Hospitality and events: local authorities given unprecedented powers to shut down venues - Kuits Solicitors Manchester
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Hospitality and events: local authorities given unprecedented powers to shut down venues

Hospitality and events: local authorities given unprecedented powers to shut down venues

29th July 2020 - Published by Kuits licensing team

Hospitality and events operators should be aware that local authorities have been given sweeping enforcement powers under the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No.3) Regulations 2020, which came into force on 18th July 2020. 

The scale of these powers is unprecedented, and operators who find themselves on the wrong side of these, or who think they might be about to become subject to them should take advice immediately. 

Additional powers now held by local authorities

The Regulations confer power on local authorities to use a ‘direction’, which can impose various requirements or restrictions on premises, events or even public outdoor spaces. They could require, for example, that the premises closes, that entry is restricted or that numbers of people are restricted, and more. 

Local authorities may give a direction if: 

  • It responds to a serious and imminent threat to public health
  • It is necessary for the purpose of preventing, protecting against, controlling or providing a public health response to the incidence or spread of infection by coronavirus 
  • The prohibitions/requirements/restrictions imposed are a proportionate means of achieving that purpose 

Once given, the direction must be reviewed every seven days, to determine whether the above conditions still apply. 

The police do not have the power to give a direction, but do have the power to enforce any restrictions, requirements or prohibitions once one is given by the local authority. It is an offence to breach the requirements of a direction without reasonable excuse. 

There are rights of appeal against a direction, but these are to the Magistrates Court and therefore likely timescales prohibit this being a useful response. 

As such, as noted above, operators should look to avoid the formal imposition of a direction where possible. If an operator is concerned about the potential for enforcement, either under these new powers or any existing powers, they should take advice on the appropriate response to this to avoid a negative outcome. 

Get in touch with a specialist licensing lawyer

If you require assistance with anything mentioned above, the Kuits Licensing Team can be contacted on 0161 838 7888. 

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