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Government Q&A

Which are the shops selling essential goods that can remain open?

The list is longer than you might expect. Supermarkets, of course, will remain open, as well as all smaller shops selling food, health shops and pharmacies. Petrol stations, bicycle shops, and home and hardware shops are also on the list, as are laundrettes and dry cleaners. Newsagents, post offices and banks will also remain open. Local markets selling food can also continue to operate.

Can I still go out to shop?

You can go out to buy basic necessities such as food and medicine, but the government is stressing that you should do this “as infrequently as possible”.

As food-delivery services struggle to meet demand during the Covid-19 pandemic, many people have little choice but to go to the supermarket. There were an additional 15 million supermarket visits in the week ending March 17, compared with the previous month, according to the market analyst Kantar. So if you are going out to buy your groceries, here’s how to stay safe.

What am I allowed to do due to the lock down?

The intention for everyone – where possible – is to stay at home. The government has issued for “exceptional” reasons for leaving the house:

shopping for basic necessities such as food and medicine, as infrequently as possible, one form of exercise a day alone, or strictly confined to members of your household: for any medical need for yourself or to provide care for a vulnerable person or travelling to and from work if your job cannot be done from home.

What counts as exercise?

A walk, run or bike ride and only forms of these, but the chief medical officer clariid on Wednesday that nobody should take a bus or drive to somewhere to get exercise.  In other words walking, or by bike is only means of travel people should use for their exercise.

What happens if I go out?

Increasingly police forces across the country are asking people what they are doing when they are out and moving them along if they feel their reasons are inappropriate.  If they spot gatherings of more than 2 people officers are likely to ask about the circumstances and have power to issue a £30 fine.  Public gatherings including weddings, are also banned excluding funerals.

What happens if I refuse to comply?

The initial fixed penalty notice fine of £30 rising to £60 if an offender does not pay within 14 days.  A second offence rises to £120. Those who do not pay face court action where costs will spiral. The Prime Minister has also said that the government will keep fines under review, with a view to increasing the penalties substantially if large numbers of people ignore the instructions.  The police can also arrest people who fail to comply.