Guidance under regulation 18 of the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No.5) (Wales) Regulations 2020.
Changes from 21 June
The Regulations replace regulation 16 of the principal Regulations. The new regulation 16 requires the person responsible for “regulated premises” to take the following steps:
- Step 1: undertake an assessment of the risk of exposure to coronavirus at the premises.
- Step 2: provide information to those entering or working at the premises about how to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus.
- Step 3: take all reasonable measures to ensure that a distance of 2 metres is maintained between persons on the premises, except between the members of a group, comprising of no more than 6 persons or members of the same household at Alert Level 1 and 2, or at Alert Levels 3 and 4, comprising of members of the same household.
- Step 4: take reasonable measures to mitigate the risk of exposure to coronavirus that arises where persons gather in close proximity to each other. The measures may include seeking to prevent persons experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 from entering the premises, ensuring that people gather outdoors instead of indoors where it is practicable to do so, limiting close face-to-face interaction, seeking to ensure that the premises are well ventilated, and maintaining good hygiene. They may also include measures such as not carrying on certain activities and collecting contact information from persons at the premises.
In determining the extent to which it is reasonable to take a particular measure under Step 3, the person responsible for the premises may have regard to measures taken under Step 4 to mitigate the risk of exposure to coronavirus when a person is within 2 metres of another person.
Regulations 16 of the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 5) (Wales) Regulations 2020 (the “Coronavirus Regulations”) imposes obligation on people responsible for premises open to the public or where work takes place to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus on the premises, and to minimise the risk of spread of coronavirus by those who have been on the premises.
This guidance is issued under regulation 18 of the Coronavirus Regulations. It is aimed at any person who is required by regulation 16 of the Coronavirus Regulations to:
- undertake a specific assessment of the risk of exposure to coronavirus at their premises (and to consult persons working on the premises or representatives of those persons in doing so);
- take all reasonable measures to ensure that a distance of 2 metres between all persons is maintained on or while waiting to enter their premises;
- ensure that other reasonable measures are taken to minimise risk of exposure to the virus, in particular by limiting close face to face interaction and by improving hygiene; and
- provide information to those entering or working at the premises about how to minimise risk.
It also provides further information about the more specific obligations found in regulations 17 and 17A (which apply in addition to the general obligation in regulation 16). Regulation 17 requires specific measures to be taken by persons responsible for licensed premises and regulation 17A requires specific measures to be taken by persons responsible for retail premises.
The regulations enable the Welsh Ministers to issue guidance on what is expected under regulations 16, 17 and 17A. Regard must be had to this guidance, and to any guidance, codes of practice or other documents published by other bodies that are incorporated into this guidance.
Regard must also be had to guidance under the regulations on:
- the collection and retention of contact details from people who have been at particular premises; and
- responsibilities with regard to the wearing of face coverings
Purpose of the guidance
The Welsh Government has for some time imposed a particular legal requirement on people responsible for workplaces and for premises open to the public to ensure that everything reasonable is done to maintain a 2 metre distance between people while they work.
Physical distancing is at the heart of our effort to limit spread of Coronavirus. However, other measures such as ventilation and hygiene are also important and the Welsh Government acknowledges the impracticality of maintaining 2 metre distancing in some settings. A range of measures are needed, therefore to reduce the risk of exposure to coronavirus effectively.
The guidance is intended to assist people in understanding what “taking all reasonable measures” means and what measures should be taken to minimise the risk of exposure. The obligation applies to each of the “alert levels” that can be set under the Coronavirus Regulations, however, in practice the nature of the obligation is likely to change depending on which alert level applies.
Who does the guidance apply to?
The duty in law to take reasonable measures applies to the person or persons responsible for premises open to the public and on the person responsible for the work being undertaken in any workplace; that is the person responsible for management control (not, for example, the owner of a leased factory space or office).
In the case of organised activities and organised activities for children, the duty applies to both the person responsible for the premises where the activity is taking place and the person responsible for the activity.
It also applies to taxis and to public transport provision (including indoor areas of transport hubs such as bus stations, railway stations, airports and ferry ports), but in addition the operators of these services must have regard to specific guidance about the legal obligation on passengers to wear a face covering and about providing information to passengers about this obligation. Along with the supplementary detailed transport guidance produced within the context of public transport.
Although the legal obligations fall on specific persons, everybody in a workplace or on premises open to the public has a personal responsibility both for their own behaviour and also not to frustrate steps taken to ensure that the risk of transmission of coronavirus across Wales is reduced.
