These are all the things you can get fined for with the updated lockdown laws

Catch me outside? How about a fine of up to £3,200

With the changes made to lockdown, it might be confusing which actions will land you with a fine. Will you get fined for organising a house viewing? Or meeting up with more than one person outside your household in a designated public space? But will one wrong step, make you £3,200 poorer.

Well, clarity is here. Alongside the big 50-page advice document, the law has changed. These things somehow seem normal, but imagine getting told any of them in January.

Here’s what you can get fined for in England, as of today.

Fines for breaching lockdown have increased massively

The fines for breaching lockdown have massively increased. Until now, the fines started at £60 for a first offence and went up to £960.

However, new advice says that as lockdown changes become more subtle over the coming months, more “robust enforcement measures” will be needed to deter people from bending the rules. That means bigger fines.

Starting at a new minimum of £100 for a first offence, fines will now double with every breach. So you’ll go from £100 to £200 to £400 to £800 to £1,600, to a maximum of £3,200 for the sixth breach and beyond.

This is laid out in the sexily-named Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 bill, plus the amendment number two, which came into force today.

The first fine can be reduced to £50 if paid within two weeks.

But what can you be fined for? Honestly, anything that’s not covered by the list of “reasonable excuses”.

New reasons for leaving the house have been added

The law says you are liable to be fined if you’re leaving the house without a reasonable excuse. Well what is a reasonable excuse?

This week’s update allows you to exercise with one member of another household, and to visit public space for open-air regulation. You can do this alone, with one or more members of your own household, or with one member of another household.

Public space is defined as parks, and officially designated “open country” and “access land”.

Also new is the reopening of the housing market. Before, you were only allowed to move house where necessary. Now, you can do house viewings, visit estate agents and show homes, and move house. Exciting.

You’re also allowed to leave the house to collect goods ordered from a business – in other words, to collect a takeaway.

Whilst Birmingham is not mentioned by name in the law, visits to dumps are now allowed. Leaving the house to go to a waste or recycling centre now counts as a reasonable excuse.

There are also a few existing reasons you can be outside

These new, exciting possibilities come on top of the existing “reasonable excuses”. If you’re giving care to a vulnerable person, working or providing charity services where you couldn’t from home, donating blood, or going to court, that’s allowed.

You’re also allowed to provide medical assistance, and access childcare, social services, DWP services, or victim services,

If you’re a religious leader, you can go to your place of worship.

There are restrictions on who can attend a funeral. Close family members, and people from the same household as the deceased can attend. If nobody from those two groups is in attendance, a person can attend as a friend.

In extreme circumstances, you’re also allowed to leave the house to “to avoid injury or illnesses or to escape a risk of harm”.

Anything apart from this not covered on the list as a “reasonable excuse” for leaving the house leaves you open to a fine.

That means meeting more than one person from outside your household in a public space (choose your favourite parent, sorry), or exercising with a group of people will land you in hot water.

You’ll get fined if your gathering is without a good reason

Gatherings of more than two people are prohibited, unless they fall under one of the following criteria: you all live together, it’s essential for work, a funeral, or facilitating a house move.

There are also fines for opening business for things that aren’t takeaways. Outdoor sports courts, garden centres, and outdoor sports centres have all been added to the list of businesses allowed to open.

It goes without saying that you shouldn’t come up with a passable excuse to get away with doing whatever you wanted to do anyway. Following the letter of the law might save you money, but following the spirit of the law will probably save lives. In short, no nationalist congas.

The latest NHS information about coronavirus can be found here. Government advice on what you should do can be found here.

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