New laws came into force on 26 March 2020 which in broad terms means that it is now a criminal offence for any person (other than a homeless person) ‘to leave the place where they are living without reasonable excuse’.  Failure to abide by the new law constitutes a criminal offence and could result in a £60 fine or attendance at Court.


The Law

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 came into force on 26 March 2020.  This article focuses on Regulation 6 - the restriction of movement and Regulation 7 - restrictions to gatherings.

Regulation 6 means that it is now a criminal offence for any person (other than a homeless person) ‘to leave the place where they are living without reasonable excuse’.

You can only leave the house if you fall under one of the following ‘reasonable excuse’ categories:
(a) to obtain basic necessities, including food and medical supplies for those in the same household (including any pets or animals in the household) or for vulnerable persons and supplies for the essential upkeep, maintenance and functioning of the household, or the household of a vulnerable person, or to obtain money, including from a defined list of businesses;
(b) to take exercise either alone or with other members of their household;
(c) to seek medical assistance, including to access any of the following services Dental services, opticians, audiology services, chiropody, chiropractors, osteopaths and other medical or health services, including services relating to mental health and Veterinary surgeons and pet shops.
(d) to provide care or assistance, including relevant personal care within the meaning of paragraph 7(3B) of Schedule 4 to the Safeguarding of Vulnerable Groups Act 2006(3), to a vulnerable person, or to provide emergency assistance;
(e) to donate blood;
(f) to travel for the purposes of work or to provide voluntary or charitable services, where it is not reasonably possible for that person to work, or to provide those services, from the place where they are living;
(g) to attend a funeral of—
(i)a member of the person’s household,
(ii)a close family member, or
(iii)if no-one within sub-paragraphs (i) or (ii) are attending, a friend;
(h) to fulfil a legal obligation, including attending court or satisfying bail conditions, or to participate in legal proceedings;
(i) to access critical public services, including—
(i) childcare or educational facilities (where these are still available to a child in relation to whom that person is the parent, or has parental responsibility for, or care of the child);
(ii) social services;
(iii) services provided by the Department of Work and Pensions;
(iv) services provided to victims (such as victims of crime);
(j) in relation to children who do not live in the same household as their parents, or one of their parents, to continue existing arrangements for access to, and contact between, parents and children, and for the purposes of this paragraph, “parent” includes a person who is not a parent of the child, but who has parental responsibility for, or who has care of, the child;
(k) in the case of a minister of religion or worship leader, to go to their place of worship;
(l) to move house where reasonably necessary;
(m) to avoid injury or illness or to escape a risk of harm.

Regulation 7 places a restriction on gatherings and states that ‘no person may participate in a gathering in a public place of more than two people’.  There are only a few exceptions. The Police can disperse gatherings of three or more people or remove any persons in that gathering from the location.


Anyone contravening the Regulations and is outside without a valid reason listed above may be committing an offence.  The offence is Summary only (Magistrates’ Court) and is punishable on summary conviction by a fine.

The police may issue you with a fixed penalty notice and repeat offenders can end up in the Magistrates Court.  Fixed penalty notices are issued at £60, but this is reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days. Second time offenders will receive a penalty notice of £120 which doubles on each further repeat offence.  Fines for repeat offenders increase up to a maximum of £960. 

Failure to pay the fines will lead to a summons at the Magistrates Court. Please note there is no automatic right to a fixed penalty notice, it is up to the Police Officer and you could end up in Court on your first offence.

The National College of Policing have issued guidance saying that they do not want to fine people.  They will do everything to encourage voluntary compliance and explain the risks that you are posing being out on the street to you, your family and the NHS. Enforcement will be a last resort.

Stay At Home & Save Lives.