Coronavirus (COVID-19) Changes to lockdown regulations

Following recent government announcements regarding the easing of lockdown, there are a number of new provisions coming into force.

The previous guidance surrounding ‘reasonable excuse’ as laid out by The National Police Chiefs Council and the College of Policing is no longer relevant. From Monday 1 June 2020 it is no longer illegal to leave or be outside of your home without reasonable excuse.

It will, however, still be illegal to stay somewhere overnight that is not your main home without reasonable excuse. This replaces regulation 6 of the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020.

The regulations provide a set of reasonable excuses in these circumstances including if a person needs to stay overnight elsewhere to attend a funeral as a member of the deceased person’s household, a close family member of the deceased, or, if no member of household or close family is attending, a friend of the deceased.

You are permitted to stay elsewhere if you are an elite athlete, or their coach, and need to stay elsewhere for the purposes of training or competition. This also applies to parents of elite athletes under 18.

You are allowed to stay somewhere other than your main home, if necessary, whilst moving house. Other reasonable excuses include if it is necessary to stay overnight elsewhere for work purposes; the provision of voluntary or charitable services; to provide care to a vulnerable person; to provide emergency assistance; to avoid injury or illness; to obtain medical assistance; or if a person needs to stay elsewhere to fulfil a legal obligation or participate in legal proceedings.

The new regulations also cater to children whose parents may be divorced. In this situation, the child is allowed to stay in both parents’ houses overnight in order to continue existing contact agreements.

The amendment also ensures that those who are being subjected to domestic violence do not get caught by the broadness of the act. A person is considered to have a reasonable excuse to stay in another place if it is not safe for them to remain in their main home.

The circumstances laid out in the regulations are exhaustive and it is expected that National Police Chiefs Council and College of Policing will publish further guidance shortly. The police will engage with anyone who seems as if they are breaking the regulations. They have been given new powers to award fines of £120 (up from £60) for a person’s first offence and that can increase to a fine of up to £3,200 with further offending behaviour.

Whilst the easing of lockdown restrictions is welcome for many, we must bear in mind the most vulnerable of our society when exercising our new freedoms and give heed to social distancing at all times.

If you feel you have been incorrectly fined for breaching lockdown restrictions, please contact us for confidential advice.

The law and practice referred to in this article or webinar has been paraphrased or summarised. It might not be up-to-date with changes in the law and we do not guarantee the accuracy of any information provided at the time of reading. It should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice in relation to a specific set of circumstances.

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