Legal expert develops coronavirus legislation guidance

Barrister aims to help EH colleagues enforce business closures.
24 March 2020 , Katie Coyne

EHPs have started to use a new draft prohibition notice developed by an expert to enforce the coronavirus business lockdown.

There was some confusion over some of the practicalities of enforcing the government’s lockdown and what action may be deemed “necessary to enforce closure”.

However, the notice developed by barrister David Armstrong of Mallard Consultancy and Derwent Chambers is already having success. As of the morning of 24 March Armstrong was working on a video to take LAs through the relevant legislation here.

Armstrong said feedback from the coordinating inspector at Hertfordshire police, which has been using the notice, said threatening the legislation was enough to have people “practically running out of the café”.

He said: “We have drafted up a notice, which I know quite a few officers have started to use. The notices include the relevant coronavirus closure of businesses regulations and warns the people concerned that whatever action is needed may be taken and people can face prosecution.

Armstrong added: “What action may be necessary under the current conditions? That will include physical force in terms of securing a premises. It seems to be they can board over or take a locksmith in the same way they would approach insecure premises and boarding up.

“What they need to do is to liaise with the police because they will need them in terms of breach of the peace. It’s highly unlikely but they may find people some people may want to prevent them from taking action to secure a premises.”

However, Armstrong advised that local authorities and police already have an existing range of powers they can use to enforce the shutdown. These include section 76(1)(a) of the Anti-social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014 to immediately close premises likely to cause nuisance to the public at large.

Also, section 43 allows the issue of a community protection warning and, in these circumstances, quite swiftly thereafter a community protection notice to any person whose conduct is unreasonably detrimental to the quality of life of others.

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