COVID-19 FAQs

First published: 26 March 2020
Last updated: 26 January 2021

With the current situation regarding COVID-19, we are living in unprecedented times. With this in mind, we have pulled together some of the more commonly asked questions you might have.

As of 05 January 2021, England is under national lockdown restrictions. You must not leave your home unless you have a reasonable excuse.

We can help control the virus if we all stay alert. With this in mind, you are advised to:

  • stay at home as much as possible
  • only leave your home if you have a reasonable excuse to do so
  • work from home if you can
  • limit contact with other people you don't live with
  • keep your distance if you go out (two metres apart where possible)
  • wash your hands regularly

Do not leave home if you or anyone in your household has symptoms.

Please visit gov.uk/coronavirus for the latest official guidance and announcements.


Latest updates

Announced 04 January 2021: Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced new measures to control the virus. As of 05 January, England is under national lockdown measures and you must stay home.
You can read more about the lockdown restrictions on gov.uk.

We are eager to remind victims of domestic abuse that you are not alone. If you need support and advice, please visit our domestic abuse help page.

Sections:

  1. Meeting or visiting family and friends
  2. Moving house or changing households
  3. Visiting places, including shops, restaurants, pubs and places of worship
  4. Working and running businesses, services and venues safely
  5. Leisure and recreation
  6. Gatherings and events
  7. Overnight stays and holidays
  8. Travel
  9. Crime
  10. Policing during the pandemic
  11. COVID-19 legislation
  12. Supporting our communities
  13. Other useful information

Meeting or visiting family and friends

I am separated from the mother/father of my child who has custody. Am I able to visit my child?

Contact between parents and a child where the child does not live in the same household as their parents, or one of their parents is allowed.

Any existing visitation arrangements that are in place can continue.

Am I still allowed to get help from friends or family for childcare?

Those with caring responsibilities for children within their household are able to form a childcare bubble with one other household for the purposes of informal childcare for children aged 13 or under. You should not swap bubbles and not use the collection or pick up of children as a reason to socialise with someone helping with childcare.

Can I have visitors in my garden?

No, unless they are part of your support bubble. You must not leave your home to meet socially with anyone you do not live with, including in private gardens. You can exercise in a public outdoor space on your own, with your household or support bubble, or with one other person from another household. You should continue to maintain social distance from anyone from other households.

I live alone, am I allowed to meet others who don’t live with me?

Yes, single adult households (including single parents with children under the age of 18 as of 12 June 2020) are able to form a ‘support bubble’ or ‘linked household’ with one other household. Those in the support bubble can act as if they live in the same household, meaning they can spend time inside each other’s homes, including staying overnight, and do not need to stay two metres apart.

Support bubbles must be exclusive and you cannot switch households, meaning you cannot form a support bubble with a household that is part of another support bubble. If anyone in the bubble develops symptoms, all members of the bubble will need to follow the isolation guidance.

The other criteria for forming a support bubble includes households with:

  • Only one adult carer, including if there are additional adults in the household that have a disability and require continuous care.
  • A child aged 1 year or younger (as of 02 December 2020), regardless of how many other adults are in the household.
  • A child aged 5 years or younger (as of 02 December 2020) with a disability that requires continuous care, regardless of how many other adults are in the household.

How do you prove that someone is in the same household as you?

The rules have been designed to protect people, not to catch people out. Our approach is to engage, explain and encourage people to comply with the rules, and proof may not be deemed necessary.

If gatherings are asked to disperse, officers may also make reasonable judgement as to whether these people are part of one or more households. For example, a group of ten teenagers are unlikely to all live together, whereas three adults and four children could reasonably be from the same household. Of course, we appreciate that this is not demonstrative of all households and there may be exceptions to this, but reasonable judgement must be applied.

Can I visit a family member or friend in a care home?

Visits to care homes can take place with measures to protect residents, such as substantial screens, visiting pods and window visits. Close-contact indoor visits are not allowed. No visits will be permitted in the event of an outbreak.

More information about visiting care homes during COVID-19 can be found on gov.uk.

What is a support bubble?

Support bubbles or ‘linked households’ can be formed by linking with one household with another. One of the households must meet the following criteria:

  • Only one adult, including where children are under the age of 18 as of 12 June 2020.
  • Only one adult carer, including if there are additional adults in the household that have a disability and require continuous care.
  • A child aged 1 year or younger (as of 02 December 2020), regardless of how many other adults are in the household.
  • A child aged 5 years or younger (as of 02 December 2020) with a disability that requires continuous care, regardless of how many other adults are in the household.

Those in the support bubble can act as if they live in the same household, meaning they can spend time inside each other’s homes, including staying overnight, and do not need to stay two metres apart.

Support bubbles must be exclusive and you cannot switch households, meaning you cannot form a support bubble with a household that is part of another support bubble. If anyone in the bubble develops symptoms, all members of the bubble will need to follow the isolation guidance.

Read more on the gov.uk website.

What is a childcare bubble?

Childcare bubbles or ‘linked childcare households’ are formed between one household linking with one other household to provide informal childcare to a child or children aged 13 years or under. They can provide the childcare in either or both of the homes from the two households. These bubbles should only be used for childcare and not socialisation. If anyone develops symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19, all members must follow isolation guidance.

Read more on the gov.uk website.

Can I have a support bubble and a childcare bubble?

Households that meet at least one of the specified criteria can form a support bubble with one other household of any size, as long as all members of that household agree. These two households must be exclusive and cannot form a support bubble with any other households and must not change whilst restrictions are in place.

If either of these households have children under the age of 13 they are able to form a childcare bubble with another household. This can be a separate household to the one in the support bubble, but again must remain exclusive and should not be used for socialisation.

I share custody of my child with my ex-partner and they split living between both houses. Are we able to form support bubbles or childcare bubbles?

Households that meet at least one of the specified criteria can form a support bubble with one other household of any size, as long as all members of that household agree. This does not need to be with each other, even if there are custody or visitation agreements in place and the child moves between both parents’ households. The arrangements should be exclusive and must not change whilst restrictions are in place.

Both households are also able to form a childcare bubble to allow for informal childcare.

Can I stand and chat to other parents or guardians when I’m picking up or dropping off my child at school?

If you are a keyworker or your child is considered vulnerable, they can continue going to schools and colleges. All other students will learn remotely until February half term.

If you do need to go on a school run, it should not be considered a social activity and you should make sure you are following the rules whilst dropping your child off at school. Whilst you may need to queue or wait at the school, this should be at a distance and not be used for socialisation. Please consider wearing a face covering, particularly if you are not able to keep two metres distance from other families.

Schools will have their own measures in place to manage the risks associated with pick up and drop off times at school, such as marked out and distanced waiting zones, staggered start or finish times, or limits on the number of people allowed at the school at any one time. Please follow these to protect yourself, your family and others.

Moving house or changing households

I am a university student living away from home. Can I travel to relocate to the family home?

If you live at university, you should not continuously move between your permanent home and student home during term time. There is an exception in the regulations that allows students to move from their student household to another household, which could be their family home, once before 08 February and to move back again to their term time accommodation.

Students who moved back to their family home at the end of winter break should be considered part of that household while they are there.

Universities have been issued guidance on the safe return of students for the spring term. You can read more about returning to university during lockdown on the gov.uk website.

Students studying the following courses should return to face-to-face learning.:

  • Medicine and dentistry, and subjects aligned to medicine and health care
  • Veterinary science
  • Education (initial teach training)
  • Social work
  • Courses which require Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Body (PSRB) assessments or mandatory activity which is schedule for January which cannot be rescheduled (your university will notify you if this applies to you)

Students who do not study these courses should remain where they are wherever possible and start their term time learning online until at least mid-February. This includes students on practical courses if they are not listed above.

Higher education providers have been advised to manage the return back to University and further information will be provided.

If a student is moving permanently to live back at their family home, this is permitted.

Can I still move house?

Anyone who wishes to move home can do so. Estate and letting agents and removals firms are able to continue working, including undertaking viewings.

Guidance on ensuring that moving, and key activities such as house viewings, can happen safely can be found on gov.uk.

If you or a member of your household are showing symptoms of COVID-19 or self-isolating you should delay moving home.

