The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) Regulations 2020

Jurisdiction: Wales

Commencement: 26th March 2020

Repeals: The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Business Closure) (Wales) Regulations 2020

The Health Protection (Coronavirus: Closure of Leisure Businesses, Footpaths and Access Land) (Wales) Regulations 2020


Mini Summary

These Regulations list various types of businesses and organisations which are required to close to prevent the spread of Coronavirus, and those which are not required to close. The Regulations also define the restrictions which apply to individuals.


The Regulations are designed to protect public health by preventing the spread of COVID19 (i.e. Coronavirus).

The Regulations apply to many types of business and other organisations, which are required to close or restrict their activities.

They provide for closure of certain public access footpaths and land.

They also apply to individuals, requiring people not to leave their homes except for certain specified reasons.

The Regulations apply in Wales only (similar Regulations have been passed in England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland).

Businesses which are required to close

The Regulations impose requirements on various types of businesses and organisations which are required to close in order to restrict the spread of Coronavirus. The types of business or organisation affected can be divided into the following categories:

  • Businesses which sell food and drink for consumption on the premises.
  • Certain listed types of businesses in which people commonly congregate (theatres, cinemas, concert halls, sports centres, etc).
  • Other businesses which supply goods for sale or hire.
  • Holiday accommodation.
  • Places of worship.
  • Community centres.
  • Crematoria and places of burial.

The Regulations also list certain key businesses which are excepted from the restrictions.

The Regulations repeal (and replace) The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Business Closure) (Wales) Regulations 2020 and The Health Protection (Coronavirus: Closure of Leisure Businesses, Footpaths and Access Land) (Wales) Regulations 2020.


Emergency period

The restrictions set out in these Regulations only apply during the ‘emergency period’. The emergency period starts on 26th March 2020. The emergency period ends in relation to any particular restriction or when the Welsh Ministers issue a direction ending it.

The Welsh Ministers must review the need for the restrictions at least every 21 days, commencing 15th April 2020.

The Welsh Ministers must issue a direction ending any restrictions or requirements as soon as they are no longer necessary to protect public health from the spread of Coronavirus.

In any event, the Regulations expire after 6 months. 

Social distancing measures

The Regulations require some businesses and premises to close entirely, while others are permitted to remain open provided that social distancing measures are implemented. Where relevant, social distancing measures comprise as follows:

  • Taking all reasonably practicable measures to maintain 2 metre separation between all people in the premises, and also waiting to enter the premises (unless they are from the same household or one is the carer of the other).
  • Controlling the number of people entering the premises to enable a 2 metre separation to be maintained.

Business which sell food and drink for consumption on the premises

The Regulations require the following types of business to close:

  • Restaurants, including in hotels or members clubs.
  • Cafes, including workplace canteens.
  • Bars, including in hotels or members’ clubs.
  • Public houses.

Any person carrying on a relevant business listed above must:

  • Stop selling food or drink for consumption on the premises (n.b. this also applies where a business sells food or drink for consumption in an area adjacent to the premises, e.g. a food court, even though the area set aside for eating and drinking may not have been provided directly by the business).
  • Close that part of the premises on which food and drink are sold for consumption on the premises (this may apply to the whole of the premises).


Workplace canteens can remain open where there is no practical alternative for staff to obtain food, and all reasonable measures are taken to ensure people maintain 2 metres separation.

See also the section below concerning businesses which may remain open. A business may continue to sell food to be taken off the premises for consumption, but must observe the social distancing requirements.

The Regulations do not apply to cafes or canteens in hospitals, care homes, schools, prisons, or MoD establishments for use for naval, military or air force purposes. They also do not apply to services providing food or drink to the homeless.

The provision of room service in a hotel is excluded (i.e. hotels) may continue to provide room service.

