Eighth Report Contents

Instruments relating to COVID-19


Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel and Operator Liability) (England) (Amendment) (No. 3) Regulations 2021 (SI 2021/731)

71.These Regulations amend the International Travel Regulations:18

Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel and Operator Liability) (England) (Amendment) (No. 4) Regulations 2021 (SI 2021/766)

72.These Regulations further amend the International Travel Regulations19 in a variety of ways:

Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel and Operator Liability) (England) (Amendment) (No. 5) Regulations 2021 (SI 2021/795)

73.This instrument makes further amendments to the International Travel Regulations20 to exempt people from Amber list countries who have been invited to attend a Euro 2020 event by the Football Association from the obligation to isolate on arrival into England. They will still be subject to the wider public health border requirements, including pre-departure test, Passenger Locator Form, and mandatory testing after arrival and, according to the Government, they should be in the UK for no more than 24 to 36 hours.

74.The distinction between invitees (exempted by SI 795) and Final attendees (exempted by 766) is that the Final attendees are to be more closely managed by law, because they are less closely affiliated to UEFA or the national associations. Final attendees (who are most likely to be fans) will go straight from the airport to Wembley and back to the airport. Meanwhile the invitees (who will be executives, friends and family of the team etc) will be permitted, for example, to stay overnight, subject to strict mitigations.

75.We are surprised that the instrument is not headed as a correcting instrument as the Explanatory Memorandum states that “this modification to the existing exemption will more accurately reflect the detail of the commitments agreed with UEFA”. We are also disappointed that the Government have required three separate instruments laid in quick succession to make these arrangements, especially as Wembley Stadium as the venue for the final games has been public knowledge for some time.

Changes to business regulation and practice

Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 (Coronavirus) (Extension of the Relevant Period) (No. 2) Regulations 2021 (SI 2021/718)

76.This instrument extends two temporary measures beyond their current expiry date of 30 June to 30 September 2021. The measures were originally introduced by the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 and subsequently extended three times.21 They restrict temporarily the use of statutory demands22 and winding-up petitions.23 The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) says that these restrictions help to protect companies from aggressive creditor action as the economy opens up, and allow businesses to get back to a more normal way of working. According to BEIS, other temporary measures that were extended previously are being allowed to lapse on 30 June to enable a gradual return of the insolvency framework to its normal operation. This includes the exemption of small suppliers from the prohibition of the use of termination clauses24 in insolvency and the suspension of personal liability for wrongful trading.25

Business Tenancies (Protection from Forfeiture: Relevant Period) (Coronavirus) (England) (No. 2) Regulations 2021 (SI 2021/732)

77.This instrument extends further until 25 March 2022 the moratorium during which landlords of commercial properties may not evict tenants due to non-payment of rent. Without this further extension the moratorium would have expired on 30 June 2021.26 The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) says that the moratorium is not a rent holiday and tenants remain liable for payment of any rent arrears. The Government had previously announced that the moratorium would not be extended beyond 30 June.

78.MHCLG says, however, that following a Call for Evidence27 on the state of negotiations between landlords and tenants regarding rent arrears and ongoing lease terms, the Government do not consider that allowing the current moratorium to lapse would be appropriate, as it is likely to lead to a significant level of evictions and business insolvencies which would threaten jobs. MHCLG explains that the Government therefore intend to bring forward new measures to encourage negotiation between landlords and tenants and, if necessary, mandate rent debt settlements. As this will require primary legislation, this instrument extends the moratorium further to “protect tenant business and the millions of jobs that they support” in the interim until the new measures can be put in place.

79.We asked MHCLG about the ability of small businesses to repay rent arrears that have accumulated over more than a year, and how the Government would address concerns, including by the British Property Federation, that some well-capitalised businesses which can afford to pay rent are refusing to do so. We are publishing MHCLG’s response at Appendix 2.

Law and order

Prosecution of Offences Act 1985 (Specified Proceedings) (Coronavirus) (Amendment) (No. 2) Order 2021 (SI 2021/723)

80.This Order provides that penalties incurred for offences in relation to two sets of COVID-19 regulations28 are “specified proceedings”, which means that the police may conduct the proceedings by serving a notice and the evidence on an accused person. If that person pleads guilty in writing or does not respond to the notice and evidence served on them, then a court can deal with the case under “the single justice procedure” without the assistance of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). The CPS will take over, however, if the accused pleads not guilty or does not consent to their case being dealt with under this process. The Explanatory Memorandum states that the single justice procedure is appropriate for factually straightforward offences punishable only by a fine, such as the offences specified by this instrument.

18 Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel and Operator Liability) (England) Regulations 2021 - Explanatory Memorandum (legislation.gov.uk) (SI 2021/582).

19 SI 2021/582 as above.

20 SI 2021/582 as above.

21 The most recent extension was through the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 (Coronavirus) (Extension of the Relevant Period) Regulations 2021 (SI 2021/375).

22 A statutory demand can be made to ask for payment of a debt from an individual or company. The individual or company will have 21 days to pay the debt or reach an agreement to pay it.

23 A winding up petition is an application that is made to the court to close or wind up a company that cannot pay its debts.

24 The termination clause provisions prohibit contractual terms that allow contracts to be terminated if a customer enters an insolvency procedure.

25 Wrongful trading may apply where creditors have incurred losses as a result of a company being allowed to trade beyond the point at which insolvency proceedings were inevitable. In such cases a court may require a director of the company to contribute to the company’s assets from their personal assets.

26 The Coronavirus Act 2020 introduced an initial three-month moratorium until 30 June 2020. This was followed by four subsequent extensions until 30 September 2020, 31 December 2020, 31 March 2021 and 30 June 2021 through SI 2020/602, SI 2020/994, SI 2020/1472 and SI 2021/283.

27 MHCLG, Commercial rents and COVID-19: call for evidence (6 April 2021): https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/commercial-rents-and-covid-19-call-for-evidence [accessed 7 July 2021].

28 These regulations are the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Steps) (England) Regulations 2021 (SI 2021/364) and the Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel and Operator Liability) (England) Regulations 2021 (SI 2021/582).

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