Am I allowed to relocate to stay with a vulnerable relative?

If your relative is vulnerable and there is no other way of them getting help through neighbours or any of the voluntary groups that are being set up then you may travel if you can maintain the self-isolation on your journey.

Am I able to move in with different family members for additional support?

Anyone who wishes to move home can continue to do so. There may be some situations where moving is the best option. This could include households where a key worker is isolating away from the main family and additional childcare is needed, where vulnerable people require support that they are unable to receive from volunteers or neighbours or where you need to leave an abusive situation.

Am I allowed to move abroad?

Anyone who wishes to move home can do so. However, it would be advisable to check what restrictions are in place in the country you are moving to. There may be other reasons why you cannot move abroad at this time which fall outside of the UK Government legislation and guidance.

If you or a member of your household are showing symptoms of COVID-19 or are asked to self-isolating you should make sure you self-isolate for the required amount of time, which may affect your ability to move.

Visiting places, including shops, restaurants, pubs and places or worship

Can I go shopping with a member of my household or support bubble, or do I have to go by myself?

Ask yourself whether it’s essential that more than one of you goes shopping. Sometimes it will be, for example if there is no one else available to look after a child.

It’s important that we all reduce our day-to-day contact with other people, so if you can go alone that will help cut down potential chances of contact with others. When you are outside of the home, make sure you try to stay two metres (six feet) apart from anyone outside of your household or support bubble.

The law requires people to wear face coverings in some enclosed places, including shops, transport hubs, banks and post offices. Staff working in retail are also required to wear face coverings.

Can I still go to a place of worship?

Places of worship are allowed to open for communal worship, but faith leaders should make this as safe as possible. You must not mingle with anyone outside of your household or support bubble and should maintain strict social distancing at all times.

Read the national guidance on the safe use of places of worship on gov.uk.

Will public toilets be open?

Public toilets can remain open but they are the Councils are responsibility and this decision of whether to keep them open is up to them. You should avoid using the public toilet where possible. If you need to use any of these facilities, you should practise social distancing and good hygiene, such as washing your hands thoroughly.

Am I allowed to visit outdoor attractions, such as zoos, safari parks, drive-in cinemas and theme parks?

Animal attractions such as zoos, safari parks, aquariums, and wildlife reserves must close during the current lockdown. Entertainment venues, including theme parks, fun fairs and other outdoor attractions must also close.

Indoor attractions at venues such as botanical gardens, heritage homes and landmarks must also close, but outdoor grounds can be used for outdoor exercise.

Can certain premises or public outdoor spaces be closed to the public?

The Secretary of State has powers to restrict access to specified public spaces or public spaces of a specified description to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Local authorities can also give a direction to close a specific outdoor place in its area, such as Bournemouth / Newquay beach, or outdoor places of a specified description in its area – such as public parks.

Local authorities will be responsible for making people aware and preventing public access to restricted areas.

People may not enter restricted areas without a reasonable excuse – doing so may be an offence. We encourage people to avoid restricted areas. As always, officers will engage, explain and encourage individuals to comply with these restrictions, in the first instance.

Officers may direct people to leave restricted areas immediately, and remove people from the restricted area, if required.

Do I have to wear a face covering in shops and supermarkets?

Yes, if you are able to do so. The law in England requires people to wear face coverings in some enclosed places. This means that unless individuals have exemptions, a shop can refuse entry and can call the police if people refuse to comply. People who are exempt from wearing a face covering include, but are not limited to, children under 11 and those with certain disabilities. Retail staff are also required to wear face coverings.

You can read more about face coverings on gov.uk.

What happens if I don’t wear a face covering in a shop?

Unless you are exempt, you must wear a face covering when entering a shop. If someone without an exemption refuses to wear a face covering, the shop has the option to refuse them entry. If the Police are called they may direct that a face covering is worn or to leave the shop, they may also remove an individual from the shop if necessary. We hope this will not be necessary but if the police are called we will endeavour to engage, explain and encourage people to follow the rules. Enforcing these regulations will always be a last resort.

We expect that the public will follow these regulations to help everyone keep the spread of the virus under control.

Am I able to get takeaway food from a pub or restaurant?

Hospitality venues such as pubs, restaurants and cafes must close for eat in services. However, they can continue to offer food and non-alcoholic drinks by takeaway (until 11pm), click-and-collect and drive-through. All food and drink, including alcohol, can be provided by deliver services.

Working and running businesses, services and venues safely

Which venues and businesses must close?

A full list of businesses required to close can be found in the gov.uk guidance on closing certain businesses and venues in England, but this includes:

  • Non-essential retail, such as clothing and homeware stores, vehicle showrooms (other than for rental), betting shops, auction houses (except for auctions of livestock or agricultural equipment), and market stalls selling non-essential goods. These venues can continue to be able to operate click-and-collect (where goods are pre-ordered and collected off the premises) and delivery services.
  • Hospitality venues such as cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars and social clubs, with the exception of providing food and non-alcoholic drinks for takeaway (until 11pm), click-and-collect and drive-through. All food and drink (including alcohol) can continue to be provided by delivery but only between 5am and 11pm.
  • Accommodation such as hotels, hostels, guest houses and campsites, except for specific circumstances, such as where these act as someone’s main residence, where the person cannot return home, for providing accommodation or support to the homeless, or where it is essential to stay there for work purposes.
  • Leisure and sports facilities such as leisure centres and gyms, swimming pools, sports courts, fitness and dance studios, riding arenas at riding centres, climbing walls, and golf courses.
  • Entertainment venues such as theatres, concert halls, cinemas, museums and galleries, casinos, amusement arcades, bingo halls, bowling alleys, skating rinks, go-karting venues, indoor play and soft play centres and areas (including inflatable parks and trampoline centres), circuses, fairgrounds, funfairs, water parks and theme parks.
  • Animal attractions (such as zoos, safari parks, aquariums, and wildlife reserves).
  • Indoor attractions at venues such as botanical gardens, heritage homes and landmarks must also close, though outdoor grounds of these premises can stay open for outdoor exercise.
  • Personal care facilities such as hair, beauty, tanning and nail salons. Tattoo parlours, spas, massage parlours, body and skin piercing services must also close. These services should not be provided in other people’s homes.
  • Community centres and halls must close except for a limited number of exempt activities, as set out below. Libraries can also remain open to provide access to IT and digital services – for examples for people who do not have it at home – and for click-and-collect services.
  • Post-16 education or training.
  • Cafes in hospitals, care homes and educational accommodation.

Some of these businesses and venues will be permitted to be open for a small number of exempt activities, including:

  • Education and training. Schools can use sports, leisure and community facilities where that is part of their normal provision.
  • Childcare purposes and supervised activities for those children eligible to attend.
  • Hosting blood donation sessions and food banks.
  • To provide medical treatment.
  • For elite sports persons to train and compete (in indoor and outdoor sports facilities), and professional dancers and choreographers to work (in fitness and dance studios).
  • For training and rehearsals without an audience (in theatres and concert halls).
  • For the purposes of film and TV filming.

Which venues and businesses can remain open?

As long as they follow COVID Secure guidelines, some businesses can remain open. The full list can be found on gov.uk, but it includes:

  • Essential retail such as food shops, supermarkets, pharmacies, garden centres, building merchants and suppliers of building products and off-licences.
  • Market stalls selling essential retail may also stay open.
  • Businesses providing repair services may also stay open, where they primarily offer repair services.
  • Petrol stations, automatic (but not manual) car washes, vehicle repair and MOT services, bicycle shops, and taxi and vehicle hire businesses.
  • Banks, building societies, post offices, short-term loan providers and money transfer businesses.
  • Funeral directors.
  • Laundrettes and dry cleaners.
  • Medical and dental services.
  • Vets and retailers of products and food for the upkeep and welfare of animals.
  • Animal rescue centres, boarding facilities and animal groomers (may continue to be used for animal welfare, rather than aesthetic purposes)
  • Agricultural supplies shops.
  • Mobility and disability support shops.
  • Storage and distribution facilities.
  • Car parks, public toilets and motorway service areas.
  • Outdoor playgrounds.
  • Outdoor parts of botanical gardens and heritage sites for exercise.
  • Places of worship.
  • Crematoriums and burial grounds.

