Some Wythenshawe residents have said they are confused over the Covid 19 lock-down rules with one saying her family were told to go home while taking their daily exercise.
Posting on the Wythenshawe Covid-19 Community Support Facebook group, one resident said: “Just been out with my kids and my partner for our daily exercise just walk and we got stopped by the police saying that there is only supposed to be two people out of your house hold allowed out together. What is right? I’m confused”.
Local police pointed the Wythenshawe Reporter to the College of Policing guidelines which advises officers how to apply the new powers which came into force on Thursday (March 26th).
The new laws place restrictions on movement and gatherings and says no-one may leave their home without a reasonable excuse. Reasonable excuses include:
- obtaining basic necessities
- exercise (once a day)
- meeting a legal obligation, including attending court or satisfying bail conditions
- seeking medical assistance
- attending a funeral
- moving house
- visiting a place of worship
- caring for or assisting a vulnerable person who is someone: aged 70 years or older / under 70 years old with an underlying health condition / pregnant
The guidance also states: “Police can instruct gatherings of three or more people to disperse or remove any person from that gathering to their home.”
When asked if the rules on gatherings apply to families of three or more who live together, a local police officer said they were still awaiting a direction on it from their legal team and details hadn’t been released to them yet. It would be for the courts to interpret the laws.
But information in the government’s guidance on the new rules says gatherings of three or more people should not take place except if the people involved live together. It says: “This means that a parent can, for example, take their children to the shops if there is no option to leave them at home.”
Police officers have been told try to educate people who are breaking the rules and to explain the risks to public health, but they would take enforcement action as a last resort.
They can direct people to return to their homes and can use reasonable force where necessary.
But police are also advised to use discretion and consider that it might not be safe for everyone to be at home in circumstances where domestic abuse, child abuse or mental health issues might be a factor.
Police can impose fixed penalty fines of £60 which would be lowered to £30 if paid within 14 days. Fines of £120 can be imposed for second time offenders, doubling on each time the person offends again.
The individual will not get a criminal record unless they don’t pay the fines.