Further to what I said yesterday about the mindset of Messrs Hodges and Yeatman in Dad’s Army, I was delighted to hear Lord Sumption, the former Supreme Court Justice, give vent to some of my own misgivings on the World at One on BBC Radio 4 to-day.
The powers being exercised to confine us to our own homes do not proceed from the Coronavirus Act Passed by Parliament last week, rather they are regulations (not requiring parliamentary approval) made under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984.
Constituents have been inundating me with enquiries asking for advice about what they can and cannot do. Normally, I respond to requests for advice by saying I’m not qualified to give it, and that I don’t have the professional indemnity insurance against the possibility of it turning out to have been bad advice.
I have however, in the last few days thrown that caution to the winds and given my advice on the basis of common sense.
In order to let people make decisions with confidence I reproduce part 6 of the regulations below – it’s the part on what constitutes a reasonable excuse for leaving your home (if you want the regulations in full, you can find them at http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/350/contents/made)
Of the fulsome list of reasons set out, I see no restriction on driving a car to fulfil any one of them. Indeed, some of them clearly infer use of a car.
Neither do I see a restriction on the number of times one may leave home with reasonable excuse.
The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020
Restrictions on movement
6.—(1) During the emergency period, no person may leave the place where they are living without reasonable excuse.
(2) For the purposes of paragraph (1), a reasonable excuse includes the need—
(a)to obtain basic necessities, including food and medical supplies for those in the same household (including any pets or animals in the household) or for vulnerable persons and supplies for the essential upkeep, maintenance and functioning of the household, or the household of a vulnerable person, or to obtain money, including from any business listed in Part 3 of Schedule 2;
(Schedule 2, PART 3
24. Food retailers, including food markets, supermarkets, convenience stores and corner shops.
25. Off licenses and licensed shops selling alcohol (including breweries).
26. Pharmacies (including non-dispensing pharmacies) and chemists.
28. Homeware, building supplies and hardware stores.
29. Petrol stations.
30. Car repair and MOT services.
31. Bicycle shops.
32. Taxi or vehicle hire businesses.
33. Banks, building societies, credit unions, short term loan providers and cash points.
34. Post offices.
35. Funeral directors.
36. Laundrettes and dry cleaners.
37. Dental services, opticians, audiology services, chiropody, chiropractors, osteopaths and other medical or health services, including services relating to mental health.
38. Veterinary surgeons and pet shops.
39. Agricultural supplies shop.
40. Storage and distribution facilities, including delivery drop off or collection points, where the facilities are in the premises of a business included in this Part.
41. Car parks.
42. Public toilets.
(b)to take exercise either alone or with other members of their household;
(c)to seek medical assistance, including to access any of the services referred to in paragraph 37 or 38 of Schedule 2 ; (37. Dental services, opticians, audiology services, chiropody, chiropractors, osteopaths and other medical or health services, including services relating to mental health. 38. Veterinary surgeons and pet shops. )
(d)to provide care or assistance, including relevant personal care within the meaning of paragraph 7(3B) of Schedule 4 to the Safeguarding of Vulnerable Groups Act 2006(1), to a vulnerable person, or to provide emergency assistance;
(e)to donate blood;
(f)to travel for the purposes of work or to provide voluntary or charitable services, where it is not reasonably possible for that person to work, or to provide those services, from the place where they are living;
(g)to attend a funeral of—
(i)a member of the person’s household,
(ii)a close family member, or
(iii)if no-one within sub-paragraphs (i) or (ii) are attending, a friend;
(h)to fulfil a legal obligation, including attending court or satisfying bail conditions, or to participate in legal proceedings;
(i)to access critical public services, including—
(i)childcare or educational facilities (where these are still available to a child in relation to whom that person is the parent, or has parental responsibility for, or care of the child);
(iii)services provided by the Department of Work and Pensions;
(iv)services provided to victims (such as victims of crime);
(j)in relation to children who do not live in the same household as their parents, or one of their parents, to continue existing arrangements for access to, and contact between, parents and children, and for the purposes of this paragraph, “parent” includes a person who is not a parent of the child, but who has parental responsibility for, or who has care of, the child;
(k)in the case of a minister of religion or worship leader, to go to their place of worship;
(l)to move house where reasonably necessary;
(m)to avoid injury or illness or to escape a risk of harm.
(3) For the purposes of paragraph (1), the place where a person is living includes the premises where they live together with any garden, yard, passage, stair, garage, outhouse or other appurtenance of such premises.
(4) Paragraph (1) does not apply to any person who is homeless.
Businesses subject to restrictions or closure
1. Restaurants, including restaurants and dining rooms in hotels or members’ clubs.
2.—(1) Cafes, including workplace canteens (subject to sub-paragraph (2)), but not including—
(a)cafes or canteens at a hospital, care home or school;
(b)canteens at a prison or an establishment intended for use for naval, military or air force purposes or for the purposes of the Department of the Secretary of State responsible for defence;
(c)services providing food or drink to the homeless.
(2) Workplace canteens may remain open where there is no practical alternative for staff at that workplace to obtain food.
3. Bars, including bars in hotels or members’ clubs.
4. Public houses.
8. Bingo halls.
9. Concert halls.
10. Museums and galleries.
12. Betting shops.
14. Nail, beauty, hair salons and barbers.
15. Massage parlours.
16. Tattoo and piercing parlours.
17. Skating rinks.
18. Indoor fitness studios, gyms, swimming pools, bowling alleys, amusement arcades or soft play areas or other indoor leisure centres or facilities.
19. Funfairs (whether outdoors or indoors).
20. Playgrounds, sports courts and outdoor gyms.
21. Outdoor markets (except for stalls selling food).
22. Car showrooms.
23. Auction Houses.