The majority of public services will continue and you will be able to leave home to visit them. These include:

  • The NHS and medical services like GPs and dentists. We are supporting the NHS to carry out urgent and non-urgent services safely, and it is vital anyone who thinks they need any kind of medical care comes forward and seeks help.
  • Jobcentre Plus sites.
  • Courts and probation services.
  • Civil registrations offices.
  • Passport and visa services.
  • Services provided to victims.
  • Waste or recycling centres.
  • Getting an MOT, if you need to drive when lawfully leaving home.

Can I go to work?

The Government's position is that everyone who can work from home should do so. You should travel to work, including to provide voluntary or charitable services, where you cannot reasonably work from home and your workplace is open.

Workplaces should follow COVID-secure guidelines. At all times, workers should follow any measures put in place by their employers.

You should not go into work if you are showing symptoms, or if you or any of your household are self-isolating.

I have a tradesperson booked in to carry out work, is this allowed?

Work carried out by tradespeople can continue, provided that the tradesperson is well and has no symptoms.

It will be important to ensure that Public Health England guidelines, including maintaining a two metre distance, or a one metre distance with additional precautions, from any household occupants, are followed to ensure everyone’s safety. If this isn’t possible, you should keep a distance of one metre or more with extra precautions (e.g. face coverings). Make sure that everyone washes their hands before and after they touch any surfaces.

You can read more about working safely in people’s homes during COVID-19 on the gov.uk website.

I visit homes to care for dogs and take them for walks. Am I able to continue offering this service?

Animal welfare is identified as one of the reasonable excused to leave home, and providing exercise for animals falls under this provision.

Am I able to open my gym/fitness studio?

Indoor and outdoor gyms and sports facilities must close. Organise sport for disabled people is allowed to continue. Personal training can continue on a one-to-one basis as long as it is in a public outdoor space and social distancing is maintained.

Do workers in retail and hospitality need to wear face coverings?

The legislation now requires retail and hospitality staff to wear face coverings at work.

Can my pub or restaurant continue serving food on a takeaway or delivery basis?

Hospitality venues such as pubs, restaurants and cafes must close for eat in services. However, they can continue to offer food and non-alcoholic drinks by takeaway (until 11pm), click-and-collect and drive-through. All food and drink, including alcohol, can be provided by delivery services but only between 5am and 11pm.

My work involves entering other people’s homes (e.g. a tradesperson, cleaner or nanny), can I continue to work?

You can continue to work providing that you are well and have no symptoms. No work should be carried out by someone who has COVID-19 symptoms or when someone in their own household has symptoms, however mild. No work should be carried out in households that are isolating or where individuals are being shielded, unless the work is to remedy a direct risk to the safety of the household.

You should notify clients in advance of your arrival and wash your hands using soap and water for 20 seconds on arrival to the home. Make sure good hygiene is adhered to, including hand washing regularly, particularly after blowing your nose, sneezing, coughing and when leaving the property. If there are no facilities to wash your hands, hand sanitiser should be used.

It's vitally important that if you have to carry out work in people’s homes that you follow social distancing guidelines and maintain a distance of two metres, or one metre with additional precautions, at all times.

Further information can be found on the gov.uk website.

Can my business fulfil customer deliveries or click-and-collect orders? If my business is selling products online, can those purchases be delivered direct to consumers?

The COVID-19 regulations allow for deliveries of orders from non-essential retailers that are required to close. These retailers can also continue to operate click-and-collect orders.

Leisure and recreation

Am I allowed to leave home to exercise?

You are allowed to leave home to exercise with your household, support bubble or one person from another household. You should continue to maintain social distance from anyone you don’t live with.

We would advise you to stay local and walk or cycle if you can to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on frontline services and the NHS.

How far am I allowed to travel to exercise?

Leaving your home to exercise is one of the reasonable excuses. While you can travel a short distance to exercise safely, there is no specified distance limit in the regulations, Government guidance states that you should not travel outside of your local area. Local means the village, town or part of the city where you live. This is to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on frontline services and the NHS.

Can I take part in waterports and associated activities such as swimming, surfing, canoeing, angling and boating?

Leaving your home to exercise is one of the reasonable excuses. However, you are asked to remain local and walk or cycle where possible to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on frontline services and the NHS.

If you live locally to beaches and rivers where you are allowed to use the water for exercise, you can take part in activities with members of your household, support bubble or with one person from another household. You should continue to social distance and take measures to avoid coming into contact with others you don’t live with.

Pools, waterparks and aqua parks must close.

You are encouraged to avoid higher-risk activities to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on frontline services and the NHS. If you do choose to take part in outdoor watersports, please be safe and follow the relevant advice:

If I can socially distance, can I play sport recreationally with someone I don’t live with?

You can exercise with the people you live with, your support bubble, or with one other person from another household in an outdoor public place. You should continue to social distance and take measures to avoid coming into contact with others you don’t live with.

Can I take part in an outdoor sport or activity with people I don’t live with?

You can exercise with one other person from another household in an outdoor public place. You should continue to social distance and take measures to avoid coming into contact with others you don’t live with.

How often and how long can you do your exercise for?

You should minimise time spent outside your home and stay in your local area when you go outside for exercise. There is no legal limit on how long you can exercise outside for. However, it is recommended that you limit this to once a day. The NHS recommends 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity a week.

Am I allowed to stop and sit for a few minutes while I’m exercising?

You can exercise in public outdoor spaces with the people you live with, your support bubble or with one person from another household, but this should not be for socialising.

However, if you’re out for exercise and need to pause for a moment to catch your breath then this would be fine. You should then either continue with your exercise or make your way home if you are finished.

Can I go for a drive as long as I don’t exit the car?

You should not leave home without reasonable excuse, so we ask that you only drive when it’s absolutely necessary. The NHS is already under extreme pressure and having fewer cars on the road will reduce the chances of serious road traffic collisions.

Can I go for a drive to a beauty spot if I stay in my car?

You must not leave or be outside of your home without a reasonable excuse, such as for exercise. Driving to a beauty spot simply and remaining in your car may not constitute a reasonable excuse under the regulations.

Am I allowed to fly my drone as part of my daily exercise?

You can exercise in public outdoor spaces with the people you live with, your support bubble or with one person from another household, but this should not be for socialising.

Flying a drone may not be considered a form of exercise, and therefore not a valid excuse for being away from your home.

Am I allowed to busk during the national lockdown?

Busking is not considered a business or form of employment, and therefore is not a reasonable excuse to leave your home under the current regulations. It may also be considered a higher risk activity which can increase the spread of COVID-19 by attracting groups of people to congregate.

As always, our approach remains to engage, explain and encourage, and only where necessary enforce.

Can I continue to do metal detecting as part of my days exercise?

You can exercise in public outdoor spaces with the people you live with, your support bubble or with one person from another household, but this should not be for socialising. You cannot leave your home for leisure or recreation purposes.

The National Council for Metal Detecting has issued guidance on its website.

Gatherings and events

How many people are allowed to meet from different households?

You should not be meeting socially with anyone outside of your own household or support bubble. You can exercise with one person from another household in an outdoor public place.

When are gatherings of over the standard restricted limits allowed?

There are a limited number of circumstances where larger groups are allowed to meet. A full list is included in the regulations, but it includes:

  • for work, or providing voluntary or charitable services, where it is unreasonable to do so from home. This can include work in other people’s homes where necessary - for example, for nannies, cleaners, social care workers providing support to children and families, or tradespeople. See guidance on working safely in other people’s homes). Where a work meeting does not need to take place in a private home or garden, it should not - for example, although you can meet a personal trainer, you should do so in a public outdoor place.
  • in a childcare bubble (for the purposes of childcare only)
  • Where eligible to use these services, for education, registered childcare, and supervised activities for children. Access to education and childcare facilities is restricted. See further information on education and childcare.
  • for arrangements where children do not live in the same household as both their parents or guardians
  • to allow contact between birth parents and children in care, as well as between siblings in care
  • for prospective adopting parents to meet a child or children who may be placed with them
  • to place or facilitate the placing of a child or children in the care of another by social services
  • for birth partners
  • to provide emergency assistance, and to avoid injury or illness, or to escape a risk of harm (including domestic abuse)
  • to see someone who is dying
  • to fulfil a legal obligation, such as attending court or jury service
  • for gatherings within criminal justice accommodation or immigration detention centres
  • to provide care or assistance to someone vulnerable, or to provide respite for a carer
  • for a wedding or equivalent ceremony in exceptional circumstances and only for up to 6 people
  • for funerals - up to a maximum of 30 people. Wakes and other linked ceremonial events can continue in a group of up to 6 people.
  • to visit someone at home who is dying, or to visit someone receiving treatment in a hospital, hospice or care home, or to accompany a family member or friend to a medical appointment
  • for elite sportspeople (and their coaches if necessary, or parents/guardians if they are under 18) - or those on an official elite sports pathway - to compete and train
  • to facilitate a house move

Support groups that have to be delivered in person can continue with up to 15 participants where formally organised to provide mutual aid, therapy or any other form of support, but must take place at a premises other than a private home.

