The government has quietly passed a law in England that will make it illegal for pub landlords not to enforce coronavirus rules – from taking big bookings to the exact volume of the speaker
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Pub landlords will be fined Â£1,000 for allowing dancing on their property or playing music above 85 decibels under a new coronavirus law slipped out by the government.
The thumping fine is part of a string of legal changes in England that were quietly made late on Sunday night without any prior approval by Parliment.
Downing Street said the package of laws would ensure people obey new coronavirus restrictions – which are designed to curb an alarming spike in Covid-19 cases.
But they have prompted outrage among Tory MPs, who believe the government must start getting approval from MPs before making things a criminal offence.
The new regulations take what was already guidance to hospitality venues – including pubs, cafes and restaurants – and puts it into the criminal law.
The law says venue managers must take “all reasonable measures” to stop dancing on the premises by customers.
They must also take “all reasonable measures” to stop singing by customers in groups of more than six.
And they must “ensure no music is played on the premises which exceeds 85 decibels when measured at the source of the music.”
Government sources said the purpose is to avoid an environment where people have to shout to be heard – something that increases the risk of transmission.
Meanwhile, managers must also – by law – ensure there is an “appropriate distance” of two metres between tables.
This can be cut to one metre if tables are arranged back to back, there are barriers or screens between them, or other measures are taken to reduce the spread of Covid-19.
And finally managers have a legal duty to refuse any booking of more than six people, and stop people mingling in groups of more than six inside the venue.
Breaking any of these regulations in England is now a criminal offence from today, punishable by a Â£1,000 on-the-spot fine.
That fine halves to Â£500 if paid promptly but can rise to Â£2,000, Â£4,000 then Â£10,000 for repeat offences.
Wide-ranging laws and the list of punishments were revealed in legal documents and came into force on Monday.
Now, by law, people in England must self-isolate if they test positive for coronavirus, or are contacted by the test and trace service, or face fines starting from Â£1,000, rising to Â£10,000 for repeat offenders.
Those who test positive must do so for 10 days after displaying symptoms, or from their test date if they are asymptomatic, while members of their household must isolate for 14 days.
But some industry leaders said the growing restrictions on hospitality businesses were making it hard for pubs to survive.
The self-isolation rules also show there is a Â£4,000 first-time fine for those who are “reckless” by coming into contact with others when they know they should be self-isolating.
For example, going into an office or crowded place when you know this could put people at risk after being told to self-isolate.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We know that the vast majority of people want to do the right thing.
“What we are setting out is that those who recklessly take risks with the health of their friends, families and communities should expect this to be taken seriously.”
Staff also face a Â£50 fine for failing to tell their employer they have to self-isolate.
The rules also prohibit an employer from allowing staff to attend any place of work, or anywhere connected to their work, while they are having to self-isolate.
Employers must not knowingly allow people to go into work if they know they have to self-isolate.
Police will be carrying out spot checks on people who are meant to be self-isolating in “high incidence areas” and on “high-risk groups” based on “local intelligence”, the Department of Health and Social Care said.
According to the laws, people can self-isolate at home, in state-provided accommodation, a bed and breakfast or with a friend or relative.
They cannot leave unless they have a reasonable excuse – which includes seeking urgent medical assistance, buying food or medicine when there is no other means of obtaining them, going to court, to escape danger and to go to a funeral.
Those on low incomes who cannot work from home, and have lost income as a result, will also be eligible for a new Â£500 test and trace support payment, the department added.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman added: “We have set out details of the new rules on self-isolation just over a week ago now, in order to give people advance notice of what the system would be.
“Obviously we have subsequently been finalising the regulations and making sure that we have got all the steps that we need in place for contact tracing to be effective and to ensure that the self-isolation rules can be properly followed.”
Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said: “The cumulative impact of layering restriction upon restriction is making it harder for pubs to survive.
“We have already seen a total ban on music in pubs in Scotland, which has seen trade plummet there.
“The sector has not been consulted on the evidence base for these extra restrictions on music.
“We are acutely aware of our responsibilities as businesses, but the Government is in danger of cutting off any chance of a recovery.”
News – New law to fine pubs Â£1,000 for ‘allowing dancing’ or playing 86-decibel music