Businesses in which people congregate which must close 

The Regulations require the following types of businesses to close:

  • Cinemas.
  • Theatres.
  • Nightclubs.
  • Bingo halls.
  • Concert halls.
  • Museums, galleries and libraries.
  • Casinos.
  • Betting shops.
  • Spas.
  • Nail, beauty, hair salons and barbers.
  • Massage parlours.
  • Tattoo and piercing parlours.
  • Skating rinks.
  • Indoor fitness studios, gyms, swimming pools, bowling alleys, amusement arcades, or soft play areas or other indoor leisure centres.
  • Funfairs (whether outdoors or indoors).
  • Playgrounds, sports courts and outdoor gyms.
  • Outdoor markets (except for stalls selling food).
  • Car showrooms.
  • Auction Houses.
  • Holiday sites.
  • Camping sites.
  • Hotels and B&Bs.
  • Other holiday accommodation.


Though otherwise required to close, cinemas, theatres, bingo halls, concert halls, museums, galleries, gyms, and leisure centres can be used to broadcast performances  (by internet, television or radio) to people outside the premises. There must be no live audience.

Museums, galleries and libraries can continue to provide archive and information services by website, telephone or post.

Any suitable premises may still be used for provision of emergency assistance, e.g. food banks, shelter for the homeless or vulnerable, blood donation or other emergency support.

Specific rules for holiday sites

In addition to the general requirement to close, there are certain additional provisions for holiday sites (any site with mobile or static caravans) and camping sites.

The person responsible for holiday and camping sites must use best endeavours to ensure that anybody staying there vacates the premises. This obligation does not apply where:

  • A person is using a mobile home on the holiday site for human habitation under an agreement made under Part 4 of the Mobile Homes (Wales) Act 2013).
  • A person in holiday accommodation is using it as their main residence, or cannot return to their main residence.
  • The Welsh Ministers or local authority request the business operator to keep the business open.

Businesses which are permitted to stay open

The following types of businesses are permitted to stay open during the emergency period, but subject to the requirement that they implement social distancing requirements:

  • Food retailers, including food markets, supermarkets, convenience stores, and corner shops.
  • Establishments which usually sell food for consumption on the premises but which have ceased selling food to be eaten on the premises and have closed those parts of the premises.
  • Off licenses and licensed shops selling alcohol (including breweries).
  • Pharmacies (including non-dispensing pharmacies) and chemists.
  • Newsagents.
  • Homeware, building supplies and hardware stores.
  • Petrol stations.
  • Car repair and MOT services.
  • Bicycle shops.
  • Taxi or vehicle hire businesses.
  • Banks, building societies, credit unions, short term loan providers, and cash points.
  • Post offices.
  • Funeral directors.
  • Laundrettes and dry cleaners.
  • Dental services, opticians, audiology services, chiropody, chiropractors, osteopaths, and other medical or health services, including services relating to mental health.
  • Veterinary surgeons and pet shops.
  • Agricultural supplies shops.
  • Storage and distribution facilities, including delivery drop off or collection points, where the facilities are in the premises of a business included in this list.
  • Car parks.
  • Public toilets.

Other businesses which provide goods for sale or hire 

The Regulations require all other businesses which supply goods for sale or hire to close.

The person carrying on any relevant business must close the premises and must not allow anybody onto the premises, except as set out below.

Although required to close, businesses supplying goods for sale or hire are permitted to continue to make deliveries or provide services for orders received by website, text, phone or post. The business may keep premises open and permit entry to people only to the extent required to make the deliveries or other services permitted here.

Subsidiary and parent companies

If a business which is required to close forms part of a larger business, the larger business complies by closing the relevant part of the businesses which are required to close, i.e. those carrying on the types of business listed above.

Places of worship 

These must be closed except as follows:

  • for funerals;
  • to broadcast acts of worship (by internet, television or radio); or
  • to provide essential voluntary services or public support services (e.g. food banks, help for the homeless, blood donation centres),

provided that in each case all reasonable measures are taken to maintain a distance of 2 metres between each person.

Crematoria and burial grounds 

These must remain closed to the public, except during a cremation or burial service. Steps must be taken to maintain a 2 metre separation between people.

Community centres

These must be closed except where they provide essential voluntary activities or community support services (e.g. food banks, shelter for the homeless or vulnerable, blood donation or other emergency support). The person running the centre must take reasonable measures to ensure 2 metre separation between people.

