Lockdown ‘law’ in NW England is a fiction

Fiction:

New lockdown laws have been put in place in NW England.

Law:

Leaving aside the issue of face covering, nothing has actually changed since ‘independence day’ on 4th July. At that point the government revoked the lockdown restrictions almost in entirety. They left a reducing list of businesses required to stay closed and, otherwise, only a general restriction in England not to gather in groups of more than 30.

That is it. Gathering is explained in more detail in within another post here.

In headline, however, the restriction on gathering in homes (‘private dwellings’) is simply limiting numbers to 30. That gathering can be of multiple families and friends (of any religion or colour, by the way).

There are no restrictions on indoor gathering of more than 30 people in

  • pubs, restaurants and hotels
  • churches, mosques and local halls
  • clubs, hotel ballrooms and other venues while they cease to provide their venue for dancing
  • conference centres and exhibition halls provided they are not being used to host conferences, exhibitions or trade shows
  • theatres and cinemas

The announcements about lockdown in NW England are huff and puff. Fiction, not law.

As for the change in language from ministers, guidance is now more frequently being referred to as ‘rules’. This is because it sounds more serious and obligatory, but these ‘rules’ are still just guidance. There is no legal obligation to observe them. Families and friends and businesses are as free as before:

  • We are free to stay with friends or family
  • We are free to hug one another in the street and in our homes
  • We are free to go to the pub or restaurant with one another
  • We are free to sing in places of worship and elsewhere
  • We are free to make our own risk assessments based on evidence
  • We are free to serve pints in a crowded bar
  • We are free to run premises without one-way systems

As for outdoor gatherings, this is explained within another post here.

Why are businesses imposing these ‘rules’?

Businesses and employers can choose not to impose social distancing ‘rules’ and other guidance if they wish. However, their difficulty is:

  1. Fear of Covid-19 which remains fixed in the public mind
  2. Unchallenged threats and misinformation regarding health and safety obligations and risk assessments

On fear, others can explain.  As for H&S law, the government position is this: risk of danger from spreading Covid-19 is to be regarded in all cases as a greater danger than any other danger arising from their lockdown policies.

Based on statutes and decades of law that, to our knowledge, have not been changed by Parliament, that it is an assessment for which the Courts have traditionally required to be backed up by evidence.

Such evidence and assessment might be expected to consider, on the one hand, how many deaths are occurring from Covid 19 in first or supposed second waves and, on the other hand, as to how many deaths are occurring from lack of treatment, suicides and depression, damage to the economy etc.

This longer post is important and explains in more detail: Risk assessments: an important chink in the lockdown armour

Discrimination

There is no need to explain here. Anyone, including lawyers such as the leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition, knows that applying the rules and guidance will, especially at the time of Eid, be indirectly discriminatory. That discrimination is unlawful under the Equality Act 2010 unless justified. Again, evidence is required for such justification.

 

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No. 2) (England) Regulations 2020

 

Warning: Law and circumstances can change very quickly.  Please note the date of publication of any blog post and check for any updates on the issues addressed. In any event, we do not condone or encourage breaching the law and neither the above nor any information posted on this website constitutes legal advice. It must not be relied upon as such and specialist legal advice should be taken in relation to specific circumstances. Please read our disclaimer.

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1 thought on “Lockdown ‘law’ in NW England is a fiction”

  1. Fiona Seymour

    Hi. The govt guidance on the north of England restrictions says “The government will pass new laws to enforce the changes to meeting people in private homes and gardens”. The use of “will” concerns me that there is more to come.
    Your final para on discrimination is spot on.

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