The Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020
Important update to this briefing (26 March 2020) –
Schedule 21 para 24(1) Coronavirus Act 2020 revokes The Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 (S.I. 2020/129).
The Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 (the ‘Regulations’) permit the detention of individuals for the purposes of screening and assessment and the imposition of restrictions or requirements for a period thereafter. The Regulations (made under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984) have been put in place to reduce the risk of further human-to-human transmission in this country. The measures set out can be applied in respect of either of the two following Conditions:
- Where the Secretary of State or a registered public health consultant has reasonable grounds to believe that the individual (‘P’) is, or may be, infected or contaminated with Coronavirus and considers that there is a risk that P might infect or contaminate others;
- P has arrived in England on an aircraft, ship or train from outside the United Kingdom, whether directly or via Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales; and has left, or the Secretary of State or a registered public health consultant has reasonable grounds to believe P has left an infected area within the 14 day period immediately preceding the date of P’s arrival in England.
For completeness, ‘registered public health consultant ‘means a professionally registered public health consultant working within Public Health England.
Detention of persons
Where Condition A or B as described above are met the Secretary of State or a registered public health consultant may impose a requirement on P to be detained for the purposes of screening ,assessment and imposition of restrictions or requirements for a period of 48 hours or until the screening requirements and assessment have been carried out.
The Secretary of State or a registered public health consultant may:
- (orally or in writing) impose on or in relation to P one or more screening requirements
- carry out such an assessment in relation to P
- following such an assessment, (orally or in writing) impose on or in relation to P any other restriction or requirement considered necessary for the purposes of removing or reducing the risk of infecting or contaminating others.
Where a restriction or requirement is imposed it must be expressed to be contingent on the incidence or transmission of Coronavirus constituting a serious and imminent threat to public health.
A restriction or requirement may only be imposed where it is considered to be proportionate to what is sought to be achieved by imposing it.
Where restrictions are imposed on or in relation to a child, a responsible adult must secure that the child complies with the restrictions, insofar as that person is reasonably able to do so.
The screening requirements are requirements to the effect that P must:
- answer questions about P’s health or other relevant circumstances (including travel history and information about other individuals with whom P may have had contact)
- produce any documents which may assist in assessment
- at such time as a registered public health consultant may specify, allow a public health officer, or a medical officer, to take a biological sample of P
- provide sufficient information to enable P to be contacted immediately.
Imposition of further restrictions and requirements
Where P is released from detention or isolation the Secretary of State or a registered public health consultant may (orally or in writing) impose on P one or more further requirements.
These include requirement to provide contact details, submit for biological samples and/ or restrictions on P’s travel, activities or contact with specified persons (these restrictions to be in place for up to 14 days).
The Secretary of State or a registered public health consultant may require P to be kept in isolation, if either has reasonable grounds to believe that P is, or may be, infected with Coronavirus and considers that it is necessary and proportionate to do so to reduce or remove the risk of P infecting others. There is an ongoing duty on the Secretary of State to have due regard to P’s well-being whilst P is kept in isolation or subject to restrictions or requirements.
Powers in relation to detention, isolation and imposition of requirements also include powers to impose a restriction or requirement in relation to a group of persons.
The Secretary of State or, as the case may be, registered public health consultant must notify P (or, where P is a child, a person who is a responsible adult), as soon as P’s detention or isolation starts of the following:
- the fact of P’s detention or isolation
- the powers under which P is detained or kept in isolation
- the reason for P’s detention or isolation
- the next steps that may be taken and by whom
- the obligation to keep the need for P’s detention or isolation under review
- the penalty for the offences created (detailed below) including obstructing a person carrying out a function under these Regulations
- the right to appeal (detailed below).
A person in relation to whom a restriction or requirement is imposed under the Regulations may appeal to the magistrates’ court.
The Regulations also contain provisions for a constable to direct or remove individuals to hospital or other suitable places as specified for the purposes of screening, assessment or detention.
The power allows a constable to move an individual to another suitable place or to keep them where they are if they are already at hospital or a suitable place. Constables may use reasonable force, if necessary, in the exercise of a power under the regulation. The regulation applies where the constable has reasonable grounds to suspect that:
- P is, or may be, infected or contaminated with Coronavirus;
- there is a risk that P might infect or contaminate others;
- it is necessary to direct, remove or detain P in the interests of P, for the protection of other persons or for the maintenance of public safety.
Before exercising the power, in so far as reasonably practicable, the constable must consult a registered public health consultant and have due regard to the views of the registered public health consultant and any information provided in relation to P.
A number of offences have been created by the Regulations which broadly relate to failing, without reasonable excuse, to comply with a restriction or requirement imposed or regarding absconsion or attempted absconsion from detention or isolation.
Offences in respect of provision of false or misleading information and obstructing those who are performing the function of the Regulations have also been created. All offences are currently punishable by way of fine.
The Coranavirus Bill is currently in the House of Lords and is likely to be law by the end of the week.
This briefing is for guidance purposes only. RadcliffesLeBrasseur LLP accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever for any action taken or not taken in relation to this note and recommends that appropriate legal advice be taken having regard to a client's own particular circumstances.