Can I attend a funeral?

Funerals can go ahead but numbers are limited to no more than 30 attendees. Linked religious, belief-based or commemorative events, such as stone settings and ash scatterings, can also continue with up to six attendees. Anyone working does not count towards these limits.

Can weddings and civil partnerships go ahead?

Weddings and civil partnerships should only go ahead in exceptional circumstances, such as an urgent marriage where one of those getting married is seriously ill and not expected to recover, or is to undergo debilitating treatment or life-changing surgery. This should be with up to six attendees and receptions cannot take place.

Do you want us to report groups of people we see?

If you are concerned that you have seen a gathering which contravenes the regulations, we would encourage you to report it using the national COVID-19 reporting form.

Are people allowed to protest during the pandemic?

People are asked to stay home as much as possible to protect each other and stop unnecessary stress on the NHS and other frontline services. Under the current lockdown restrictions, there is no exception for protests 

Am I allowed to attend a support group?

Formal support groups that have to be delivered in person can continue to take place. These should be limited to no more than 15 people aged 5 years or older, and take place at premises other than a private dwelling. Anyone under 5 will not be included in the participant limits. Members are encouraged to consider if it is reasonably necessary to be physically present at the gathering.

Are any open air events able to go ahead if people are contained to their vehicles, such as fireworks displays and drive-in cinemas?

Outdoor gatherings cannot go ahead under current national lockdown restrictions, including where people are contained to their vehicles. Cinemas, including drive-in cinemas, must not operate under the current restrictions.

We must all stay at home as much as possible and only go out for one of the permitted reasons.

Overnight stays and holidays

Are you going to stop tourists visiting?

Under the current lockdown regulations you cannot leave your home for holidays or overnight stays unless you have a permitted reasonable excuse, such as for work. This means holidays and stays in second homes are not allowed.

We are working with our partners to ensure we have one clear, consistent message for the public – do not travel to Devon and Cornwall at this time. Please stay at home and do not undertake travel that isn’t essential. We understand that people may have second homes in the area but we urge you not to travel to them.

Our primary approach remains engagement, explanation and encouragement. As a last resort police officers will use their discretion around issuing fines but this is not an approach that we would take lightly.

Are people allowed to travel to stay overnight somewhere else, either in another home, a hotel or camping?

You must stay at home as much as possible and only leave if you have a reasonable excuse. This means that overnight stays away from your primary residence are not permitted unless you have a reasonable excuse.

If you are part of a support bubble you are able to stay overnight at each other’s homes.

Can I stay at my holiday home or second home?

You must stay at home as much as possible and only leave if you have a reasonable excuse. This means that overnight stays away from your primary residence are not permitted, including in a holiday home or second home, unless you have a reasonable excuse.

Officers will seek to engage with individuals travelling to second homes and persuade them to return to their primary residence by reference to these governance guidelines. Enforcement is an option available to officers based on their judgement and discretion.

Travel

Can I travel on public transport?

If you need to travel, walk or cycle where possible, and plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport. This will allow you to practice social distancing while you travel.

The Government has created safer travel guidance for passengers during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Please check with your local transport provider before setting out on any journeys as they may have updated their timetables and be running fewer services.

Can more than one person travel in a car or to get to and from work?

It is recommended that you avoid car sharing with anyone from outside your household or support bubble.

Find more guidance around using private cars and other vehicles on gov.uk.

Do I have to use a face covering on public transport?

Unless you are exempt, you must wear a face covering when on public transport.

More information on face coverings can be found on the gov.uk website.

What measures are in place when people travel overseas?

You are not permitted to travel internationally, or within the UK, without a legally permitted reason to leave home.

If you do have a reasonable excuse to leave home and travel internationally then you should consider the public health advice for the country you will be travelling to, even if you are returning to a place you have visited before. Information can be found in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office travel advice.

For those travelling to the UK, there is a requirement for a negative COVID-19 test taken up to three days before departure. Without this, and without a valid exemption, your airline or carrier may refuse you boarding, and/or you may be fined on arrival. You must also show a completed passenger locator form at the UK border, completed up to 48 hours before entering the UK. Failing to complete this form in line with the Regulations is an offence. You must self-isolate when entering the UK from any country, except Ireland, unless you have a valid exemption. More information can be found on gov.uk.

Who can travel for work under the existing restrictions?

The Government's position is that everyone who can work from home should do so. Where that is not possible, people should go into work where it is safe and they are not symptomatic, following relevant PHE guidance.

Workplaces should follow COVID-secure guidelines. At all times, workers should follow any measures put in place by their employers. Employers should be taking responsibility to ensure that guidelines are being followed in their workplaces. Extra consideration should be given to those people at higher risk.

Will you be policing the roads to stop people travelling?

Police interact with motorists every day and given the current circumstances, it is reasonable to expect officers to ask some motorists whether they have a valid reason for being outdoors. In rural areas for example, where motorists are covering greater distances, this may be appropriate.

When vehicles are stopped, the driver and occupants are likely to be asked for their reasons, in line with our approach to engage, explain and encourage. We will only take enforcement action if it is necessary and proportionate.

Am I allowed to drive to take someone to or collect someone from the airport?

You must only leave your home if you have a reasonable excuse for doing so. Taking someone to, or collecting someone from, the airport may be a reasonable excuse.

If, for example, the person is part of your household or support bubble, it may be reasonable to collect them from the airport. However, if this is not the case them it would be advisable for them to find alternative arrangements.

Anyone travelling back to the UK, needs to make sure that they are following any travel restrictions that are in place.

I’m currently abroad, do I have to return immediately?

Anyone currently overseas does not need to make arrangements to return immediately. However, it is advisable to check with your travel operators to find out how your journey home may be affected and if your plans will need to change to accommodate this.

For those travelling to the UK, there is a requirement for a negative COVID-19 test taken up to three days before departure. Without this, and without a valid exemption, your airline or carrier may refuse you boarding, and/or you may be fined on arrival. You must also show a completed passenger locator form at the UK border, completed up to 48 hours before entering the UK. Failing to complete this form in line with the Regulations is an offence. You must self-isolate when entering the UK from any country, except Ireland, unless you have a valid exemption. More information can be found on gov.uk.

Can a member of my household drive me to and from work?

You are able to travel to work if you are unable to work from home. The restrictions are in place to help us stop the spread of COVID-19 and avoiding public transport is a sensible measure. If this means someone else in your household driving you to or from work, if you are unable to do so yourself, then this could be considered as a reasonable excuse.

Can I drive a member of my household to the shop/pharmacy and wait in the car?

The restrictions are in place to help us stop the spread of COVID-19. If someone is unable to drive themselves or having shopping delivered is not an option, waiting in the car is a reasonable compromise as it will reduce potential chances of contact with others.

Will we see roll out of checkpoints?

Some forces, such as ours, cover areas of high footfall due to our beauty spots and outdoor public spaces. We may on occasion stop vehicles to enquire where they are going and why. The rules are to protect lives and save the NHS.

But these are not roadblocks – each force is dealing with a very different area that needs policing. In some parts of the country, people mostly move around by car – so of course some officers will need to stop vehicles to engage with people.

Am I allowed to leave home to carry out activities related to probate, even if that means travelling outside of my local area and/or staying away overnight?

