IQRA ALI | LEGAL JARGON WRITER
The government has imposed a new ban on socialising in a crowd of more than 6 people, following a spike of fresh coronavirus cases. Fresh cases are now rising at a rate of 3,000 a day in the UK – that’s an increase from 1,000 for most of August. Hospital admissions in France and Spain have surged and there is now concerns that the UK may see a second wave of the illness.
Exemptions to the new rule are for gatherings that are necessary, e.g. work or education. Other exemptions include weddings, funerals and sports, provided they are are Covid-19 secure. The rule applies to both adults and children, indoors and outdoors.
Anyone who acts in contrary to the new rule will face a fine of £100 (even arrest), doubling on each repeated offence to £3,200.
What’s the potential commercial impact?
The new rule will prohibit gatherings taking place which may well affect businesses that rely on large numbers. A household of 7 will be unable to visit places such as restaurants which would adversely impact the business revenue. As a result, such businesses may face huge losses and thereby may limit services they provide.
If we look at it this from an M&A perspective, such businesses may have to think twice before agreeing to any merge or acquisition, due to a decrease in funds. Restaurants may not wish to merge with other businesses just yet or they may not want to enter into any acquisitions at the moment, until things pick up again. Some modes of transport (such as boats and ships used for socialising) may be adversely affected while some (e.g. buses) will see very little difference following the ban. It all depends on how reliant these modes are on large groups of visitors.
On the other hand, since the online world is on the rise, it means more businesses have begun investing in their digital platforms. While some businesses rely on customer attendance, business such as restaurants may find they haven’t been affected as much, thanks to our delivery services. A household of more than 7 might increase the number of food/drink orders it makes, using services such as Deliveroo and Uber Eats. Not only does this continue to generate revenue for businesses that can operate online, but it also helps the pockets of delivery services like Deliveroo.
The new rule will probably drive businesses to change their internal structures and look to grow in other ways, probably steering towards innovative practices. Although it’s an uncertain time, it could be quite exciting for businesses as they seek ways to remain competitive in the market. We have yet to see the impact the ban has on the commercial world of businesses.
What might be the legal impact?
Continuing to socialise in a crowd of 7 or more will lead to a fine or an arrest. It’ll cost taxpayer’s money to fund minor cases like these, so it’ll always be better to follow the rules than act rebellious.
There are also the commercial lawyers that the new rules may or may not impact. Lawyers that specialise in niche areas like pensions will be least likely to be affected from the rules. But specialists in popular areas like M&A and transport could see a rise (or fall) in the work they carry out because of the consequences that follow the ban.
Iqra is an aspiring commercial lawyer and completed her LPC at the end of August 2020.
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