Lockdown rules: The do's and don'ts as measures are eased
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The government’s decision to drop the Stay at Home message in favour of Stay Alert has left the population wondering what this actually means for everyday life.
Here’s a round-up of what people can do under the new guidelines.
Can I leave my house?
People are still being advised to stay at home as much as possible but the reasons for people venturing out has been widened to now include going to a funeral, attending court, taking waste to recycling centres and collecting ordered goods from businesses. With concerns over a rise in domestic violence, the government’s 50 page list of guidelines also allows people to leave their homes to ‘escape a risk of harm’
As under previous regulations, people can still go out to buy food and collect medication.
While people who can work from home should ‘continue to do so’ one of the biggest shifts in the government’s stance is that those workers for whom this is not possible are ‘actively encouraged’ look to return to their workplace.
The new guidelines are in contrast to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland who have retained the ‘Stay at Home’ mantra.
What about exercise and meeting friends and family?
You can now exercise for an unlimited number of times in one day. Facilities for non contact sports such as golf and tennis are also being opened up.
While meeting outside or exercising with people from your own household was permitted under the old rules this has now been extended to include one family member or friend from another household – as long as social distancing is applied.
Meeting for exercise should take place in a ‘public open space’. This is defined by law as public gardens, open country and ‘access land’ in the countryside where there are rights of way.
There are no limitations on the distance you can travel or geographical restrictions written into law. However, governing bodies at a number of beauty spots, including the Isle of Wight, have already said that visitors should ‘continue to stay away’.
With different regulations now in place for the UK’s other three nations, any drives should not involve crossing borders.
Can I go for a drive?
The right to go for a drive was never banned by law under previous regulations, although ministers advised against it. Petrol stations, car repair and MOT services, taxi companies and car parks are still among businesses which can remain open, albeit with some restrictions.
Under the new measures, people can start house hunting again. Under previous regulations people were allowed to ‘move house where reasonably necessary’.
The relaxation of the rules now allows people to visit estate or letting agents, developer sales offices or show homes and to view residential properties to look for a property to buy or rent. Property owners can also now visit homes to ‘undertake any activities required for the rental or sale of that property’.
Outdoor sports courts and garden centres have been added to the list of locations and businesses - like parks, supermarkets, hardware stores and post offices - which are allowed to stay open, albeit with restrictions. Hotels may also provide accommodation to key workers in some circumstances.
While there is no legal legislation regarding social distancing, the government ‘strongly advises wherever possible’ to maintain a two metre distance with people from a different household. People meeting with one friend or family member are urged to do so in a public space rather than home gardens.
While lockdown measures may have been relaxed the powers for police to impose fines on people not complying with the new regulations have been increased. Fines now start at £100, reduced to £50 if paid within 14 days. The fine doubles to £200 for a second and subsequent offences, to a maximum of £3,200.
Action by officers is still expected to be ‘necessary and proportionate’.