When and where does the guidance apply?
The Coronavirus Regulations provide for four Alert Levels which may be applied depending on the assessed level of risk from the pandemic in Wales. This involves different levels of restrictions based on the interventions the Welsh Ministers consider necessary to control the coronavirus.
This guidance is intended to apply in principle at all of these Alert Levels. However when considering what is reasonable, those who have responsibility under the regulations must consider the Alert Level in operation at the time. A limited measure taken at a low alert level may be reasonable when the alert level is low but not at a high alert level. In addition some measures may not be relevant when premises are closed to the public. Detail on the alert levels and their significance is provided in the Wales Coronavirus Control Plan.
The requirement to take reasonable measures applies in a very broad range of circumstances, including every kind of workplace which is open. This includes for example; public services, health and social care premises, schools and childcare settings, higher education, further education settings (including training centres and adult learning), call centres, hospitality businesses, commercial and industrial premises, construction sites and other open sites such as roadworks and outdoor places including livestock markets. It also applies in any premises where work or an organised activity is carried out.
The requirement also applies in all businesses and premises required to close where there remain circumstances in which individuals may be on the premises.
There are specific requirements for retail premises and licensed premises (see below).
Specific coronavirus risk assessments
The Coronavirus Regulations now require persons responsible for premises open to the public or for work premises to carry out a specific assessment of the risk of exposure to coronavirus on the premises. In doing this consultation is required with those who work on the premises or their representatives (such as a trade union). This assessment forms the basis for determining what reasonable measures need to be undertaken to minimise the risk, and for that reason should be kept under review.
The obligation to assess the risk that arises specifically from coronavirus applies in addition to the more general requirement to undertake a risk assessment found in regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (S.I. 1999 No. 3242). However where a risk assessment completed under those regulations already assess the risk of exposure to coronavirus this is sufficient to meet the requirement (though this is subject however to the need to consult those working on the premises and to keep the position under review).
When considering what reasonable measures should be taken at any premises, those responsible should make an assessment of risk which is specific to all of the activities undertaken at the workplace. This includes taking into account all individuals who use or visit that setting including permanent and temporary staff, contractors, visitors and members of the public. Risk assessments are an established part of managing health and safety at work and specific coronavirus risk assessments should be completed as part of a wider safety management system. Comprehensive guidance is available from the Health and Safety Executive.
This guidance does not cover risk assessments in detail, however the assessments should be undertaken in accordance with the procedural requirements set out in regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (as it has been modified by the Coronavirus Regulations). The risk assessment should be reviewed regularly as changes in the wider threat from the pandemic should be taken into account when considering how the obligation to take all reasonable measures to minimise the risk should be met. Risk assessment is a dynamic process which should always involve those working on the premises.
While risk assessments do not need to be published, there is an expectation that all those working on the site are aware of them, and of the mitigation measures they contain. Where the responsible person is an employer who employs 5 or more employees the employer must record the significant findings of the risk assessment and any group of employees identified as being especially at risk.
What is a reasonable measure?
There is no hard and fast rule of what constitutes a reasonable measure. This can vary within different functions of an organisation as well as between sectors. All employers should do what they can in the workplace to change the way they work and for those responsible for premises should do what they can to change the way premises are used.
When thinking about what is reasonable, it is important to consider the alert level in force and advice from Welsh Government and public health authorities about the level of risk. As the alert level changes this has an effect on what is “reasonable” to do. This has been particularly relevant in recent weeks as a variant of the virus, which spreads more easily, has emerged.
This guidance does not provide exhaustive advice of what should be done in every eventuality, but outlines considerations that businesses and organisations should reflect in determining measures. It will be for those subject to the requirements to justify the reasonable measures that they have adopted. They will need to demonstrate how they have considered what is reasonable to minimise the risks faced by workers who have to continue to attend work in their workplace and to those entering any premises.
Some of the reasonable measures discussed in this guidance are specifically set out in the Coronavirus regulations, in regulation 17 relating to licensed premises and 17A relating to retail premises (see below). For others, more discretion is allowed and those responsible may exercise some degree of judgement is deciding what is required. This guidance and other advice published by Welsh Government is intended to assist in making those judgements.
What is the legal requirement upon which the guidance is based?
In order to determine what measures should be taken, there is a legal requirement on the person responsible for the premises undertake a specific assessment of the risk of exposure to coronavirus at the premises. In doing so, they must consult persons working on the premises, including their employees or others such as contracted staff. They can also fulfil this duty by consulting representatives of those persons, such as trades unions.
