Boris Johnson was today told to ‘get a grip’ by police chiefs over nonsensical lockdown rules that saw lone sunbathers scolded but hundreds allowed to gather outside B&Qs across Britain this weekend.
With no exit plan in sight, large numbers of Britons went out to shop and enjoy the weather over the weekend amid fears the lockdown appears to be unravelling.
Police were seen speaking to individuals sunbathing alone or with a partner in Greenwich Park, Hyde Park and St James’ Park in London yesterday.
Yet B&Q’s decision to reopen 130 stores saw massive queues forming outside its outlets in Watford, Edinburgh, Bristol and Swansea, as people used the shutdown to catch up on DIY.
Today Ken Marsh, chair of the Met Police Federation, said: ‘You can’t have a scenario where police are telling two people in a park not to sit on a bench but 50 yards away there’s 300 people, can’t put a fag packet between them, queuing to go into a DIY store.
Shoppers in York leave a B&Q store which saw a steady flow of people coming in and out today
Several families were pictured stocking up on patio tables and chairs and other items from B&Q, Wickes, B&M and Poundstretcher
Long queues were spotted outside the York B&Q – though people appeared to be following social distancing guidelines as they waited to get into the store
People enjoying the warm weather on Hove seafront this afternoon, as more and more people flout lockdown restrictions
Families played in the sunshine in Hove, though most appeared to be following social distancing guidelines
People photograph the pebble stacks on the beach at Whitley Bay today which stretch for a quarter of a mile
The area around Hove seafront was packed with bodies as people left home to enjoy the sun
What ARE the lockdown rules?
Regulation 6 of the The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 states no person may leave the place where they live without a reasonable excuse.
The National Police Chief’s Council has released its interpretation of what constitutes a ‘reasonable excuse’:
It classifies explains its interpretation of how the law relates to everday activities.
It defines activites that are likely to be reasonable as:
– Buying several days’ worth of food, including luxury items and alcohol.
– Buying tools and supplies to repair a fence panel damaged in recent bad weather.
– Exercise including: going for a run or cycle or practicing yoga. Walking in the countryside or in cities. Attending an allotment.
– Stopping to rest or to eat lunch while on a long walk.
It defines activities that are ‘not likely to be reasonable’ as:
– Buying paint and brushes, simply to redecorate a kitchen
– A short walk to a park bench, when the person remains seated for a much longer period
– A person who can work from home choosing to work in a local park.
By way of explanation on each area it adds:
Shopping – There is no need for all a person’s shopping to be basic food supplies; the purchase of snacks and luxuries is still permitted. In general terms, a person has a reasonable excuse to visit the shops which remain open to customers under the Regulations.
If a person is already out of the address with good reason, then it would not be proportionate to prevent the person from buying nonessential items. Food could include hot food from takeaways.
Exercise – Exercise must involve some movement, but it is acceptable for a person to stop for a break in exercise. However, a very short period of ‘exercise’ to excuse a long period of inactivity may mean that the person is not engaged in ‘exercise’ but in fact something else.
Home improvements –
The regulations specify maintenance and upkeep. This does not extend to renovation and improvements.
He told TalkRadio : ‘If officers are confused about all this then so will the public be.
‘Police officers are on the front line of combating the coronavirus crisis. We need clear and unambiguous laws, guidance and communication from the Government around what the public can and can’t do. What is essential and what isn’t’.
Boris Johnson is back in work today after almost losing his life to coronavirus and there are deafening calls for him to reveal an exit plan to loosen Britain’s lockdown.
There were signs that the public’s temperance was creaking as beaches in Brighton and Bournemouth as well as parks all over the UK were busier than they had been over the past five weeks.
Various forces have highlighted the most flagrant breaches of the guidance they have come across on social media – but others have complained of a heavy-handed approach.
Devon and Cornwall Police fined a couple from Kent for driving around 300 miles for a ‘mini-break’ by the sea. Their car was confiscated after the driver was found to have no licence or insurance.
Ten people from London who travelled 245 miles to go walking in North Wales were sent home and reported by police for breaking lockdown rules.
The group, travelling in two separate vehicles, had travelled the five-hour journey from the capital earlier on Sunday.
But they were stopped by police near their destination on the A5 in Bethesda.
They told officers they were intending to go walking in Snowdonia, the mountainous National Park in North Wales.
Instead, officers from North Wales Police, who tweeted brief details of the incident, reported them for breaching lockdown laws.
Two couples from Slough have been sent packing by police after they turned up at an Airbnb 100 miles away in Gloucestershire for a weekend break in flagrant breach of lockdown rules.
The incident near Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, was one of several breaches reported in the area over weekend.
The two couples were warned and told to leave the county by the police.
Officers in the same area of Gloucestershire also shut down a hand car wash and gave warnings to people attending BBQs and house parties.
