26 March 2020

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020

Briefing for police: The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020. Below is a short overview of the new regulations. Please refer to the attached documents for full details.


  • Enacted on Thursday, 26 March 2020

  • Allow closure of premises and businesses (Reg.4 and 5)

  • Restrict movement and gatherings (Reg.6 and 7)

  • Powers apply to England only (Similar regulations have also been introduced in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland)

  • Non-compliance is not a recordable offence

  • The power to impose a fixed-penalty notice does not apply to persons under the age of 18

  • Enforcement of business closures or restrictions, will be through service of a prohibition notice

  • It may not be safe for everyone to be at home. Consider whether there are any safeguarding issues at play

  • Full public health regulations relating to enforcement

What it means for the public

No person may leave the place where they are living without a reasonable excuse. Reasonable excuses include:

  • obtaining basic necessities
  • to take exercise either alone or with other members of their household
  • meeting a legal obligation, including attending court or satisfying bail conditions
  • seeking medical assistance
  • attending a funeral
  • moving house
  • caring for or assisting a vulnerable person who is someone: aged 70 years or older / under 70 years old with an underlying health condition / pregnant

Policing will adopt a four-phase approach

Engage – we police by consent. Officers will initially encourage voluntary compliance.

Explain – officers will stress the risks to public health and to the NHS. Educate people about the risks and the wider social factors.

Encourage – officers will encourage compliance and emphasise the benefits to the NHS by staying at home, how this can save lives and reduce risk for more vulnerable people in society.

Enforce – if faced with non-compliance, officers will, if necessary and proportionate:

  • direct those without a reasonable excuse to go home, using reasonable force if needed
  • issue a penalty notice for disorder (PND) of £60, to discourage further non-compliance
  •  use prohibition notices to stop public gatherings
  • use existing licencing powers where businesses and organisations fail to comply

Officers will make sensible decisions, employ their judgement and continue to use other powers.

Officers will keep an inquisitive, questioning mind-set. It may not be safe for everyone to be at home and officers will consider whether there are any safeguarding issues at play, for example in cases of domestic abuse, child abuse or mental health.

The new regulations encourage police to keep an inquisitive and questioning mindset, and consider that it might not be safe for everyone to be at home. Officers should consider if there are any safeguarding aspects at play, such as domestic abuse, child abuse or mental health. If safeguarding issues are at play, officers should not follow legislation and revert to normal processes for dealing with vulnerable people.

Enforcement will be a last resort.

Personal safety

Continue to follow the Public Health England guidance for first responders who may come into close contact with symptomatic people with potential COVID-19.

Use the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that your force has provided.

Return to Latest Updates page

The College of Policing uses cookies to collect and analyse information about the users of this website. We use this information to enhance the content and other services available on the site. By continuing to use our site, you are agreeing for us to set a small number of cookies. You can manage your preferences for Cookies at any time, for more information please see our Cookies Policy.