The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Functions of Local Authorities etc.) (Wales) Regulations 2020

Jurisdiction: Wales

Commencement: 26th May 2020  

Mini Summary

The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Functions of Local Authorities etc.) (Wales) Regulations 2020 allow local authorities to give directions relating to premises, events and public outdoor places in their area, restricting the opening and functioning of premises and access of areas / locations for businesses and individuals. 


These Regulations are designed to protect public health by preventing the spread of Coronavirus (Covid-19). 

The Regulations make provision for local authorities to give directions relating to premises, events and public outdoor places in their area. A direction may only be given if the local authority considers that the public health, necessity and proportionality conditions below are met. 

Individuals, businesses and other organisations may have to follow directions to close or restrict their activities. 

These Regulations apply in Wales only. 

There are separate Regulations in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Note that the requirements in other jurisdictions differ, in some cases to a significant degree. 

These Regulations came into force on 14th September 2020 and expire on 8th January 2021 unless revoked prior to this date.  

Directions by local authorities 

Local authorities have the right to give directions concerning individual premises, events or public places, in line with the following conditions: 

  • To respond to a serious and imminent threat to public health. 
  • To prevent, protect against, control or provida public health response to the incidence or spread of infection by Coronavirus in the local authority’s area. 
  • To impose prohibitions, requirements or restrictions through directions, only when they are a proportionate means of achieving that purpose. 

Welsh Ministers must be made aware of any direction given by local authority. The local authority must review its decision concerning any direction given, at least once every 7 days. 

If on a review of a direction, a local authority considers that the conditions of the direction are no longer met, it must revoke the direction and notify each person on whom it was served.  

Before a direction can be given or revoked, local authority must take into consideration any advice given by the Director of Public Protection and any guidance issued by the Welsh Ministers. 

Directions relating to individual premises 

Local authorities can give directions to: 

  • close premises; 
  • restrict entry to premises; 
  • restrict the use of premises; or 
  • restrict the number of people allowed on premises. 

These directions should only impose a prohibition, requirement or restriction on: 

  • the owner or occupier of a premises; or 
  • any other person involved in managing entry into, or departure from, such premises. 

Before giving a direction, local authority must ensure that members of the public have access to essential public services and goods. 

A local authority is not allowed to give directions concerning any premises which form part of essential infrastructure. 

Directions relating to events 

Local authorities can give directions to: 

  • require an event to be stopped or not to be held; 
  • restrict entry to an event; or 
  • restrict the number of people attending an event. 

These directions should only impose a prohibition, requirement or restriction on either: 

  • the owner; 
  • any occupier of the premises; or  
  • the organiser of the event. 

A person is not involved in organising an event if their only involvement is, or would be, attending that event. 

Directions relating to public places 

Local authorities can give directions imposing prohibitions, requirements or restrictions concerning access to any public place within its area. 

A public place is an outdoor place where the public has access, including: 

  • public gardens; 
  • open country (e.g. mountains, moor, cliff); and 
  • any highway to which the public has access. 

Please note: A public place does not include access land (land owned by the National Trust) or a public path. 

These directions may prohibit access at specified times. 

A direction relating to public places, given by a local authority must take reasonable steps to: 

  • prevent or restrict public access to the public place; 
  • give prior notice of the direction to those carrying on a business within the public place; and 
  • ensure the direction is brought to the attention of any person who own, occupies or is responsible for any premises in the public place. 

Any person, other than a local authority who owns, occupies or is responsible for a premises in a public place, must take steps to prevent or restrict public access to the premises in accordance with the direction. 

No person may, without reasonable excuse, enter or remain in a public place, if doing so contravenes a prohibition, requirement or restriction imposed by direction. 



Both the local authority who gave the direction and anyone who owns, occupies or is responsible for land in a public place to which a direction relates to, must take reasonable steps to prevent or restrict public access to the public places. 

Following the issue of a direction, no person may enter or remain in a public place where a direction of prohibition, requirement or restriction is imposed, unless they have a reasonable excuse to do so. 

A reasonable excuse includes where: 

  • the person owns, occupies or is responsible for any land or premises in a public outdoor place to which the direction relates;  
  • the person needs to enter a public outdoor place to which the direction relates to access, or leave the place where they live;  
  • the person is visiting someone who falls within the description of the bullet points above;  
  • the person needs to enter or remain in a public outdoor place to which the direction relates:  
    • to avoid injury or illness or to escape a risk of harm; 
    • to continue existing arrangements for access to, and contact between, parents and children where the children do not live in the same household as their parents, or one of their parents; or  
    • to fulfil a legal obligation or to participate in legal proceedings; or 
  • it is reasonably necessary for a person to enter or remain in a public outdoor place to which the direction relates:  
    • for work purposes, or to provide voluntary or charitable services; 
    • to facilitate a house move; 
    • to provide care or assistance to a vulnerable person, including personal care; or  
    • to provide emergency assistance. 

