UK Govt: Please Do Not Go Out to Enjoy the Nice Weather This Weekend

Her Majesty's Government
Her Majesty's Government

The United Kingdom is due a “mini-heatwave” this weekend, but the government has anticipated desire to enjoy the weather by reminding people to stay at home under the orders on slowing the spread of coronavirus.

Following meteorologists’ reports that the United Kingdom is due a spell of nice weather — potentially even reaching highs of 21C in some areas after a long, wet winter — amid the nation’s continued house arrest, several senior politicians have been moved to remind the public that their orders to stay at home remain in force.

While citizens are still permitted to spend time in their private gardens, this is cold comfort for those living in dense urban areas, who may live in high-rise buildings and may not have access to private green spaces at all.

First to speak out was Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who remains in isolation after contracting the Chinese virus, releasing a video update from his official residence in Downing Street. After explaining that he was still experiencing a temperature, he repeated the government’s warnings for the public to not go out except in a very limited set of circumstances.

“I just want to say one crucial thing, one quick thing to everybody thinking about this weekend and what may be some fine weather,” he said.

“Because I reckon a lot of people will be starting to think ‘this is all going on for quite a long time’, and they’d rather be getting out there, particularly if you’ve got kids in the household, everyone may be getting a bit stir-crazy and there may be just a temptation to get out there, hang out, and start to break the regulations. And I just urge you not to do that. Please, please stick with the guidance now… stay at home, folks.”

Despite the unambiguous nature of the Prime Minister’s comments, there has been some confusion over what precisely is acceptable. While public meetings of more than two people are banned in the United Kingdom, there is an exception if those seen in a public place together live together, meaning they are all from the same locked-down group.

Reflecting this potential for families who are already permitted to be together to have a nice weekend, the health secretary Matt Hancock was asked whether it would be permissible for family units to go outside and enjoy the sun together this weekend. This, he said, would not be possible.

The health secretary said: “on what people should do over the weekend, it is incredibly important that people follow the guidelines. And I know it is going to be sunny, and it may be tempting, but its staying at home that saves lives, and I think we should just be absolutely crystal clear about that.

“The guidelines have been set out in terms of people going out for exercise reasons, either on their own or with people in their household; people need to stick to the guidelines.”

Under the new regulations — which are not set out by law, but rather, as former Supreme Court judge Lord Sumption puts it, “minister’s preference” enforced by police — British residents are allowed outside for a small number of reasons, including urgent food shopping, getting medication or going to hospital, essential work, and exercise.

All of these are meant to be undertaken as little as possible and only when essential, with one hour of exercise a day discussed as a recommended maximum. Again, while this is not established in law, police have been patrolling parks and roads and handing out fines to members of the public who can’t satisfy officers with an excuse as to why they have left their homes.

To aid in this mission, some forces have set up dedicated websites where residents can inform on their neighbours for not following the government’s advice sufficiently enthusiastically.

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