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No fines so far in Gloucestershire for people breaking social distancing guidelines

These are the 13 reasonable excuses people can leave where they’re living as new coronavirus emergency measures came into force last week.

Police across England have been given new powers to stop, fine or arrest people who fail to comply with the new coronavirus law, The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020.

Under the law, people can reasonably leave where they’re living during an “emergency period” to exercise, shop for basic necessities such as food and medical supplies, but also to donate blood and to move house where reasonably necessary.

The legislation says such measures under the emergency period will last six months, with a review every three weeks –  and the first is being carried out on April 16.

Anyone who continues to break the coronavirus lockdown rules will be breaking the law and face arrest.

People ignoring tougher restrictions on movement could be hit with a £60 fine initially and another for £120 for a second offence.

Gloucestershire constabulary confirmed yesterday no individuals have been fined in the county.

However nationally police forces have reportedly been told to take a “consistent approach” by the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the College of Policing as some have faced criticism of the way they’ve handled the new measures.

The Government is working to bring down the upward trend of deaths and cases of the coronavirus in the UK over the coming months, and will in part be helped by the new enforcement measures.

The latest number of deaths announced in the UK of people with coronavirus has reached 1,651.

The reasonable excuses you can leave where you’re living

Under The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020, the place where a person is living includes the premises where they live together with any garden, yard, passage, stair, garage, outhouse or other appurtenance of such premises.

It does not apply to any person who is homeless.

A reasonable excuse includes the need:

  1. To obtain basic necessities, including food and medical supplies for those in the same household (including any pets or animals in the household) or for vulnerable persons and supplies for the essential upkeep, maintenance and functioning of the household, or the household of a vulnerable person, or to obtain money, including from any business listed in Part 3 of Schedule 2.
  2. To take exercise either alone or with other members of their household.
  3. To seek medical assistance, including to access any of the services referred to in paragraph 37 or 38 of Schedule 2.
  4. To provide care or assistance, including relevant personal care within the meaning of paragraph 7(3B) of Schedule 4 to the Safeguarding of Vulnerable Groups Act 2006(a), to a vulnerable person, or to provide emergency assistance;
  5. To donate blood;
  6. To travel for the purposes of work or to provide voluntary or charitable services, where it is not reasonably possible for that person to work, or to provide those services, from the place where they are living;
  7. To attend a funeral of—(i) a member of the person’s household,
    (ii) a close family member, or
    (iii) if no-one within sub-paragraphs (i) or (ii) are attending, a friend;
  8. To fulfil a legal obligation, including attending court or satisfying bail conditions, or to participate in legal proceedings;
  9. To access critical public services, including—
    (i)  childcare or educational facilities (where these are still available to a child in relation to whom that person is the parent, or has parental responsibility for, or care of the child);(ii)  social services;
    (iii)  services provided by the Department of Work and Pensions;
    (iv)  services provided to victims (such as victims of crime);
  10. In relation to children who do not live in the same household as their parents, or one of their parents, to continue existing arrangements for access to, and contact between, parents and children, and for the purposes of this paragraph, “parent” includes a person who is not a parent of the child, but who has parental responsibility for, or who has care of, the child;
  11. In the case of a minister of religion or worship leader, to go to their place of worship;
  12. To move house where reasonably necessary;
  13. To avoid injury or illness or to escape a risk of harm.

During the emergency period, no person cannot congregate in a gathering in a public place of more than two people.

However there are circumstances where this is allowed, including:

  1. Where all the persons in the gathering are members of the same household,
  2. Where the gathering is essential for work purposes,
  3. To attend a funeral,
  4. Where reasonably necessary—(i)  to facilitate a house move,
    (ii)  to provide care or assistance to a vulnerable person, including relevant personal care within the meaning of paragraph 7(3B) of Schedule 4 to the Safeguarding of Vulnerable Groups Act 2006,
    (iii)  to provide emergency assistance, or
    (iv)  to participate in legal proceedings or fulfil a legal obligation.

What else you should know

Under strict measures to fight the coronavirus outbreak announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier last week, people are only allowed to leave the house for specific reasons:

  • Shopping for “basic necessities”, as infrequently as possible,
  • One form of exercise a day such as a run, walk or cycle,
  • Medical reasons, to provide care, or to help a vulnerable person,
  • Travelling to and from work, but only if it is “absolutely necessary” and cannot be done from home.

Different approaches to the measures

Some police forces have adopted different approaches, particularly around the issue of driving.

Derbyshire Police used drones to film people parking their cars for walks in the Peak District and released black dye into Buxton’s Blue Lagoon to deter sightseers.

North Yorkshire Police officers have stopped motorists in cars to check that their travel is “essential”.

Lancashire Police issued 123 enforcement notices over the weekend, while Cheshire Police summonsed six people for various offences, including travelling to purchase “non-essential” items.

Today Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said police forces were doing a difficult job and being sensible about enforcing social distancing measures.

By Leigh Boobyer, Local Democracy Reporting Service

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