POLICE have told people they can go out to buy alcohol, take an animal to the vet or stop to have a rest while on a walk during the coronavirus lockdown.

Officers have issued a series of guidelines on what are "reasonable" excuses to leave home, such as buying several days' worth of food including luxury items.

The list issued by the National Police Chief's Council and College of Policing also says people should be allowed to collect surplus basic food items from a friend.

It also permits providing support to vulnerable people or moving to a friend's address for several days to allow a 'cooling-off' following arguments at home.

Other permitted acts include buying a small amount of a staple item or necessity, and purchasing tools to repair a fence panel damaged in recent bad weather.

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They can also stop to rest or to eat lunch while on a long walk, or drive to the countryside and walking - where far more time is spent walking than driving.

Forms of acceptable exercise during the period include going for a run or cycle or practicing yoga, walking in the countryside or in cities and attending an allotment.

Employees are allowed to travel to work whether or not they are key or essential staff, as long as it is not reasonably possible to work from home.

However, police say it is not reasonable for people to go out to buy paint and brushes, simply to redecorate a kitchen.

Driving for a prolonged period with only brief exercise is also banned, as is a short walk to a park bench, when the person remains seated for a much longer period.

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In addition, police say a person should not work in a local park if they can work from home, and no one should be knocking on doors offering cash-in-hand work.

They also say that visiting a vet's surgery in person to renew a prescription where this could be done over the phone is also banned.

Furthermore, visiting a friend in their home or meeting in public to socialise is also banned under the guidelines after the lockdown was brought in on March 23.

The coronavirus lockdown is to be extended later today as Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned it will take time for life to return to normal.

But as ministers met to agree the details, one of the scientists advising them questioned whether the Government had done enough work on an exit strategy.

The Cabinet meeting to agree prolonging social distancing measures came amid signs the epidemic in the UK is beginning to peak.

But ministers were playing down expectations in the wake of those signs with health minister Nadine Dorries urging reporters to stop asking about an exit strategy.

She said: "There is only one way we can 'exit' full lockdown and that is when we have a vaccine. Until then, we need to find ways we can adapt society and strike a balance between the health of the nation and our economy."

Mr Hancock said he agreed that things will not go back to how they were, at least in the short term.

He stressed the number of deaths is still 'far too high' for any exit strategy to be set out.

A total of 13,729 patients have died in hospital after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 5pm yesterday, up 861 on the figure the day before.

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