We know and understand that there is significant public concern, and we want answer as many of your questions as possible and help to put you at ease. With this in mind, we have pulled together some of the more commonly asked questions you may have.
Please make sure you continue to visit gov.uk/coronavirus for the latest official guidance and announcements.
The information here is subject to review and change as and when further information is released by the government.
What can I do that I couldn’t do before?
spend time outdoors – for example sitting and enjoying the fresh air, picnicking, or sunbathing
meet one other person from a different household outdoors - following social distancing guidelines
exercise outdoors as often as you wish - following social distancing guidelines
use outdoor sports courts or facilities, such as a tennis or basketball court, or golf course – with members of your household, or one other person while staying 2 metres apart
go to a garden centre
At all times, you should continue to observe social distancing guidelines when you are outside your home, including ensuring you are 2 metres away from anyone outside your household. As with before, you cannot:
- visit friends and family in their homes
- exercise in an indoor sports court, gym or leisure centre, or go swimming in a public pool
- use an outdoor gym or playground
- visit a private or ticketed attraction
- gather in a group of more than two (excluding members of your own household), except for a few specific exceptions set out in law (for work, funerals, house moves, supporting the vulnerable, in emergencies and to fulfil legal obligations)
If you are showing coronavirus symptoms, or if you or any of your household are self-isolating, you should stay at home - this is critical to staying safe and saving lives.
What reasons should I leave the home for?
You should stay at home as much as possible. The reasons you may leave home include:
- for work, where you cannot work from home
- going to shops that are permitted to be open - to get things like food and medicine
- to exercise or spend time outdoors
- any medical need, including to donate blood, avoid injury or illness, escape risk of harm, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
These reasons are exceptions and a fuller list is set out in the regulations section of the government website. Even when doing these activities, you should be minimising time spent away from the home and ensuring that you are two metres apart from anyone outside of your household.
Can I visit tennis courts / golf courses / basketball courts etc?
Yes, but you should only partake in such activities alone, with members of your household, or with one other person from outside your household, while practising social distancing. You should take particular care if you need to use any indoor facilities next to these outdoor courts, such as toilets.
You should not use these facilities if you are showing coronavirus symptoms, or if you or any of your household are self-isolating.
Can I meet my friends and family in the park?
You can meet one other person from outside your household if you are outdoors. Public gatherings of more than 2 people from different households are prohibited in law. There are no limits on gatherings in the park with members of your household.
Can I go out to help a vulnerable person?
You can go out to care for or help a vulnerable person, or to provide other voluntary or charitable services, following the advice set out here. You should not do so if you have coronavirus symptoms, however mild.
Wherever possible, you should stay at least two metres away from others, and wash your hands for at least 20 seconds (or use hand sanitiser if soap and water are not available).
Are there restrictions on how far I can travel for my exercise or outdoor activity?
No. You can travel to outdoor open space irrespective of distance. You shouldn’t travel with someone from outside your household unless you can practise social distancing - for example by cycling. Leaving your home - the place you live - to stay at another home is not allowed.
Can I share a private vehicle with someone from another household?
No. You can only travel in a private vehicle alone, or with members of your household.
Are day trips and holidays ok? Can people stay in second homes?
Day trips to outdoor open space, in a private vehicle, are permitted. You should practise social distancing from other people outside your household.
Leaving your home - the place you live - to stay at another home for a holiday or other purpose is not allowed. This includes visiting second homes.
Premises such as hotels and bed and breakfasts will remain closed, except where providing accommodation for specific reasons set out in law, such as for critical workers where required for a reason relating to their work.
Who is allowed to go to work?
In the first instance, employers should make every effort to support working from home, including by providing suitable IT and equipment as they have been already. This will apply to many different types of businesses, particularly those who typically would have worked in offices or online.
Where work can only be done in the workplace, there are some tailored guidelines for employers to help protect their workforce and customers from coronavirus while still continuing to trade or getting their business back up and running. We will be publishing even more detailed COVID-19 secure guidelines in the coming days, which has been developed in consultation with businesses and trades unions.
These ‘back to work’ guidelines apply to those in essential retail like:
- those in construction and manufacturing
- those working in labs and research facilities
- those administering takeaways and deliveries at restaurants and cafes
- tradesmen, cleaners and others who work in people’s homes
- those who are facilitating trade or transport goods
- and so on
Non-essential retail, restaurants, pubs, bars, gyms and leisure centres will remain closed. They will reopen in a phased manner provided it is safe to do so.
There are specific guidelines for those who are vulnerable, shielding, or showing symptoms.
