Legislation and guidance update – December (II)

This post includes a rolling update of new legislation and guidance on coronavirus COVID-19 from 12 December 2021. Updates for the earlier part of the month are in a separate post*. A summary of information on the COVID-19: Omicron variant was posted on 30 November 2021. 


Legislation

Updated up to and including new legislation on 31 December 2021.

England

Plan B – update Covid Regulations are to be debated in the House of Commons on 14 December, and the Hansard Society issued an updated briefing (12 December). This observes: “amid backbench unrest, the occasion will be shaped by the interplay between delegated legislation scrutiny, parliamentary procedures, and raw politics. The outcome could have profound consequences for both public health policy and the Prime Minister’s position”.

The Order Paper for 14 December indicates that the following SI will be debated.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Wearing of Face Coverings) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2021, SI 2021/1400. These Regulations amend the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Wearing of Face Coverings) (England) Regulations 2021 (“the principal Regulations”) to add to the list of places where face coverings must be worn, provide for gatherings where face coverings need not be worn, correct errors in the principal Regulations, remove the powers of the Secretary of State to disapply its legal requirements for the purposes of legal research, and clarify which persons are potentially liable to prosecution for an offence in relation to contraventions of regulations 6 and 7. They also extend the period during which the Regulations are in force until 26th January 2022.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Self-Isolation) (England) (Amendment) (No. 6) Regulations 2021, SI 2021/1415. These Regulations amend the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Self-Isolation) (England) Regulations 2020 to remove the distinction between close contacts of a known or suspected Omicron case and close contacts of all other positive cases. [See our post Church of England: Plan B guidance – face coverings, (10 December 2021)].

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Entry to Venues and Events) (England) Regulations 2021, SI 2021/1416. These Regulations impose obligations on those responsible for organising certain events, or managing certain venues (set out in regulation 4), to take reasonable measures to ensure that they do not admit any person to such events, or venues unless the person concerned has been fully vaccinated or has tested negative for coronavirus within the last 48 hours, is participating (or has participated) in a clinical trial of a coronavirus vaccine or, for clinical reasons, should not be vaccinated with a coronavirus vaccine (regulation 5). [See our post Mandatory COVID-19 status checks in England: exemption for places of worship].

The Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) (No. 2) Regulations 2021, SI 2021/.  These Regulations make further provision in relation to entry into the care home, specifically where (a) the person wishing to enter the care home has participated or is participating in a clinical trial; and (b) where the person wishing to enter the care home has not previously been employed or otherwise engaged by the registered person in respect of that regulated activity.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel and Operator Liability (England) (Amendment) (No. 25) Regulations 2021, SI 2021/1449.  These Regulations amend the Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel and Operator Liability) (England) Regulations 2021 (S.I. 2021/582) to permit red-list passengers who were required to isolate in accordance with Schedule 11 immediately before 4.00 p.m. on 15th December 2021 to complete their period of self-isolation at a place other than the place specified in their managed isolation package, unless they, or, where they do not meet the conditions in any of regulations 3C to 3H, a close contact of theirs, have tested positive for coronavirus.

Wales

The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 5) (Wales) (Amendment) (No. 23) Regulations 2021, WSI 2021/1468 )W.376). These Regulations amend the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 5) (Wales) Regulations 2020 (S.I. 2020/1609 (W. 335)) (“the principal Regulations”) to to provide that no person may leave the place where they are living for the purposes of work where it is reasonably practicable for the person to work from home. New regulation 42A is inserted into the principal Regulations to provide for an offence of failing to comply with the regulation 18B requirement.

A related provision is inserted into regulation 16 of the principal Regulations to provide that the reasonable measures that a person responsible for regulated premises may take under that regulation include allowing or requiring persons who ordinarily work at the premises to work from home.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 5) (Wales) (Amendment) (No. 24) Regulations 2021, WSI 2021/1477 (W.379). These Regulations amend the principal Regulations to remove the distinction between close contacts of known or suspected Omicron cases and close contacts of all other positive cases.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 5) (Wales) (Amendment) (No. 25) Regulations 2021, WSI 2021/1485 (W. 386). These regulation provide that the whole of Wales moves from Alert Level 0 to Alert Level 2 on 26 December 2021, meaning that the restrictions and requirements in Schedule 2 to the principal Regulations take effect.

