Understanding the law

The Coronavirus Act 2020, Health Protection Regulations and Government guidance will all enable the police to play their part in the national effort to save lives and protect the most vulnerable people in our communities.

COVID-19 continues to be a developing situation, and we will regularly update you as new information becomes available. This page was most recently updated on 14 October, to ensure that you have the  information you need. We have also removed any out-of-date documents after amendments were made to the Health Protection Regulations.

To help policing provide a measured and consistent approach during this unprecedented situation, we have produced a range of resources to explain the new powers and to help forces across the country in their response to COVID-19.

The police's approach to all COVID-19 powers is for officers to engage, explain, encourage the public and only enforce as a last resort.

Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 came into force on 26 March 2020 and apply to England only.  They have been subject to several amendments since they came into force. Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have equivalent legislation, which has also been amended since coming into force. The purpose of these powers is to save lives by protecting the public and the NHS.

Our full briefing pack below covers The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations (reconciling powers in relation to business closures with powers to disperse gatherings and restrictions on movement). This pack is consistent with the changes in regulations from the 1 June 2020. Summary briefings highlighting the 1 June changes alone is also available below.   

Officers should continue to encourage and support our communities to comply with the regulations to keep everyone as safe as possible. They should also be mindful of the differences in the regulations between the devolved administrations and England. Policing should continue to use our 4E approach of engaging, explaining, encouraging and only enforcing as a last resort.   


Briefings for policing:


Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (England) Regulations 2020

Following the introduction of the new Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (England) Regulations 2020, we have produced a briefing pack for police. From 8 June 2020, people who arrive in England will need to provide passenger information and self-isolate for 14 days (some exceptions apply). The police will only become involved once they receive a referral from a triage centre and support is requested. Officers will continue to adopt the four E’s approach of engaging, explaining and encouraging the person to self-isolate, only using enforcement as a last resort.


Coronavirus Act 2020

We have developed new guidance for police in England to explain the additional powers which police now have to support healthcare professionals following the introduction of the Coronavirus Act 2020.

The guidance includes details on the need for officers to work at the direction or advice of healthcare professionals in using these powers.


  • Coronavirus Act 2020 – detailed briefing pack
  • Full Coronavirus Act 2020 on Government legislation website
  • Personal safety – guidance for first responders
  • Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No. 2) (England) Regulations 2020

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