COVID-19: law changes from 1 June 2020

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Changes in the emergency regulations have rapidly been introduced following last week’s indication of some impending relaxations and were published only hours before they came into force at midnight last night.

The regulations (the law) need to be distinguished from any Government Guidance already in place or yet to be announced.

Being together

The current emergency law has changed. Now, no person may participate in a gathering which takes place either in a public or in a private place that is:

  • outdoors, and consists of more than six persons
  • indoors, and consists of two or more persons.

There are exemptions not least as before, where all the persons in the gathering are members of the same household; so, a person not of the same household cannot visit another person’s private house and be inside it but can be outside at those premises (e.g. in a garden) subject to the six persons limit.

Previously no one could take part in a gathering of more than two people in a public place.

A ‘gathering’ is defined as where ‘two or more people are present together in the same place in order to engage in any form of social interaction with each other, or to undertake any other activity with each other’.

Work: there is a specific exemption for work where the gathering is ‘reasonably necessary’ for work purposes. (‘Reasonably necessary’ is not defined.)

Education: an indoor or outdoor gathering at an educational facility is not restricted in the number of persons if it is ‘reasonably necessary’ for the purposes of education. (Again, how ‘reasonably necessary’ is to be interpreted is unclear)

Other exemptions relate to funerals, elite athletes and where the gathering is reasonably necessary work for:

  • voluntary or charitable services
  • to facilitate a house move
  • to provide care or assistance to a vulnerable person
  • emergency assistance
  • early years childcare
  • to avoid injury or illness or to escape the risk of harm
  • access to, and contact between, parents and children where the children do not live in the same household as their parents, or one of their parents
  • a legal obligation or participating in legal proceedings.

Restricted movement

From 1 June 2020 ‘no person may, without reasonable excuse, ‘stay overnight at any place other than the place where they are living.’

Previously the law was that no one could leave the place where they were living without reasonable excuse. So, there is now a relaxation that in short means leaving the home is permitted in all circumstances but one must return home to ‘stay overnight’. By what time this must take place is unclear.

Circumstances in which a person has a reasonable excuse not to stay overnight at their home include: funerals; elite athlete training; for moving house; where it is reasonably necessary to stay elsewhere:

  1. for work purposes, or for the provision of voluntary or charitable services
  2. to provide care or assistance to a vulnerable person
  3. to provide emergency assistance
  4. to avoid injury or illness, or to escape the risk of harm
  5. to obtain medical assistance; to stay elsewhere to fulfil a legal obligation or participate in legal proceedings; to continue existing arrangements for access to, and contact between, parents and children; where it is not safe or the abode is not available.

NB: this Regulation does not apply to any person who is homeless since they do not have anywhere to live.

The place where a person is living includes not only the house or the premises but ‘any garden, yard, passage, stair, garage, outhouse or other appurtenance of such premises.’

The extent to which any of this is enforceable remains to be seen. It will require policing guidance. Every prosecution brought under the previous regulations has hitherto had to be withdrawn or any Court decision reversed. There are inherent problems with rushing through legislation without due consideration and contemplation.

Source: The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (Amendment) (No. 3) Regulations 2020.

Further advice

We will continue to update you about developments as they arise.

Please contact Tim Ridyard on 07484 924834 or email tim.ridyard@ashtonslegal.co.uk for individual advice for your business.

Alternatively, if you or your business require advice or need assistance for any regulatory or road transport matters, please get in touch with our specialist Regulatory and Road Transport team through this website or by calling 0330 404 0778.

For all of our COVID-19 (Coronavirus) advice, please visit https://www.ashtonslegal.co.uk/coronavirus/


This information is correct at 10.30am on 1 June 2020.


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