Scotland

The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Requirements) (Scotland) Amendment (No. 5) Regulations 2021, SSI 2021/475. Regulation 3 expands the existing requirement to have regard to guidance issued by the Scottish Ministers about measures to minimise risk of exposure to coronavirus. The new provision also requires the taking of such of the measures as are reasonably practicable.§

The principal Regulations which exempt a person from the requirement that a face covering must be worn in certain indoor places where a distance is maintained between people. The amendments increase the required distance from one to two metres.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (International Travel and Operator Liability) (Scotland) Amendment (No. 13) Regulations 2021, SSI 2021/478. These Regulations  re-introduce amendments previously made by the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (International Travel and Operator Liability) (Scotland) Amendment (No. 7) Regulations 2021 which expired on 15 December 2021.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Requirements) (Scotland) Amendment (No. 6) Regulations 2021, SSI 2021/496. Also Policy Note. Amendments to principal Regulations, in relation to: social distancing; exceptions re: households in regulation 4A(1); provisions where alcohol is sold; attendance at live events; designation of Enforcement Officers. Regulation 4 comes into force at 5.00 a.m. on 27 December 2021. All other provisions come into force at 5.00 a.m. on 26 December 2021.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Requirements) (Scotland) Amendment (No. 7) Regulations 2021, SSI 2021/497.  Amend the principal Regulations to close nightclubs, dance halls or discotheque premises, subject to certain exceptions, from 5.00 a.m. on 27 December 2021.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Requirements) (Scotland) Amendment (No. 8) Regulations 2021, SSI 2021/498. These provide that a person responsible for premises which cease to operate as a nightclub, dance hall or discotheque does not commit a licensing offence, where that person does so to prevent the application of the requirements of regulation 4C(1) of the principal Regulations.

Northern Ireland

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (2021 Consolidation) (Amendment No. 13) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2021, SR 2021/343. These Regulations amend the principal Regulations and permit those red list passengers who were isolating in accordance with Schedule 7 immediately before 4.00 a.m. on 15th December 2021 to complete their period of self-isolation at a place other than the place specified in their managed isolation package.§

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Wearing of Face Coverings) (Amendment) (No.8) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2021, SR 2021/348. These Regulations amend the list of reasonable excuses to not wear a face covering by removing severe distress, placing the onus on an individual to prove their exemption and to place a statutory duty on businesses to promote compliance with face covering regulations by ensuring all reasonable measures are in place. They also remove the requirement to wear a face covering when on a transport service premises where area is outdoors and make a minor amendment to the requirement to wear on a ferry.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2021 (Amendment No. 21) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2021, SR 2021/350. Amend the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2021 by making the following changes: Introducing requirement to be seated in hospitality premises, unless entering or exiting the premises, accessing a table, making a payment, placing an order for food or drink (in the case of unlicensed hospitality only), accessing a buffet or carvery, accessing or using toilet, baby changing or breast feeding facilities or a smoking area, or dancing at an event to celebrate a wedding or civil partnership; No more than 6 persons at a table, in a licensed and unlicensed hospitality premises when from more than one household, or ten when from one household; Placing legal responsibility on retail premises to ensure all reasonable measures in place to reduce transmission; Requirement for office premises to put reasonable measures in place to comply with social distancing; Prohibiting dancing indoors in hospitality venues; Prohibiting nightclubs from opening.


Government guidance

England

Working safely during coronavirus Information added about who should go to work. From Monday 13 December, office workers who can work from home should do so.  (COVID-19), DBEIS (12 December 2021).

Using your NHS COVID Pass for travel abroad and at venues and settings in England. How to use the NHS COVID Pass to demonstrate your coronavirus (COVID-19) status when travelling abroad and domestically at venues and settings in England. Added guidance on new mandatory certification rules on visiting certain venues and events came into force on Wednesday 15 December after approval by Parliament. DHSC, (13 December 2021).

Carrying out mandatory COVID-19 status checks at your venue or event. Guidance for organisations setting out which venues and events must use the NHS COVID Pass, or equivalent proof of vaccination or testing, as a condition of entry, and how to operate the scheme. Now approved by Parliament, checking the COVID-19 status of attendees is mandatory in certain settings from 6am Wednesday 15 December. DHSC, (13 December 2021).

