Can an eBay buyer pick up a sofa from my garage during lockdown? Can I take my mum to get her covid jab in Bristol?

Those were just two of the questions asked of Wiltshire Police Assistant Chief Constable Deb Smith by BBC Points West presenter David Garmston on Tuesday evening (you can watch it back here).

Amid confusion about what is permitted under the law, the news programme quizzed the senior officer.

It followed a Downing Street briefing on Tuesday afternoon during which Home Secretary Priti Patel wrongly said “outdoor recreation” was permitted in a “restricted and limited way”. It is prohibited during the lockdown, with the government’s website stating: “You cannot leave home for recreational or leisure purposes (such as for a picnic or a social meeting).”

Q&A: your questions answered by Wiltshire Police senior officer

Question: David Garmston, Points West presenter: Are these rules as clear as the Home Secretary’s been saying this afternoon?

Answer: ACC Smith: Certainly, the rules are clear and, more importantly, the reasons for the rules are really clear. So, stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives. We know that as we’ve entered into the third lockdown the regulations are really clear and my officers and PCSOs have the challenging task of policing those rules with the public.

What I will say is within Wiltshire and indeed nationally the large majority of the public are adhering to the rules, they are complying and they are applying the common sense to those rules.

‘How should I interpret local?’

Q: I just wanted to bring some examples of what viewers have sent to us. They are good people, they want to obey the rules but they’re not sure. Several people, including Tom Moles, have asked: How should we interpret ‘local’ for travelling in lockdown for exercise?  Is it by distance, county boundary or postcode areas?

A: Within the legislation in England there is no definition for what constitutes local. However, the government guidance constitutes local as within your own village, your own town or within the area of the city where you live. What we are obviously asking people to do is apply common sense to what is local and, of course, there will be legitimate reasons why people have to travel out of their local area, whether for medical appointments, exercise or in support bubbles. But when it comes to that daily exercise, which is really important for everyone’s health and wellbeing, we are asking people to just apply common sense to what constitutes local.

‘Can I visit my support bubble son in next county?’

Q: Okay, this follows on from that. Rosie says: We live in Bristol but have a support bubble with our son, who lives on his own in Devon. Do we face a fine if we need to go and see him?

A: As I’ve previously mentioned, travelling to be with members of your support bubble is permitted within the regulations. We would of course encourage people to try and have their support bubbles locally to avoid that travel and to avoid [contact] with others. But if there is no other way and that distance is [required] to meet your support bubble then that is permitted within the regulations.

‘How do police officers socially distance?’

Q: David wants to know do police officers bubble with their watch or their partner? How do they stay safe on duty?

A: Nationally, there’s been really clear guidance from the National Police Chiefs’ Council and also Public Health England for police officers to ensure all mechanisms have been put in place to ensure the health and safety of our officers and staff. Within Wiltshire we have mandated that officers and PCSOs when out on patrol in cars will wear face masks to allow that protection. Of course, policing is dynamic, it requires close contact with people, so that social distancing can’t always be available. However, we have had a really good supply of PPE for our officers and staff and really clear rules as to when they must wear it.

‘Can I sell my sofa on eBay?’

Q: Now, Steve asks: I’m selling a sofa on eBay and I wonder if it’s okay for a buyer to collect it from my garage? Will we be breaking the current covid restrictions?

A: Within the rules there are some exemptions as to why you can leave your home and we heard about exercise, we’ve heard about travelling to support bubbles. Of course, one of those is to shop for essential items. Again, applying that common sense as to what constitutes essential – clearly food, drink, medical supplies are essential. I would say a sofa on eBay would perhaps not be constituted as essential. Again, it will be down to the individual to apply that common sense as to what they essentially require in their day-to-day lives.

‘Is it okay to take my mum for covid jab?’

Q: Mitch has emailed. [He says:] Can I travel from Chippenham to Marshfield (that’s not far) to collect my mum and take her to Bristol to Ashton Gate for her Covid jab?

A: One of the exemptions of course is around travelling for medical reasons and of course it may well be the mum is the support bubble, so yes, that would be permitted, that is legitimate travel to go to a medical appointment. That is permitted in the regulations.