Coronavirus (COVID-19) Changes to lockdown regulations

Following the address given by Boris Johnson on 10 May 2020, a number of new regulations are now in place which have eased some aspects of lockdown.

These changes came into force on 13 May 2020, but there may still be confusion surrounding the reasons we can leave our homes and the potential consequences for breaking the new rules.

The National Police Chiefs Council and the College of Policing has released more guidance to police forces concerning the variations to The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 and how they apply in both England and Wales.

It sets out further what is now considered as a reasonable excuse. Whilst everything that previously was considered reasonable remains, there are further excuses which are now acceptable. People can now collect goods from any business which has been permitted to remain open, visit recycling centres, garden centres and outdoor sports courts. People are now allowed to take unlimited exercise daily or visit outdoor spaces for their physical, emotional or mental wellbeing. Perhaps the most welcome of these changes to many is the ability to now visit public open spaces and meet one member of another household, allowing many to see their loved ones once again. Albeit one at a time.

The housing market has also reopened as of 13 May. This means that people are now allowed to take part in activities such as house viewings, surveys, as well as the physical act of moving homes.

The guidance also reiterates examples of unreasonable excuses. These include, but are not limited to:

Going on holiday or staying overnight in a second home, or visiting the home of friends or family. There are exceptions to this excuse if it is to protect a vulnerable person, for medical purposes or to escape risk of harm. It is also prohibited to travel to outdoor spaces in Wales or Scotland from England. This is due to the fact that Wales has not eased their restrictions in the same way England has. Taking unlimited exercise over the border may still be considered as an offence. Finally, gatherings of three or more people from different households are not permitted.

There is some further clarification included with regard to certain businesses which can now open and other aspects of the regulations. Libraries remain open and can continue business but only online, or via the telephone or a postal service. Garden centres are now allowed to open as long as they follow social distancing guidelines. The most surprising of all this guidance is the fact that the police have no powers to enforce two metre distancing in England.

This guidance is non-exhaustive and 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 £100 (up from £60) for a person’s first offence and increase that number 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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