On @BBCr4today @pritipatel was asked if a family of 4 stoping and chatting with another family of 4 on the way to the park was "mingling" which was banned.

She suggested it was - people listening will think 'mingling' on the way to the park is banned.

This is *wrong* [thread]
The ban on mingling has a specific context and definitely does *not* apply to two families meeting on the way to the park.

It is about events organised by charities/businesses/public authorities where 'qualifying groups' (households up to 6) must not mingle with each other /2
People walking to the park must not form a 'gathering' of more than 6. But that has a different definition

A gathering is where people are "present together... in order to engage in any form of social interaction..."

I doubt people accidentally bumping into each other... /3
.... saying 'hi' would meet that definition as they are not there 'in order' to socially engage, they have bumped into each other unintentionally.

There is no definition of "mingling" though Patel offered one as "people coming together". That is probably wrong - too wide /4
You can read the full regulation 5 here: legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/684/…

It is really disappointing that the Minister who signed these regulations into law doesn't understand them herself. The government should urgently correct her /5
This is what happens when you draft criminal laws in secret, spring them on country 20 minutes (yes really) before they come into force, make them increasingly complex and unworkable. Reg 5 (gatherings) has ballooned from 850 to over 2,000 words - PM said it was "simplifying" /6
And the idea that people should stop basic social interaction, added to policing minister's plea yesterday for people to report each other, is terrible for social cohesion - we are in the middle of a pandemic and we can strengthen social ties whilst physically socially distancing
Am I being unfair on Priti Patel? You may say, well this is a pretty vague law anyway and she did eventually say something to the effect of people should wear masks and socially distance. ...
... But there has been a theme throughout the pandemic of complex laws being drafted in secret and released shortly before coming into force. This has been the cause of huge public and police confusion, exacerbated by ministers not really understanding law before explaining it.
(excerpts from the first two @HumanRightsCtte reports on the lockdown - recommended (I am specialist advisor to the committee on this) publications.parliament.uk/pa/jt5801/jtse…

A fair response might be - well, Covid cases are increasing, we need to make it clear (through law and/or guidance) that people can't go about their everyday lives unless they mitigate risk. But, I can't see how unclear laws passed by diktat and not well understood help that.
I am not saying there should be no criminal laws around the lockdown - I am not a behavioural scientist, I am a lawyer. But I have the strong sense that they could be done differently and better - treating the public more like adults, and helping police - than at present.
The police are obviously deeply unhappy about all of this - thesun.co.uk/news/politics/…

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More from @AdamWagner1

25 Sep
🚨Amendment to local lockdown regulations to add new areas: Stockport, Wigan, Leeds, Blackpool, and more closures in Bolton

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Protected Areas and Restriction on Businesses) (Amendment) Regulations 2020

legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/1041… Image
/2 ImageImage
All coming into force tomorrow (26th September). Have updated the table docs.google.com/document/d/1ne… /3
Read 4 tweets
25 Sep
Wow, new government amendment to the Internal Market Bill will exclude regulations made under it from being challenged under the Human Rights Act. The government is piece by piece removing citizens’ ability to challenge its unlawful actions
On the upside, the amendment does allow judicial review scrutiny of regulations. But the cup is half empty here, having been completely empty before
It’s a bit of a strange exclusion as on the one hand the regulations are taken out of consideration under the human rights act (section 6) but on the other they are to be considered primary legislation which suggests a court could make a declaration of incompatibility
Read 4 tweets
25 Sep
This is long overdue. There have been over 50 criminal laws passed since March with no prior parliamentary scrutiny. It’s undemocratic and makes for bad laws. They are too important to leave to ministers alone
And see the cross-party @HumanRightsCtte conclusion on this committees.parliament.uk/publications/2… Image
Read 7 tweets
24 Sep
I have downloaded the app and turned on contact tracing.

Whether you do it is a personal decision but having spent a lot of time considering rights implications in development stage I am satisfied the privacy controls of the 'decentralised' Google/Apple software are strong
Another important reason people should consider downloading the app is that if you want to go to a pub/restaurant/shop and *not* have to give your personal details for contact tracing, you need the QR Code scanner (also decentralised, won't upload your data) on this app
Another reason to download is that Matt Hancock apparently confirmed on @TimesRadio this morning that a notification to self-isolate on the app *won't* be counted as imposing a legal duty to do so once the new rules come into force on Monday.
Read 4 tweets
24 Sep
New regulations partly in force today 1/2
New face covering and QR Code regulations in force today 2/2
The 10 pm curfew/reduction in weddings and other gatherings/doubling of fines regulations came out at midnight. The last possible moment (literally).
Read 4 tweets
23 Sep
You’re not going to believe this... they’re here! Minute before midnight, in force from 5am and on 28th

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No. 2) (England) (Amendment) (No. 5) Regulations 2020

legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/1029… Image
Signed by “Bethell”. Just “Bethell” /2 Image
Read 7 tweets

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