There are then three elements to the requirement to take all reasonable measures, the first two of which are inter-related.
Firstly, the starting point remains the same. All reasonable measures must be taken to maintain 2 metre distancing on premises or while anyone is working.
Next, other reasonable measures must be taken to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus. The main objective here is to reduce close face to face interaction and to ensure adequate hygiene and ventilation of the premises or workplace. These may be required in addition to maintaining physical distancing (for example though more frequent cleaning of premises or handwashing) or instead of physical distancing (for example by using screens when close interaction between people is unavoidable and inevitable).
What other measures are reasonable depends on the extent to which 2 metre physical distancing can be maintained. Where it can, little more is likely to be needed as long as hygiene standards are maintained. Where it can’t more will be needed. Much of what is required is an alternative to maintaining a 2 metre distance.
However, maintaining social distancing will always be more effective than these other measures. In general at higher alert levels, there should be much greater focus on maintaining the 2 metre physical distancing. The extent to which this can be reduced must be considered very carefully and will depend on the other mitigating actions that can be taken such as improving ventilation and erecting screens.
Reasonable measures also include enabling workers who are required to self-isolate because they have tested positive for Coronavirus, or are a close contact of someone who has tested positive to do so. If as a result of an employer’s action, a person fails to self-isolate when required to do so, the employer may be guilty of an offence and could face a fine up to £10,000.
Finally, information should be provided to those on the premises about how to minimise risk of exposure to coronavirus on premises.
There are additional requirements where premises are selling alcohol or allowing alcohol brought to the premises by customers to be consumed there. These specific requirements apply in addition to the more general obligation to take “all reasonable measures”. They do not apply where the premises are closed, and they may apply differently depending on whether the premises are allowed to be open in full or only for the purposes of collecting a takeaway.
In licensed premises it is important to control the number of people at the premises at any one time and ensure that those present are complying with the rules on mixing with others.
To do this there must be a person who controls entry into the premises, who must allocate a limited time period during which customers can stay in the premises. In addition they must ensure that a table service system applies at all times as customers should be seated while on the premises (in any place other than at a bar). The premises should also collect contact information from each person at the premises and take reasonable measures to ensure that the contact information is correct.
There is additional guidance for the hospitality sector on how these reasonable measures can be put in place.
Where retail premises are offering goods or service for sale or for hire, including off-sales or take away, the person responsible for the premises must do the following as part of the reasonable measures they put in place. These specific requirements apply in addition to the more general obligation to take “all reasonable measures”. They do not apply where the premises are closed, and they may apply differently depending on whether the premises are allowed to be open in full or only for the purposes of sales by “click and collect”.
- control the entry to the premises and limit the number of customers who are on the premises at any one time;
- provide hand sanitisation products or hand washing facilities for people when they enter and leave the premises;
- ensure any baskets or trolleys used by people on the premises are sanitised;
- in order to remind customers of the need to maintain 2 metre distance and to wear coverings, display signs or other visual aids like floor markings, and make regular announcements.
The requirement to control entry can be fulfilled in different ways depending on the nature of the retail premises and on any equipment available. In larger premises it is likely to mean either having a person on the door to control entry or some automatic means of limiting the number of people who enter. In both cases however, the number entering must be based on an assessment of the maximum number or people who can be present on the premises while being able to maintain at least a 2 metre distance between customers. The starting point for that assessment will be the floor space, however account will need to be taken of the fact that some parts of the premises are likely to be busier than others. Ventilation will also be a factor. Those responsible are encouraged to err on the side of caution in deciding on the maximum number of customers.
Small retail premises can control entry through a combination of use of signage and monitoring by staff who are inside the premises. In the smallest premises the most appropriate system of control of entry is likely to be that only one person is allowed on the premises at the time. Where customers can see whether somebody is present on the premises this can be controlled through the use of a sign. In other circumstances signage indicating that customers should only enter when another customer leaves should be deployed. At times where the premises is quiet this could be overridden by a member of staff indicating that the customer can enter.
Working from home
The most effective way of minimising the risk of exposure to coronavirus in workplaces is to enable some or all staff to work from home, as often as possible. As “reasonable measures” there is an expectation that employers should be flexible and make adjustments wherever that is possible to enable that to happen. This may include issuing staff with IT equipment (laptops, monitors, keyboards), office furniture, mobile phones and facilitating communication across locations.
