On 20 October 2020, the House of Lords is due to debate a motion to approve the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (North of England, North East and North West of England and Obligations of Undertakings (England) etc.) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/1057), which makes amendments to coronavirus restrictions in the north east of England.
The instrument was made under the powers of the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984, in response to an increase in the Covid-19 transmission rate in the north east of England in September 2020.
The regulations were made on 29 September 2020, and were laid before Parliament and entered into force on 30 September 2020. The instrument was laid before Parliament under the ‘made affirmative’ procedure, meaning it ceases to have effect unless it is approved by both Houses within 28 days of being laid.
The regulations made amendments to several statutory instruments which imposed restrictions in the north of England. Some of those instruments have since been revoked by the introduction of the Government’s three-tier alert system to control the spread of coronavirus in England.
Following the easing of the national coronavirus lockdown, the Government responded to specific outbreaks by imposing ‘local lockdowns’ in areas such as the north east and the north west of England. The regulations which imposed the local lockdowns created “protected areas” and placed restrictions on household mixing and business activities in those areas.
Today, I must announce further measures for the parts of the north-east where we introduced local action a fortnight ago. Unfortunately, the number of cases continues to rise sharply. The incidence rate across the area is now over 100 cases per 100,000. We know that a large number of these infections are taking place in indoor settings outside the home, so, at the request of the local councils, with which we have been working closely, we will introduce legal restrictions on indoor mixing between households in any setting.
The restrictions announced by Matt Hancock were introduced via SI 2020/1057. The regulations made amendments to several statutory instruments relating to the northern lockdown “protected areas”. In particular, they made amendments to two instruments which imposed lockdowns in the north east and north west of England: SI 2020/828 (henceforth the “North of England regulations”), which placed restrictions on households mixing in private dwellings and gardens; and SI 2020/1010 (the “NENW regulations”), which placed tighter restrictions on households mixing in all indoor settings, including pubs and restaurants, for example.
Both SI 2020/828 and 2020/1010 have since been revoked in schedule 3 of the statutory instrument which implemented the ‘high’ tier in the Government’s three-tier Covid-19 alert level system. Areas of the north east and north west remain subject to restrictions under the three-tier system.
What does the instrument do?
The instrument’s explanatory memorandum sets out its scope and purposes. The regulations make amendments to four statutory instruments relating to the northern England lockdowns.
The instrument amended SI 2020/1010 (the NENW regulations) to impose further restrictions on indoor gatherings in seven local authorities in the north east. The local authorities are:
- Durham County Council;
- Gateshead Council;
- Newcastle City Council;
- Northumberland County Council;
- North Tyneside Council;
- South Tyneside Council; and
- Sunderland City Council.
The instrument amended SI 2020/828 (the North of England regulations) by adding 21 local authorities in Merseyside and Lancashire in the NENW regulations to the “protected area” in the North of England regulations.
The instrument also:
- Amends SI 2020/1008 to impose requirements on relevant premises in the “protected area” to apply the restrictions on household mixing and social distancing; and
- Amends SI 2020/684 to disapply the national lockdown restrictions relating to indoor gatherings in those regulations to the “protected area”.
What parliamentary scrutiny has the instrument received?
At the time of writing, the instrument has not been debated or approved by the House of Commons.
The House of Lords Secondary Legislation Committee reported on the instrument on 8 October 2020, but did not draw it to the attention of the House.
- Department of Health and Social Care, ‘Indoor inter-household mixing restricted in parts of the North East’, 28 September 2020
- House of Lords Library, ‘Covid-19 local alert levels: Three-tier system for England’, 13 October 2020
- House of Lords Library, ‘Coronavirus: Additional restrictions in the north of England’, 7 October 2020
- House of Lords Library, ‘Covid-19: Lockdown legislation for the north of England’, 18 September 2020
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