Police will be keeping an eye on garden parties as the lockdown eases and will ask people to leave if they are breaching Boris Johnson’s rules – but they cannot force them out of the property, it was revealed today.
Officers will be on the look out for groups of more than six people socialising together and will respond if two people from separate households are meeting for sex inside a property.
Today the lockdown was eased further by the Prime Minister meaning families and friends can meet again at home in small groups – but only in the garden and if they stay two metres apart.
The new rules are causing some confusion because, for example, visitors can eat a barbecue meal cooked for them by someone from another household but are also advised to bring their own garden chair to sit on.
Police forces are being told to disperse any large groups and use fines and arrests ‘where appropriate’ as a last resort – but they can only ‘direct’ someone to go home and have ‘no powers’ to remove someone by force, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and College of Policing have said in a joint paper.
Their advice to officers, published today, also makes clear that the coronavirus laws ‘provide no power of entry’ and Downing Street has been clear that police do not have the power to enter gardens to check party numbers.
And they can only enter a home or garden if there’s a disturbance, someone is at risk of harm or there is suspicion a serious crime has taken place, making it exceptionally hard for police to enforce the rules, which include a ban on children from different homes sharing paddling pools.
One senior police officer told the Telegraph that the lockdown had ‘to all intents and purposes ended’. Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said: ‘I don’t think the public are taking much notice of what is laid down in front of them. They are doing it how they want to do it. In terms of it being enforceable, I don’t think it is.’
Police, pictured at the Richmond Falls beauty spot on the River Swale, in North Yorkshire yesterday, will be breaking up big garden parties and using fines and arrests as a last resort
Groups of up to six people from different households are allowed to meet socially or to play certain sports under a partial relaxing of previous rules announced by Boris Johnson (pictured today)
What is still banned despite the lockdown being eased?
- Visiting friends and family inside their homes
- Staying stay overnight away from your own home, except for in a limited set of circumstances, such as for work purposes
- Exercising in an indoor sports court, gym or leisure centre, or swimming in a public pool
- Using an outdoor gym or playground
- Gathering outdoors in a group of more than six (excluding members of your own household)
Britons are allowed to meet their friends for socially distant fun and games from today as the Government eases some of the lockdown restrictions in force since March.
Groups of up to six people from different households are allowed to meet socially or to play certain sports under a partial relaxing of previous rules which only allowed two people to meet.
But as before, all the people involved must stay two metres away from each other if they do not live together, with other strict measures designed to limit risk during sports or at gatherings including barbecues.
And in one of the most controversial aspects of the new rules, Boris Johnson has introduced a ban on two people from different households meeting for sex.
A document from the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and College of Policing said today: ‘Rather than requiring a reasonable excuse to leave the place where a person is living, there are specific things that members of the public cannot do.
‘A person may now leave and remain outside of the place where they live for any reason, subject to restrictions on gatherings and overnight stays.’
The guidance issued to officers on powers they have to police overnight stays said: ‘You may only direct a person to return home.
How to safely have sex during the Covid-19 lockdown
Having sex could spread the coronavirus – and only abstinence or masturbating are low risk, scientists have warned.
Doctors at Harvard University in Boston have ranked different sexual scenarios based on how likely someone is to catch the coronavirus.
The most risky was having multiple sexual partners from different households, while the least risky was avoiding sex until the virus has disappeared.
They admitted that abstaining from sex was ‘not feasible for many’ and that doctors should be prepared to discuss how to minimise the risk of patients catching Covid-19 during sex.
Avoiding kissing, wearing masks, and showering before and after sex could reduce the risk of catching the virus, they said.
While phone sex or sexting could be suitable for adults, the researchers warned it could lead to other problems such as blackmail, and that online sexual predation had increased during the pandemic.
The UK Government, as it lifted some strict lockdown rules today, clarified that any physical contact – including sex – with someone who you don’t live with is still against the rules.
And a study done on 900 adults in Britain found only four out of 10 have had sex since the start of lockdown, with young married couples most likely to have done so.
‘There are no powers in the Regulations to remove someone or use force. Fixed-penalty notices (FPNs) and arrest still apply, where appropriate.’
In public places ‘direction, removal and/or use of force can still be used’, the guidance said, adding: ‘If you are lawfully in a private place you can only direct a prohibited gathering to disperse, or any person in the gathering to return home. FPNs and arrest still apply, where appropriate.’
Previously police chiefs told officers they have no powers to enforce the Government guidance on two-metre social distancing.
NPCC chairman Martin Hewitt said: ‘Personal responsibility is key as we all enjoy these new freedoms.
‘Police officers will still have a role if people are breaching regulations in place in England and Wales. We will continue to use common sense and discretion.
‘Officers will engage, explain, encourage and, only as a last resort, enforce.’
Experts have warned that the coronavirus lockdown is being eased too quickly making a second spike ‘inevitable’ and police have said the rules are now ‘unenforceable’ as Britons are again expected to swamp beaches and parks because of more scorching weather.
Millions are now able to see friends and family, more businesses can reopen and children will return to primary school for the first time in more than 10 weeks. Outdoor markets and car showrooms also reopen this morning.
But the Government is urging Britons to act ‘sensibly’ as they enjoy a host of new freedoms, which experts have claimed are coming too fast and will make a second a second spike in UK Covid-19 cases ‘inevitable’.
