Lockdown Rules: What you can and can't do and what is a 'reasonable excuse'

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson - Credit: Archant

Last night, January 4, Prime Minister Boris Johnson made the announcement that Britain has entered into a third national lockdown. 

This means for people in the county, schools, non-essential shops, hairdressers, beauticians, pubs, restaurants and cafes will be closed.  

Supermarkets, food shops, pharmacies, health food shops, DIY stores, banks, building societies, post offices, off-licences gardening stores will remain open. 

Outdoor playgrounds will also remain open, medical, dental services and vets. 

A stay-at-home order has been put in place and rules stated on the Government website say you must only leave your home if you have a ‘reasonable excuse.’ 


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According to the Government guidelines a ‘reasonable excuse’ includes: 

Work - you can only leave home for work purposes where it is unreasonable for you to do your job from home, including but not limited to people who work within critical national infrastructure, construction or manufacturing that require in-person attendance. 

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Volunteering - you can also leave home to provide voluntary or charitable services.  

Essential activities - you can leave home to buy things at shops or obtain services. You may also leave your home to do these things on behalf of a disabled or vulnerable person or someone self-isolating.  

Education and childcare - You can only leave home for education, registered childcare, and supervised activities for children where they are eligible to attend. Access to education and children’s activities for school-aged pupils is restricted. People can continue existing arrangements for contact between parents and children where they live apart. This includes childcare bubbles.  

Meeting others and care - You can leave home to visit people in your support bubble ( if you are legally permitted to form one), to provide informal childcare for children under 14 as part of a childcare bubble (for example, to enable parents to work, and not to enable social contact between adults), to provide care for disabled or vulnerable people, to provide emergency assistance, to attend a support group (of up to 15 people), or for respite care where that care is being provided to a vulnerable person or a person with a disability, or is a short break in respect of a looked-after child.  

Exercise You can continue to exercise alone, with one other person or with your household or support bubble. This should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area. 

You should maintain social distancing. 

Medical reasons - You can leave home for a medical reason, including to get a COVID-19 test, for medical appointments and emergencies.  

Harm and compassionate visits - you can leave home to be with someone who is giving birth, to avoid injury or illness or to escape risk of harm (such as domestic abuse). You can also leave home to visit someone who is dying or someone in a care home (if permitted under care home guidance), hospice, or hospital, or to accompany them to a medical appointment.  

Animal welfare reasons – you can leave home for animal welfare reasons, such as to attend veterinary services for advice or treatment.  

Communal worship and life events - You can leave home to attend or visit a place of worship for communal worship, a funeral or event related to a death, a burial ground or a remembrance garden, or to attend a wedding ceremony. You should follow the guidance on the safe use of places of worship and must not mingle with anyone outside of your household or support bubble when attending a place of worship. 

Weddings, funerals and religious, belief-based or commemorative events linked to someone’s death are all subject to limits on the numbers that can attend, and weddings and civil ceremonies may only take place in exceptional circumstances.  

There are further reasonable excuses.  

For example, you may leave home to fulfil legal obligations or to carry out activities related to buying, selling, letting or renting a residential property, or where it is reasonably necessary for voting in an election or referendum. 

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