This is when the UK lockdown has been extended to - and official police guidelines on reasonable excuses to leave home

Friday, 17th April 2020, 1:03 pm
Updated Friday, 17th April 2020, 1:04 pm
Restricitons will remain in place until at least 7 May (Photo: Shutterstock)

The UK lockdown is to be extended for a further three weeks, the government has announced.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab revealed the news on Thursday 16 April, stating that restrictions need to remain in place until at least 7 May.

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What are the rules on leaving home?

In the wake of the lockdown extension, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) have now made the guidance issued to police forces on what constitutes a “reasonable” excuse for people to leave their homes public.

The guidance lists clarifications to the rules for the next three weeks of lockdown, including how police should manage shopping, exercise, key workers and allowing people to leave home to avoid arguments.

This is what the guidance states:

Shopping

What is allowed:

- 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.

What is not allowed:

Police can take action over people who leave their home for reasons not considered ‘essential’, such as buying a paint and brushes to do some redecoration.

The regulations relate to upkeep and maintenance - not renovation.

Exercise

What is allowed:

- Going for a run or cycle, practising yoga, walking in the countryside or in cities or attending an allotment

- Driving to the countryside and walking (where more time is spent walking than driving)

- Stopping to rest or eat while on a long walk

- Exercising more than once per day - the only relevant consideration is whether repeated exercise on the same day can be considered a ‘reasonable excuse’ for leaving home.

What is not allowed:

- 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

Work

What is allowed:

- Key workers or other essential workers can travel to work where it is not reasonably possible to work from home

- Some non-key workers or non-essential key workers can travel to work where it is not reasonably possible to work from home

- Deliver food packages to vulnerable people

What is not allowed:

- Work in a local park if you are allowed to work from home

- Knock on doors offering to do cash-in-hand work

Other reasons that are considered acceptable to leave your home include going to the vet if essential treatment is required, moving to a friend’s address for several days if an argument at home has occurred, or providing support to vulnerable people.

Visiting a vet’s surgery in person to renew a prescription is not permitted where this could be done over the phone, and visiting a friend at their address or in public to socialise is also not allowed.

Why has the lockdown been extended?

The government has extended the lockdown over fears that lifting restrictions too soon would risk a dangerous second peak of the virus.

The UK is now believed to be in the peak of its coronavirus outbreak, according to the government’s Chief Medical Officer.

Speaking at a daily press briefing on Wednesday 15 April, Chris Whitty said that the country was “probably reaching the peak overall” and that the infection curve is now starting to flatten.

The number of new cases of people testing positive for coronavirus plateaued over the past week, although experts stressed that this doesn’t mean the death toll will immediately start to follow suit.

He said: “We do all think this has flattened out, but sadly we do think high numbers of deaths will continue for a short while.

“My expectation would be that the number of deaths may well go up, because after every weekend we see a dip over the weekend, and for two days afterwards, then an increase as we catch up with the numbers.”

What needs to happen before lockdown is lifted?

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is deputising for Prime Minister Boris Johnson while he recovers from coronavirus, said the latest data suggested the UK was “starting to win” the battle against the virus, three weeks since restrictions were imposed.

However, Mr Raab insisted the virus is not yet past its peak and that it is still too early to relax the measures, prompting the extension until at least 7 May.

Mr Raab said the Government needed to be satisfied of five things before it would consider it safe to adjust the current measures.

These are:

- Protect the NHS's ability to cope and be confident that the NHS is able to provide sufficient critical care across the UK

- A sustained and consistent fall in daily death rates to be confident the UK is beyond the peak

- Reliable data from Government scientific advisers showing rate of infection is decreasing to manageable levels across the board

- Confidence that testing capacity and personal protective equipment (PPE) are in hand with "supply able to meet future demand"

- Confidence that any adjustments to the current measures would not risk a second peak in infections.

Mr Raab added that the rate of infection - the R0 value - was "almost certainly below one in the community", meaning infected people were passing the disease on to fewer than one other person on average.

"But overall we still don't have the infection rate down as far as we need to," he said.

When is lockdown likely to end?

Before lockdown restrictions can be eased, ministers and scientists need to be confident that there won’t be a second wave of infections.

More widespread testing also needs to be put in place, alongside further solid evidence that infection rates are falling.

Mr Raab said: “The very clear advice we received is that any change to our social distancing measures now would risk a significant increase in the spread of the virus.

"That would threaten a second peak of the virus and substantially increase the number of deaths.

"It would undo the progress we have made to date and as a result would require an even longer period of the more restrictive social distancing measures."

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