Police answer all of your questions about lockdown

Despite England now being in its third coronavirus lockdown  – there is still confusion over the rules.

The UK Government has explained on its website when people are allowed to leave their homes and for what reasons.

It states you should not leave your home if it can be avoided unless it is for reasons such as shopping for basic necessities, going to work and exercising once a day.

Meeting a support bubble, seeking medical assistance or attending education are other reasons which are also permitted.

If people do leave their homes, they should ‘stay local. This is defined as staying ‘in the village, town, or part of the city where you live’.

Despite that clarification, more than one third of Devon and Cornwall Police’s incidents yesterday revolved around Covid-19 lockdown breaches – many of which were linked to holiday homes.

The police have issued another warning this morning to people thinking of taking their exercise on Dartmoor today.

In an effort to tidy up any remaining confusion over the rules, Devon and Cornwall Police have released a question-and-answer session of the issues they are most commonly asked.

Below is a selection of them taken directly from their website.

I am separated from the mother/father of my child who has custody. Am I able to visit my child?

Contact between parents and a child where the child does not live in the same household as their parents, or one of their parents is allowed.

Any existing visitation arrangements that are in place can continue.

Am I still allowed to get help from friends or family for childcare?

Those with caring responsibilities for children within their household are able to form a childcare bubble with one other household for the purposes of informal childcare for children aged 13 or under. You should not swap bubbles and not use the collection or pick up of children as a reason to socialise with someone helping with childcare.

Can I have visitors in my garden?

No, unless they are part of your support bubble. You must not leave your home to meet socially with anyone you do not live with, including in private gardens. You can exercise in a public outdoor space on your own, with your household or support bubble, or with one other person from another household. You should continue to maintain social distance from anyone from other households.

I live alone, am I allowed to meet others who don’t live with me?

Yes, single adult households (including single parents with children under the age of 18 as of 12 June 2020) are able to form a ‘support bubble’ or ‘linked household’ with one other household. Those in the support bubble can act as if they live in the same household, meaning they can spend time inside each other’s homes, including staying overnight, and do not need to stay two metres apart.

Support bubbles must be exclusive and you cannot switch households, meaning you cannot form a support bubble with a household that is part of another support bubble. If anyone in the bubble develops symptoms, all members of the bubble will need to follow the isolation guidance.

The other criteria for forming a support bubble includes households with:

  • Only one adult carer, including if there are additional adults in the household that have a disability and require continuous care.
  • A child aged 1 year or younger (as of 02 December 2020), regardless of how many other adults are in the household.
  • A child aged 5 years or younger (as of 02 December 2020) with a disability that requires continuous care, regardless of how many other adults are in the household.

Can I visit a family member or friend in a care home?

Visits to care homes can take place with measures to protect residents, such as substantial screens, visiting pods and window visits. Close-contact indoor visits are not allowed. No visits will be permitted in the event of an outbreak.

More information about visiting care homes during COVID-19 can be found on gov.uk.

What is a support bubble?

Support bubbles or ‘linked households’ can be formed by linking with one household with another. One of the households must meet the following criteria:

  • Only one adult, including where children are under the age of 18 as of 12 June 2020.
  • Only one adult carer, including if there are additional adults in the household that have a disability and require continuous care.
  • A child aged 1 year or younger (as of 02 December 2020), regardless of how many other adults are in the household.
  • A child aged 5 years or younger (as of 02 December 2020) with a disability that requires continuous care, regardless of how many other adults are in the household.

Those in the support bubble can act as if they live in the same household, meaning they can spend time inside each other’s homes, including staying overnight, and do not need to stay two metres apart.

Support bubbles must be exclusive and you cannot switch households, meaning you cannot form a support bubble with a household that is part of another support bubble. If anyone in the bubble develops symptoms, all members of the bubble will need to follow the isolation guidance.

Read more on the gov.uk website.

What is a childcare bubble?

Childcare bubbles or ‘linked childcare households’ are formed between one household linking with one other household to provide informal childcare to a child or children aged 13 years or under. They can provide the childcare in either or both of the homes from the two households. These bubbles should only be used for childcare and not socialisation. If anyone develops symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19, all members must follow isolation guidance.

Read more on the gov.uk website.

Can I stand and chat to other parents or guardians when I’m picking up or dropping off my child at school?

If you are a keyworker or your child is considered vulnerable, they can continue going to schools and colleges. All other students will learn remotely until February half term.

If you do need to go on a school run, it should not be considered a social activity and you should make sure you are following the rules whilst dropping your child off at school. Whilst you may need to queue or wait at the school, this should be at a distance and not be used for socialisation. Please consider wearing a face covering, particularly if you are not able to keep two metres distance from other families.

Schools will have their own measures in place to manage the risks associated with pick up and drop off times at school, such as marked out and distanced waiting zones, staggered start or finish times, or limits on the number of people allowed at the school at any one time. Please follow these to protect yourself, your family and others.

