Covid-19 has forced the world in many ways to come to a standstill, but how has this impacted the things you now legally can and can’t do? Everything seems to be up in the air currently, with a lot of confusion surrounding Government regulations across society and online in social media.
On the 28 May, Boris Johnson announced further changes to the law, which has eased certain restrictions in England, but people in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales will need to follow their own countries’ separate, more restrictive guidelines.
So, what measures have been updated to help ease the lockdown?
As the weeks have gone by during lockdown, Boris has gradually eased the restriction on social distancing. Instead of being able to meet one person outside your household, you are now able to meet with up to six people instead, in private or public spaces meaning you can play football, tennis, golf and basketball, as long as the recommended two metre distance is kept. Boris also announced that retail stores are now allowed to open, as long as social distancing is maintained, as of Monday 15 June.
Despite social distancing being maintained, the opening of some of Britain’s biggest retail stores brought unexpected hour-long queues all around the country, unnecessarily bringing people closer than they should be. In addition to these changes, schools are allowed to re-open, but only with nursery, reception and years one and six allowed to go back. In addition to this, another major social distancing change is that the UK’s most vulnerable people are now allowed to meet loved ones, as long as they still maintain the recommended two metre distance apart. There is estimated to be around 2 million vulnerable people in the UK. Also, one of the last major changes announced was that people are now allowed to attend their place of worship, for individual prayer.
You might think that some of the announced changes to the law may allow for some, less responsible individuals to take liberties with these relaxations and, in doing so, break the law. However, the police are still enforcing the changes under a strict regime, and people who break the guidelines can be potentially fined up to £3,200. If you are caught breaking any of the laws by meeting more than six people outside your household or by meeting someone inside your or their household (excluding the garden), you could be charged £100 for your first offence, a £40 increase on the previous fine.
When the lockdown was first implemented, businesses all over the UK had to close, but could apply for Government help via the ‘Furlough Scheme’. This has allowed closed businesses to apply for Government money to cover up to 80% of their employees’ wages. There are currently 7.5 million people on furlough in the UK from roughly 1 million companies. The May 13 updated guidelines announced that this scheme will continue until the end of July at the earliest.
As the Government continues to work towards eliminating the virus, laws and regulations will change depending on the current situation. It’s safe to say that it’s almost impossible to predict what’s going to happen even in the near future, and all we can do is stick to the current laws laid down by the Government for the safety and wellbeing of all of us.
Please consult https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus for the latest and most detailed Government guidance on what you can and cannot do.