Leaving your home to fulfil legal obligations, including activities relating to probate, is one of the exceptions to the restrictions on travel and overnight stays. You should limit the amount of time you are away from your home and be sure to keep at least two metres distance from those you don’t live with, or at least one metre with additional measures.

I live near the border of another county, am I able to go to a shop for essential goods in the other county if it’s closer than shops in the county I live in?

You are able to leave home to shop for essentials, including food and medicines, under the current national lockdown. You should aim to stay local wherever possible. The Government have stated that stay local means the village, town, or part of the city where you live.

While there is no restrictions in the regulations on how far you can travel for this reason, we would advise that you aim to reduce the time you are away from home as much as possible and consider accessing services that are closest to your home.

Can I travel outside of the local area to buy a car if I need it for work?

We must all stay at home as much as possible, and only leave home if we have a reasonable excuse.

Under national lockdown restrictions, car dealerships are required to close for in-person purchases and browsing. However, they can continue to operate delivery and click-and collect services.

There are no specific restrictions on private car sales, but it may not be deemed appropriate to do this under current restrictions unless it’s a necessity. If you do need to purchase a car to allow you to carry out essential travel, such as to go to work or support a vulnerable person, you should aim to stay local. The Government has stated that stay local means the village, town or part of the city where you live.

What happens if I get stopped by the Police and I have a legitimate reason under the regulations to be away from home?

Our approach throughout the pandemic has been to engage, explain and encourage people to follow the restrictions, and only enforce when it is necessary.

If you are away from your home for one of the reasonable excuses, then you can simply explain this to the police officer.

Crime

Is there a heightened risk of fraud and scams?

Yes, we have already seen some instances of fraudsters taking advantage of the situation with reports of telephone scamming and phishing emails.

We are working to ensure the public have the information they need so they are not caught out by opportunistic thieves/scammers.

Phishing emails: There have been reports of coronavirus-themed phishing emails. These attempt to trick people into opening malicious attachments which could lead to fraudsters stealing people’s personal information, email logins and passwords, and banking details. Don’t click on the links or attachments in suspicious emails, and never respond to unsolicited messages and calls that ask for your personal or financial details. Any suspicious emails should be sent to the National Cyber Security Centres Suspicious Email Reporting Service – report@phishing.gov.uk

Shopping online: If you’re making a purchase from a company or person you don’t know and trust, carry out some research first, and ask a friend or family member for advice before completing the purchase. If you decide to go ahead with the purchase, use a credit card if you have one, as most major credit card providers insure online purchases.

There is additional information and updates regarding fraud on the Action Fraud website.

If you have parted with money and realise that you have been scammed, contact your bank and email 101@dc.police.uk immediately.

What sort of suspicious emails, texts, online activity and other scams related to the coronavirus outbreak should I be aware of?

If you have parted with money and realise that you have been scammed, contact your bank and email 101@dc.police.uk immediately.

Scams based on “NHS test and trace”

Phishing emails relating to the government Test & Trace service have been reported nationally. Some scam text messages relating to Test and Trace are also reported to be in circulation. Remember: Test and Trace staff will NEVER ask you for financial details, PINs or passwords, they will NEVER visit your home and they will NEVER do any of the following:

  • Ask you to dial a premium rate number to speak to us (for example, those starting 09 or 087)
  • Ask you to make any form of payment
  • Ask for any details about your bank account
  • Ask for your social media identities or login details, or those of your contacts
  • Ask you for any passwords or PINs, or ask you to set up any passwords or PINs over the phone
  • Ask you to purchase a product
  • Ask you to download any software to your device or ask you to hand over control of your PC, smartphone or tablet
  • Ask you to access any website that does not belong to the Government or NHS

Members of the public can send their suspicious emails to report@phishing.gov.uk and the NCSC’s automated programme will immediately test the validity of the site. Any sites found to be phishing scams will be removed immediately.

How should the elderly and vulnerable protect themselves from opportunist thieves/fraudsters coming door to door?

Being a good neighbour is important, and communities are rallying around to support each other. However, there may be those who seek to exploit the situation also.

Volunteers working with the health and emergency services will be in possession of the necessary DBS arrangements before commencing placements and will be assigned to roles where indemnity cover is in place. They should all have documentation proving their status.

Community volunteering to provide assistance to those most vulnerable in meeting their daily needs will also be likely in the coming months. If people have doubts about those who are approaching them, and are concerned, we advise that they don’t engage and report serious suspicious behaviour to police. The majority of groups are well intentioned, and will be working through charities or through a local authority and should have proof that they are doing so.

There is additional information and updates regarding fraud on the Action Fraud website. Theft offences should be reported using our online channels.

If you have parted with money and realise that you have been scammed, contact your bank and email 101@dc.police.uk immediately.

Where can I report email and online frauds and scams?

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has launched the Suspicious Email Reporting Service - report@phishing.gov.uk - which will make it easy for the public to forward suspicious emails to the NCSC – including those claiming to offer services related to coronavirus.

Suspicious text messages can be sent to 7726.

Report other sorts of scam to the national policing hub Action Fraud.

In both cases, reporting scams and suspicious communications is important, as every piece of information received helps to build an intelligence picture of criminals who would capitalise on the coronavirus lockdown, and thus helps national poking services to shut them down.

If you have parted with money and realise that you have been scammed, contact your bank and email 101@dc.police.uk immediately.

What crimes would you no longer respond to? Will you stop arresting people?

There are no crime types that we would no longer respond to and the police will NOT stop arresting people. Each contact to the police for help will be risk assessed. Priority of response will be given to maintaining public order, situations of violence or where life is in danger and where a very vulnerable person is involved. We’re asking the public to be patient as we may take more time to follow up report relating to lower-level crimes.

As a result of social-distancing regulations, it is likely that forces will see a shift in crime patterns – this includes online offences and fraud. As always, we will prioritise available resources from the areas where demand was previously high (such as the night-time economy) to the areas which need it now.

Are you expecting a rise in crimes such as domestic abuse?

Yes, sadly this is likely with more people staying at home and isolated from other friends and family. We are currently running a campaign to raise awareness of this issue so please keep an eye on our social media channels.

Domestic abuse is considered a serious crime and the police service is committed to the safety of victims and children during this time of crisis. We want you to seek and receive appropriate support when you need it.

If you or your children are in immediate danger, you should call 999. You can get help and support on our website or access the national domestic abuse helpline or support services online.

Are you seeing a rise in hate crime because of this virus?

In Devon and Cornwall we have not seen an increase in hate crime. However we know hate crime and incidents can be under-reported and Devon and Cornwall Police is encouraging victims to come forward in confidence either directly to the police, to supporting agencies or through third party reporting centres.

If you are a victim or witness of a hate crime or incident, please report it online. Alternatively if you wish to speak to someone call 101. In an emergency always dial 999.

If you are deaf or hard of hearing you can get in touch in the following ways:

  • Emergency – SMS/text 999 or textphone/minicom 18000 / SMS/text 80 999 or textphone 18000
  • Non-emergency – SMS/text 67101 or textphone/minicom 18001 101
  • Our website also provides a webchat function

You can also report anonymously through TrueVision, or get support from StopHateUK, including British sign language reporting and a 24/7 helpline.

For further reporting options, support and information, including easy read documents and reporting forms, visit: devon-cornwall.police.uk/advice/threat-assault-abuse/hate-crime/

Nationally there has been no increase in overall hate crime, however there has been a rise in hate crime directed towards Asian communities.

Is video conferencing safe for businesses and to stay in touch with family and friends?

There is no doubt that video conferencing is becoming more and more popular, whether for business or to connect with friends and family.

Some devices have video conferencing built in, such as Apple’s FaceTime, and there are many other standalone video conferencing apps which you can download such as Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams and others.

We have put together a guide to staying secure when using these apps and we encourage you to share it with your friends and family or employees: devon-cornwall.police.uk/video-conferencing

Please follow the Devon and Cornwall Police Cyber Protect team on Twitter @DC_CyberProtect for the latest updates.

Visit the National Cyber Security Centre website for further guidance on video conferencing.

Can I still report crime to the police?

Yes. The safety and welfare of local communities remains our top priority.

