Legal Guides

The Health Protection Regulations: will I be prosecuted for leaving my house?

By Anna Leathem  |  03.04.2020

New public health regulations came into force at 1pm on Thursday 26 March 2020. These regulations provide police with further wide-ranging powers for non-compliance with strict government measures to remain at home and avoid non-essential travel. Whilst the restrictions will expire in 6 months, they must be reviewed at least once every 21 days. The first review must be carried out by 16 April 2020.

During the emergency period, no person may leave the place where they are living without reasonable excuse. Regulation 6 provides a non-exhaustive list of what amounts to a reasonable excuse:

  • To obtain basic necessities, including food and medical supplies for those in the same household (including pets) or for vulnerable persons and supplies for the essential upkeep, maintenance and functioning of the household or the household of a vulnerable person
  • To exercise either alone or with other members of your household
  • To seek medical assistance
  • To provide care or assistance to a vulnerable person or to provide emergency assistance
  • To donate blood
  • To travel for the purposes of work where not reasonably possible to work from home
  • To attend a funeral of a member of your household, a close family member or a friend (provided no family members are attending)
  • To attend court, satisfy bail conditions or participate in legal proceedings
  • To access critical public services such as social services
  • To continue child arrangements in respect of children who do not live in the same household as their parents or one of their parents
  • To go to a place of worship if you are a minister of religion or worship leader
  • To move house
  • To avoid injury or illness or to escape a risk of harm

If a police officer considers you to be in contravention of the regulations, they may issue a prohibition notice which requires you to immediately stop that activity. They may direct you to return home or remove you to your home. If a police officer thinks that three or more people gathered together are not part of the same household, the officer may direct the gathering to disperse, to return home to where they are living, or remove any person in the gathering to where they are living.

The police can also issue fixed penalty notices where they believe you have left your house without reasonable excuse or obstructed an officer carrying out their function. A fixed penalty notice of £60 may be issued, £30 if paid within 14 days. A fixed penalty notice of £120 is issued for second time offenders. This doubles on each repeated offence with a maximum amount of £960.

The police can also issue fixed penalty notices where they believe you have left your house without reasonable excuse or obstructed an officer carrying out their function. A fixed penalty notice of £60 may be issued, £30 if paid within 14 days. A fixed penalty notice of £120 is issued for second time offenders. This doubles on each repeated offence with a maximum amount of £960.

The police can also issue fixed penalty notices where they believe you have left your house without reasonable excuse or obstructed an officer carrying out their function. A fixed penalty notice of £60 may be issued, £30 if paid within 14 days. A fixed penalty notice of £120 is issued for second time offenders. This doubles on each repeated offence with a maximum amount of £960.

If you fail to comply with these measures, or obstruct an officer carrying out their function under these regulations, you will be committing an offence. Failure to comply with a prohibition notice is punishable on summary conviction by fine. The magistrates can impose an unlimited fine and the offence will appear on your record. Further non-compliance could result in arrest, though police would need to consider whether arrest is proportionate and necessary.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 can be accessed here. http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/350/made

Given the urgency of the coronavirus outbreak, the law is evolving very quickly to meet the demands of the crisis. We will continue to review any changes proposed by the government and understand that this is a challenging time for many of our clients. We are here to support you so please do not hesitate to contact Sonn Macmillan Walker if you have any queries in respect of representation at court or at the police station.

 

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