Coronavirus lockout breakers: “We had a dirty look and I called it to an end”


Police ask a walker on Briton Beach, East Sussex

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Over 9,000 fines have been imposed by police in England on people who have broken the lock. While the vast majority obey the rules of foreclosure, a small minority resist them.

Government health advisers say we are barely at the peak of the coronavirus pandemic and that locking in is essential to saving lives. Here, three people explain why they didn’t do it.

Sarah, 39, London

Two of my best friends are in a relationship. The two said they had the virus a few weeks ago. They hadn’t been tested but they had all the symptoms. Last weekend, they sent me a message that they were coming to East London to see people from a safe social distance.

I said stop and say hi when they got to my house. But when they got outside, I thought we should invite them. Part of the time was due to the weather. It was so beautiful that he fell asleep in a feeling of false security.

I live near a canal path and last weekend I felt that there were more people drinking and meeting. In addition, my mother’s friends all got together secretly for walks and they are also in the risk category.

It was so exciting to see friends again and have this human interaction but soon I started to feel very guilty.

What are the rules for social distancing?

  • People should go out as little as possible and only if they have a “reasonable excuse”
  • Leaving home for shopping, medical reasons or exercise with household members is allowed
  • Travel to and from work is allowed, but only when you cannot work from home
  • If you have to go out, stay more than 2 m (6 feet) from anyone other than household members

What are the rules on social isolation?

My husband was not happy at all. He said it made us feel somehow better than everyone. We sat outside on the balcony and were quickly spotted by a neighbor. She gave us a dirty look and I felt we had to end it.

The first 15 or so minutes felt good, but in half an hour it made me feel bad. They were gone in less than an hour.

My friends said we should go visit them next time. But I don’t think I would do that again until I received new advice from the government. With hindsight, this seems irresponsible.

Jeremy, 19, Midlands

I’m a college student living at home. My mom has been attacking me for weeks for a new haircut. My hair is really frizzy and it gets so itchy when it’s hot.

We don’t have razors, clippers or anything like that, so cutting it myself was just not an option. Mom is in contact with this underground network of hairdressers who work from home.

We drove to a nearby town. We parked on the road and just knocked on the door.

I had never met the hairdresser before. She was in her twenties and had everything installed in her kitchen: all the appropriate utensils and a bedroom mirror leaning against the table. She said she needed the money. She had just started her own business and therefore could not be put on leave and fell between the cracks [of the government’s different support schemes].

I spotted one of the neighbors coming out of the house and wondered what they were thinking.

I know it was not according to the rules and most people would think it is not essential. But I didn’t worry too much about the risks. The whole thing took about half an hour.

But my girlfriend was upset. She was really angry with me for doing it and thought it was a risk for no good reason.

A pedestrian walks past a mural of a woman wearing a facial mask

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Respect of locking

  • 9%resistant people (48% accept; 44% fight but obey)

  • 9,176lockout fines imposed from March 27 to April 27 in England and Wales

Source: National Council of Chiefs of Police, Ipsos Mori / King’s College London

Matt, 29, South West England

We had read a meteor shower which must have been truly spectacular on Wednesday evening. Around 11:30 p.m., I huddled in the car with my mother, father and younger brother. We had a telescope and binoculars.

The idea was to drive about four or five miles from town to get a better view of the sky at midnight.

We were less than 500 meters from our house and a police car got out. He was stationary and parked by the side of the road. He followed us and his lights came on. Then a second police car arrived with lights, sirens, everything worked.

They asked what we were doing and were perfectly polite. They said it was a useless trip and we had to go home. My dad told them it was our daily exercise but they didn’t have it.

I can understand their argument, but denying us the right to practice seems too zealous. It is starting to become a night curfew and that is not the purpose of the regulations.

For example, if I was an essential worker and wanted to go running late at night, what would stop me from doing that? They said we should exercise in a local space, but the lockout rules state that you are allowed to drive a short distance to exercise.

I subsequently filed a written complaint with the police. They replied that our trip was not essential, but I still don’t think we’ve broken the rules.

Some names of participants have been changed.


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