Members of the public should continue to call 999 in an emergency where a crime is in progress or there is a threat to life.

If your call is not urgent and can be reported using our online channels, we ask you to do so in order to release the pressure on our emergency lines and resources. You can contact us through our website (/contact/), by using webchat, or by email (101@devonandcornwall.pnn.police.uk). We are unable to take reports via our social media channels.

We are experiencing high call demand to both our 999 and 101 numbers and our digital services offer you the option to self-report, which will then be prioritised and actioned.

If you are concerned you have seen something that contravenes the regulations, we would encourage you to report it using the national COVID-19 reporting form.

We would advise members of the public to avoid visiting our Public Enquiry Offices unless it is essential. Many of our offices have now closed, with others working to reduced hours.

Members of the public should not call police to report cases of COVID-19 and should instead direct their concerns to NHS 111.

I’m a victim of a crime, do the current rules mean that I can no longer attend my support group?

Formal support groups, can continue to take place. These should be limited to no more than 15 people aged 5 years or older, and take place at premises other than a private dwelling. Anyone under 5 will not be included in the participant limits. Members are encouraged to consider if it is reasonably necessary to be physically present at the gathering.

Policing during the pandemic

What powers do the police have to enforce travel quarantine regulations?

Passengers arriving the UK will be contacted regularly by Public Health England to ensure they understand the requirements and are self-isolating. If anyone is suspected of breaching the restrictions, their details will be passed on to the central triage team and police forces will be asked to visit the individuals address.

As always, our approach remains to engage, explain and encourage, and only where necessary enforce.

Are the police able to enforce the use of face coverings on public transport?

Unless you are exempt, you must wear a face covering when on public transport. Management of wearing face coverings will largely be a matter for public transport providers who will engage with those using their services. They may deny an individual who is not wearing a face covering, access.

If police intervention is required, they may direct an individual to wear a face covering, or to disembark the vehicle. An individual may also be removed from the vehicle. The police will l continue to take the approach of engaging, explaining and encouraging compliance to these regulations and will only enforce as a last resort.

Should police stop people from meeting with different households?

You should stay at home as much as possible and not meet socially with anyone outside of your household or support bubble. You can exercise with one person from another household, and should continue to maintain distance from anyone you don’t live with.

The public should show civic duty and common sense to protect the NHS and will save lives.

Police give guidance on the Government advice, but only enforce the law. They also must do so with common sense and proportionality based on the particular situation, their engagement with the individual and always keeping in mind the purpose of regulations to prevent the spread of the virus.

What are police doing if the businesses that are not allowed to be open refuse to stay closed?

Environmental Health and Trading Standards officers, with police support if appropriate, are responsible for enforcing regulations requiring businesses to remain closed.

Environmental Health and Trading Standards can issue prohibition notices where businesses do not follow these restrictions. In addition, businesses who fail to comply can also receive fines. Continued non-compliance could then lead to the loss of alcohol licenses.

You can report businesses that you believe should not be open using the national COVID-19 reporting form.

How can police be sure that people are being honest about meeting with those from other households?

We trust the public to be honest with us and to continue engaging with us positively, as they have been to date - but of course officers will be inquisitive where necessary.

Everyone has a responsibility and a civic duty in respecting the terms of this lockdown. Thousands have tragically lost their lives, and we would expect a degree of maturity from the public in continuing to observe the new rules. Most have been very sensible, and we thank them for the personal sacrifices they’re making.

Where we see clear breaches, we will act appropriately.

Are you going to start arresting people?

There is a power of arrest under the new legislation, which will we will use as a last resort. Our approach will be to maintain our education and engagement approach to persuade individuals to comply with the direction set by Government rather than having to enforce it, as it is in all of our interests. However, if we are left with no other choice, we will arrest people if there is no other option and we have the lawful basis to do so.

Would the police be able to respond to severe disorder in prisons?

Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) says it has put in place robust contingency plans. The police work closely with HMPPS and this will continue.

How are you protecting officers?

Public Health England (PHE) has published guidance to first responders and this has been circulated to all police forces for their officers and staff to follow.

Officers and staff have been issued with personal protective equipment (PPE) to minimise the risk of work-related infection. This includes:

  • Disposable gloves
  • Fluid repellent surgical face mask is recommended
  • Disposable plastic apron
  • Disposable eye protection (such as face visor or goggles)

Based on PHE guidance this is sufficient for routine policing activities.

We are working closely with the Government and PHE to manage supplies of PPE like gloves and masks. Questions around stocks of these should be directed to PHE and the Government. Regions are monitoring their stock levels and will redistribute resources where they need 

Are officers and staff working from home?

Where possible, police staff and officers on desk duties, who are not showing symptoms or feeling ill, are able to work from home.

Those who have symptoms and are unable to work, will stay at home and self-isolate.

Are you planning to cancel leave for officers/staff?

Nationally, and locally we have tried and tested plans to respond to a situation like this. This may include the cancellation of rest days and leave.

What is the current level of isolation across the police service?

We will not be sharing isolation rates, as these numbers will ebb and flow over the coming weeks. We are reassuring members of the public that we are coping well and that service continues as normal.

Would you scale back your work?

Our tried and tested business continuity procedures include plans to maintain a level of service that fulfils critical functions. With a significant loss of officers and staff, we will concentrate on responding to serious crimes and maintaining public order.

Some non-urgent administrative services may experience delays, such as firearms applications, where, in line with Government advice our staff are not able to complete home visits, which are part of the application process. Other services of this nature may also be impacted.

We will ensure the public understand how any changes may affect them and any changes they need to make.

Are you bringing in the Special Constabulary and retired officers/staff?

In order to continue providing core services to our communities in light of the pandemic, we need to maximise our use of volunteers to give us some extra assistance over the coming weeks. Forces will be asking Special Constables if they can volunteer more of their time with the support of their employer. In addition, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) have called employers to release more than 10,000 Special Constables to support the police service in managing the impact of the Coronavirus.

We have also recently asked people who have previously worked for us if they would be willing to offer their services and skills, in some temporary capacity. This is a fast-changing environment and we are still working to define the critical services we may need.

Can masks be used by officers who have beards?

Police officers have been issued with PPE, including face masks, where shaving is not required for their use. A small number of officers in certain specialist roles have masks that are specifically fitted that are not compatible with facial hair. This is not a new COVID-19-related provision. These officers are aware they will need to be clean-shaven if they need to use that equipment as part of their role. If this conflicts with any religious (or similar) restriction, we are working with officers to find appropriate alternatives.

The Government has now advised that people should wear face coverings when out and about, and made them mandatory on public transport and in shops – will this affect police supplies of PPE?

The Government have made it clear that face masks and face coverings are different, stating: “A face covering is not the same as a facemask such as the surgical masks used as part of personal protective equipment by healthcare and other workers. These supplies must continue to be reserved for those who need it.”

Therefore, police PPE supply remains unaffected by the face-covering announcement.

Is there a ban on face-to-face meetings? Would that apply to interviewing suspects and taking them into custody?

We have control measures that we can use if we need them. This includes conducting meetings over video or the telephone when it is suitable.

Interviews with suspects would only take place if a suspect was well enough. Officers will have access to PPE like gloves and masks if needed. Sensible and proportionate use of bail and released under investigation will be considered – this would not be used for anyone considered to be a risk to the public.

How will you deal with under 18s not adhering?

We will start off by speaking with them, and encouraging them to comply of their own free will. If necessary, we will liaise with an adult with responsibility for that child or young person. There is a power for us to provide a direction to that adult if it is necessary for us to do so.

Will you be relaxing custody arrangements, letting criminals walk free?

No. We will always arrest and detain where it is necessary. During the COVID-19 pandemic officers will consider voluntary attendance rather than arrest in cases where it is safe and proportionate to do so, particularly if suspects are diagnosed or suspected of having COVID-19. This would only apply to low level, low risk cases.

If courts refuse to accept prisoners, what will the police do with them?

We are currently looking at this and are working closely with criminal justice partners to make necessary plans. We do not anticipate this will be a significant issue.

Will the police still be executing warrants?

Yes. Forces will be continuing their normal service unless there is a significant impact on our ability to do so. Commanders will be considering the safest approach in each of their operations and will be briefing officers on aspects of hygiene and safety if these are executed.

