27 March 2020Publish date: 27/03/2020
Yesterday, the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 came into effect replacing offences under the old regulations and creating prohibition notices. The most pertinent section for local government appears at regulation 10 which relates to fixed penalty notices in the enforcement of regulations 4 (requirement to close premises and businesses during the emergency and 5, (further restrictions and closures during the emergency period). Relevant person is defined under 8(12) as "a person designated by a local authority for the purposes of this regulation" and is curtailed under 8(13) to provisions within regulations 4 and 5. LLG understands the Office for Product Safety & Standards is currently producing guidance on enforcement for local authorities and we will highlight this on our website.
The LLG website and in particular the Forum is awash with information as it populates at speed. Everything from ratifying decisions after the event, sealing documents and the 6-month disqualification rule to local authority businesses and government support is being debated. LLG are looking to assist in all these queries but please share all questions, good practice and practical answers to the issues with the whole membership so we can better support each other and react as one.
The big issue pending regulation is local authority virtual meetings. Clause 78 introduces regulation-making powers with regard to meetings and proceedings of local authorities in the Coronavirus Bill. The Government's exact plans for exercising these regulation-making powers, and the timescale in which they will be exercised, are not known. However, LLG expects the regulations to be available next week. We will be working at speed alongside our stakeholders to produce guidance as quickly as possible on the regulations flowing from this provision. LLG knows that there are big questions around how to vote, how to give access to the press and public and how to utilise the best technology safely where many authorities might struggle with their current systems.
Effective governance and timely 'decision taking' underpin every decision that is made in the public sector. It is even more vital now, that no barriers exist to achieving action that is needed to fight COVID-19. LLG remains committed to constructive engagement with the government on its emerging legislative plans. We are determined, working with our partners, to equip our members with the guidance and support they need during the pandemic crisis in order to ensure they play an effective and responsive part in delivering vital services to our communities.
With very best wishes
Head of Public Affairs