On 22 September the government announced further national measures to try to control the escalating number of coronavirus cases in England. Under their devolved powers, Scotland, Wales and Ireland have also introduced new measures along broadly similar lines but with differing levels of severity. Many of the new rules in England will have a significant effect on the leisure and tourism sector.
The new measures, most of which apply from 24 September, include:
- A requirement for customers in hospitality venues to wear a face covering unless seated at a table to eat or drink (unless exempt because of an underlying health condition);
- Staff within hospitality and retail venues to wear face coverings (unless exempt);
- A curfew on businesses selling food or drink (not just limited to bars, cafes and restaurants) requiring them to be closed between 10pm and 5am;
- Customers must eat or drink at a table in all businesses selling food and drink for consumption on their premises;
- Table service only within licensed premises; and
- Where applicable, businesses must display the NHS QR code (see test and trace below);
In addition, from 28 September the government has indicated that businesses and organisations will face stricter rules to make their premises Covid-secure with the current guidance becoming a legal requirement. Those who fail to comply face fines of up to £10,000. On the same day, new restrictions will come into effect for attendees at weddings and civil partnerships with numbers reduced from 30 to 15.
While the new changes will be grabbing the headlines now, there are other important changes to be aware of from this Thursday 24 September.
Compulsory Track and Trace measures
Two weeks ago the government announced that track and trace measures, previously encouraged through guidance, would become a legal requirement for a range of businesses in England within the leisure and tourism sector, local authorities and those with close contact services. Similar measures are already in force within Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
It is the government’s hope that by maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors, it will help NHS Test and Trace to identify and notify people who may have been exposed to the virus, ultimately helping to prevent more stringent lockdown measures being brought in.
From 24 September, it will be compulsory for relevant businesses to:
- Ask one member (minimum) of each party of customers or visitors to provide their name and contact details;
- Maintain records of all staff working on the premises and the shift times they work, along with their contact details;
- The above two registers must be kept for 21 days and if requested, should be provided to NHS Test and Trace;
- Display the official NHS QR code poster. This can be used as an alternative means for customers and visitors to provide contact details; and
- Refuse entry to anyone refusing to participate with the Track and Trace requirements.
By 24 September, all relevant businesses must register for an official NHS QR code and display the official poster. The NHS COVID-19 app has features that allow customers to scan the QR code and ‘check-in’. A customer checking in to premises using the QR code does not need to provide their contact details. For customers not using the app on arrival, relevant businesses will be required to keep a record of the following information:
- Name of the lead customer/visitor in a group and the number of people in the group;
- A contact phone number or email address, if neither of these are available, a postal address;
- Date and time of visit (time should include arrival time and where possible, departure time); and
- Name of assigned member of staff.
The compulsory measures apply to all businesses listed within Annex A (see here). This includes all hospitality venues such as bars, restaurants, cafes (where food or drink is consumed on the premises) and businesses in the visitor economy such as cinemas, museums and hotels.
It is not a requirement to obtain contact details where:
- services are taken off premises immediately (such as a take-away);
- the visitor is under 16 years of age;
- the visitor is a police officer or emergency responder;
- the visitor does not have mental capacity; or
- the sole purpose of the visit is for making a delivery or collection.
Relevant businesses will only be required to share records when requested by NHS Test and Trace or Public Health Officers. The data collected under the Track and Trace measures should be held securely for 21 days, upon which time it must be securely disposed of or deleted. The information obtained must not be used for any other purpose. Relevant businesses must comply with the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulation at all times including provision of a clear explanation as to why the data is being collected (this need only be a notice on your website or at the premises) and, unless exempt, should be registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office.
Relevant businesses who fail to comply with the Track and Trace requirements face a fixed penalty fine of £1,000 for the first offence with fines increasing by £1,000 for each subsequent offence up to £4,000. Fines can be issued to the person responsible for the relevant business including the manager, owner or proprietor of the building.
If you need any further assistance or information our Regulatory Team, which forms part of our dedicated Leisure and Tourism Sector Team, will be happy to help. Do not hesitate to contact Alan Millband or Robert Starr.
The information on this site about legal matters is provided as a general guide only. Although we try to ensure that all of the information on this site is accurate and up to date, this cannot be guaranteed. The information on this site should not be relied upon or construed as constituting legal advice and Howes Percival LLP disclaims liability in relation to its use. You should seek appropriate legal advice before taking or refraining from taking any action.