This week, key points of the governmental actions related to COVID-19 include: enforcement law made for agencies to take control of goods and regulate one to stay at home in England and Wales, Physical distancing requirement in relation to certain premises in Wales, an amendment to town and country planning to make way for health service bodies in Scotland, extended working time to ensure higher statutory payment in Northern Ireland and another law to make provisions for taking this year’s holidays in the next 2 years.
Enforcement law made for agencies to take control of goods and regulate one to stay at home in England and Wales
Amendments are made to the Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013 and the Certification of Enforcement Agents Regulations 2014, giving enforcement agencies power to take control of goods on the highway or prevent a person leaving their living address. This amendment is made to aid Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 (S.I. 2020/350) (the “English Regulations”) and the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) Regulations 2020 (S.I. 2020/353) (W.80) (the “Welsh Regulations”), which imposed restrictions preventing a person from leaving the place in which they usually live without reasonable excuse.
Physical distancing requirement on certain premises in Wales
Regulation 3 amends regulations 4, 5, 6 and 6A of the principal Regulations so that premises of the types listed below must take all reasonable measures to ensure that a distance of 2 metres is maintained between persons on the premises (unless the persons are members of the same household or are a carer and the person being cared for), to ensure the number of persons allowed to enter is limited so as to enable those measures to have effect, and to ensure that a distance of 2 metres is maintained between persons waiting to enter. The premises are—
(a)premises used as cafés or canteens at a hospital, care home, school, prison or military establishment or used to provide food and drink to homeless persons;
(b)premises that, although generally required to be closed under regulation 4(4) of the principal Regulations, are open for the purposes of broadcasting, or on the request of the Welsh Ministers or a local authority, or to provide services online, by telephone or by post;
(c)holiday accommodation that is permitted to remain open to provide accommodation to certain persons, or for a purpose requested by the Welsh Ministers or a local authority, or to provide services online, by telephone or by post;
(d)any part of a shop that would otherwise be required to close under regulation 6(2) of the principal Regulations but is permitted to remain open to respond to orders and enquiries received online, by telephone or by post (for example to provide facilities for the uplift of orders placed online, generally known as a “click and collect” service).
Town and country planning: make way for health service bodies in Scotland
Amendment made to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Scotland) Order 1992. This will allow local authorities and certain health service bodies to carry out development for the purposes of—
(a)preventing an emergency,
(b)reducing, controlling or mitigating the effects of an emergency, or
(c)taking other action in connection with an emergency.
For these purposes, an emergency is an event or situation which threatens serious damage to human welfare in a place in the United Kingdom.
Extended working time to ensure higher statutory payment and annual leave carried into the next 2 years in Northern IrelandNI (SI) 2020/67 – The Discretionary Support (Amendment No. 2) (COVID-19) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 increases the annual income threshold by increasing the number of hours per working week from 40 hours to 45 hours. This will increase the amount of earnings a person can have while still being eligible for discretionary support. This will provide additional access to support to those whose income is affected by COVID-19.
NI (SI) 2020/68 – The Working Time (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 regulate that at the end of a leave year it was not reasonably practicable for a worker to take some or all of the leave to which the worker was entitled under regulation 15 as a result of the effects of coronavirus (including on the worker, the employer or the wider economy or society). In this case the untaken leave may be carried forward and taken in the following two leave years. In addition, Regulation 17 of the WTR provides for a payment in lieu of any untaken annual leave where a worker’s employment terminates.