What is a ‘reasonable excuse’ to go out? A reminder of Covid lockdown dos and don'ts in Northamptonshire

A quick reminder of rules on shopping, going to work, exercise..and even going on strike!

By Kevin Nicholls
Sunday, 24th January 2021, 10:42 am
Updated Sunday, 24th January 2021, 10:48 am

Eighteen days into the latest lockdown and the rules on what you can and can't leave home for still seem clear as mud to some.

Northamptonshire Police has hit people with hundreds of £200 fines since the current lockdown was announced on January 4.

Assistant Chief Constable Simon Blatchly said: “We know the vast majority of people are following the rules and we thank them for that. But it’s vital that we ALL do our part to stop the spread of coronavirus.

“Police across the UK have been asked to be even more proactive in tackling those people who are not complying with the law, and that is what we’re doing with neighbourhood teams completing Covid patrols in town centres, parks, country parks and supermarkets and on public transport to engage and offer reassurance to the public.

“Social distancing measures and the need to wear a face mask in shops and on public transport have been the law for six months, there is no excuse for not knowing the rules.

"Likewise, people know they shouldn’t be having visitors to their homes, other than those who are in their support bubble, and then only when absolutely necessary. The more people mix, the higher the risk of the virus spreading."

So, what is a 'reasonable excuse' for stepping out of the front door? Here's a reminder of what you can and can't do during lockdown.

The message is stay home unless you really, really need to go out — and then be careful

#ShopLocal. Only for basic necessities — everywhere else is shut anyway! 'Local' means staying in your own village, town or part of the city unless it is necessary to go further.

Go to work, unless you can do it at home. This means key workers, people working in 'critical national infrastructure' or manufacturing.

Hitch a ride. But car sharing is ONLY permitted with someone from outside your household with a good reason — such as for work. Don't squeeze as many in as you can, wear face coverings and let the fresh air in — even if it is a bit chilly!

Catch a bus or train. But only if you're out legally and wearing a face covering unless you're exempt. Bus drivers already behind a protective screen so the Government advice is they do not need to wear face coverings.

Get help! You won't be fined for dashing outside if your house is on fire or there is any other danger — including domestic abuse.

Do something good. You can leave home to provide voluntary or charitable services.

Take the dog for a walk, even if you don't have a dog! You can exercise once a day with someone you live with or from your support bubble, or one other person — in which case you need to remember the two-metre rule!

Go for a run, bike ride or a swim. You can also book sessions with your personal trainer, but only in a public outdoor place and not your back garden.

Take the young 'uns to school or nursery. Colleges, primary and secondary schools are still open but only for vulnerable children and those of key workers. All other children will learn remotely until February half term. Early years settings also remain open.

Go play on the swings. Sorry, this one's for kids only. Playgrounds are open for use by children who do not have access to private outdoor space, like a garden. You can take your children to a playground for exercise but must not socialise with other people while you're there. And take some wipes.

Get someone to look after your kids. Childcare bubbles need to be legal, to enable parents to work, for example, rather than a quick coffee and natter.

Get a Covid test — or a vaccination if you've been invited. Medical reasons also include appointments and emergencies.

Have a baby! You can be with someone who is giving birth or, accessing other maternity services.

Get Fido 'sorted out' at the vet. You can go out for animal welfare reasons, such as to attend veterinary services for advice or treatment.

Say a little prayer or get married. You can visit places of worship, attend a funeral or event related to a death, visit a burial ground or a remembrance garden, or attend a wedding ceremony. But no mingling with anyone outside of your household and there are limits on numbers.

Buy a house. Fulfilling legal obligations or to carry out activities related to buying, selling, letting or renting a residential property is another 'reasonable excuse.

Fix that dripping tap that's been annoying you for months. Builders merchants and DIY stores are open but not carpet stores and showrooms such as those for bathrooms, kitchens, tiles and glazing, garden centres and agricultural supplies shops.

Improve your smile. Dental services, opticians, audiology services, chiropody, chiropractors, osteopaths and other medical or health services are open.

Wash your smalls. Launderettes and dry cleaners are open.

Wash the car. But you'll have to do it yourself as only automatic car washes are allowed to operate.

Go on strike. Yes, picketing really is on the list — as is voting in an election or referendum, although there probably won't be any of those for while!

Dig up the allotment. These are open but you cannot meet with someone outside your household or support bubble there. Most go for the peace and quiet, anyway!

Get the car fixed. Garages are still open for repairs, servicing and — unlike last year — there is no extension to your MoT.