Coronavirus Lockdown Restriction Offences & Criminal Defence Representation

Parliament has acted swiftly in introducing new Legislation and Regulations and it is therefore important that businesses and individuals ensure that they up to date and adhering to the changes.

Anyone continuing to break coronavirus lockdown rules can now be arrested. Breaches of the Regulations can also be dealt with by Prohibition Notices, Fines, Fixed Penalties and prosecutions. Individuals who do not pay their fixed penalties can be taken to the Magistrates Court where unlimited fines can then be imposed.

Hundreds of fixed penalty notices have already been imposed by Police forces across the country, along with some arrests.

How Lupton Fawcett can help

Our experienced Regulatory and Criminal Defence Solicitors can advise you on the new laws that you need to adhere to and what to do if an offence is committed. If you are unsure as to whether you can travel to work, continue to operate your business or continue with existing childcare arrangements, our Solicitors can give you practical advice and solutions.

Talk to our expert solicitors in Leeds, Sheffield and York today. For immediate assistance please call our 24/7 number on 07971520407 or fill out our online form.

Legal representation and ongoing proceedings

You are still entitled to legal representation if you are arrested, attend the Police station as a volunteer or attend at court. Your right to legal representation has not changed and it is always imperative that you, or your business, have the best possible legal representation from the beginning of any investigation or prosecution.

The police and courts are working hard to ensure that unnecessary travel is avoided and that social distancing measures are adhered to. Most criminal cases at the Magistrates are now being dealt with by alternative means and you should check with the court before attending.  New and existing cases may be dealt with via video link, in writing or adjourned to a new date.

Our expert team will continue to represent clients and we will make the necessary enquiries to ensure your case is progressed in the safest possible way.

New Legislation and Regulations

In order to reduce person to person contact, and therefore the spread of the virus,  the Government has introduced new measures.

Every person in the United Kingdom must comply with these new measures and the relevant authorities, including the Police, have been given new powers to enforce them.

There are a number of different Regulations that create powers restricting businesses, movement, and how those with suspected coronavirus are dealt with.

Powers relating to the restriction of movement 

The area that will have the most impact on daily lives is the restriction of movement.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 [http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/350/regulation/4/made] came into force on the 26 March 2020. The main powers created are

  1. No person may leave the place where they are living without reasonable excuse.

Reasonable excuses include (but are not limited to)

  • Essential shopping to obtain basic necessities, including food and medical supplies for those in the same household, or for vulnerable persons
  • To exercise once per day, either alone or with members of the same household
  • To seek medical assistance
  • To travel to work where it is not possible to work from home

Full guidance of when you can leave your home can be found here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others]

  1. No person may participate in a gathering in a public place of more than two people, with some exceptions.

Exceptions include (but are not limited to)

  • Where all the persons in the gathering are members of the same household
  • Where the gathering is essential for work purposes
  • To attend a funeral
  • To provide emergency assistance
  • To participate in legal proceedings or fulfil a legal obligation
  1. Events or venues that are deemed to pose a threat to public health can be cancelled or forced to close.

Offences and penalties

The Police and other relevant persons now have new powers to enforce social distancing measures. Some of their new powers include;

  • Directing that a person returns to the place where they are living
  • Removing a person to the place where they are living, using reasonable force if necessary
  • Dispersing gatherings
  • Ensuring that parents are doing all they can to stop their children breaking the rules
  • Issuing a Fixed Penalty (FPN) to individuals breaking the rules (£60, lowered to £30 if paid within 14 days)
  • Issuing Prohibition Notices to businesses and services that fail to comply
  • Arresting those that continue to refuse to comply

If a FPN is not paid then the case can be taken to the Magistrates Court where unlimited fines can then be imposed. 

Powers relating to the restriction and closure of businesses

The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions)  Regulations 2020  came into force on the 26th March 2020. The main provisions in relation to business restrictions are as follows;

  • To close any premises, or part of premises, in which food or drink are sold for the consumption on those premises (this includes restaurants, cafes, bars and pubs)
  • Businesses that sell food or drink to be consumed off the premises may continue to operate takeaway and delivery services
  • Specified businesses including cinemas, theatres, nightclubs, museums, betting shops, leisure centres and gyms, must close

Further guidance on the 24th March 2020 asked all ‘non-essential businesses’ to close. The full guidance on which businesses must close can be found here [https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close-guidance]

Offences and penalties

It is an offence to contravene the regulations ‘without reasonable excuse’.

Local authorities, Police, Environmental Health and Trading Standards Officers will monitor compliance and can issue Prohibition Notices were appropriate.

Powers relating to potentially infected persons

The Coronavirus Act 2020 [http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2020/7/schedule/21]came into force in England on the 25 March 2020.  There are three main powers created the Regulations.

  • The power to direct or remove a person for screening and assessment
  • The power to require a person to be screened and assessed
  • The power to impose requirements or restrictions after a person has been screened and assessed

These powers can be exercised by relevant persons including public health officers and the police. 

Offences and penalties

These powers have created a number of new criminal offences including;

  • Failing, without reasonable excuse, to comply with any direction, reasonable instruction, requirement or restriction given to or imposed on the person
  • Failing, without reasonable excuse, to comply with duties of responsibility for a child
  • Absconding or attempting to abscond while being removed or kept at a place
  • Knowingly providing false or misleading information in response to a requirement to provide information
  • Obstructing a person who is exercising or attempting to exercise a power

These criminal offences can be dealt with by way of a fine. 

Road Traffic Cases

The police and courts are working hard to ensure that unnecessary travel is avoided and that social distancing measures are adhered to and therefore existing and new cases may be dealt with via video link, in writing or adjourned to a new date. This also applies to cases being dealt with by the Single Justice Procedure.

Our expert team will continue to represent clients and will make the necessary enquiries to ensure your case is progressed in the safest possible way.

Contact the criminal lawyers in our RCD team

If you as an individual, or one of your senior people or employees if you are a business, has been charged with an offence relating to breaking COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, call the expert Criminal Solicitors in the Regulatory and Corporate Defence Team at Lupton Fawcett for the best advice and representation.

Our Criminal Solicitors in the RCD team based in Leeds, York & Sheffield, provide the best privately funded criminal defence services and we regularly act for clients right across Yorkshire, but also across England and Wales including Bradford, Birmingham, Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Sheffield, York, and Nottingham.

To discuss your circumstances, contact us today

Coronavirus guidance links

Government guidance on social distancing

Government guidance on the closure of businesses and premises 

The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) Regulations 2020 

Coronavirus Act 2020 

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