Restrictions on personal movement

The Regulations also set out restrictions on personal movement. These apply to individuals, not businesses, but are set out here for information.

Individuals may not leave the place where they live, except in the following circumstances:

  • To obtain basic necessities for themself, others in their household, or ‘vulnerable persons’ (see definition below). Basic necessities include food, medicine, and supplies for essential upkeep maintenance or functioning of the household, or money.
  • To take exercise once per day (alone or with others from the same household).
  • To seek medical assistance.
  • To provide care or assistance to a vulnerable person, or provide emergency assistance.
  • To travel to work or voluntary or charitable services, in any case only where it is not possible to do so from home.
  • To attend a funeral (restrictions apply).
  • To fulfil a legal obligation (e.g. attend court).
  • To attend certain critical public services, including social services, childcare, schools (applicable to parents who are also key workers), services provided by the Department of Work and Pensions, and services for victims of crime.
  • A child visiting a parent he or she does not permanently live with.
  • A minister or religious leader leading a permitted service.
  • To move house, where reasonably necessary.
  • To escape from harm.

A person’s home includes the garden, and any paths, passageways, outhouses etc.

Homeless people are specifically excluded from the above requirements.

Vulnerable people

The following people are classified as ‘vulnerable’:

  • A person who is 70 or older.
  • A pregnant woman.
  • A person with any of the following underlying health conditions:
  • chronic (long-term) respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema or bronchitis;
  • chronic heart disease, such as heart failure;
  • chronic kidney disease;
  • chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis;
  • chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, a learning disability or cerebral palsy;
  • diabetes;
  • problems with the spleen, such as sickle cell disease or removal of the spleen;
  • a weakened immune system as the result of conditions such as HIV and AIDS, or medicines such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy; or
  • being seriously overweight, with a body mass index of 40 or above.

Restrictions on public gatherings

It is prohibited to gather in groups of more than two a public place, except:

  • where all the people are from the same household;
  • to attend a funeral;
  • where it is essential for work purposes; or
  • where it is reasonably necessary to move house, to attend court or another legal obligation, or to provide assistance to a vulnerable person or provide emergency assistance.

Requirement to close certain public footpaths and land during the emergency

The Regulations apply to footpaths and access land in the area of any of the authorities listed below, where the authority considers the path or land is likely to have large numbers or people congregating or in close proximity to another:

  • County Council or County Borough Councils in Wales.
  • National Park authority in Wales.
  • Natural Resources Wales.
  • The National Trust.

The relevant authorities must close the land during the emergency period until it is no longer necessary for the prevention of spread of Coronavirus, or the end of the emergency period.

Publication of list of closed land:

The authorities must publish a list of the land and footpaths closed on a website, and must post notices in prominent places to advise the public that the path or land is closed.

No access without authorisation:

No person can access the path or land unless authorised by the relevant local authority.


The Regulations provide enforcement powers to police officers, community support officers, and such other people as may be designated by the local authority or the Welsh Ministers.

Enforcement powers include:

  • serving a Prohibition Notice;
  • directing a person to return home, and/or to take a child home or to ensure that the child complies with the restrictions;
  • removing a person from a closed footpath or access land (using reasonable force if necessary);
  • removing a person to their home (using reasonable force if necessary);
  • directing a gathering to disperse; and
  • power of entry into premises where the person exercising the power believes an offence is being or is about to be committed.

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


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

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

The Regulations also provide that proceedings can be brought against a partnership, and other unincorporated bodies.

The Regulations provide that 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 ranges from £30 (first incident) and up to £120 for repeat infringements. The Regulations set out procedural rules concerning fixed penalty notices.


Link to full government text


The Legislation Update Service is the best way to stay up to date automatically with legislation in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Sign up for your free trial to get instant access.



These summaries (The Compliance People Materials) are provided free of charge as an example of the Legislation Update Service’s content. They are not intended to constitute legal advice for any specific situation. The Compliance People Materials are general and educational in nature and may not apply to the specific facts and circumstances of individual cases. The Compliance People does not accept any responsibility for action taken by you or any User as a result of any The Compliance People Materials provided by us. You should take specific legal advice when dealing with specific situations.