What can and can’t you do during the current pandemic? The basic law is that you cannot leave your home without ‘reasonable excuse.’ But what is a ‘reasonable excuse’? The following are reasonable excuses:
- Shopping for basic necessities such as food or medicine.
- To take exercise. In Wales this is once a day by law, but in the remainder of the UK it remains only a guideline, and to do so more often might be inadvisable but is not illegal.
- Seeking medical assistance or to escape a risk of harm. This is particularly important for those in danger of domestic violence.
- Providing care or assistance to a vulnerable person, providing emergency assistance, or donating blood.
- Travelling to work or to carry out voluntary services when it’s impossible to do so from home.
- Attending the funeral of a member of your household, a close family member (or in specific circumstances, a friend).
- Fulfilling legal obligations eg attending court or participating in legal proceedings.
- Accessing critical public services including childcare or education, social services or victim support.
- Allowing children of separated parents to move between both households.
When outside home, a safe distance of 2m should be kept from anyone not a member of the household.
If the police believe the rules have been broken, or their instructions refused, they can issue a fine of £60 (reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days). The fine doubles on each repeat offence. However, we are told they will apply their ‘discretion and common sense,’ in applying the restrictions. Quite what this means in policing terms is anyone’s guess. The attempt by British Transport Police to secure a conviction under the Coronavirus Act against a lady found loitering at a train station but not suspected of having the virus raises serious concerns about how these powers will be used.
It should be noted that local authorities eg trading standards officers will also be responsible for compliance and businesses failing to shut down as set out in the list on the government website under ‘Closing certain businesses and venues,’ will be subject to fines and potential closure.
All gatherings of more than two people have been banned save for those who live together, or the gathering is essential for work purposes.
All weddings, baptisms and religious ceremonies have been halted, apart from funerals, but see above for the restrictions on the latter.
If you or your business needs advice about any of the coronavirus restrictions, contact Edmund Conybeare at Legal Studio, firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07739 463571.