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New list of what you can and can’t do during the lockdown released by police

A new list of what police are likely to consider acceptable and not acceptable to do during the lockdown has been released.

The list was published by the National Police Chief Council and the College of Policing and is titled ‘What constitutes a reasonable excuse to leave the place where you live’.

Shopping for food and essentials (33635159)
Shopping for food and essentials (33635159)

It does not constitute updated government guidance, which continues to advise that people should leave homes only for a few key reasons.

Instead the document offers guidance to officers policing the lockdown, based on Crown Prosecution Service interpretation of the laws governing it.

It breaks the reasons into four categories: necessities, exercise, work and other, but notes the list is not exhaustive.

It comes after the UK government continued the lockdown during the ongoing coronavirus crisis on Thursday (April 16) for at least another three weeks.

For shopping, the police guidance explains that food - including snacks and alcohol - tools and pet supplies can all be bought during lockdown.

Takeaways are still acceptable, as is collecting food from a friend or relative.

The document states: “There is no need for all a person’s shopping to be basic food supplies; the purchase of snacks and luxuries is still permitted.

“If a person is already out of the address with good reason, then it would not be proportionate to prevent the person from buying non-essential items.

“Food could include hot food from takeaways.

“Obtain includes purchasing, but could include collecting or sharing items, provided this is genuine.”

Going out to exercise is acceptable (33635292)
Going out to exercise is acceptable (33635292)

But while buying tools to fix a fence is considered reasonable, something less essential - like buying paint and brushes simply to redecorate a kitchen - would not be considered reasonable by police.

The guidelines also confirm it is not acceptable to visit a friend’s house or meet in a public place during the lockdown, but that it is OK to move in with a friend for a ‘cooling off’ period if you’re having problems at home such as arguments.

It also confirms that police should not be asking people for ID if they’re out and about to prove they are an essential worker or volunteer - something Cambridgeshire Constabulary had to remind its officers about.

The three-page document also confirms that it is acceptable to drive to a place for exercise, and that breaks are permitted but sitting on a park bench for a long period is not.

It explains: “Exercise can come in many forms, including walks.

“Exercise must involve some movement, but it is acceptable for a person to stop for a break in exercise.

“However, a very short period of ‘exercise’ to excuse a long period of inactivity may mean that the person is not engaged in ‘exercise’ but in fact something else.”

The full list of what police are likely to consider reasonable excuses to leave home include:

  • Buying several days’ worth of food, including luxury items and alcohol
  • Buying a small amount of a staple item or necessity (eg a newspaper, pet food, a loaf of bread or pint of milk)
  • Collecting surplus basic food items from a friend
  • Buying tools and supplies to repair a fence panel damaged in recent bad weather
  • Exercise, including going for a run or cycle or practising yoga, walking in the countryside or in cities and attending an allotment.
  • The government continues to advise that people should only go out once a day to exercise. On those who breach this to exercise away from the home more than once a day, the guidance tells officers: “The only relevant consideration is whether repeated exercise on the same day can be considered a ‘reasonable excuse’ for leaving home”
  • Driving to countryside and walking (where far more time is spent walking than driving)
  • Stopping to rest or to eat lunch while on a long walk
  • A key worker or other essential worker travelling to work where it is not reasonably possible to work from home
  • A non-key worker or non-essential key worker travelling to work where it is not reasonably possible to work from home
  • A person delivering food packages to vulnerable people
  • Taking an animal for treatment
  • Moving to a friend’s address for several days to allow a ‘cooling-off’ following arguments at home
  • Providing support to vulnerable people

What is NOT considered a reasonable excuse to leave home:

  • Buying paint and brushes simply to redecorate a kitchen
  • Driving for a prolonged period with only brief exercise
  • A short walk to a park bench, when the person remains seated for a much longer period
  • A person who can work from home choosing to work in a local park
  • A person knocking on doors offering to do cash in hand work
  • Visiting a vet’s surgery in person to renew a prescription (where this could be done over the phone)
  • Visiting a friend in their address or meeting in public to socialise.

The government advice continues to be that people should stay at home except in these limited circumstances:

  • shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible.
  • one form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle - alone or with members of your household.
  • any medical need, including to donate blood, avoid or escape risk of injury or harm, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person.
  • travelling for work purposes, but only where you cannot work from home.

Read more

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