Can I go sledging or play in the snow during the new lockdown?
The new national lockdown comes with a 'stay at home' message to combat the rapid rise in Coronavirus infections.
Government guidance says:
But you are allowed out once a day for exercise with your household (or support bubble) or one other person.
So does this cover playing in the snow? It appears not.
The last lockdown fell during some of the warmest months of the year, and people took advantage to head to our parks to sunbathe.
But Matt Hancock told ITV News in April,
"Going out and sunbathing, I can totally understand why people want to do that in this sunny weather, but going out from your home helps spread the disease and instead you should stay home, help protect lives and the NHS, and that way we can come through this faster."
This time the lockdown falls in the coldest months of the year.
We approached the Department for Health to ask if children having snowball fights or sledging would be allowed and they told us this is the latest guidance in relation to this issue:
"It is against the law to meet socially with family or friends unless they are part of your household or support bubble.
You can only leave your home to exercise, and not for the purpose of recreation or leisure (e.g. a picnic or a social meeting).
This should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area."
These are the government rules on what counts as exercise:
You can exercise in a public outdoor place:
· by yourself
· with the people you live with
· with your support bubble (if you are legally permitted to form one)
· in a childcare bubble where providing childcare
· or, when on your own, with 1 person from another household
Public outdoor places include:
· parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, forests
· public gardens (whether or not you pay to enter them)
· the grounds of a heritage site
Police in North Wales have previously turned away walkers from the Midlands hoping for a hike among the snow covered hills.
And Derbyshire Police reacted furiously to hikers heading up to some of the highest parts of the county despite the snow, in their words, expecting to be rescued by their "magical snowmobiles”.
The rules state you must not leave or be outside of your home except where you have a ‘reasonable excuse’ and the police can take action against you if you leave home without a ‘reasonable excuse’, and issue you with a fine (Fixed Penalty Notice).
We asked West Midlands Police what their response would be if they came across a group of children playing in the snow.
They told us,
The four Es they refer to are:
Police forces begin with explaining what people are doing wrong, encouraging them to change their behaviour, and turning to fines as a last resort.
Leicester's Director of Public Health, Prof Ivan Browne, told us,
"You cannot leave your home to meet socially with anyone you do not live with or are not in a support bubble with...
...The city council’s parks, outdoor playgrounds and public toilets will remain open...
...[But] with this new and more easily-caught version of coronavirus spreading across the country,it’s more important than ever that we all stay at home as much as possible."
How do Midlands infection rates compare to the rest of the country?