The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 places restrictions on movement and states that “During the emergency period, no person may leave the place where they are living without reasonable excuse”. Section 6(f) of the regulations gives a reasonable excuse as “to travel for the purposes of work or to provide voluntary or charitable services, where it is not reasonably possible for that person to work, or to provide those services, from the place where they are living”
The Government advice on businesses subject to closures excludes pet shops so business owners and staff have a reasonable excuse and can travel to work in order to provide essential animal care,subject to adherence to social distancing advice.
If you are stopped by the police when travelling to and from work, or when making collections or providing delivery services for customers you should explain the purpose of your journey, explain you are acting in accordance with the rules, and give the name of your employer and a telephone number they can be contacted on.
We also recommend you carry proof that you work for a pet shop. There is no guidance on what proofs should be carried but to be on the safe side we would recommend consider all or a combination of the following:
- Driving licence
- Business card
- A copy of the premises’ pet shop licence
- A headed letter from your employer (in the circumstances an electronic version on your mobile device should suffice) and include the following information:
- Your name
- Name and address of the business you work for
- A statement about why you are travelling. We’ve created this template letter if you want to use this.
What if I’ve closed for business but still need to travel to look after my fish?
This might apply to pet shops or wholesalers who must still provide care for their animals.
Even if you are closed we still believe you have a ‘reasonable excuse’ and can travel to your business to care for the animals. We would recommend that you follow the advice above and are able to provide proof of identify and justification for your travel.
We cannot be certain how individual police officers will act in the current circumstances nor confirm that they will accept your justification for travel.
If you are refused travel then you can consider, in as non-confrontational a manner as possible, to ask the police office for their name and number and a note explaining that your reason for travel has been refused. You can explain that these may be needed in case a subsequent prosecution is taken on animal welfare or cruelty grounds. You should report to your local authority as soon as you can that you have been refused by the police to travel to your premises to provide essential animal care.
If you experience difficulties please contact the OATA team and let us know.