases in the UK of goods or services.
15 Enterprise Act 2002 (Share of Supply) (Amendment) Order 2020 (), see: , Session 2019–21 (HL Paper 96).
16 Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (England) Regulations 2020 ().
17 as above.
18 Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority and Police and Crime Panel Meetings) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020 (), , Session 2019–21 (HL Paper 49).
19 Education (Pupil Registration) (England) (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 (), see: , Session 2019–21 (HL Paper 73).
20 HC Deb, 21 July 2020, : (Commons written ministerial statement).
21 as amended by among others.
22 MoJ, ‘Practice Direction 51z: stay of possession proceedings, coronavirus’ (11 June 2020): [accessed 3 September 2020].
23 Civil Procedure (Amendment No. 2) (Coronavirus) Rules 2020 () mentioned in our , Session 2019–21 (HL Paper 84).