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New laws, fines and powers introduced to enforce Covid-19 restrictions on hospitality

09 September 2020 by
New laws, fines and powers introduced to enforce Covid-19 restrictions on hospitality

Covid-19 restrictions will be strengthened from Monday when hospitality venues failing to collect guest details and those gathering socially in groups of more than six will be breaking the law.

The prime minister has this afternoon confirmed requirements will be brought into law, as well as granting a raft of new enforcement powers to crack down on venues that are not Covid secure.

People will be banned from meeting socially in groups of more than six indoors or outdoors, including in pubs, restaurants and cafés. Hospitality venues will still be able to hold more than six people, but people must not be gathered in groups of more than six and separate groups must not mix socially.

Exceptions will be made for support bubbles of more than six people and the change in rules will not apply to workplaces, schools or Covid-secure weddings and funerals.

The new rules will replace guidance preventing gatherings of more than 30 people or the meeting of more than two households indoors.

Prime minister Boris Johnson has also announced a raft of measures to allow stronger enforcement of the rules applying to hospitality venues, including making it illegal for venues not to gather guest details for track and trace.

Local authorities will be given the ability to levy fines on businesses that are not Covid secure and receive additional support in closing those that fail to meet requirements. Marshals will also be introduced in town and city centres to enforce social distancing.

Johnson also said that hours of operation could be limited in some areas. He said the additional restrictions were intended to prevent another national lockdown.

He added: "We are simplifying and strengthening the rules making them easier for everyone to understand and for the police to enforce."

In response to the announcement UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: "The prime minister's statement represents a further shift towards hospitality businesses to act to protect public health. This is a challenge that the sector has already grasped and will redouble efforts to achieve, in the interest of customers and staff, and to minimise the risk of further lockdowns.

"This will, of course, be more easily achieved with the cooperation of customers, so the measures to make clear the responsibility of individuals was equally welcome. Any fines charged against hospitality venues for breaching Covid-secure requirements must be proportionate and pertain to factors wholly under the control of the venue."

When asked about a furlough extension for those who have still been unable to return to work, Johnson said: "We are going to continue to do everything we possibly can to support those who can't work in the way they want to."

He added: "If we extend it [furlough] more widely… you're just keeping people in suspended animation when really we want to get people back to work if they possibly can", however he added that jobs "should certainly be supported and protected".

The press conference also heard that pilot events aimed at seeing larger events resume from October will be paused once again.

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