What is local? Leeds Rule of Six and stay local guidance explained as Stay Home advice is dropped
Today marks the government's scrapping of the Stay at Home rule, to allow people to leave home for outdoor recreation in groups as well as exercise
New Government guidance has reintroduced the Rule of Six for gatherings in public outdoor spaces as well as private gardens. Equally, two households of any size are now able to meet up outdoors. Social distancing and recommended safety measures should still be followed.
Formally organised outdoor sport is also now permitted for any number of people, as well as formally organised outdoor parent and child groups for up to 15 people. Children under the age of five do not count in this number.
What the law says about stay home and stay local
While police are still able to take action against anyone meeting in larger groups than those allowed, is it still illegal to travel outside of your local area?
Until today, it was possible to be stopped and fined for leaving home to travel anywhere without what constituted a ‘reasonable excuse’.
As of today, Monday March 29, people are no longer legally required to have a reasonable excuse to leave home. Instead we are told to ‘Stay Local’ with guidance which advises the public to minimise travel where possible, to avoid making unnecessary trips, and to combine trips.
The guidance says: " You should continue to work from home if you can and minimise the number of journeys you make where possible.
From 29 March:
you can meet outdoors either in a group of 6 (from any number of households), or in a group of any size from up to 2 households (a household can include an existing support bubble, if eligible)
you can take part in formally organised outdoor sports with any number of people (outdoor sports venues and facilities will be able to reopen)
childcare and supervised activities are allowed outdoors for all children
formally organised parent and child groups can take place outdoors for up to 15 attendees. Children under 5 will not be counted in this number
What is still illegal?
Attending indoor gatherings and travelling for holidays in the UK or abroad remain banned. Overnight stays away from home are also still prohibited unless the person:
Is unable to return to their main residence
needs accommodation while moving house
needs accommodation to attend a funeral or related commemorative event, or following a bereavement of a close family member or friend
needs accommodation to attend a medical appointment or receive treatment
needs accommodation for work purposes or to provide voluntary services, or attend education
is a child requiring accommodation for school or care
is homeless, seeking asylum, a vulnerable person seeking refuge, or if escaping harm (including domestic abuse)
is an elite athlete or their support staff or parent provided the athlete is under 18 and it is necessary to be outside of the home in order to take part in training or a competition
Fines can still be issued for breaking restrictions.
Sports clubs and outdoor sports facilities reopen
Glenn Earlam, chief executive of gym chain David Lloyd, which reopened outdoor facilities at 79 of its clubs in England, said people were “just desperate to get out of their houses and go and do something different”.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme there were “big marquees outside the clubs in the grounds and the sides of those marquees will be open to let the air come through, but you’ll be covered in case it chucks it down with rain”.
English Heritage was also reopening some of its outdoor spaces include the grounds of Dover Castle in Kent, the Battle of Hastings site in East Sussex, Whitby Abbey in North Yorkshire, and the Osborne House site on the Isle of Wight.
After months of being told to stay at home, she said people were “desperate to get back to their local sites after what has been a very long winter for many and get that lift that they need from visiting some spectacular locations”.
Boris Johnson stressed that “we must remain cautious, with cases rising across Europe and new variants threatening our vaccine rollout” as the latest step on his road map out of lockdown was reached.
“Despite today’s easements, everyone must continue to stick to the rules, remember hands, face, space, and come forward for a vaccine when called,” the Prime Minister added.
Mr Johnson, who will hold a press conference later on Monday, said that as vaccines were rolled out “it’s vital that we don’t overdo it and risk all the progress we’ve made”.
Professor Sir Mark Walport, a member of the Sage advisory panel and former chief scientific adviser, said that there is “good reason to be cautious” as restrictions are eased, with concerns about mounting cases on the continent.
He told Times Radio: “Just across the Channel we are seeing many European countries well into a third wave of infection.
“The average number of cases per day is about 5,000 in the UK – and is rather persistently stuck there at the moment – in France the average number of cases is nearly 37,000 cases a day.
“The risk of the moment is that the South African variant becomes more prevalent, as it is in some parts of Europe.”
Sports minister Nigel Huddleston said the easing of measures amounted to “cautious baby steps” out of lockdown and warned the police would intervene if people breached the rules.
He told Sky News: “The vast majority of people absolutely stick to the rules and actually there’s a fair bit of self-policing that goes on as well.
“But indeed if there are breaches, then the police can intervene and fine and they’ll continue to do so where that’s the case, but the message very clearly and hence the new message today actually is making sure that it’s very much about outdoors and open space.”