B&Q stores all over the country have been flooded with customers since the retailer reopened
Though not packed, more and more people were pictured enjoying the Hove seafront, with the country on day 34 of coronavirus lockdown
Police officers kept a close watch on sun-seekers as they patrolled near Hove seafront this afternoon
People thronged together near Hove seafront today as they looked to enjoy the sun while they can
Despite Boris Johnson warning that it was not the time to lift restrictions, more Brits are flouting lockdown rules
In an attempt to try and take advantage of the warm weather, people were spotted buying chairs and tables
People seem more relaxed today as families and couples head out to the shops despite the lockdown
People photograph the pebble stacks on the beach at Whitley Bay which stretch for a quarter of a mile
A pebble stack in recognition for the NHS which has been added to hundreds which have appeared on the beach at Whitley Bay
In one of the most picturesque Cotswold villages, Bibury, near Cirencester, police gave warnings to groups of daytrippers from five different counties. One car had travelled 100 miles from Enfield in in London for the outing.
Police powers to tackle people flouting the coronavirus lockdown
- Up to two years in prison if you cough deliberately on someone after spate of attacks on police and emergency service workers
- People who continue to flout coronavirus lockdown rules will be breaking the law and can be arrested as part of new enforcement powers announced by the Home Office.
- Officers can also tell them to go home, leave or disperse an area and ensure parents are taking necessary steps to stop their children breaking the law.
- Those who refuse to comply could be issued with a fixed penalty notice of £60, which will be lowered to £30 if paid within 14 days.
- Second-time offenders could be issued a fixed penalty notice of £120, doubling on each further repeat offence.
- Those who do not pay the penalty can be taken to court, with magistrates able to impose fines up to £1,000 or more;
In Gwent, officers described it is ‘unacceptable’ that people drove nearly 12 miles from Newport to the blue lagoon at Pantygasseg.
And a pub in Pendeford, Wolverhampton, had its licence suspended for three weeks for secretly serving alcohol.
Police at Roath Park, Cardiff, have also broken up groups working out together as well as people playing American Football and soccer.
Police vans and PCSOs have been regularly patrolling the area to ensure people are obeying lockdown.
Gavin and Stacey star Ruth Jones, whose home overlooks the park, previously recorded a video thanking the people who are staying home.
Health officials fear Britons are starting to get complacent about the Covid-19 lockdown after traffic and mobile phone data revealed more of us are on the roads and looking for directions.
Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director of NHS England, said on Saturday ‘there was a little bit of concern’ after the unseasonably warm weather drew big crowds to public spaces.
The Metropolitan Police sent officers on bikes to keep an eye on London’s Hyde Park, while North Yorkshire Police revealed 50% of shutdown fines issued so far have gone to tourists visiting beauty spots in the area.
Traffic builds up on the A40 at Perivale in West London at 7.20am today despite the coronavirus lockdown continuing
Cars drive along the the A40 at Perivale in West London at 7.20am today as the UK-wide lockdown continues
Commuters wait to board a Jubilee line train at Canning Town station in East London this morning
Passengers leave and board a Jubilee train at Canada Water station on the Underground in South East London this morning
Passengers stand on board a Jubilee line train before it departs Canning Town station in East London this morning
At the Downing Street briefing, Prof Powis said traffic levels are down 59% compared to February, but grew by three percentage points in the last seven days compared to the previous week.
Mobility data released by Apple revealed that despite a dramatic drop in requests for directions, in recent days searches for maps for walking or driving have increased by eight percentage points.
Prof Powis said: ‘It won’t take much for this virus to start increasing its transmission again and to spread more widely.’
He added: ‘It would be foolish and not right if we lost the benefits that we have gained over the last four weeks, which I know have been hard for everybody.
‘So it’s really important that despite the weather, we stay at home, we keep to the guidelines that we’ve been issued with.’
The British Retail Consortium has published measures it believes will allow members to safely reopen.
The tourism industry is also working on proposals that will maintain social distancing rules while allowing some hotels, theme parks and attractions to relaunch.
DIY chains such as B&Q, Homebase and Wickes have seen long queues after opening many outlets.
Queues of shoppers were seen snaking outside B&Q stores and fast-food outlets across Scotland amid some being allowed to reopen.
Burger King’s chief executive has confirmed that the fast-food chain will reopen four branches north of the Border, in Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Glasgow and Dundee.
KFC and Pret a Manger have begun a phased reopening and McDonald’s is rumoured to be following suit in the next few weeks.
Many small independent cafes and coffee shops have opened to launch take-away services. Timpson, the key-cutting and shoe repair specialists, is opening some stores with strict hygiene and social distancing.
And the budget airline Wizz Air is to restart some flights from Luton Airport on Friday, becoming one of the first European carriers to begin restoring services.