Injunction granted to enforce coronavirus social distancing rules

16th April 2020

Blake Morgan has successfully applied for an injunction against someone who was purposefully disobeying the current social distancing regulations put in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

On 8 April 2020, our housing association client was granted an injunction to prevent nuisance and annoyance against a social tenant. This injunction bans him from breaking coronavirus social distancing rules by:

  • allowing or permitting visitors to his property
  • keeping less than a 2 metre distance from any person
  • leaving his property unless with a reasonable excuse until such a time that the Government has lifted or removed the regulations in relation to COVID-19

In addition, the injunction covers other anti-social behaviour including:

  • Engaging in disorderly behaviour, such as shouting, using foul language or verbal abuse
  • Engaging in aggressive, threatening or violent behaviour
  • Playing amplified music from or near to his property after 19.00 hours and before 09.00 hours daily

The defendant is an assured tenant. He had been causing late night disturbances, making threats to other residents and engaging in disorder for over a year. The housing association made efforts to work with him but the defendant did not engage with support, and his behaviour did not change.

From the beginning of March to 4th April 2020 during this pandemic, the defendant was seen by other residents meeting with his friends inside and outside of his home regularly. He was also leaving his home five or six times a day without a reasonable excuse and drinking alcohol on the street. The reasonable excuses to leave your home during the current lockdown are set out in Section 6 of the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 here.

The defendant’s behaviour was having an impact on other residents as they feared intimidation due to threats made, and they considered he was causing a significant danger to public health by not complying with the lockdown. Some residents were reluctant to come out and utilise their hour of exercise because the defendant would appear and shout at them.

The housing association took decisive steps over a matter of days to get the witness evidence together to support the injunction along with evidence from the police. The judge at Oxford County Court gave the defendant a stern warning regarding the purpose of the government restrictions. The judge was satisfied that it was just and convenient to grant an injunction order with power of arrest. The defendant acknowledged that he should have been complying with the government restrictions and accepted the breaches. As such an order was granted.

This case has attracted local press attention as this is one of the early instances of the new coronavirus laws being put to use in civil proceedings. The coronavirus laws were put in place to protect the public against the spread of COVID-19. Therefore, aside from the powers the police have to impose fines or carry out arrests, steps can be taken in civil proceedings to support the coronavirus social distancing rules, such as an injunction to preserve public health and to prevent harm or nuisance to any person.

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