Coronavirus – Advice for Wales

Devolution has enabled the Welsh Government to make enforceable regulations and issue guidance on public health matters limited to Wales. (See the Rider below for the legal background on Welsh only legislation and the scope of the Coronavirus Act 2020 which impacts on the whole of the UK.)

Below are the main links providing a quick source of information for clerks working for town and community councils in Wales (and councils bordering Wales). Clerks are recommended to read the Welsh Government and Audit Wales links.

Page updated 26th October 2020

Guidance

“The Welsh Government has issued guidance about the principal Regulations. Guidance is produced to explain the effect of legislation, and to set out the Welsh Government’s view on how it should be implemented in practice. This guidance is intended to complement the legislation but does not (of itself) impose legal requirements.

More general guidance and advice about behaviour and best practice in relation to coronavirus has also been issued by the Welsh Government and Public Health Wales. Again this does not impose legal obligations.”

Funerals/Cemeteries/Crematoriums:

Guidance to local authorities on funerals: COVID-19

Rights or way:

Guidance on Public Rights of Way / Access Land under the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) Regulations 2020

Rider

Welsh legislation imposing coronavirus restrictions – legal background

“Health protection legislation in Wales (and England) was updated in 2010 to give public authorities more comprehensive powers and duties to prevent and control risks to human health from infection or contamination. These are found in the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984, as it was amended by the Health and Social Care Act 2008. Part 2A of the 1984 Act enables the Welsh Ministers, by regulations, to make law for the purpose of preventing, protecting against, controlling or providing a public health response to the incidence or spread of infection or contamination in Wales. This includes the power to impose “restrictions or requirements on or in relation to persons, things or premises in the event of, or in response to, a threat to public health.”

The Coronavirus Act 2020 also makes provision regarding coronavirus public health issues across the UK. (See below for the explanatory note).

“The main (“principal”) Regulations in Wales are the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No 2) (Wales) Regulations 2020. These Regulations have revoked and incorporated earlier Regulations, copies of which can also be found below. Other Regulations have subsequently amended the principal Regulations. There are also Regulations dealing with travel and quarantine requirements.”

UK wide legislation-Coronavirus Act 2020- Overview

  1. The purpose of the Coronavirus Act is to enable the Government to respond to an emergency situation and manage the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. A severe pandemic will lead to a reduced workforce, increased pressure on health services and death management processes. The Act contains temporary measures designed to either amend existing legislative provisions or introduce new statutory powers which are designed to mitigate these impacts.
  2. The Act aims to support Government in doing the following:
    • Increasing the available health and social care workforce
    • Easing the burden on frontline staff
    • Containing and slowing the virus
    • Managing the deceased with respect and dignity
    • Supporting people
  3. The Act is part of a concerted effort across the whole of the UK to tackle the COVID-19 outbreak. The intention is that it will enable the right people from public bodies across the UK to take appropriate actions at the right times to manage the effects of the outbreak.
  4. As part of its contingency planning, the Government has considered what measures would be needed during a severe COVID-19 outbreak to reduce the pressure of key services and limit the spread of infection.
  5. This Act ensures that the agencies and services involved in this response – schools, hospitals, the police etc. – have the tools and powers they need. Each of the four nations of the UK has its own set of laws, and thus these tools and powers differ to varying degrees in each area. Consistency of outcome has been achieved by making the range of tools and powers consistent across the UK.
  6. This Act is just one part of the overall solution. It has therefore not been necessary for each tool or power needed to address the COVID-19 pandemic to be covered by this Act. Some exist already in statute. Some exist in some parts of the UK but not others. This Act aims to level up powers across the UK, so that the actions to tackle this threat can be carried out effectively across all four nations.
  7. These are extraordinary measures that do not apply in normal circumstances. For this reason, the legislation is time-limited to two years, and it is neither necessary nor appropriate for all of its measures to come into force immediately. Instead, many of the measures in this Act can be commenced from area to area and time to time, so as to ensure that the need to protect the public’s health can be aligned with the need to safeguard individuals’ rights. These measures can subsequently be suspended and then later reactivated, if circumstances permit, over the lifetime of the Act.
  8. The lifetime of the Act can itself be ended early, if the best available scientific evidence supports a policy decision that these powers are no longer needed. It is also possible to extend the lifetime of the Act for a further temporary period, again if it is prudent to do so.
  9. This facility can be adjusted so that early termination (“sunsetting”) can apply to some provisions; and extensions can be applied to others. The aim is to make sure that these powers can be used both effectively and proportionately.
  10. These provisions also take due account of the UK’s devolution settlement in a way that enables swift action to be taken when and where it is needed. UK Government Ministers control the use of provisions on matters that are reserved or England only. This is intended to be a streamlined system that is nonetheless consonant with the role of the Devolved Administrations.
  11. As is explained below, while the Act includes provisions which relate to a wide spectrum of areas across the UK, they are all focused on responding to circumstances that may arise as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Useful Links

Public Health Wales statement on Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

Public Health Wales – Coronavirus

Information to help your fellow clerks
Please send other useful links/information to gemma.rickard@slcc.co.uk