Version 1: 1 June 2020 (PDF version)
Alexandra Conroy Harris, CoramBAAF Legal Consultant
The regulations were made on 31 May 2020 and came into force on 1 June 2020. They further amend the regulations that introduced lockdown on 26 March 2020. They apply to England only.
The regulations introduce fresh definitions for the purposes of the regulations:
- “childcare”, which means registered childcare under the Childcare Act 2006; and
- “elite athlete”, which is defined as somebody who either makes their living through sport or who is a senior representative or member of the training squad for a relevant sporting body, including children on an ‘elite development pathway’.
Regulation 5(6) and (7) are amended to allow church premises and community centres to be used for early years childcare.
In regulation 6, Restrictions on Movement is replaced with a prohibition on staying overnight at a place where a person is not living, without reasonable excuse.
Reasonable excuses include (but are not limited to):
- to attend a funeral (of a member of the household or close relative);
- an elite athlete in training (including their coach, carer or parent of a child elite athlete);
- to stay temporarily while moving house;
- where reasonably necessary for work, voluntary or charitable purposes;
- to provide care or assistance to a vulnerable person;
- to provide emergency assistance, to avoid injury, illness or risk of harm or to obtain medical assistance;
- to fulfil a legal obligation or to attend legal proceedings;
- for a child having contact with parents with whom they do not live;
- where a person is unable to return home for safety or legal reasons or their home is otherwise unavailable to them.
Prospective adopters travelling for the purposes of introductions to a child should be able to rely on both general reasonableness of their need to travel and stay in the vicinity, plus the suggested reasonable excuses of voluntary or charitable purposes (adoption) and to provide care to a vulnerable person. All children looked after by a local authority have been classed as vulnerable people by the Department for Education (DfE) coronavirus guidance. This will also mean that a child and prospective adopters can legitimately “gather” together during introductions.
Regulation: 7 Restrictions on Gatherings
The restrictions are replaced with a prohibition on groups of more than six people outdoors or two or more people indoors, where they are not members of the same household.
Restrictions on gatherings are worded differently from the restrictions on overnight stays, in that the regulation does not provide for reasonable excuses but instead provides a list of exceptions to the prohibition. The list of exceptions is similar to that provided as reasonable excuses in regulation 6, but with the addition of meetings to facilitate a house move, registered early years childcare and a gathering which takes place at an educational facility and is reasonably necessary for the purposes of education.
A gathering is defined as two or more people in the same place for any form of social interaction or to undertake any activity with each other (it appears that this will exclude childcare provision which is not registered, so prohibits a family member babysitting or caring for a child, unless that child qualifies as “vulnerable”).
Regulation 8: Enforcement
A police officer or designated local authority officer may direct a person to go home if staying overnight outside their usual home in breach of regulation 6 (but cannot physically remove them to that place).
They may direct people forming a gathering to disperse, and may direct an individual with a child to take the child home, and may direct that individual to make the child comply with those directions. (Note that this could include a direction to a residential social worker to return the child to their residential unit, but does not give the residential unit the power to restrain the child under the amendment to regulation 20(3) of the Children’s Homes (England) Regulations 2015, made by the Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020, as that only applies to directions given to potentially infectious persons under Schedule 21 of the Coronavirus Act 2020.)
Failure to comply with the direction is punishable by fixed penalty notice with a fine of £100, which doubles on every subsequent notice to a maximum of £3,600 per notice.
Schedule 2 adds to the list of businesses that must close aquaria, zoos, safari parks, model villages, visitor attractions at farms, and indoor parts of visitor attractions such as shops and visitor centres, but not toilets.