News story

Government sets out plans to enforce closure of businesses and other venues

Local government will be responsible for enforcing regulations requiring those businesses asked to close.

  • Businesses who do not follow COVID-19 restrictions will be issued with prohibition notices
  • Businesses who fail to comply will receive fines and could also face the loss of their alcohol license
  • There will be no upper limit to the fines of businesses who continue to ignore restrictions

Local government will be responsible for enforcing regulations requiring those businesses asked to close on 20 March 2020, in new guidance issued today (22 March 2020).

Businesses including pubs, cinemas, theatres and casinos were told to close from 21 March, as part of government drive to reduce the spread of the virus, protect the NHS and save lives.

Government confirmed today that Environmental Health and Trading Standards officers, with police support if appropriate, will work together to issue prohibition notices challenging unsafe behaviours where businesses do not follow these restrictions.

Environmental Health and Trading Standards officers will monitor compliance, and businesses who fail to comply can also receive fines. Continued non-compliance could then lead to the loss of alcohol licenses.

Under the Business Closure regulations introduced on March 21, officers will have powers to prosecute for breach of regulations.

Local Government Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said:

We recognise the pressure the emergency COVID-19 restrictions place on small businesses, which is why the government has announced an unprecedented package of support to help businesses and workers.

But we must follow the medical advice. That means staying at home, protecting the NHS and saving lives.

So far we have seen this crisis bring out the best in us, but some people are risking the safety of others by failing to act on medical advice. People must do this immediately to save people’s lives.

Business Secretary Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP said:

I want to urge all businesses to look carefully at the package of measures we have announced to help them through this difficult time and allow them to comply with new regulations.

Further information

See the guidance on enforcing certain businesses to close.

The government will ensure that local authorities are funded for the new requirements as quickly as possible, in line with the New Burdens doctrine.

As of 2pm on 21 March 2020, these closures are enforceable by law in England and Wales due to the threat to public health. A business operating in contravention of the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Business Closures) Regulations 2020 will be committing an offence.

As agreed with the devolved administrations these measures will be extended to Scotland and Northern Ireland by Ministerial Direction once the Coronavirus Bill is in force.

Published 22 March 2020