Who is allowed to travel on public transport?
If you cannot work from home and have to travel to work, or if you must make an essential journey, you should cycle or walk wherever possible. Before you travel on public transport, consider if your journey is necessary and if you can, stay local. Try to reduce your travel. This will help keep the transport network running and allows people who need to make essential journeys to travel.
We’ll be setting out further guidance for passengers with more advice on how to stay safe during your journeys later this week.
Can I use public transport to get to green spaces?
You should avoid using public transport wherever possible.
How will police enforce the new rules?
The police and local authorities have the powers to enforce the requirements set out in law if people do not comply with them. The police will act with discretion and common sense in applying these measures, but if you breach the law, the police may instruct you to go home, leave an area or disperse, and they may instruct you to take steps to stop your children breaking these rules if they have already done so. The police can also take you home or arrest you where they believe it is necessary.
If the police believe that you have broken the law – or if you refuse to follow their instructions enforcing the law – a police officer may issue you with a fixed penalty notice of £100 (reduced to £50 if paid within 14 days), an increase of £40 from the previous £60 fixed penalty amount. If you have already received a fixed penalty notice, the amount for further offences will increase in line with the table below.
For both individuals and companies, if you do not pay your fine you could be taken to court, with magistrates able to impose unlimited fines.
My car is due for an MOT. What do I do?
As always, police officers will use their discretion when considering whether or not to enforce the law, taking personal situations into account.
From 30 March 2020, MOT due dates for cars, motorcycles and light vans were extended by six months.
Vehicles that were due an MOT before 30 March are subject to different guidance.
However, you must make sure that your vehicle is safe to drive. It can be unsafe even if your MOT expiry date has been extended. You can find further MOT information on gov.uk.
Can I attend a funeral?
Although many businesses are closed, you can still attend funerals where the congregation is immediate family. A carer can also attend if required or a friend if there are no family members attending. You should still keep two metres (six feet) between every household group, in line with the social distancing guidance.
What are police doing if businesses like pubs and restaurants open regardless of the restrictions?
Environmental Health and Trading Standards officers, with police support if appropriate and/or necessary, are responsible for enforcing regulations requiring businesses to close.
Environmental Health and Trading Standards can issue prohibition notices where businesses do not follow these restrictions. In addition, businesses who fail to comply can also receive fines. Continued non-compliance could then lead to the loss of alcohol licenses.
Under the Business Closure regulations introduced on 21 March 2020, officers have powers to prosecute for breach of regulations.
The local authority environmental health and trading standards officers are responsible for enforcing the regulations requiring businesses such as pubs, cinemas and theatres to close.
You can report businesses that are not complying with the government guidance to Trading Standard
Is there a heightened risk of fraud and scams?
Unfortunately, some people will be using this scary time to take advantage of those who are most vulnerable for their own personal gain. We can all work together to try to prevent this from happening.
People should remain cautious when accepting help from strangers, either online or in person. We commend the community spirit and kindness that is being shown at this really difficult time, but please remember that unfortunately not everyone has the best intentions. Be wary about sharing personal information with people you don’t know, such as your address or your pin number.
There have been reports across the country of COVID-19 related scams, such as phishing emails or phone calls, which are being sent with the intention of attempting to trick people into opening malicious attachments, or revealing sensitive personal or financial information. Remember, your bank or the police would never ask you to disclose information such as your pin number over the phone. Avoid clicking links in emails from unknown senders – if it seems suspicious, delete it straight away.
Can we volunteer to help the police as people have volunteered to help the NHS?
The best way that you can help us is by taking heed of the government guidelines and social distancing. This will significantly reduce the demand on both us and the NHS, and help us to keep the county as safe as possible.
If you wish to help people in your area, we would suggest making contact with your elderly and/or vulnerable neighbours – who you already know – and giving them your mobile number and letting them know you are there for help should they need it. This will reduce the chances of them accepting help from a stranger who may turn out to be an opportunist, confidence trickster or thief.
What crimes would you no longer respond to? Will you stop arresting people?
There are no crime types that we would no longer respond to and the police will NOT stop arresting people. Each contact to the police for help will be risk assessed appropriately. We’re asking the public to be patient as we may take more time to follow up report relating to lower-level crimes.
Do you want us to report groups of people we see?
Gatherings of more than two people are only permitted in very limited circumstances, such as:
- If they are of the same household
- If it is necessary for work purposes
- To attend a funeral
- If it is reasonably necessary for some situations such as providing care and assistance to a vulnerable person.
If you are concerned that you have seen a gathering which contravenes this guidance, we would encourage you to contact using our online webchat or our online reporting form. This will help to release some of the pressure on our emergency lines and resources, and allow for a quicker response to urgent 999 calls. However, we want the public to exercise common sense. Please be aware that we will not be able to dispatch officers for minor infringements of these rules. Clearly mass gatherings of people is not a minor infringement and we would want to know about that so we can deal with it.
I called 101 and received a text message asking to participate in a survey – is this legitimate?
If you do call our Demand Hub to report a crime or incident, please be aware that you may receive a text from us afterwards asking how we did. We know that due to the current increase in text and online scams this may cause some concern, so we just wanted to inform you that this is a legitimate follow-up message from us asking you to rate the service you received so we can continue to learn and improve.
How are you protecting officers?
Public Health England has published guidance to first responders and this has been circulated to all police forces for their officers and staff to follow.
In some scenarios, officers and staff will been issued with personal protective equipment (PPE) to minimise the risk of work-related infection.
Additional PPE is NOT needed for routine policing activities and will not be worn unless dealing with a suspected COVID-19 case. Public Health additionally advises that it is NOT to be worn when dealing with contacts of suspected cases.
PPE which is to be worn when dealing with a person suspected or confirmed as having COVID-19 is:
- Disposable gloves
- Fluid repellent surgical face mask is recommended (if available)
- Disposable plastic apron (if available)
- Disposable eye protection (such as face visor or goggles)
We are working closely with the Government and PHE to manage supplies of PPE like gloves and masks. Questions around stocks of these should be directed to PHE and the Government. Regions are monitoring their stock levels and will redistribute resources where they need to in support of neighbouring areas falling short.
Can I still report crime to the police?
Yes. The safety and welfare of local communities remains our top priority, as always.
Members of the public should continue to call 999 in an emergency where a crime is in progress or there is a threat to life. If your call is not urgent and can be reported using our online channels, we ask you to do so in order to release the pressure on our emergency lines and resources. We are experiencing high call demand to both our 999 and 101 numbers and our digital services offer you the option to self-report, which will then be prioritised and actioned.
Members of the public should not call police to report cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus) and should instead direct their concerns to NHS 111.
How will you deal with under 18’s not adhering to the government direction?
We will start off by speaking with them, and encouraging them to comply of their own free will. If necessary, we will liaise with an adult with responsibility for that child or young person. There is a power for us to provide a direction to that adult if it is necessary for us to do so.
I am interested in applying to become a police officer. Can I still do that?
Welcoming future police officers is as important as ever and recruiting individuals that are passionate about making a difference to the communities we serve.
We are making some changes to some of the recruitment elements in our process to be able to do these virtually, some of which are already in place and some to get in place as quickly as we can. Local forces are now running virtual interviews and we are working with the College of Policing on a virtual national force assessment centre which we expect to be ready in the coming weeks. This means a change for the timeframe of the process and we will keep you up-to-date with the progress of your application.
Our recruitment team are committed to supporting you and appreciate current circumstances may mean more questions, so please drop us a note with any questions you have at: BCHCareers@Herts.pnn.police.uk. (This email address covers Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire applicants)
We look forward to receiving your application and progressing the ones we have already received!
Can I still apply for a firearms or explosives licence?
Due to the current unchartered and unprecedented times facing us all, firearms licensing services are of course being affected.
Contingency working has never been required on this scale before, and as part of a policing family our over-riding priority must remain to protect life and prevent crime. In having to priorities out work according to these principles, We have taken the decision that all non risk and non urgent work will be suspended for the time being. This will allow us to concentrate on ensuring that existing certificate holders who are nearing renewal are renewed prior to expiry. We are confident that as law abiding and responsible citizens our shooting community will understand the situation we are in and thank you in advance for your patience.
Please continue to notify us of weapon transactions and changes of addresses, we will process them as staffing and priorities allow – please do not email us to chase progress at this time.
- Grant applications – due to social distancing restrictions we are unable able to process any grant applications. We ask that you consider waiting until restrictions are lifted prior to submitting an application. Any that we do receive will not be actioned.
- Variations – unless a variation is for a critical need, for example due to specific job role requirements we will not be processing any variation requests. We would again ask that you consider delaying your application until this restriction is lifted. If you believe you have a critical need, please email us.
- Renewal – our priority is to ensure current holders do not expire. In order to assist us in these challenging times, please continue to renew but do not e-mail or telephone the office to enquire on progress of your renewal. We are dealing with renewals according to expiry date (NOT date received) and, of course, are aware of the status of all holders.