Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on January 4 that England was entering a third lockdown period. He ordered the country to stay indoors other than for limited exceptions.
People must not leave or be outside of their home except when there is a ‘reasonable excuse’. The police can take action, and issue people who violate the law a fine (fixed penalty notice). First time offenders can receive a fine of £200, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400.
Warwickshire Police have already handed out many fines to people who have breached the lockdown rules.
Assistant Chief Constable Alex Franklin-Smith said: "While the majority of people in Warwickshire are following the rules, we are continuing to see some ignore the restrictions and choose to put others at risk.
“There are some clear messages coming from our health colleagues about the huge pressures on the NHS and the importance of everyone following the rules to bring down the number of infections.
"We know this is difficult and frustrating, but we must all take personal responsibility for our actions and play our part in protecting ourselves and others.
"Our officers will continue to engage with people and explain the rules, but the expectation now is that people do understand the situation and must have a reasonable excuse for being away from their home, as set out by the Government. If this is not the case, they will face a fine.”
Among the 'reasonable excuses' to travel from home include work, exercise and shopping.
The main contentious issue is 'staying within your local area'. So far, there has not been an official definition of 'local area' but many assume it to be your wider neighbourhood - ie anywhere you can get to without driving (remember that if you are involved in a traffic accident, hospitals are already stretched in terms of resources so only stick to essential journeys).
However, a Government source told The Guardian newspaper: “It does not say in the regulations that driving somewhere to take exercise is a breach of the rules."
And Health secretary Matt Hancock said people can copy Prime Minister Boris Johnson and go for a seven-mile cycle ride or walk during the lockdown.
A ‘reasonable excuse’ to travel from home includes:
- Work or provide voluntary or charitable services, if you cannot reasonably do so from home
- Shop for basic necessities, for you or a vulnerable person
- Meeting others to visit people in support bubble ( if legally permitted to form one)
- Exercise - You can continue to exercise alone, with one other person or with your household or support bubble. This should be limited to once per day, and should not involve travel outside the local area.
- Meet others to provide informal childcare for children under 14 as part of a childcare bubble (for example, to enable parents to work, not to enable social contact between adults)
- Meet others to provide care for disabled or vulnerable people
- Meet others to provide emergency assistance
- Meet others to attend a support group (of up to 15 people)
- Meet others for respite care where that care is being provided to a vulnerable person or a person with a disability, or is a short break in respect of a looked-after child.
- You can leave home for a medical reason, including to get a Covid-19 test, for medical appointments and for emergencies.
- Attending a MOT test booking.
- You may leave home to fulfil legal obligations
- You may also leave home to visit someone who is dying or someone in a care home (if permitted under care home guidance), hospice, or hospital, or to accompany them to a medical appointment.
- You may leave home to carry out activities related to buying, selling, letting or renting a residential property
- You can leave home for animal welfare reasons, such as to attend veterinary services for advice or treatment.
- Allotments remain open, but you cannot meet with someone outside your household or support bubble there unless another exemption applies.
- Playgrounds are primarily open for use by children who do not have access to private outdoor space, like their own garden. Although you can take your children to a playground for exercise, you must not socialise with other people while there.
If you do leave home for a permitted reason, you should always stay local - unless it is necessary to go further, for example to go to work. Stay local means stay in the village, town, or part of the city where you live.
*Information from the Gov.uk website: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-lockdown-stay-at-home#summary-what-you-can-and-cannot-do-during-the-national-lockdown