Now that the Government have issued an extension of three weeks to the current lockdown – there have been criticisms about the Police apparent heavy handling of the situation in some areas – and a call for more specific guidance on what is and isn’t allowed.
Since the coronavirus restrictions were put in place in March, Police Officers have been very busy catching people out for what they have decided is unnecessary driving, dispersing groups in parks or, in some extreme cases, monitoring supermarket aisles.
More than 3,200 fines were handed out by Police in England between 27 March and 13 April to those considered to be flouting the rules.
But many have considered that the Police have been rather overbearing at worst, or at least ‘over enthusiastic’ at best, in their responses.
So the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) has now issued guidance for Police Officers in England to explain the reasons that someone could “reasonably” leave their home during the lockdown.
They stress it simply helps officers to interpret on the original government advice. But it is also helpful for the general public to know what is permitted and what is not
Shopping – What is Allowed
- Buying several days’ worth of food, including luxury items and alcohol.
- Buying a small amount of a staple items or necessities (for example a newspaper, pet food, a loaf of bread or pint of milk)
- Collecting surplus basic food items from a friend
- Buying tools and supplies to do repairs and maintenance ie a fence panel damaged in bad weather.
This comes after Cambridge Police had to clarify its social distancing guidelines when an officer posted on social media they were monitoring “non-essential” supermarket aisles.
Shopping – What’s Not Allowed:
The NPCC said officers may take action over people who go out to buy a pot of paint and brushes to simply undertake redecoration of a room (for example), as the regulations relate to upkeep and maintenance, not renovation.
(Eds Note – How are they going to know?!!)
Exercise – What is Allowed:
- Going for a run or cycle, practising yoga, walking in the countryside or in cities or attending an allotment
- Driving to countryside and walking (where far more time is spent walking than driving)
- Stopping to rest or to eat lunch while on a long walk
- In some circumstances, exercising more than once per day
Exercise – What isn’t allowed:
- Driving for a prolonged period with only brief exercise
- A short walk to a park bench, when the person remains seated for a much longer period
It is clear from the guidelines that sitting or sunbathing in the park is not permitted, but having a rest during a workout or a walk is fine.
Police point out that exercise “must involve some movement”. This was after a women questioned by police on a park bench for sitting there for over an hour said she was ‘mentally exercising’
Work – What is Allowed:
- Key workers or other essential workers can travel to work where it is not reasonably possible to work from home
- Some non-key workers or non-essential key workers can travel to work where it is not reasonably possible to work from home
- People can travel to deliver food packages to vulnerable people
Work – What is not Allowed :
- Working in a local park if you’re allowed to work from home
- Knocking on doors offering to do cash-in-hand work
Clear guidance from the government was issued when schools closed down in March as to who was and was not classed as a key worker – most of whom have been permitted to travel to their place of work.
Employees have also been allowed to travel to work, should their employer ask them to, or if they cannot work from home.
However, the guidelines state that working from home means working from your home and not local parks or gardens.
The NPCC adds that there is no need for someone to produce proof that they are required to go into work.
Other reasons to leave home – What’s Allowed:
- Going to the vet if your pet needs essential treatment
- Moving to a friend’s address for several days to “cool off” following an argument at home
- Providing support to vulnerable people
There has been a rise in domestic violence cases – and criticism of the Government for not doing more to help these households. Now the guidelines mean you can move in with someone else if you feel you are at risk. Or suggest that your partner does.
What not Allowed:
- Visit a vet’s surgery in person to renew a prescription (where this could be done over the phone)
- Visiting a friend in their house or meeting in public to socialise with a group of friends or colleagues.