Yesterday evening, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced (at 2:20): “Travelling to and from work [is permitted], but only where it is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home”. That was ambiguous, in that it was not clear whether the work had to be necessary, or whether the travel to get there had to be necessary.

An hour or so later, the government published a document entitled Full guidance on staying at home and away from others. That guidance said “Travelling to and from work [is permitted], but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home.”

That put a slightly different slant on things: it suggested the work did not need to be ‘necessary’, merely that it ‘absolutely cannot’ be done from home.

Next, the government sent out a tweet saying: “The only reasons you may leave home [are]: … to go to work (if you’re a key worker)”

That, again, suggested that the work had to be necessary, and if it was not (ie if you were not a key worker), you should not go to work today. But tweets are not really the best way to explain policy.

Finally, the Mayor of Manchester, Andy Burnham, tweeted“OK, final tweet tonight everyone. Have now spoken to No10 & had it confirmed that people CAN leave home to work – as long as they fully observe the 2m distancing rule. Seems to me to be in conflict with the big #StayAtHome message. But that’s the official policy. Over & out!”

So that, assuming it is right, suggests that anyone can go to work provided their work cannot be done from home. 

I do think we will get clarity soon.  Yesterday, The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Business Closure) (England) Regulations 2020 were laid before parliament, implementing Friday’s closure of bars, pubs and restaurants. I suspect today we will see Regulations laid implementing last night’s announcement, which will make the position clear.

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