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for funerals and commemorative events during the coronavirus pandemic, Updated to reflect changes in guidance on face coverings and the introduction of the NHS COVID Pass. (16 December 2021).

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Wedding and civil partnership ceremonies, receptions and celebrations. Guidance for couples planning to get married or form a civil partnership in England, and venues hosting these events. Information added about Plan B measures. If you’ve tested positive or have symptoms, you can stop self-isolating after 7 days instead of 10 days if you get 2 negative lateral flow test results on day 6 and 7. Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and Cabinet Office. (23 December 2021).

Coronavirus Act 2020: status table. Sets out the status of provisions in the Coronavirus Act 2020. It covers the part of the act (Part 1) that facilitates legislative and regulatory changes that support the UK’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. (Updated 22 December 2021).

Coronavirus: how to stay safe and help prevent the spread. Updated with the change to the 10-day self-isolation period, which can be reduced to 7 days for people who have tested positive for coronavirus. Cabinet Office. (Updated 22 December 2021).

Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19) Updated to reflect England’s move to ‘Plan B’ of the COVID-19 Autumn/Winter Plan, in response to the risks of the Omicron variant (B.1.1.529). This includes changes to the guidance on face coverings, working from home, testing and self-isolation. Information has been added on COVID status checks, which are now legally required in some venues and events. DBEIS. (22 December 2021).

Enabling safe and effective volunteering during coronavirus (COVID-19). Updated guidance in line with plan B (as described in the 30 November update), guidance on booster vaccines and guidance on the requirement. (22 December 2021).

Carrying out mandatory COVID-19 status checks at your venue or event, DHSC. (22 December 2021). If you are responsible for one of the following events, you are not required to use the NHS COVID Pass, even if the attendance thresholds are met:

  • communal worship
  • wedding and civil partnership ceremonies and equivalents (including alternative wedding ceremonies)
  • receptions celebrating a wedding or other significant life event (like a christening, bar and bat mitzvah or mehndi ceremony) that are organised by an individual (and not a business, a charitable, benevolent, or philanthropic institution or a public body).
  • funerals and commemorative events (except where commemorative events are held in a nightclub)
  • outdoor events in public spaces where these are unticketed and not charged for (such as markets, street parties, protests and carnivals)
  • events in private houses (including private gardens) where people do not have to pay or hold a ticket to enter.

Northern Ireland

Coronavirus (COVID-19) regulations and guidance: what they mean for you Following an increase in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, additional restrictions have been introduced for people in Northern Ireland. These new restrictions are in place to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Continue to protect yourself and others by following public health advice. nidirect.


Government statements

England

Prime Minister’s address to the nation on booster jabs: 12 December 2021. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s address to the nation on booster jabs.(12 December 2021).

UK coronavirus (COVID-19) alert level increased from Level 3 to Level 4 Following advice from the UK Health Security Agency and in the light of the rapid increase in Omicron cases, the UK Chief Medical Officers and NHS England National Medical Director have recommended to ministers that the UK COVID-19 alert level should increase from Level 3 to Level 4. DHSC. (12 December 2021).

Daily rapid testing for COVID-19 contacts launches this week. From Tuesday 14 December, people who are fully vaccinated and identified as a contact of someone with COVID-19 – whether Omicron or not – should take an NHS rapid lateral flow test every day for 7 days to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

  • Those who test positive or develop symptoms will need to self-isolate
  • Unvaccinated adults must continue to self-isolate for 10 days if they are a contact of someone with COVID-19

DHSC (12 December 2021).

Prime Minister announces Covid-19 Inquiry Chair On Wednesday 15 December, the Prime Minister announced the appointment of the Rt Hon Baroness Heather Hallett DBE as Chair of the forthcoming public inquiry into the Covid-19 pandemic. The Inquiry, set to begin its work in spring 2022, will be established under the Inquiries Act 2005, with full powers, including the power to compel the production of documents and to summon witnesses to give evidence on oath. Additional panel members will be appointed in the New Year to make sure the Inquiry has access to the full range of expertise needed to complete its important work.

