Can I go to a beach on March 29? MP wants 'minimise travel' clarity

A few people were enjoying Sheringham beach and Promenade as lockdown restrictions are being gradual

The beach at Sheringham. As part of the lockdown easing the government's message will go from 'stay at home' to 'minimise travel' on March 29. But some say more clarity is needed over how far this means people will be able to travel.  - Credit: Stuart Anderson

A Norfolk MP has called for clarity over the government's messaging on the next stage of the lockdown easing. 

Duncan Baker, North Norfolk MP, has tabled a written parliamentary question to Michael Gove's department in a bid to clear up doubts over the change in the rules from 'stay at home' to 'minimise travel'.

The change is due to come into effect on March 29, which is also the date when outdoor sports facilities such as Norfolk's tennis and golf clubs can reopen.

But Mr Baker said it was not clear if that meant, for example, that people could drive from Norwich to Sheringham for a day out. 

Duncan Baker, North Norfolk MP. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

Duncan Baker, North Norfolk MP. - Credit: Archant

He said: "Thanks to everyone’s hard work, we’ve done so well to control the case rates in our constituency. They are now very low as we head to the next step on the roadmap. 

"One area that has been a continual problem and I’ve tried so hard to help with is clarity over the stay local message.

"To me this isn’t clear. It’s ambiguous."

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People replying to Mr Baker's social media post about his questions also expressed confusion over the incoming rules. 

One person said: "It's too open to interpretation what 'local' is. It would be better if there was a mile radius from your house or something, just more clarity needed."

Another commenter added: "It really does need clarity. I can understand why people want to come to Sheringham after months of lockdown but it can be very unnerving to suddenly have to deal with crowds of people when you need to get to the bank, chemist, or supermarket. Perhaps a restriction of travel within your county, i.e. Norfolk in our case would be helpful."

Mr Baker also asked if the 'minimise travel' guidance would remain after 'step two' of the lockdown easing, which will come into effect no earlier than April 12.

His questions, which have not yet been answered, were:

-What is the definition of 'minimise travel' and what distances and frequencies does this entail? 
-What assessment has his department made of how this will be enforced given domestic overnight stays are permitted at this stage and self-contained accommodation re-opens (for households only) 
-Will the 'stay local' message continue at this stage?

Responding to this newspaper, the Cabinet Office said it could not respond to a written parliamentary question and would leave it to Mr Gove - the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster - to reply. 





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