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Police Cannot Enforce Wearing Of Face Masks Or Social Distancing

Police Cannot Enforce Wearing Of Face Masks Or Social Distancing

The measures are classed as 'government guidance' and not law

Amelia Ward

Amelia Ward

Police are unable to enforce the wearing of masks or social distancing, as forces are there to implement laws and not government guidance, the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) has said.

It added, however, that police would enforce legal regulations which prevent people gathering in groups with those not in their household, visiting the homes of friends or family, and visiting or staying at a holiday home or second home.

A statement from the NPCC said: "In England, the police role has changed as public health regulations have changed.

"We enforce the law and not government guidance so we have no role in enforcing social distancing, wearing of masks or avoiding public transport.

"Police still have a role where people are gathering in groups with those not in their household - as this is not legally permitted in the regulations. Or a role if they've left their house for one of the reasons not designated as a reasonable excuse, such as:

  • "To go on holiday, this includes to visit and stay overnight at a holiday home or second home.
  • "To visit the homes of friends and family (exceptions include to protect a vulnerable person, for medical purposes or to escape risk of harm)."


The NPCC added: "Travelling to outdoor spaces in Wales and Scotland for recreation (not exercise) may result in offences being committed in those jurisdictions, and so may not be a reasonable excuse for leaving home.

"We will use common sense and discretion to determine what's reasonable. Officers will engage, explain, encourage and, only as a last resort, enforce."


A government spokesperson told LADbible: "It is vital that the public stays alert to avoid the spread of the virus, which means continuing to closely follow social distancing rules and avoiding public transport where possible.

"For the small minority of those who do not follow the rules the police have the powers they need to take action, with increased penalties now starting from £100. As now, we expect the police to continue to use their common sense, discretion and experience."

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: Coronavirus