3rd January 2021

COVID-19 emergency legislation

Since the start of the pandemic London Trading Standards have been playing a key role in the enforcement of emergency legislation introduced in response to the serious and imminent threat to public health posed by the incidence and spread of COVID-19.

The Secretary of State has been making regulations using powers in the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984. Local authority officers may be designated to enforce provisions that apply to business closures, business restrictions, precautionary requirements and the collection of contact details in certain types of business. Over ten sets of such regulations have been made since the first came into force on 26th March 2020.

Most local authorities have tasked their regulatory staff, usually Trading Standards, Environmental Health, Licensing and Health & Safety teams, to undertake the work at a local level. Police are able to enforce all of the emergency legislation provisions and across London much partnership work has been undertaken with the police to help keep Londoners safe.

It is an offence to breach the regulations. Prohibition notices can be issued to those who fail to comply as well as fixed penalty notices or ultimately a prosecution. On conviction in the Magistrates Court an unlimited fine may be imposed.

Local Directions

Local authorities also have the power to direct the closure of, or to restrict access to, a specific premise or public outdoor place where this is necessary and proportionate to manage a serious and imminent threat to public health relating to coronavirus. Directions imposing prohibitions, requirements or restrictions in relation holding of events in an area may also be given.

Such directions can only be given after consultation with the Director of Public Health for the area concerned and exercise of this power is subject to a right of appeal or representations. Failure to comply with a direction can result in a fixed penalty notice being issued or in prosecution with an unlimited fine on conviction.

Reporting a breach of regulations

Despite the economic hardship we know that most businesses endeavour to comply with the rules which are vital to protect both the public and employees. However if you think a business is in breach of the closure or restriction requirements you can report your concerns using our reporting tool.