Employees should not be required or placed under pressure to return to a workplace setting if there is not a clearly demonstrated business need for them to do so. Employers who are considering requiring their staff to return to workplace settings should first assess whether alternative arrangements could meet the majority of business needs. This should be discussed with staff or representatives of staff.
In determining whether to ask staff to return to workplace settings, employers should consider whether any individual’s wellbeing would be particularly adversely affected by this. This includes people who are at increased risk or are clinically extremely vulnerable (who were previously advised to shield and who still need to take high levels of precaution), or because returning to the workplace would cause them severe anxiety. This is particularly the case where work would require them to be in regular or sustained contact with other people or to be share a poorly ventilated space for long periods.
Equally, there may be staff who wish to return to workplace settings. In these circumstances, the wellbeing of staff is a relevant consideration when deciding what measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus are reasonable. Although employers’ first priority should be minimising the risk of exposure to coronavirus, this should be balanced against the detrimental effect working from home may be having on an employee’s wellbeing. In these circumstances if employees in this position can return to the workplace setting without a significant increase in the risk of exposure to coronavirus, this should be allowed. In considering this, employers should consider the extent to which the employee returning to the workplace would come into close contact with others both within the workplace but also in travelling to and from work.
There will inevitably be instances where working from home is not possible. Some examples of this include provision of public facing essential services, factory settings, construction sites, the provision of health and social care services, retail, hospitality. Although physical distancing may be made easier by allowing some staff to work from home, reasonable measures must be put in place in the workplace to prevent virus transmission between workers and any others such as patients and members of the public who are also present.
Scope for physical distancing on premises is to an extent constrained by the size of premises; however, regardless of the size of the premises it is essential that controls are put in place to enable 2m separation between people to be maintained. The risk assessment required by the Coronavirus Regulations should establish the appropriate number of people who can be present and we recommend that that information should be publicly available publicly. There must also be specific controls at the entry and/or exit to premises to ensure that the numbers on the premises do not exceed the safe number. That will mean limiting access, organising the flow of people through the premises, design and planning of work and will almost certainly require measures to be put in place to help or make people stay apart. The regulations for retail premises now also require frequent reminders of the need to maintain a 2 metre distance and wear a face covering. This should be done through signage and announcements made (where possible) over a tannoy.
Examples of physical distancing measures
The nature of measures that are reasonable will be specific to the individual workplace or premises, and will reflect the physical environment and the nature of the business or activity being conducted.
As an example, most medical practitioners and carers will be unable to stay 2 metres away from a patient when giving treatment. However, they can stay 2 metres away from patients (as well as other medical practitioners and carers) for much of the time, such as while patients are waiting to see them. This is what we mean by reasonable measures and taking measures like that should be applied consistently. Stopping treatment would not generally be a reasonable measure; treatment should continue wherever practicable, though in circumstances where the risk of spreading coronavirus outweighs the benefit of the treatment it may have to be postponed.
Examples of ways to support physical distancing include:
- a requirement for retail premises and a reasonable measure for other regulated premises that there should be a control at the entry to the premises to limit the number of people on the premises at any one time
- a requirement for retail premises, and generally recommended that there are sanitation stations at the entry and exit to premises.
- increasing the space between people by reducing the total number of people in attendance,
- changing the layout of premises/ furniture to support physical distancing
- controlling use of entrances, passageways, stairs and lifts
- controlling the use of shared facilities such as toilets and kitchens
- increasing space between staff – for example on a production line leaving 2 metre gaps between people and indicating spacing with markings
- considering appropriate provision of rest space – is there a congregation of workers at a certain time? Could additional space be provided, or breaks staggered?
- altering tasks undertaken – making adjustments to the way that work is done, to reduce contact
- staggering shifts to minimise people on site and to reduce congestion at the point of shift changes
Other reasonable measures
The purpose of requiring all reasonable measures to be taken to maintain 2 metres distance between people is to minimise the risk of exposure to the coronavirus. As maintaining distance is not the only way to do this, and may not always be reasonable, regulation 21 also requires other reasonable measures to be taken.
Although the requirement to take other reasonable measures stands no matter whether 2 metre physical distancing can be maintained, what other measures may reasonably be required will be heavily influenced by the extent to which they can be put in place.
When is it permitted to allow people to be within 2 metres of each other?
