Police lockdown guidelines - the rules on driving to get exercise, shopping and DIY explained

The rules of the Government might seem simple, but there’s still a lot of grey areas about what is and isn’t allowed.

Monday, 20th April 2020, 2:02 pm

As the lockdown is extended for at least another three weeks to try and halt the spread of the coronavirus, the debate continues about what is and isn’t allowed.

Read More

Read More
These are the lockdown rules as the UK Government extends restriction measures f...

The guidance states we must stay at home, only go outside for food, health reasons or work – but only if you cannot work from home – if you go out; stay two metres, away from other people at all times; wash hands once home and do not meet others, even friends or family.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Northumbria Police officers have been patrolling popular spots on the coastline as they urge people to stay at home.

The guidance offered to police through the College of Policing and the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) has set out what is considered reasonable as they enforce the rules, according to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

Officers have been given powers to enforce the rules, with fines of £60 reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days, going up to £120 for a second offence and then doubled each time beyond that if breaches continue, up to £960.

So what is allowed and what will get you in trouble? Here’s a breakdown of the police guidance:

Getting supplies to fix a fence, driving to exercise, buying snacks and taking a pet for treatment at the vets is all allowed under the Crown Prosecution Service guidance.


People can leave their house to go for a run, cycle, practise yoga, walk in the countryside, or in the city, and tend to an allotment, police guidelines state.

It is fine for someone to have a break when exercising, however the guidelines say that a short period of keeping fit followed by a long period of stopping could suggest the person is not engaged in ‘exercise’ as per the guidelines.

Stopping to rest or to eat lunch while on a long walk is deemed reasonable.

Notices have been put up at Nose's Point at Dawdon in Seaham by Durham Constabulary and Durham County Council stating driving there for a walk is "not essential travel."

The question over how many times a day someone can exercise is also addressed.

The guidance says the “only relevant consideration” is if repeated exercise on the same day can be considered a “reasonable excuse” for leaving the house.

Driving to go somewhere to exercise

Police been patrolling seafronts and coastlines, and councils have closed off car parks and popular outdoor spots to try and keep people away.

However, the guidance states: “Driving to the countryside and walking, where far more time is spent walking than driving” is allowed.

It adds: “It is lawful to drive for exercise.”

What isn’t acceptable though is driving for a prolonged period with only brief exercise.


Shopping for luxury items and alcohol is allowed and the guidelines say it would not be proportionate to fine someone for buying luxury items.

The police guidance says: “There is no need for all a person’s shopping to be basic food supplies; the purchase of snacks and luxuries is still permitted,” and if someone is already out with good reason, stopping them from buying “non-essential” items would not be proportionate.

The rule also means it should be fine to get hot food from takeaways.

Buying or collecting a small amount of a ‘staple item’ such as a newspaper, food, pet food from a friend is also within the rules.


Cleveland Police stopped DIYers visiting an out-of-town retail park last week to question if there journey was neccasery, which is well within the guidelines.

When it comes to buying DIY supplies the police guidance examples state that it would be acceptable to buy tools and supplies to repair a fence panel, however it wouldn’t be justified to leave the house only to buy paint to redecorate.


Anyone can travel to work if it is “not reasonable possible” to do your job from home the police guidance states, and a request from your employer to head into work should be sufficient.

No written proof is needed to do your job or if you want to volunteer - and there is no need for it to be as part of the coronavirus effort – and police should not ask for ID or any kind of documents.

However, it does say it is not reasonable for a person who can work from home choosing to work in a local park.

Moving to a friends house

We have all been told to stay in our own homes.

However, the guidance does say moving to a friend’s address for several days to allow a “cooling-off” following arguments at home is allowed, as is moving between households, but stresses: “this should be a genuine move, measured in days, not hours.”

Offering support to the vulnerable is allowed, but visiting a friend in their home or meeting them in public to socialise is not.

It adds: “Social visits are not generally a good reason to leave home.”

Visits to the vet

Police guidelines state it is fine to take a pet for treatment and emergency care, but suggests visiting the vets to renew a prescription or to seek advice in person, when it could be done over the phone, is not.

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

In order for us to continue to provide high quality and trusted local news on this free-to-read site, I am asking you to also please purchase a copy of our newspaper.

Our journalists are highly trained and our content is independently regulated by IPSO to some of the most rigorous standards in the world. But being your eyes and ears comes at a price. So we need your support more than ever to buy our newspapers during this crisis.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our local valued advertisers - and consequently the advertising that we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you helping us to provide you with news and information by buying a copy of our newspaper.

Thank you.