Notice of directions 

Where a local authority gives a direction which imposes a prohibition, requirement or restriction on a person specified by name, or revokes a direction, the direction or notice of revocation: 

  • must be given in writing to that person; 
  • contain a description of the premises, event or public place; 
  • state the date and time on which any prohibition, requirement or restriction comes into effect and the date and time it will end; 
  • state the reasons why the local authority considers the public health conditions to be met in relation to the direction; and 
  • give details of the right of appeal. 

Welsh Ministers must consult the Chief Medical Officer for Wales before requiring a local authority to revoke a direction. 

Notification of directions to other local authorities 

Once a local authority has given a direction, it must send a copy of the direction to: 

  • the Welsh Ministers;  
  • every other surrounding local authority; and 
  • the county or district council in England, if the Welsh local authority is adjacent. 

The local authority that issued the direction is also required to publish the direction to bring it to the attention of those who may be affected by it. 


If a person receives a direction that imposes a prohibition, requirement or restriction, they can appeal against the direction to a magistrates’ court, by making a complaint to the Welsh Ministers. 

The Welsh Ministers must consider the appeal as soon as reasonably practicable and must provide written reasons for the decision to the interested person and the local authority which gave the direction. 

Closure of public paths and access land 

Where the relevant authority* has reason to believe public paths and access land will receive large numbers of people congregating in close proximity to each other, or where the use of public paths and access land poses a high risk of exposure to Coronavirus, the relevant authority has a duty to: 

  • close public paths or access land; and 
  • keep it closed until it is no longer necessary to prevent, protect against, control or provide a public health response to the spread of Coronavirus in the area. 

*A relevant authority includes: 

  • a local authority 
  • a National Park authority in Wales 
  • Natural Resource Wales; and 
  • The National Trust. 

Where a public path or access land has been closed under: 

that path or land is to be treated as if it were closed under these Regulations. 

Individuals are prohibited from using a public path or land which is closed, unless they are authorised by the relevant authority. 

Where there is a closure of public paths and access land, the relevant authority is required to: 

  • publish on its own website, a list of public paths or access land closed in its area; and 
  • place notices in suitable places where they can be easily seen and read, to inform the public of the closure of public path or access land. 


Powers are given to enforcement officers* to enable them to enforce directions given under these Regulations. 

*An enforcement officer is considered to be any of the following: 

  • police constables; 
  • police community support officers; or  
  • a person designated by:  
    • the Welsh Ministers; 
    • a local authority; 
    • a National Part authority in Wales; or  
    • Natural Resources Wales. 

Enforcement officers may give a prohibition notice to a person if the officer reasonably believes that: 

  • the person is contravening a direction relating to an individual premises, public place or event; and 
  • the person is failing or has failed to take the necessary steps to comply with the direction. 

Where it is considered that a person is, without reasonable excuse, in a public place and in contravention of a direction, a police constable can: 

  • direct that person to leave the place; 
  • remove that person from the place, using reasonable force; and 
  • direct any person responsible for a child who is with them, to remove the child from the event or place and ensure the child complies with any direction or instruction given. 

Where enforcement officers are required to enter a premises to take enforcement action, they may: 

  • use reasonable force to enter the premises; and 
  • take other enforcement officers, equipment and materials onto the premises. 

Upon entering a premise, enforcement officers are required to: 

  • show evidence of their identify; 
  • outline the purpose of their visit; and 
  • leave the premises as secure as it was found (only applicable where the premises is unoccupied). 

These powers should only be used where they are necessary and proportionate. 


Any person who contravenes the duties under these Regulations, obstructs a person carrying out a function under these Regulations, or fails (without reasonable excuse) to comply with any direction from a person with enforcement powers, is guilty of an offence punishable by a fine. 

If a company commits an offence due to the consent, involvement or neglect of a director, manager, secretary or other officer of that company, that person is also guilty of the offence. 

Enforcement officials can serve a fixed penalty notice. Payment of the notice by the person on whom it is served avoids the need for criminal proceedings. 

The amount of a fixed penalty notice is set at £60 for an individual receiving their first fixed penalty notice. If the fine is paid within 14 days of receiving the notice, the fine is reduced to £30. Each subsequent fixed penalty notice received after a first offence doubles in amount, up to a maximum of £1,920. The specific amounts are shown below:    

  • in the case of the second fixed penalty notice received, £120;  
  • in the case of the third fixed penalty notice received, £240;   
  • in the case of the fourth fixed penalty notice received, £480;    
  • in the case of the fifth fixed penalty notice received, £960; and   
  • in the case of the sixth and any subsequent fixed penalty notice received, £1,920. 

 When determining how many fixed penalty notices a person has received, the following regulations must be considered: 


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