Does my business need to close?

Updated: Mar 27


New rules were brought in on 23 March 2020 which introduced three new measures, namely:

  1. Requiring people to stay at home, except for very limited purposes.

  2. Closing non-essential shops and community spaces.

  3. Stopping all gatherings of more than two people in public.

The current guidance can be found in full here.

A number of clients have questioned whether there business needs to close. In respect of the above rules, here is our view:

1. Requiring people to stay at home, except for very limited purposes.

In relation to the first point, travelling to and from work is one of the exceptions to when an employee is permitted to leave home. The government guidance provides that a person should only travel to and from work where such work ‘absolutely cannot be done from home’. So if an employee can work from home, they should.

Clearly, if it is not possible to undertake work from home then employees who are unable to work from home are currently permitted to travel to and from work.

2. Closing non-essential shops and community spaces.

The government has extended the requirement for certain businesses to close. Included in the extended list are non-essential retail stores however this does not extend to non-essential businesses in general. A full detailed list can be found here.

At present, the official guidance provides that ‘businesses and other venues not on the official list may remain open’. This will apply to most factories and offices.

3. Stopping all gatherings of more than two people in public.

Attendance at work is not included within the definition of a public gathering. Further, one of the two exemptions allows for gathering in the workplace if they are essential for work purposes, although you should still try to minimise all meetings and other gatherings in the workplace.

Summary

If work can only be undertaken by employees attending their place of work then employees are permitted to continue to attend their place of work if they are unable to work from home if the closure of the workplace is not covered by the new requirements for non-essential shops and sub- community spaces to close.

Finally, whilst gatherings may take place in the workplace employers should seek to minimise and ensure that no unnecessary gatherings take place whilst at work. To this end, you should seek to ensure that the guidance on social distancing is undertaken in so far as possible. Further details can be found here.

We expect that further guidance shall be issued throughout the remainder of the week and we shall endeavour to keep you update.

Please do not hesitate to contact Greystone Legal should you have any queries.


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