The government is introducing new measures that will mean ‘gathering’ with one or more people from outside your household, in a private space such as a house or flat, will be against the law in England
Sex in your house with someone from outside of your household is set to become illegal today.
The government is introducing new lockdown measures in England that prevent people from socialising (or gathering) with one person from outside of their household in a private space.
Up until now the person visiting a house for sex would have been the one in breach of the measures.
But now both people would technically be able to be prosecuted under the law, with Amendment Regulations being introduced in Parliament on Monday.
For those couples looking for a workaround, having sex in a public place is already illegal.
Downing Street today insisted police would show “discretion” and “common sense”.
No10 added officers have no powers to enter someone’s home for breaking the lockdown rules – unless they suspect “serious” crime.
Scroll down for a full explanation of the new law.
However, the new legislation explicitly bans being inside the house in a gathering of more than one person without a reasonable excuse.
People who may be deemed to have a reasonable excuse are sports professionals, people attending funerals, vulnerable persons fleeing a risk of violence, carers and those with unavoidable work commitments.
For those attending a funeral of a loved one, rules encompass staying overnight to attend a funeral as a member of the deceased person’s household or a close family member of the deceased person.
Meanwhile athletes are able to stay in a different location to their own residence if they are training for a competition – and this applies to an elite athlete, a coach and parent.
Others who are exceptions to the new rule are those moving house and people who need to obtain medical assistance.
The UK has seen a shocking rise in domestic violence crimes during the lockdown and the new measures take this onboard permitting anyone who must escape a risk of harm to sleep at someone’s house.
Police have seen an increase in reports of domestic abuse while calls to a 24-hour helpline for victims are also significantly up.
Writing on Twitter, Adam Wagner, a human rights barrister at Doughty Street, said that the police will no longer have powers to challenge the public carrying out activities outside of the home.
He wrote: “To be clear – from tomorrow – the police can no longer get involved with why you are outside of the place you are living.
“No more power to direct people back home. No more power to fine for leaving / being outside of home without reasonable excuse.”
The Government has faced criticism after ‘ignoring’ vulnerable persons like the elderly in lockdown changes.
People who have been shielding for weeks to protect themselves from coronavirus will hopefully get more tailored advice in the future, a Cabinet minister and senior medic have said.
The Government has pledged to review guidelines on the clinically extremely vulnerable as part of each review of social distancing measures for the wider population.
More than two million in England are said to be isolating alone with many feeling forgotten.
Charities are demanding the Government makes public the evidence on which it has based its decision for the lockdown change, saying it has come “out of the blue” and “adds to the impression already created that the shielding group isn’t high enough on its list of priorities”.
The next review of shielding measures will take place in the week beginning June 15.
Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, said the new change does not amount to telling people to stop shielding.
He told the daily Downing Street briefing on Sunday: “We’re not today asking people, or advising people, to stop shielding.
“Far from it. What we’re saying to the people who have been shielding for the last 10 weeks is that we think that the rate of infection is sufficiently low now to enable you to do some quite modest things like going outside for a walk with members of your household, or like if you’ve been living alone, meeting somebody from another household.”
This new law loosens the huge restrictions on people’s freedom in England which took force on March 26, when lockdown began.
Why is the law being changed?
The government needs to change this law to ease the lockdown in England from June 1.
So for example, the changes will allow socially-distanced gatherings of up to six people in public in England from today.
So what’s the problem?
The way the law has been worded means it bans sex between two adults from different households, even in your own home, for the first time.
And it’s been compounded by the fact that the law is being introduced from 11.30am on Monday 1 June, without going through parliament first.
Of course, the new law doesn’t explicitly ban sex.
But it says “no person may participate in a gathering” indoors with two or more people.
How is this a change?
This is a big change to the previous wording, which focused on gatherings “in a public place”.
The law defines a gathering as “when two or more people are present together in the same place in order to engage in any form of social interaction with each other, or to undertake any other activity with each other.”
Use your imagination!
What are the exceptions?
There are of course exceptions to the indoor gatherings rule – but they are a strictly limited list.
That list is:
All the persons in the gathering are members of the same household;
The person is attending a funeral, as a member of the deceased person’s household, close family or a friend in some cases;
The person concerned is an elite athlete, the coach of an elite athlete, or (in the case of an elite athlete under the age of 18), the parent of an elite athlete, and the gathering is necessary for training or competition;
The gathering is reasonably necessary for work purposes, or for the provision of voluntary or charitable services; to facilitate a house move; to provide care or assistance to a vulnerable person; to provide emergency assistance;
The gathering is reasonably necessary for the purposes of early years childcare provided by a person registered on the Early Years Register under Part 3 of the Childcare Act 2006;
The gathering is reasonably necessary to enable one or more persons in the gathering to avoid injury or illness or to escape a risk of harm;
The gathering is reasonably necessary to continue existing arrangements for access to, and contact between, parents and children where the children do not live in the same household as their parents, or one of their parents;
The person concerned is fulfilling a legal obligation or participating in legal proceedings;
The gathering takes place at an educational facility and is reasonably necessary for the purposes of education.
What else does the new law say?
Elsewhere, the new law also says “no person may, without reasonable excuse, stay overnight at any place other than the place where they are living”.
This wording is different from the previous law – which stopped you leaving your home at all without reasonable excuse.
Wasn’t this against the law under lockdown already?
The previous law did of course ban you from going to someone else’s house for sex. That’s because it banned you going out of your home without reasonable excuse.
But it didn’t criminalise the person whose house it is, or explicitly ban the gathering itself.
What is the punishment?
For having sex? Slim to nil.
Anyone contravening the regulations can be subject to a £100 Fixed Penalty Notice, halved to £50 if paid within 14 days.
For serial offenders this can double on each subsequent offence up to a cap of £3,200.
However, there is not a hard definition of “overnight” or “the place where you are living”, suggesting there is a lot of wriggle room in the law.
And Downing Street confirmed that the police do not have the powers to storm into anyone’s home – unless they suspect “serious criminal activity” is taking place.