All the people involved must stay two metres away from each other if they do not live together
Here we set out the new rules, what is allowed and what is still prohibited as the UK attempts to get back to some sort of normal while avoiding a catastrophic new surge in deaths:
Who can be in my group of six?
Anyone you like, although the usual rules about isolation if you have symptoms apply. Social distancing from people not within your own household remains the key.
So you can share a picnic rug in the park with anyone you live with, but anyone else still has to stay two metres (six feet six inches) away.
And the other key point is that this gathering has to be outdoors. You can have the gathering inside someones’ garden, yard or roof terrace, in the street, in the park, in an empty car park. But you cannot have it in inside a house or flat or any other building.
The other point to note is that the rules on six only apply to more than one family group. They also point out: ‘There is no limit to the size of a gathering in an outdoor space if you are all members of the same household.’
Can we go inside at all?
You can pass through a house or flat in order to access the garden or terrace, if there is no other way to access them.
And in good news for people with small children or those wanting to enjoy a few beers with friends, you are allowed in to use the toilet.
The guidance notes: ‘Avoid touching surfaces and if you use the toilet wash your hands thoroughly, wipe down surfaces, use separate or paper towels and wash or dispose of them safely after use.
‘If you no longer want to remain outdoors, you should go home.
‘Don’t go into garages, sheds or cabins – these are all indoor areas and where the risk of transmission is higher.’
Can we have a barbecue and how will it work?
eople should not pass food or drinks to those not within their family groups and you should bring your own plates and utensils
Barbecues and other al fresco eating like picnics are allowed, but with strict measures in place to avoid contamination.
You should bring your own garden chairs if possible, and if you cannot thoroughly clean the ones you sit on.
The advice is to ‘stay alert’. People should not pass food or drinks to those not within their family groups and you should bring your own plates and utensils. And you should wash your hands frequently.
And in bad news for the hosts, it adds: ‘If you are in someone else’s garden, you must not go inside to help the host carry the food out or to help with the washing up.’
What else can we do? Can we get the paddling pool out for the kids?
Paddling pools should not be shared by people who are not within the same family group. And the bad news extends to the mega rich who have swimming pools, the rules are the same for them.
I don’t have a garden, can we all meet up somewhere else?
he rules allow separate family groups to travel to another location, as long as there is no overnight stay involved – so camping and weekends away are still banned
Yes, the rules allow separate family groups to travel to another location, as long as there is no overnight stay involved – so camping and weekends away are still banned.
The guidance states: ‘You can travel to outdoor open space irrespective of distance, as long as you can return the same night and do not put others at risk because of services you may need in the time you are away.’
This includes ‘National Parks or beaches’ although it warns that some remain clised – like Durdle Door in Dorset which was swamped with people at the weekend.
It also recommends you avoid public transport where possible, suggesting cycling or walking where possible.
So no overnight trips allowed?
Not for leisure, no. Holidays and visits to a second home are not allowed. The only exception is work travel.
The guidance states: ‘Premises such as hotels and bed and breakfasts will remain closed, except where providing accommodation for specific reasons set out in law, such as for critical workers where required for a reason relating to their work.
‘Hotels are also available to host those self-isolating after arriving in the UK (where no other accommodation is available).’
But I don’t live with my partner, and I haven’t seen them in months…
Bad luck. The rules clearly state that conjugal visits are not allowed. In one of the more controversial moves, Boris Johnson’s Government has brought in a sex ban.
The guidance states: ‘Close contact with people from other households means a much higher risk of transmission, and according to the scientific advice, we cannot safely allow people to see people they don’t live with indoors without the risk that the virus will spread.
‘We recognise how difficult this is for people – particularly those who live alone and we are keeping this under constant review.’
The rules created a lot of amusement – or horror – on social media, with legal blogger and writer the Secret Barrister pointing out (above) the guidance only applied to sex indoors.
But there is some confusion over how well the rule can be enforced.
Downing Street helpfully confirmed today that police will not be allowed to enter the homes of people they suspect are breaching the rule, with the Prime Minister’s spokesman saying: ‘The police will do as they have since the beginning of the health regulations being in place, by exercising their common sense and engaging with the public and only issuing fixed penalty notices when they believe it’s a last resort.
‘The police do not have the power to enter people’s homes under the regulations … they cannot enter your home unless they expect serious criminal activity is taking place there’.
Can I take my mind off this with sports?
Solo sports like tennis and golf are allowed in groups of up to six, with social distancing maintained and no sharing of equipment
The rules could also be seen to apply to other spots like kayaking or paddle-boarding where people keep their distance
Yes, sports are permitted under the same gathering rules.
Solo sports like tennis and golf are allowed in groups of up to six, with social distancing maintained and no sharing of equipment.
This includes doubles tennis ‘as long as you remain two metres apart as far as possible’.
And training for team sports like football, rugby and hockey are also allowed.
The guidance notes: ‘People who play team sports can meet to train together and do things like conditioning or fitness sessions but they must be in separate groups of no more than six and must be two metres apart at all times.
‘While groups could practice ball skills like passing and kicking, equipment sharing should be kept to a minimum and strong hand hygiene practices should be in place before and after.