The government is once again using s.45C of the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 to impose distancing measures, writes Charles Holland, as new measures are introduced in Wales.
The Health Protection (Coronavirus: Closure of Leisure Businesses, Footpaths and Access Land) (Wales) Regulations 2020 come into force at 12.00 today. They require the closure of holiday sites, camping sites, amusement arcades and indoor play centres, and further seek to close footpaths crowded with persons who unwisely decamped to Wales for the period of the epidemic.
As is becoming clear, the Government is placing heavy reliance in its legislative management of this crisis on s.45C of the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984. I predict that these provisions will be used for the regulations to enforce the so-called “lockdown”.
Persons who carry on these businesses are responsible for closing them: regulation 2(1).
As with the The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Business Closure) (England) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/327), there is provision dealing with hybrid businesses (regulation 2(2)). Again, understandably given the speed at which regulations are being produced, there is what in less frantic times might be described as a rather clunky approach of thinking that businesses include sub-businesses. No doubt all actors will strive to give this a purposive interpretation.
There is further provision relating to the closure of holiday sites. A person responsible for running such a site must use their best endeavours to require any person using a mobile home or caravan on the site when the premises is closed to vacate the premises: regulation 3(1). This does not apply to any person using a mobile home on the holiday site for human habitation under an agreement made under Part 4 of the Mobile Homes (Wales) Act 2013.
Regulation 4(1) require footpaths to be closed by noon on 25 March 2020 which a relevant authority considers to be liable to large numbers of people congregating or being in close proximity to each other, or the use of which otherwise poses a high risk to the incidence or spread of infection in its area with the coronavirus.
It is an offence to contravene regulation 2 without reasonable cause, and obstructing without reasonable cause any person carrying out a function under the Regulations commits an offence.
As with the Business Clousure regulations, enforcement and prosecution is by persons designated by the Secretary of State.
The Regulations have a 6 month sunset clause. We all hope that by then the sun may be setting on the worse of this virus.
No doubt similar Regulations will appear shortly for England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.