The new legal rules that will apply to the English lockdown have been published. The Public Health (Coronavirus Restrictions) (England) (No.4) Regulations 2020 come into force just after midnight on Thursday 5 November 2020 and, lists those businesses that are subject to restrictions, have to close or are allowed to remain open.

Businesses that must close

The complete list is set out in Part 2 of the Schedule and includes:

  • all non-essential retail, including, clothing and electronics stores, vehicle showrooms, travel agents, betting shops, auction houses, tailors, car washes, tobacco and vape shops
  • indoor and outdoor leisure facilities such as bowling alleys, leisure centres and gyms, sports facilities including swimming pools, golf courses and driving ranges, dance studios, stables and riding centres, soft play facilities, climbing walls and climbing centres, archery and shooting ranges, water and theme parks
  • entertainment venues such as theatres, concert halls, cinemas, museums and galleries, casinos, adult gaming centres and arcades, bingo halls, bowling alleys, concert halls, zoos and other animal attractions, botanical gardens
  • personal care facilities such as hair, beauty and nail salons, tattoo parlours, spas, massage parlours, body and skin piercing services, non-medical acupuncture, and tanning salons

Businesses that are subject to restrictions

Businesses serving food and drink on their premises such as restaurants and cafes can only offer take out services (subject to a few exceptions which are set out in Regulation 15 and Part 1 of the Schedule).

Businesses that can remain open

The complete list is set out in Part 3 of the Schedule and includes:

  • Food shops, supermarket, convenience stores, corner shops, off licences, newsagents
  • Hardware stores, building merchants, building services and garden centres;
  • Petrol stations, car repair and MOT services, bicycle shops
  • Banks, building societies, post offices
  • Funeral directors
  • Laundrettes and dry cleaners
  • Health services such as opticians and dentists

What about those businesses which are not included in any of the lists?

The lists don't mention call centres, offices, factories and many other businesses. Instead, separate guidance says that 'everyone who can work effectively from home must do so' but if they can't they 'should continue to travel to work/attend their workplace'. The government expects that businesses that are operating and supporting vital sectors and employers will remain open provided they comply with the guidelines on working safely during Covid (which have not been updated yet).

The Regulations give employees the legal right to travel to and work away from their home if it's not 'reasonably possible' for them to work from home. That concept is not defined and will be subject to interpretation. However, in most cases, employers will find it difficult to argue that staff who have previously worked from home during the first lockdown can't do so this time - even if the arrangements were less than perfect.

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