Coronavirus lockdown: Police guidelines state what a 'reasonable excuse' to go out in Wells is

By Tim Lethaby

16th Jul 2021 | Local News

Food shopping is a 'reasonable excuse' to leave the home
Food shopping is a 'reasonable excuse' to leave the home

Police chiefs have set out guidelines on what exactly people in Wells can and can not do during the coronavirus lockdown.

The National Police Chiefs' Council and College of Policing has published a document, reproducing a practical guide by the Crime Prosecution Service, to explain to officers what constitutes a 'reasonable excuse' to leave home.

The dos include buying several days' worth of food - including luxury items and alcohol - and driving to the countryside to walk, providing more time is spent walking than driving.

The don'ts include buying supplies to renovate or improve your home and visiting friends' homes.

Regulation 6 of the The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 states no person may leave the place where they live without a reasonable excuse.

"Some public statements made soon after the adoption of the regulations suggested that members of the public could only leave their homes if 'essential' to do so," says the document.

"However, this is not the test set out in the regulations and there is no legal basis for a requirement in those terms to be imposed.

"The applicable threshold is that of 'reasonable excuse'.

"This list is not exhaustive and officers are required to use their discretion and judgement in deciding what is and what isn't 'reasonable' in the circumstances."

Necessities:

Likely to be reasonable:

Buying several days' worth of food, including luxury items and alcohol

Buying a small amount of a staple item or necessity - eg newspaper, pet food, 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

Not likely to be reasonable:

Buying paint and brushes simply to redecorate a kitchen

Explaining the above, 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.

"In general terms, a person has a reasonable excuse to visit the shops which remain open to customers under the regulations.

"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.

"The regulations specify maintenance and upkeep [of your home]. This does not extend to renovation and improvements."

Exercise:

Likely to be reasonable:

Going for a run or cycle or practicing yoga, walking in the countryside or in cities or tending an allotment.

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.

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.

Not likely to be reasonable:

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.

Explaining the above, the document states: "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.

"It is lawful to drive for exercise."

The document also says it is likely to be reasonable to provide support to vulnerable people, but visiting a friend's home or socialising in public is not.

"Social visits are not generally a good reason to leave home.

"However, there may be exceptional circumstances for a person to visit another eg a hospital authorising a particular person to visit," it adds.

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