On 30 July, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced new coronavirus regulations on social gatherings affected a number of areas in the north of England, including Greater Manchester and large parts of West Yorkshire and Lancashire. This “northern lockdown” began on 31 July and meant that people in these areas were no longer permitted to mix with other households (apart from those in their support bubbles) in private homes or gardens. However, no guidance was available when these restrictions started, leaving the police complaining that they had no time to prepare for enforcing the new rules and have insufficient powers to implement the lockdown.
It was reported that police in Burton in Staffordshire were granted dispersal powers “in response to the coronavirus outbreak which has seen dozens of cases in one part of town”.
In Scotland, extra police were on patrol after a coronavirus cluster forced a new local lockdown in Aberdeen.
There has been further press coverage of warnings about the pandemic triggering widespread public disorder, focusing on a paper (PDF) considered by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) shortly before pubs reopened in England.
The Metropolitan Police announced their intention to impose conditions on unauthorised road closures during the weekend’s Afrikan Emancipation Day Reparations March in Brixton, in order to prevent gatherings of over 30 people in breach of the coronavirus regulations. In the event, there were only three arrests – and none were under these powers.
The government announced plans to extend the current rules on wearing face coverings on 8 August.
Five days after the north of England lockdown was announced, the legal regulations underpinning it was finally published by the government on 4 August.
Discretion and fairness should be the beating heart of enforcement – Kirsty Brimelow QC in The Times
On 1 August, Big Brother Watch published its fourth monthly Emergency Powers & Civil Liberties report, July 2020 (PDF)