Will riding bikes be banned due to Coronavirus?

Dave Yorke
By Dave Yorke

TheDriveRide

An ex police motorcycle Sgt and Tactical Pursuit Advisor, Dave has advised police forces around the UK and further afield, as well as addressing The International Association of Auto Theft Investigators (IAATI) conference on how to deal with the criminal and anti-social use of motorcycles. He has owned everything from mopeds at 16 through sportsbikes, off roaders, supermotos and currently rides a Honda Africa Twin.

As the UK enters the delay phase of tackling the Coronavirus pandemic, what does the law say about riding your bike for leisure? Will motorcycling be banned?

 

While motorcycle sport around the world is being cancelled or postponed due to the Coronavirus outbreak, and The World Health Organisation officially calling the outbreak a pandemic, how might you as a motorcyclist have to cut back on your riding?

 

**This article was written BEFORE the UK went into full lockdown. The advice is now clear and very important – all non-essential travel is banned. #StayHome for the sake of yourself, your family and your friends. Help to keep the pressure off an already stretched NHS by NOT using your bike for anything except essential journeys.**

What is the UK government doing about Coronavirus?

The UK Government today moved into phase two of its plan to combat the pandemic; this delay phase can include population distancing strategies such as school closures, encouraging greater home working and reducing the number of large-scale gatherings. It’s designed to delay the peak period of public contamination to the summer ,when the National Health Service will be in a better position to treat the expected numbers of people with the virus.

**This article was written BEFORE the UK went into full lockdown. The advice is now clear and very important – all non-essential travel is banned. #StayHome for the sake of yourself, your family and your friends. Help to keep the pressure off an already stretched NHS by NOT using your bike for anything except essential journeys.**

How could Coronavirus affect motorcycling?

We can look to Italy, which has now declared a lockdown on all gatherings, but travel is still permitted in limited situations for work purposes. Under laws brought in by the Italian government, people found flouting the laws can be fined 206 Euros (around £180 at the current exchange rate) and can also face up to 3 months in prison.

People in Italy can now only travel for an urgent, proven work-related reason, Health reasons and situations of need – for example if there are no shops open in an area selling basic necessities. Riders are still moving around on Scooters and Bikes, but are subject to random check points by the authorities where they must have their permit to travel with them.

**This article was written BEFORE the UK went into full lockdown. The advice is now clear and very important – all non-essential travel is banned. #StayHome for the sake of yourself, your family and your friends. Help to keep the pressure off an already stretched NHS by NOT using your bike for anything except essential journeys.**

Can the UK government stop us riding?

While we’re a little way behind Italy, does the UK Government have the power to stop you travelling on your motorbike? The Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 enables a government to ensure quarantine at a number of places including your home if they suspect you might be infected with Coronavirus and might infect others. It also has those powers if you have just returned from an infected area.

Common sense though says that if you have – or think you have – Coronavirus, or if you’ve just come from an infected area, then it’s best to take that action yourself.

The Civil Contingencies Act of 2004 already gives the government scope to specify a restriction to assembly, and restrict travel or any other specified activities. It’s a very strong piece of legislation, but an emergency has to exist so the government can’t do it on a whim. But it’s fairly clear, listening to medical advice, that the emergency exists.

An assembly isn’t defined, it might be a crowd at a sporting event or it could be a gathering of friends at a tea stop. Scotland has just announced a ban on gatherings of more than 500 people – as the spring and summer wears on I’m pretty sure that some of the bigger bike meets attract near that number. When the Isle of Man government cancelled the TT in 2001 due to the foot and mouth crisis, they didn’t put a full ban on people visiting the Island. But the logistics around disinfecting 40,000 visitors – or stopping them from going onto farmland – were too much and so the IoM government cancelled the event to protect the farming industry. Likewise, footpaths on farms across the UK were closed to the public with fines imposed for ignoring the ban.

**This article was written BEFORE the UK went into full lockdown. The advice is now clear and very important – all non-essential travel is banned. #StayHome for the sake of yourself, your family and your friends. Help to keep the pressure off an already stretched NHS by NOT using your bike for anything except essential journeys.**

What could happen if we ignore any restrictions?

Along with imposing restrictions, The Civil Contingencies Act 2004 has the power to make it an offence to contravene one of them. That means that, like in Italy, if anyone flouts the restrictions without good cause then they could be tried at a Magistrates Court and may face up to three months imprisonment. They may be fined at level five of the sentencing guidelines, which at the moment is unlimited

That will mean that it might be necessary to skip your leisure ride if any measures are put in place.

**This article was written BEFORE the UK went into full lockdown. The advice is now clear and very important – all non-essential travel is banned. #StayHome for the sake of yourself, your family and your friends. Help to keep the pressure off an already stretched NHS by NOT using your bike for anything except essential journeys.** 

What is the situation right now?

As it stands today, the UK government has moved into the delay phase and has asked people to self-isolate if they have any symptoms, along with taking precautions like washing your hands often during the day. But that will change in the future.

When and if it happens, it’s going to be a bit of a sacrifice for us to lay off riding for a while but the quicker we get this beat, the quicker we’ll be back out enjoying our bikes…

**This article was written BEFORE the UK went into full lockdown. The advice is now clear and very important – all non-essential travel is banned. #StayHome for the sake of yourself, your family and your friends. Help to keep the pressure off an already stretched NHS by NOT using your bike for anything except essential journeys.**

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