For premises which are allowed to be open and for activities permitted at the Alert Level in force at a given time, there are situations in which it might not be possible or appropriate for people to stay 2 metres apart or at least not to stay 2 metres apart at all times. Examples include:
- provision of personal services, including in the home
- tasks that require two or more people to undertake them safely, including heavy lifting or carrying dangerous chemicals, although there may be measures that can be adopted elsewhere in the workplace
- in regulated premises and workplace settings where young children or people with complex needs are present who cannot understand the concept of physical distancing, and where the appropriate support from support workers may require closer contact e.g. to help a child or person who has fallen
- participating in activities where people may spend short bursts of time within 2 metres of each other, such as team sports
- exceptions where close contact is necessary between workers and the users of services, although again there can be measures in the wider workplace which would minimise the risk of transmission
- taxis and public transport
- where dual working at less than 2 metres apart is necessary to ensure safety
- working in confined spaces, for example repairing infrastructure for utilities
Where premises are open to young children, it may not be practicable to attempt to rigidly maintain continual 2 metre distancing between those children (or even between those children and any adults on the premises). This is in part because it is harder for younger children to understand the concept of physical distancing, and in part because appropriate support from carers will often require closer contact. It is also of note that evidence suggests that younger children are less likely to transmit the virus (whether to other children or to adults), and that the virus appears in general to have a milder effect on children than on adults.
Finally, we recognise that maintaining 2 metre physical distancing could place some businesses under significant commercial strain. Although protecting public health and maintaining public confidence should be the priority, businesses which are able to be open under the Alert Level in force, are able to operate shorter physical distancing if the cost implications of maintaining 2 metre physical distancing are such that they would make the business unviable. However, in these cases it is vital that other reasonable measures are put in place to prevent the risk of exposure to coronavirus, as set out in the section below.
The risk assessment should include consideration for what mitigating actions can be taken if 2 metre physical distancing is not maintained on a premises. If taking other reasonable measures will not sufficiently mitigate the risk of exposure to the virus, this suggests that 2 metre physical distancing is still required.
Ultimately, if the measures you can reasonably take are insufficient to mitigate the risks involved, Regulation 16 makes clear that reasonable measures may include ceasing to carry out certain activities and closing part of premises.
Although Regulation 16 is primarily concerned with how things are done, not whether they are done, there may be some activities where the risk of exposure to coronavirus is such that the only means of minimising the risk is not to do it. This option will be particularly relevant at higher alert levels.
Examples of other reasonable measures that can be taken
In all circumstances, but especially where social distancing will not be rigidly maintained, it is important that other measures are taken. The most obvious measures to take are anything which reduce close face to face interaction and to improve hand washing, avoidance of touching the face with unwashed hands, respiratory hygiene and surface cleaning.
Another measure which is mandatory (unless there are strong reasons to the contrary) is to require staff and visitors to indoor premises to wear face coverings where they will not be able to maintain social distancing. This applies in areas that are not open to the public, in addition to the separate requirements that apply in areas which are open to the public. Separate face coverings guidance has been produced setting out the responsibilities of employers and the managers of premises with regard to face coverings, and you are also required to have regard to that guidance.
- ensuring there is adequate ventilation of premises so that virus particles in the air do not build up over time
- improved respiratory hygiene – for example by providing more bins for used tissues
- more frequent cleaning, in particular of shared facilities such as toilets and kitchens
- encouragement of washing hands well for 20 seconds with soap regularly and after close contact or touching
- provision of extra handwashing facilities and ensuring adequate supplies
- ensuring a responsible person is present for the duration of organised activities and organised activities for children to ensure that all reasonable measures remain in place
- controlling use of premises, for example by:
- reducing the number of people on premises at any one time including by adopting an appointment system
- controlling entry and exit points, including where possible requiring to enter through one door and exit through an other
- controlling the way people walk around premises
- controlling how people arrive and leave the premises so that a distance of 2 metres is maintained between people outside the premises.
- re-arranging furniture or workplaces in such a way as to reduce face to face interaction
- minimising loud noises which will require people to shout
- avoiding activities where there is singing, chanting, shouting or the use of wind instruments unless extensive mitigating actions are in place
- avoiding close face to face interaction, for example by:
- seating people back to back or front to back
- erecting physical barriers or screens between people.
- wearing appropriate protective equipment such as three-layered face coverings which comply with WHO guidance
Also, measures could be taken in the workplace to create fixed groups of workers who, while interacting with each other within their group, do not mix with others. This may be achievable for example where shift work is undertaken.