Can I go shopping with a member of my household or support bubble, or do I have to go by myself?

Ask yourself whether it’s essential that more than one of you goes shopping. Sometimes it will be, for example if there is no one else available to look after a child.

It’s important that we all reduce our day-to-day contact with other people, so if you can go alone that will help cut down potential chances of contact with others. When you are outside of the home, make sure you try to stay two metres (six feet) apart from anyone outside of your household or support bubble.

The law requires people to wear face coverings in some enclosed places, including shops, transport hubs, banks and post offices. Staff working in retail are also required to wear face coverings.

Do I have to wear a face covering in shops and supermarkets?

Yes, if you are able to do so. The law in England requires people to wear face coverings in some enclosed places. This means that unless individuals have exemptions, a shop can refuse entry and can call the police if people refuse to comply. People who are exempt from wearing a face covering include, but are not limited to, children under 11 and those with certain disabilities. Retail staff are also required to wear face coverings.

You can read more about face coverings on gov.uk.

What happens if I don’t wear a face covering in a shop?

Unless you are exempt, you must wear a face covering when entering a shop. If someone without an exemption refuses to wear a face covering, the shop has the option to refuse them entry. If the Police are called they may direct that a face covering is worn or to leave the shop, they may also remove an individual from the shop if necessary. We hope this will not be necessary but if the police are called we will endeavour to engage, explain and encourage people to follow the rules. Enforcing these regulations will always be a last resort.

We expect that the public will follow these regulations to help everyone keep the spread of the virus under control.

Am I able to get takeaway food from a pub or restaurant?

Hospitality venues such as pubs, restaurants and cafes must close for eat in services. However, they can continue to offer food and non-alcoholic drinks by takeaway (until 11pm), click-and-collect and drive-through. All food and drink, including alcohol, can be provided by deliver services.

Can I go to work?

The Government’s position is that everyone who can work from home should do so. You should travel to work, including to provide voluntary or charitable services, where you cannot reasonably work from home and your workplace is open.

Workplaces should follow COVID-secure guidelines. At all times, workers should follow any measures put in place by their employers.

You should not go into work if you are showing symptoms, or if you or any of your household are self-isolating.

Am I allowed to leave home to exercise?

You are allowed to leave home to exercise with your household, support bubble or one person from another household. You should continue to maintain social distance from anyone you don’t live with.

We would advise you to stay local and walk or cycle if you can to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on frontline services and the NHS.

How far am I allowed to travel to exercise?

Leaving your home to exercise is one of the reasonable excuses. While there is no specified limit in the regulations, you are asked to remain local and walk or cycle if you can. This is to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on frontline services and the NHS.

How often and how long can you do your exercise for?

You should minimise time spent outside your home and stay in your local area when you go outside for exercise. There is no legal limit on how long you can exercise outside for. However, it is recommended that you limit this to once a day. The NHS recommends 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity a week.

Am I allowed to stop and sit for a few minutes while I’m exercising?

You can exercise in public outdoor spaces with the people you live with, your support bubble or with one person from another household, but this should not be for socialising.

However, if you’re out for exercise and need to pause for a moment to catch your breath then this would be fine. You should then either continue with your exercise or make your way home if you are finished.

Can I go for a drive as long as I don’t exit the car?

You should not leave home without reasonable excuse, so we ask that you only drive when it’s absolutely necessary. The NHS is already under extreme pressure and having fewer cars on the road will reduce the chances of serious road traffic collisions.

Do you want us to report groups of people we see?

If you are concerned that you have seen a gathering which contravenes the regulations, we would encourage you to report it using the national COVID-19 reporting form.

Are you going to stop tourists visiting?

Under the current lockdown regulations you cannot leave your home for holidays or overnight stays unless you have a permitted reasonable excuse, such as for work. This means holidays and stays in second homes are not allowed.

We are working with our partners to ensure we have one clear, consistent message for the public – do not travel to Devon and Cornwall at this time. Please stay at home and do not undertake travel that isn’t essential. We understand that people may have second homes in the area but we urge you not to travel to them.

Our primary approach remains engagement, explanation and encouragement. As a last resort police officers will use their discretion around issuing fines but this is not an approach that we would take lightly.

Do I have to use a face covering on public transport?

Unless you are exempt, you must wear a face covering when on public transport.

Will we see roll out of checkpoints?

Some forces, such as ours, cover areas of high footfall due to our beauty spots and outdoor public spaces. We may on occasion stop vehicles to enquire where they are going and why. The rules are to protect lives and save the NHS.

But these are not roadblocks – each force is dealing with a very different area that needs policing. In some parts of the country, people mostly move around by car – so of course some officers will need to stop vehicles to engage with people.

Devon Live