The Northern Ireland Executive has just approved a raft of new powers to protect the public from Coronavirus and include fines of up to £5,000 for leaving home without a reasonable excuse.
– The powers compel the closure of certain premises and prohibit anyone from leaving home without a reasonable excuse.
– Gatherings of more than two people are also banned.
– Penalties ranging from fixed penalty notices to fines of up to £5,000 are being introduced to enforce the new powers under The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020.
The Executive has also agreed that:
- Anyone who can work from home must work from home;
- Employers must facilitate working from home where it is feasible;
- No employer should compel an employee to come to work if it is feasible to work from home;
- Every employer must take all reasonable steps to safeguard the health, safety and well-being of employees during the COVID-19 emergency, whether working from home or in the workplace;
- Every employer must have particular regard to the safety of employees in the workplace and must put into effect the guidance on social distancing issued by the Department for the Economy;
- Every employer has a legal duty to ensure, so far as it is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all employees;
- Where a business is failing to observe the Department for the Economy guidance and breaching the legal duty on health and safety, the statutory authorities will take robust action, which may include prosecution for criminal offences;
- Where necessary, The Executive Office will also use its power of direction to close or restrict businesses that do not ensure the safety of their employees.