Does this affect how I report lost and found property?

Our staffing levels are reduced due to the impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus) and the resources are being redirected so that we can best support to the community. At this time we need to make additional efforts to not handle unnecessary items of found property.

Please continue to follow the instruction on our website. At this time we may need to delay the release and collection of found items, and would ask for your understanding and cooperation.

Will the army be brought in to help with enforcement?

There are no current plans for the army to assist with enforcement.

Are you prioritising which offenders are getting charged?

The public are urged to continue reporting crimes to the police as normal. Officers are continuing to work around the clock to keep the public safe and respond to emergencies.

Clearly, at this unusual and challenging time, we are prioritising the most serious of cases for immediate charging decisions. However, it is important to reiterate that we are continuing to investigate crimes as normal.

Can I still get fingerprinted for a visa or passport application?

Fingerprinting services are still running. However, you should limit the interactions you have with people you don’t live with and are encouraged to consider whether driving for this service is necessary at this time.

Will you be detaining sick people using your new powers?

We have a special relationship with the public in this country. We police by consent, and will continue to do so during this emergency. The public will be thinking about the greater good and we encourage them to follow Government advice.

The Emergency Bill means police officers, in consultation with, or at the request of health professionals, can direct an infected person to go and immediately receive treatment or isolate at home.

It is important to note that the power to detain is not the same as that of arrest. Having this virus isn’t a crime, putting others at risk deliberately is.

How will this affect how you deal with sectioning of those suffering from mental ill health?

The current legislation allows us to place someone under a temporary section of 24 hours. This will be extended to 36 hours. This is down from 72 hours before the time limit was reduced by the Policing and Crime Act 2017.

Are you policing social distancing?

The police can only enforce the regulations. Social distancing is Government guidance and people need to take individual responsibility for following it.

Will you be attending house parties?

Everyone has a personal responsibility in limiting the outbreak by following the simple rules around gatherings. We will continue to engage, explain, encourage and enforce where necessary.

What’s your relationship with the COVID-19 secure marshals?

The COVID-19 secure marshals are a matter for the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government. They will report to local authorities and not to the police.

When will Police officers get their COVID-19 jab?

There are a number of factors that the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) have taken into account regarding prioritisation for the COVID-19 vaccination programme. You can read more about this on gov.uk.

At present, frontline Police officers are not one of the priority groups for the vaccine. We are working closely with the Police and Crime Commissioner and local authorities to lobby for this to change.

This is not about us pushing in front of vulnerable people in our communities, it's about there being a moral and ethical case for the frontline not to be at greater risk of the virus due to the nature of our work, which is often very much hands on.

COVID-19 legislation

How have the regulations changed in England following the latest Government announcement?

England is currently in stay at home restrictions. This means we must all stay at home as much as possible, and only leave home if we have a reasonable excuse. This includes:

  • Work where it is unreasonable to work from home.
  • Volunteering where these tasks cannot be carried out from home.
  • Essential activities such as shopping for essentials such as food, or to collect takeaway or click-and-collect orders. This could also be on behalf of a disabled or vulnerable person or someone self-isolating.
  • Education and childcare where they are able to attend. Schools are open for vulnerable children and children of key workers, and other students should move to remote learning. Existing arrangements for contact between parents and children where they live apart can continue.
  • Visiting someone in your support bubble, if you are legally permitted to form one.
  • Providing informal childcare to children under 14 as part of a childcare bubble.
  • To provide care for disabled or vulnerable people.
  • To provide emergency assistance.
  • To attend a support group of up to 15 people.
  • For respite care where that care is being provided to a vulnerable person or a person with a disability, or is a short break in respect of a looked-after child.
  • Exercise alone, with your household or support bubble, or with one other person from another household. This should be limited to once per day and you should not travel outside your local area.
  • For medical reasons, such as getting a COVID-19 test, attending a medical appointment or emergencies.
  • To escape the risk of harm, such as domestic abuse situations.
  • For compassionate visits, such as to be with someone who is giving birth, to visit someone who is dying or someone in a care home, hospice or hospital, or to accompany someone to a medical appointment.
  • For animal welfare reasons, such as to attend veterinary service for advice or treatment.
  • Communal worship, to attend a funeral or related event, or a wedding.
  • To fulfil legal obligations, or where it is reasonably necessary for voting in an election or referendum.
  • Carrying out activities relating to buying, selling, letting or renting a residential property.

Venues and businesses that can remain open include:

  • Essential retail such as food shops, supermarkets, pharmacies, garden centres, building merchants and suppliers of building products and off-licences.
  • Market stalls selling essential retail may also stay open.
  • Businesses providing repair services may also stay open, where they primarily offer repair services.
  • Petrol stations, automatic (but not manual) car washes, vehicle repair and MOT services, bicycle shops, and taxi and vehicle hire businesses.
  • Banks, building societies, post offices, short-term loan providers and money transfer businesses.
  • Funeral directors.
  • Laundrettes and dry cleaners.
  • Medical and dental services.
  • Vets and retailers of products and food for the upkeep and welfare of animals.
  • Animal rescue centres, boarding facilities and animal groomers (may continue to be used for animal welfare, rather than aesthetic purposes)
  • Agricultural supplies shops.
  • Mobility and disability support shops.
  • Storage and distribution facilities.
  • Car parks, public toilets and motorway service areas.
  • Outdoor playgrounds.
  • Outdoor parts of botanical gardens and heritage sites for exercise.
  • Places of worship.
  • Crematoriums and burial grounds.

The majority of public services will continue and you will be able to leave home to visit them. These include:

  • The NHS and medical services like GPs and dentists. We are supporting the NHS to carry out urgent and non-urgent services safely, and it is vital anyone who thinks they need any kind of medical care comes forward and seeks help.
  • Jobcentre Plus sites.
  • Courts and probation services.
  • Civil registrations offices.
  • Passport and visa services.
  • Services provided to victims.
  • Waste or recycling centres.
  • Getting an MOT, if you need to drive when lawfully leaving home.

Venues and businesses that must close include:

  • Non-essential retail, such as clothing and homeware stores, vehicle showrooms (other than for rental), betting shops, auction houses (except for auctions of livestock or agricultural equipment), and market stalls selling non-essential goods. These venues can continue to be able to operate click-and-collect (where goods are pre-ordered and collected off the premises) and delivery services.
  • Hospitality venues such as cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars and social clubs, with the exception of providing food and non-alcoholic drinks for takeaway (until 11pm), click-and-collect and drive-through. All food and drink (including alcohol) can continue to be provided by delivery but only between 5am and 11pm.
  • Accommodation such as hotels, hostels, guest houses and campsites, except for specific circumstances, such as where these act as someone’s main residence, where the person cannot return home, for providing accommodation or support to the homeless, or where it is essential to stay there for work purposes.
  • Leisure and sports facilities such as leisure centres and gyms, swimming pools, sports courts, fitness and dance studios, riding arenas at riding centres, climbing walls, and golf courses.
  • Entertainment venues such as theatres, concert halls, cinemas, museums and galleries, casinos, amusement arcades, bingo halls, bowling alleys, skating rinks, go-karting venues, indoor play and soft play centres and areas (including inflatable parks and trampoline centres), circuses, fairgrounds, funfairs, water parks and theme parks.
  • Animal attractions (such as zoos, safari parks, aquariums, and wildlife reserves).
  • Indoor attractions at venues such as botanical gardens, heritage homes and landmarks must also close, though outdoor grounds of these premises can stay open for outdoor exercise.
  • Personal care facilities such as hair, beauty, tanning and nail salons. Tattoo parlours, spas, massage parlours, body and skin piercing services must also close. These services should not be provided in other people’s homes.
  • Community centres and halls must close except for a limited number of exempt activities, as set out below. Libraries can also remain open to provide access to IT and digital services – for examples for people who do not have it at home – and for click-and-collect services.
  • Post-16 education or training.
  • Cafes in hospitals, care homes and educational accommodation.