Providing information to workers and others on premises or in a workplace is key to successful control of virus spread. Information may be given orally or in writing (most obviously in signage). Generally the information provided will need to:
- explain what measures have been taken to maintain physical distancing or reduce close face to face interaction
- assist people to follow what is required, for example by giving directions about how to enter and walk around premises if a one-way system has been put in place or by reminding people when they need to wear face coverings and how to use them effectively and responsibly (see separate guidance on face coverings).
- provide users of premises with information on the safe limit of people who can be on the premises.
Some basic signage is available here - safety and physical distancing signs for employers and on the Business Wales website.
Collecting contact details
A reasonable measure under regulation 16 is to collecting contact information from people (including staff, customers and visitors) who have been at the premises and to retain this for 21 days. This helps to support Test, Trace and Protect and is another way of helping to reduce the spread of coronavirus. Taking these measures allows people to be contacted where they may have been exposed to coronavirus at the premises. This in turn allows them to be contacted and told to self-isolate and apply for a test.
Another reasonable measure is to ensure that the contact information collected is correct.
The use of the NHS Covid-19 app does not replace the legal requirement for certain high risk businesses in Wales to collect information.
Whether individual premises need to collect contact details will depend on, for example, the nature of the premises and the length of time people spend within them. Separate guidance on the collection of contact details provides further information. Everyone responsible for premises will also be required to have regard to that guidance.
Another reasonable measure that must be taken is to allow, and enable, people who normally work at the premises to self-isolate in the circumstances where that is encouraged or required by law. Those circumstances are:
- where they have tested positive for coronavirus;
- where they have had close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus; or
- where they have been asked to do so by contact tracers or other public officials as listed at Regulation 21(3)(c).
Enabling people to self-isolate might entail many of the same actions listed in the “working from home” section above. However, in circumstances where staff cannot work from home or it would not be proportionate to take some of those actions because of the length of time period involved, employers should allow staff not to work for the period of their self-isolation.
If a person is required to self-isolate, and does not self-isolate due to the behaviour of their employer then this may result in the employer being issued with a fixed penalty notice of up to £10,000 and could face prosecution.
Relevant considerations to deciding whether measures are reasonable
When considering what measures are reasonable you may consider, among other things, the following factors;
- Cost – is the cost of the measure proportionate to the number of people whose risk is reduced by the measure? For example, it would generally not be proportionate to extend a premises or to require additional fleet vehicles, but splitting shifts could probably be done at minimal cost.
- The nature of the work – are the measures practical, or would they so undermine the delivery of the service or undertaking of the business that they would be counterproductive?
- Can measures be put in place without compromising the health and safety of others? If measures would increase the health and safety risk, for example in the case of operating machinery, these would most likely not be reasonable measures.
- The nature and capacity of those in a workplace – where a service or business is responsible for looking after or working with vulnerable people, it may not be reasonable to institute rigid physical distancing. In addition, safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults must not be compromised.
- Measures should command staff and workforce confidence that due consideration has been given to the level of risk that they face. Employers should normally provide mechanisms to receive feedback on the measures that they have introduced.
The Welsh Government expects that businesses and others understand the severity of the situation we are facing as a society and will take the reasonable steps necessary.
By working together, it is hoped that that employers and employees can come to a reasonable judgment on the best way to limit close physical contact. It is in all our interests for this to happen so that important work can continue.
However, one reason why the Welsh Government has decided to go beyond guidance and include a duty in law is so that enforcement is possible, where it is necessary.
The police, and local authorities, have powers to enforce the requirements on businesses, services and workplaces imposed by the regulations.
- promote and maintain sustained compliance as a preventative measure to help contain the coronavirus;
- ensure action is taken immediately to deal with situations in which there is a risk of coronavirus spreading; and
- ensure that those who fail to comply are held to account.
In summary, the Regulations set out a specific and separate system for enforcing regulation 16. This provides that enforcement officers from local authorities can require certain (specified) measures to be taken in relation to premises, and they can if necessary close them. Closure can be required either because specified measures aren’t subsequently taken, or because the breach of the requirements is sufficiently serious to justify closing a premises immediately or with only very limited notice.
The enforcement system is set out in Schedules 8 and 9 to the Regulations and is based on the issue of a “Premises Improvement Notice” or a “Premises Closure Notice” or both, depending on the circumstances. More detail is available in the separate guidance - reasonable measures to minimise risk of coronavirus in workplaces and open premises: guidance for enforcement officers.