People in Greater Manchester cannot meet up with each other and must stay at home as much as possible.
From Wednesday 5th August 2020, new laws were introduced over the ‘protected area’ of Greater Manchester area restricting its inhabitants from
- receiving people into their homes
- visiting anyone’s home in England that is outside the protected area.
The restrictions have to be reviewed every 14 days (19th August being the first review date) and at any time Mr Hancock can remove them, generally or just in some local authorities. Otherwise, they are set to remain in force for 6 months.
The ‘protected area’ specifically covered is listed under regulation 2, which you can access here.
Inside the protected area – restriction (a)
In the protected area, no one can ‘gather’ with anyone from outside their household else in their homes or gardens (or houseboats) (reg. 5(a))
‘gathering’ has a specific meaning (see below) but in context of the home it may be read as simply meeting or visiting anyone else.
Permitted home gathering
Members of same household may meet together. They can also meet in homes with members of a chosen ‘linked household’ where an adult lives on their own or only with under 18s. (reg. 6)
Otherwise, exceptions to the new restrictions on meetings in the home are important. They include where the person visited is actually giving birth, believed to be dying, where legal obligation is being fulfilled. Of more common application, however, meetings in the home remain allowed if they are:
- for work, or voluntary or charitable services
- for education or training
- for childcare provided by registered child carers
- for emergency assistance
- to avoid injury or illness or to escape a risk of harm
- for house moves
- to provide care or assistance to a vulnerable person’
- to continue existing arrangements between parents and children who do not live together
‘vulnerable person’ includes anyone:
- aged 70 or above
- under 70 with a medical condition increasing vulnerability to Covid-19
- who is pregnant.
We have addressed the particularly important exemption of ‘to avoid injury or illness or to escape a risk of harm’ in a previous post Anxiety is a ‘reasonable excuse’ to ignore Covid restrictions and guidance.
On leaving the protected area – restriction (b)
Subject to the same exemptions, for anyone living in the protected area they cannot gather in other peoples homes or gardens (or houseboats) outside the protected area. This restriction is seemingly not limited and so applies to the whole of England. (reg. 5(b)) (We are unaware of Wales turning people away but people should understand the limits of a Welcome to Wales.)
So anyone living in the protected area who receives a social invitation to Mr Hancock’s home or to No. 10 Downing Street should politely decline. It may be a trap.
Mr Hancock in an interview on BBC Radio Manchester volunteered that there was a difference between law and guidance. However, when asked about people living in the protected area visiting people outside it, he responded that people should ‘follow the guidance’. Presumably he did not understand the law he has just signed off or he was embarrassed to explain it. Make your own mind up listening to Mr Hancock confused and floundering on BBC Radio Manchester interview, 05 August 2020.
Gatherings outside the home
Outside the home, the same restriction continues as everywhere else in England, and now Wales, on gatherings of more than 30 people.
Noting the distinction between guidance and law, it remains permissible, for example, for up to 30 neighbours, friends and family to gather outside their front gates to give each other hugs and support. This including the ‘vulnerable’ who are not scared to do so. They may also meet together in restaurants and pubs.
Rather than repeat here, to understand more on ‘gathering’ please also see earlier posts Beach visits cannot be restricted and Bands and orchestras can gather together. Workplaces and pubs, for example, are not limited to 30 people, but surprisingly large numbers of people can gather in expected and unexpected places.
Fines and offences
Like with face covering, the ‘relevant persons’ who may enforce the restrictions on gathering does not include persons designated by Local Authorities. It is left to the police, police community support officers and persons ‘designated by the Secretary of State’ for that purpose, using reasonable force if necessary.
A person who, without reasonable excuse, obstructs, contravenes a direction, or fails to comply with an instruction from an enforcement officer under the regulations commits an offence punishable on conviction by a fine.
Similarly to face covering regulations (see our post Face covering for 6 to 12 months from 24th July), a relevant person can issue a fixed penalty notice to anyone they reasonably believes has committed an offence under the regulations and is 18 or over. The fine is £100 reduced to £50 if paid within 14 days.
Warning: Law and circumstances can change very quickly. Please note the date of publication of any blog post and check for any updates on the issues addressed. In any event, we do not condone or encourage breaching the law and neither the above nor any information posted on this website constitutes legal advice. It must not be relied upon as such and specialist legal advice should be taken in relation to specific circumstances. Please read our disclaimer.