Some of these businesses and venues will be permitted to be open for a small number of exempt activities, including:

  • Education and training. Schools can use sports, leisure and community facilities where that is part of their normal provision.
  • Childcare purposes and supervised activities for those children eligible to attend.
  • Hosting blood donation sessions and food banks.
  • To provide medical treatment.
  • For elite sports persons to train and compete (in indoor and outdoor sports facilities), and professional dancers and choreographers to work (in fitness and dance studios).
  • For training and rehearsals without an audience (in theatres and concert halls).
  • For the purposes of film and TV filming.

Police officers have been engaging with the public and explaining that following the regulations helps to prevent the spread of the virus and save lives. The efforts of the public mean police officers have rarely had to enforce the Government regulations. We are confident the vast majority will continue to do their bit and follow guidance.

As we have throughout the pandemic, officers will aim to engage, explain and encourage, and then, only if necessary use enforcement.

Government guidance around social distancing is not enforceable and the police will not get involved in matters of this nature.

What happens if someone is deemed to have broken the regulations?

Devon and Cornwall Police continue to explain, engage and encourage people to follow the restrictions, and we will not hesitate to enforce obvious and harmful breaches where we see them.

Fixed penalty notices (FPNs) can be issued to the amount of £200 to individuals who flout the regulations. This amount will double for each subsequent offence, up to £6,400 for the sixth and subsequent offences.

Organisers or facilitators of restricted gatherings can be faced with a £10,000 FPN, which may lead to Court proceedings in the case of non-payment.

How are prohibitions for non-compliant businesses playing out?

Police officers are working well with Trading Standards and local authorities in relation to retail enforcements within the new regulations. Local authorities are really assisting us here and we are grateful to them. At this stage, we do not have data on prohibition numbers as it needs to be agreed with local government.

How do I report suspected breaches?

If you are concerned you have seen something that contravenes the regulations, we would encourage you to report it using the national COVID-19 reporting form.

What powers do police have under the Bill?

A summary of the coronavirus bill impacts can be found here

Do you expect to be given further legal powers?

This is a fast moving picture. The Government and Parliament have the responsibility for legislation, and we are working closely with them.

Do the police have the legal authority to force someone to self-isolate?

Individuals are required to self-isolate if they test positive or come into close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

If a report is made of someone not complying with this, we will make contact with NHS Test and Trace to confirm whether the individual should be isolating. If it is confirmed, then a risk assessment will be made and, if appropriate, officers or PCSOs will visit the address to check whether they are complying with the regulations. As we do with all COVID-19 regulations, we will continue to take the 4Es approach, with enforcement remaining an option if necessary.

How will restrictions on large gatherings be enforced?

Policing has a role where people are not following the latest rules, including gatherings as restricted by the Regulations.

Officers may direct the gathering to disperse, direct any person from the gathering to return home, and remove any person gathering in a public place to the place they are living.

As throughout this public crisis, officers will engage, explain, encourage and, only as a last resort, enforce.

Do you have a power of entry to see how many people are inside?

There is no power of entry for police under the current COVID-19 rules. There are circumstances where other powers of entry may apply, for example if a serious crime is taking place inside or police need to enter to arrest someone.

Supporting our communities

I’ve been offered support from the NHS Volunteer Responders, but how do I know if they’re legitimate?

All recipients of the service will be given clear guidance from the NHS on how to safeguard themselves, but some key tips are:

  • Never open the door to someone claiming to be an NHS Volunteer Responder unless you are expecting them (they will phone ahead)
  • Check the ID on their phone (they will leave it on your doorstep and stand two metres back)
  • If in doubt, ask them to call you. They will have your number in their phone if they are genuinely an NHS Volunteer Responder.

Are there any measures being taken so that disabled people are able to shop safely?

Many supermarkets and shops are putting measures in place to provide opportunities for vulnerable people, including those with disabilities, to get the supplies they need. These measures are set and monitored by the stores themselves.

There are also local volunteer and community groups that have been set up to provide additional support to those who need it – you may find details at covidmutualaid.org. Be sure to find out what your local authority has in place, too.

Remember to check GOV.UK for the latest news and updates.

What COVID-19 (coronavirus) resources do you have for people who use British sign language (BSL)?

Please visit our British sign language resources page for guidance communicated in BSL.

What resources do you have to help explain the new police powers and coronavirus laws to someone with learning difficulties?

The Easy Read section of our website has a guide to the new powers and laws.

Gov.uk has also created an easy read version of their social distancing guidance.

What information is available to help people where English isn’t their first language?

There are a range of resources that have been translated into a variety of languages.

Can police refer someone vulnerable to the NHS Volunteer Responders scheme?

NHS Volunteer Responders has been set up to provide volunteer support to those clinically most at risk from coronavirus who have been advised to stay “shielded”, and to provide patient transport. It has also been expanded to include other people who are referred from specific individuals and organisations who consider them to be vulnerable for a range of reasons. This initiative is being delivered on behalf of NHS England and NHS Improvement by the Royal Voluntary Service (RVS).

Police staff, MPs, some charities, local government and the other emergency services are now among the people who can request help for someone who they consider to be vulnerable whilst in isolation at home, in addition to health and social care staff.

Once someone is registered for support, the RVS call centre will match up the tasks that need to be undertaken to help people with volunteers who live near to them.

More detailed guidance on who is likely to be eligible for support is set out on the RVS website.

Do I have to download the NHS Track and Trace App?

There is no legal requirement to download and use the NHS Track and Trace app. However, it will help to monitor the spread and alert you and others of when there may have been contact with the virus.

You can find more information about the app, and how to download it, on the NHS website.

Businesses need to display the NHS QR code posters so that those who are using the app can ‘check-in’ at the premises they visit.

I have additional needs and am supported by volunteers who need to drive to get to me, will they be stopped?

We want to ensure that the most vulnerable people in our communities are cared for and would not stop them receiving the vital support that they need. The rules state that people are able to travel ‘to provide care for a vulnerable person’, and supporting someone with additional needs would satisfy this purpose. This would also be exempt from the rules in regards to gatherings.

A friend or family member is about to be released from prison. Will I be able to collect them as they are not at a local institution?

Yes, a released prisoner clearly cannot stay at the prison. Avoiding public transport to get to their place of residence is a reasonable precaution.

What are we doing to support those sleeping on the street during the national lockdown?

Support for rough sleepers during the lockdown is a matter for local authorities. We will continue to work with and support our partners where required.

If you are concerned about someone you see sleeping rough, you can report it to StreetLink.

Other useful information

Local resources

Teachers helpline – child victims of domestic abuse

Operation Encompass Teachers’ Helpline operates from 8am to 1pm, from Monday to Friday, staffed by a child and educational psychologist or clinical psychologist from Psychology Associates. The number is 0204 513 9990 and standard mobile call rates will apply. There will be no charge to the teacher or school for the specialist professional advice

Devon

Visit the Devon County Council website for information about local organisations and groups offering support. In Devon residents are being asked to use the local Council for Voluntary Service (CVS). For Exeter visit the Exeter Community Wellbeing website. For the rest of Devon find contact details on the Devon Voluntary Action (DeVA) website.

Cornwall

Cornwall Council website provides information about services during this time. Volunteer Cornwall are coordinating help for residents. Residents who are isolating and need help can register with them.

Torbay

The Torbay Community Development Trust (TCDT), Ageing Well Torbay (AWT) and Brixham Does Care have set up an emergency coronavirus helpline for people in need of help because of illness or isolation and also for those that are prepared to offer help. The phone line covers Torquay and Paignton. The number is 01803 446022. Brixham Does Care can be contacted directly on 01803 857727. More information is available on the Torbay Council website.

Plymouth

Plymouth has launched the Caring for Plymouth Support Hub. Caring for Plymouth is an alliance between the Council, Livewell Southwest and a large number of voluntary and community sector organisations and will ensure that the medically vulnerable and people without support networks are provided with emotional support, shopping, medicine collection and support with paying bills and accessing money. The phone number is 01752 668000 and people can also fill in a form.

POP has set up a Facebook group for Plymouth community groups and organisations that are supporting the response to CO-VID19. It's proving to be really useful to share the latest advice and guidance and funding alerts. Along with being an opportunity for members to connect, share support, and share concerns around delivery that are being fed into citywide strategic planning groups.

Trusted information sources

Non Emergency Directory (NED)

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