The UK government has today published official legislation to legally enforce lockdown restrictions in Greater Manchester and other areas across Northern England.
The legislation will come into force tomorrow (5th August 2020) and applies to residents in England only.
It comes over five days after Health Secretary Matt Hancock made the sudden announcement on the evening of Thursday 30th July that people in certain areas of Northern England – crucially including all 10 boroughs of Greater Manchester – would no long be permitted to congregate privately with others outside their household or support bubble in homes and gardens due to a rise in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases across these regions.
The areas to which the new guidelines apply are:
- Greater Manchester (all 10 boroughs)
- Blackburn with Darwen
The government stated that anyone who lives in these parts of Greater Manchester, East Lancashire and West Yorkshire “should follow these rules when meeting people who you do not live with” and if you live in one of the affected areas, in order to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, you should not:
“Meet people you do not live with inside a private home or garden, except where you have formed a support bubble (or for other limited exemptions to be specified in law).
Visit someone else’s home or garden even if they live outside of the affected areas.
Socialise with people you do not live with in other indoor public venues – such as pubs, restaurants, cafes, shops, places of worship, community centres, leisure and entertainment venues, or visitor attractions. You may attend these venues with people you live with (or are in a support bubble with), but should avoid interaction with others. If you run such a business, you should take steps to ensure people do not interact with people they do not live with, in line with COVID-19 secure guidance.”GOV.UK
These restrictions came into effect from midnight on 31 July 2020, but up until today, official legislation to enforce such restrictions enforcement had not been published.
It has also been confirmed via the published legislation that “the police will be able to take action against those that break these rules, including asking people to disperse and issuing fixed penalty notices” and these fixed penalty notices will start at £100 (halving to £50 if paid in the first 14 days) and will double for subsequent offences.
Fines can even rise to a total of £3,200 in the the case of the sixth and subsequent fixed penalty notices.
A number of interpretations to the rules and legislation exceptions have also been detailed, so if you would like to read the full legislation document, you can do so via the legislation.gov.uk website here.
For further information and guidance amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, do refer to official sources via gov.uk/coronavirus.