Consumers have to bear the cost of lockdown equally.
Businesses can charge higher prices to consumers who want social distancing and other Covid ‘safety’ measures. Equally, they can offer lower prices and ‘fast pass’ queues or opening hours for those who do not.
This is the common law position in England and Wales. It remains the law in England for the moment and unenforceable guidance won’t change that.
There is potential for objection on from some with disabilities under the Equality Act 2010 that they may be excluded from being served as a result of such practices. However, any discrimination claims will be defended on basis that the practice is justified, principally in that the business needs the income of more people in order to survive or be reasonably profitable and, perhaps, even to provide a normal service to avoid potential discrimination and harm to others.
Wales has become rather more complex.
The Welsh Assembly Government, led by First Minister Mark Drakeford, sought to ensure the 2 meter rule and its guidance has status as law.
As a result, since 7 April 2020, employers and owners of business premises have been required to enforce 2 metre distancing and could be fined for not doing so. Further, they “must have regard to guidance issued by the Welsh Ministers about reasonable measures to be taken to ensure that a distance of 2 metres is maintained between persons.”
This does not, however, apply to a citizen’s freedom to use public spaces where the 2 metre guidance remains, as in England, guidance only.
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