According to the College of Policing (CPS), a ‘cooling-off’ period following an argument at home is likely to be considered a reasonable reason to leave home during lockdown. Updated guidelines on quarantine regulations from CPS provide a detailed list of what might constitute reasonable and unreasonable excuses to leave home, including information on exercise, shopping, helping others, and going to work, and dealing with a domestic dispute situation.
Of course, police officers enforcing lockdown restrictions will consider each case on an individual basis and will “use their discretion and judgement in deciding what is and what isn’t ‘reasonable’ in the circumstances.” Wherever possible – and so long as it is safe for all those involved – it’s best to stay at home. However, considering the concerning rise in enquiries to domestic abuse helplines since the lockdown began, the new guidelines are a welcome addition to those who may feel worried about breaking lockdown restrictions to escape a difficult environment.
The CPS guidelines state that the police are likely to consider “moving to a friend’s address for several days to allow a ‘cooling-off’ period after an argument at home” to be a reasonable excuse. This means that individuals may move between households following a dispute, but this should be a genuine move rather than a brief visit (eg: measured in days, not hours).
A cooling-off period can be a necessary way to avoid further conflict and enable positive communication after an argument, though if you are concerned for your safety, or the safety of others in your household, we would always suggest contacting the police or seeking advice from a domestic abuse support organisation. (More advice and a list of contact numbers can be found here.) And if you are in need of legal advice on separation and divorce during (and after) the lockdown, our family law solicitors are on hand (working from home!) to help. Give us a call to talk about the logistics of leaving home following an argument, or any other aspect of dealing with relationship disputes and separation.
See below for a rundown of the CPS guidelines on ‘what constitutes a reasonable excuse’, or view the full regulations here.
Likely to be reasonable (those with an asterisk* are applicable in England only):
- Buying several days’ worth of food and staple items, including luxury items and alcohol
- Collecting basic surplus food items from a friend or delivering essential items to vulnerable people
- Travelling to work when you are unable to work from home
- Buying tools and supplies to repair a fence panel damaged in recent bad weather
- *Going for a run or walk, cycling, or attending an allotment
- *Taking a pet to the vet for treatment
- *Providing additional support to a vulnerable person
- *Moving to a friend’s address for several days to allow a ‘cooling off’ period after an argument at home
Not likely to be reasonable (those with an asterisk* are applicable in England only):
- Working in a public place (eg: a park) when working from home is possible
- Going door to door offering to do cash-in-hand work
- Buying non-essential equipment (eg, paint and brushes to decorate the kitchen)
- *Driving for prolonged periods with only brief exercise (eg: travelling to the countryside for a walk where more time is spent driving than walking)
- *Visiting a vet to renew a prescription that could have been done over the phone
- *Visiting a friend at their address or in public to socialise
Stay indoors if you can, but please do seek help if you feel you are in an unstable situation at home, and feel free to give us a call for further advice and information on relationship issues and separation.