Wales

Strengthened measures to keep Wales safe as omicron strikes, First Minister Mark Drakeford, (22 December 2021). Revised version of alert level two from Boxing Day. This will mean:

  • A general requirement of 2m social distancing in all premises open to the public and workplaces, where reasonable.
  • The rule of six will apply to gatherings in regulated premises, such as hospitality, cinemas and theatres.
  • All licensed premises will need to take additional measures to protect customers and staff, including table service and collecting contact details.
  • Face coverings will be required in hospitality settings at all times apart from when seated.
  • Large events will not be allowed indoors or outdoors. The maximum number of people who can gather at an indoor event will be 30 and 50 outdoors.

Press Release: Strengthened measures to keep Wales safe as omicron strikes (22 December 2021). Essentially as First Minister’s Statement, supra. Note: “To help you stay safe in your own home, we strongly advise everyone follows these 5 measures:

  • Limit the number of people visiting your home.
  • If people are visiting, make sure they take a lateral flow test in the morning before the visit.
  • Meeting outdoors is better than indoors. If you’re meeting indoors make sure it’s well ventilated.
  • Space out any visits.
  • And don’t forget about social distancing and washing your hands.

There will be a separate offence for large gatherings – more than 30 people indoors or 50 people outdoors – in private homes and gardens.”

Coronavirus related Legislation: Briefing for churches in Wales, Cytûn, (Update 27 December 2021).


Case Law

  • X v Y  [2021] UKET 2413947/2020. Reserved judgment. Employee had refused to return to work, believing that her fear of catching Covid was protected under the Equality Act. [See L&RUK round-up for 26 December 2021].

Background information

UK COVID-19 alert level methodology: an overview. The alert levels are:

  • level 1: COVID-19 is not known to be present in the UK
  • level 2: COVID-19 is present in UK, but the number of cases and transmission is low
  • level 3: a COVID-19 epidemic is in general circulation
  • level 4: a COVID-19 epidemic is in general circulation; transmission is high and direct COVID-19 pressure on healthcare services is widespread and substantial or rising
  • level 5: as level 4 and there is a material risk of healthcare services being directly overwhelmed by COVID-19

This document outlines the criteria used by UKHSA as it considers its recommendation for the Chief medical officers (CMOs). The initial methodology was developed following consultation with national public health experts, reviewed and informed by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) and agreed by the UK’s CMOs. (24 November 2021).

Using your NHS COVID Pass for travel abroad and at venues and settings in England How to use the NHS COVID Pass to demonstrate your coronavirus (COVID-19) status when travelling abroad and domestically at venues and settings in England. DHSC (12 December 2021).

Coronavirus: A history of English lockdown laws, House of Commons Library Research Briefing, (22 September (2021). The Government has published a huge range of guidance relating to coronavirus. Most coronavirus guidance has been a mixture of information on the law and public health advice. The UK Government amended and adapted its coronavirus guidance as its response to coronavirus progressed. Some of these changes did not require changes to the law but did have a significant impact on how people experienced the lockdown. Coronavirus guidance is not discussed in detail in this briefing.

Coronavirus: Lockdown Laws, House of Commons Library Research Briefing, (22 September (2021). This Library briefing paper explains the types of coronavirus restrictions and requirements imposed by the UK’s lockdown laws.

COVID-19 in the United Kingdom, Frank Cranmer and David Pocklington, (2021), 187, Trinity / Michaelmas Term, 96-120, Law and Justice (The Christian Law Review).


Church of England

Updated: Friday 10 December, 15:11


Scottish Episcopal Church

Church of Scotland

Roman Catholic Church EW

Association of British Choral Directors

Royal School of Church Music (RSCM)

Central Council of Church Bell Ringers (CCCBR)


Law and Religion UK

Post last updated,  30 December 2021 at 14:13.


* Information on COVID-19 on L&RUK

From 12 November, these monthly updates will now published in two (or more) installments; they are not reissued, but new items are added as they become available, providing a “rolling update” of the latest developments. They are also added to COVID-19 Coronavirus: legislation and guidance which is  the main source of  information, and listed with the newest items last (unlike the CofE documents, infra); items in the monthly updates yet to be added are marked “§“.  Earlier updates are here.

Church of England documents

Church of England documents are listed under their full title and issue number, in the same order as they appear on the Church’s web site.

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Cite this article as: David Pocklington, "Legislation and guidance update – December (II)" in Law & Religion UK, 13 December 2021, https://lawandreligionuk.com/2021/12/13/legislation-and-guidance-update-december-ii/

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