Coronavirus: Know your rights

There’s been a lot of confusion around the lockdown. How is the law changing? When can we leave home? What can the police do? What can we do if we’re questioned, fined or arrested? Our new coronavirus advice and information hub has you covered.

To help deal with the public health emergency caused by coronavirus, the Government made new rules putting the country on ‘lockdown’. As the Government is now easing the lockdown, the rules are changing at short notice, and are likely to continue to change over the coming weeks and months. The Government must review the rules at least once every four weeks and edit them if necessary.

There have been a lot of confusing and contradictory messages about the rules. Many people are unsure about what is and what isn’t allowed.

To help clear this up, we’ve created an explainer of what you can and can’t do.

What are the rules in place as of 15 June 2020?

The rules are set out in a number of different places:

  • Health protection regulations (amended most recently on 13 and 15 June 2020) make it a criminal offence to stay overnight away from home or away from the home of your “support bubble” in certain circumstances. Gatherings in groups of more than six people outdoors, and all gatherings indoors, are also banned in most circumstances. However, you are now allowed to leave your home for any reason.
  • On 8 June 2020, new regulations came into effect meaning that most people entering England now have to self-isolate for the first 14 days in the country and have to provide certain information. It is a crime if you don’t follow these rules.
  • On 15 June 2020, new regulations came into effect meaning that it is now a criminal offence to use public transport without wearing a face covering, unless you have a reasonable excuse, or you fall into one of the exceptions.

The above regulations only apply in England. Different rules apply in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

  • On 1 June 2020, the Government also provided updated social distancing guidance.  This is similar to the regulations, but not exactly the same. It is recommended that you follow this advice, but the guidance doesn’t create criminal offences like the regulations. Here are some useful FAQs about the new guidance.
  • The Government has also provided guidance about travelling safely, including by public transport, during this time.

There is also guidance for Wales, Scotland and for Northern Ireland specifically.

The Government also introduced an Act of Parliament – the Coronavirus Act 2020, on 25 March 2020. This changed the law in a number of different areas in response to the pandemic. This includes things such as:

What about speeches made by the Prime Minister and other Cabinet ministers?

The Prime Minister and other Government ministers have made a number of speeches and public statements about what you can and can’t do, and what the Government is planning to do in future.

Advice that is set out in speeches by either the Prime Minister or Cabinet ministers is not law. To be as sure as you can be, we recommend checking this page regularly as we update it to reflect the current law.

What are my rights on this?

Find out more about your rights and how the Human Rights Act protects them

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