Gatherings of two or more people in a private dwelling who are not from the same household have been banned under new coronavirus lockdown rules imposed in the north of England, meaning couples who do not live together can no longer have sex indoors and stay overnight.
The government published the regulations, which cover Manchester, parts of east Lancashire, and West Yorkshire, on Tuesday, nearly five days after restrictions were introduced.
Restrictions imposed on private homes make it illegal for two or more people to meet and take part in “any form of social interaction with each other, or to undertake any other activity with each other”.
People are not allowed to meet in one another’s gardens or yards either. However, holiday accommodations such as hotels and bed and breakfasts are not included under the “private dwellings” definition, which means couples will be able to meet in hotel rooms.
Gatherings of more than 30 people are also banned during this “emergency period” in any public indoor or outdoor space.
Police can enforce the restrictions by directing any illegal gatherings to disperse and instruct people to return to their homes, or remove a person from an unlawful gathering with “reasonable force, if necessary”.
Anyone breaking the regulations may also be subjected to a fine of £100. However, as noted by human rights barrister at Doughty Street Chambers, Adam Wagner, Fixed Penalty Notices can go up to £3,200 for repeat offences.
“They come into force and do not (cannot) apply to anything which happened before that,” said Mr Wagner, commenting on the legislation on Twitter.
Gatherings that are considered “reasonably necessary” include for work purposes, education or training, childcare, emergency assistance, helping another person avoid injury, helping someone move houses providing care for a vulnerable person.
Existing arrangements for children whose parents live separately are also exempt from the restrictions.
Households comprising of one adult or one adult and their child or children are allowed to “link” with one other household and can hold gatherings with one another only.
The laws come into force from midnight. They also amend existing laws for Blackburn with Darwen and Bradford, which means those areas are not subject to the same measures as well.