What is the legal requirement on businesses, workplaces, public places and event organisers?
Regulation 16 of the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 5) (Wales) Regulations 2020 imposes obligations on people responsible for premises that are 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 is to be achieved by taking the following steps, which are based on the “hierarchy of controls” principles (referred to above):
- step 1: 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)
- step 2: provide information to those entering or working at the premises about how to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus. This includes, in particular, information to all those working on the premises about their risk of exposure to coronavirus identified in the risk assessment and the measures to be taken to minimise this risk
- step 3: ensure that reasonable measures are taken to minimise risk of exposure to the virus on the premises
Each of the 3 Steps is required to be taken. Further detail on each step is set out below;
What has changed?
The requirement to carry out a specific coronavirus risk assessment and to take reasonable measures has not changed. These requirements remain in place at Alert Level Zero.
There has however been a change to how those required to take reasonable measures determine what reasonable measures they should take, as well as a change in emphasis in what reasonable measures are necessary. The Regulations are now less prescriptive about exactly what measures must be put in place, enabling there to be more flexibility in what is done based on the levels
of risk identified.
The specific requirements on licensed and retail premises are no longer set out separately in the Regulations. However, this does not mean those things are no longer considered ‘reasonable measures’ that may be required, rather that they are not legally required in all circumstances.
For example, table service in pub has been required at all times. As a result of the change in the law, however, whether a table service should be put in place will depend on the circumstances. In a pub that is very rarely busy or during the day where there are few customers present, table service is unlikely to be required as the risk is lower. But table service may well be a reasonable measure that should be taken on a busy evening, or if a pub was holding an event, as the bar area could become crowded.
In so far as the reasonable measures themselves are concerned, there has been a particular emphasis throughout on physical distancing, in particular measures to keep people 2 metres apart. Following the change in the law, physical distancing is still a reasonable measure that may be taken, and in many circumstances is likely to be required to be taken, however it is no longer given particular prominence. This means that where other measures can be taken to minimise risk, such as moving outdoors, requiring people to be tested or vaccinated, using screens etc., physical distancing may not be required or could be required to a lesser extent.
More information can be found here: