Police officers in England can tell people to leave someone’s home if they are breaching new coronavirus lockdown rules but cannot make them go, according to the guidance issued to forces.
Lockdown measures in England were relaxed on Monday, allowing up to six people to play sport together, and to meet in outdoor spaces.
But the guidelines have been criticised for lacking clarity, and as of Monday many acts - including sex with someone outside your household - have become illegal.
A document from the National Police Chiefs’ Council and College of Policing said: “From 1 June 2020, the approach to restrictions has changed.
“Rather than requiring a reasonable excuse to leave the place where a person is living, there are specific things that members of the public cannot do.
“A person may now leave and remain outside of the place where they live for any reason, subject to restrictions on gatherings and overnight stays.”
Regarding “police powers for overnight stays”, it says: “You may only direct a person to return home. There are no powers in the regulations to remove someone or use force. Fixed penalty notices and arrest still apply, where appropriate.”
The document also points out the laws put in place “provide no power of entry”.
However, officers still have existing powers at their disposal to gain entry to a property where they suspect illegal activity to be taking place.
Lockdown rules were eased slightly in Scotland on Friday, allowing people from different households to meet outdoors in groups no larger than eight within five miles of their homes, but Nicola Sturgeon warned on Monday that if rules were not adhered to the stricter lockdown rules would be reverted to.
The first minister said: “I’m told by police on Saturday alone there were 791 dispersals, that’s being being moved on for not complying with the rules.”
“It’s worth being clear, in fact I have a duty to be clear with you, that if there is continued evidence of even a minority not abiding by these guidelines and travelling unnecessarily, if people meet up in larger groups or if they’re making journeys which risk spreading this virus, we will have to put these restrictions on group size and travel distance into law.
“We won’t hesitate to do that if we think it’s necessary for the collective safety and wellbeing of the population.”