Another week, another set of rules by which we must live our lives. As a Londoner, I’ve moved from Tier 1, to Tier 2, to a national lockdown, back to Tier 2, to Tier 3, to Tier 4, and now back to another, stricter, national lockdown – all in the space of three months. How are we supposed to keep up with what’s allowed and what isn’t, particularly when it comes to travel?
Luckily, there’s the Government’s online guidance, which spells it out pretty clearly. “You must not leave your home unless you have a reasonable excuse (for example, for work or education purposes),” it says. “If you need to travel you should stay local – meaning avoiding travelling outside of your village, town or the part of a city where you live – and look to reduce the number of journeys you make overall.”
Outdoor exercise is allowed, thank heavens. This “should be done locally wherever possible, but you can travel a short distance within your area to do so if necessary (for example, to access an open space).”
Which means, as a Tottenham resident, I ought to be limiting my exercise to the rather depressing “urban green space” known as the Lordship Recreation Ground. The great outdoors it is not.
The problem with the guidance, however, is that it’s just guidance. The actual law, which the police are there to enforce, is spelled out in the Covid legislation – and it’s subtly different.
The latest set of rules (in force before Parliament had the chance to vote on it), the 65th set of Covid restrictions to be imposed on the British people in less than a year, is actually just a beefed up rehash of the Tier 4 legislation. This means it is a little less severe than the March lockdown (churches can stay open in England, for example – though not in Scotland) but still terribly restrictive.
Unless we fancy a fine of £200 (for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400), we cannot – legally – leave our homes with a “reasonable excuse”.