Is busking allowed during lockdown?

Is busking allowed during lockdown?

“The law states that: “If you cannot work from home you should continue to travel to your workplace… You do not need to be classed as a critical worker to go to work if you cannot work from home.”

Our understanding is that, as long as a crowd is not being drawn and social distancing remains possible, busking is allowed under the current guidelines.

We would strongly encourage street performers to maintain social distancing and take measures to ensure their workplace is Covid-safe


Below are some bite sized chunks of law and guidance to help you make things clear to those who challenge your right to work.


Restrictions on movement

6.—(1) During the emergency period, no person may leave the place where they are living without reasonable excuse.

(2) For the purposes of paragraph (1), a reasonable excuse includes the need

(f)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;


If you do leave home for a permitted reason, you should always stay in your local area – unless it is necessary to go further, for example to go to work.

You can only leave home for work purposes where it is unreasonable for you to do your job from home. This includes, but is not limited to, people who work within critical national infrastructure, construction or manufacturing that require in-person attendance.

You do not need to be classed as a critical worker to go to work if you cannot work from home.

You are allowed to stay overnight away from your home if you… require accommodation for work purposes or to provide voluntary services.


The police have a range of powers they can use to enforce coronavirus restriction regulations. They can only use these powers in response to a public health need.

Differences between Government information and legal restrictions caused confusion about how the lockdown should be enforced… officers have sometimes (wrongly) enforced guidance rather than the law.


You can travel from the other end of the country to Cleethorpes or wherever in our area so long as you have a reasonable excuse. Not being local is not a reason we can give an FPN for. Fact. You don’t need to be local so having to define it is not relevant.

The issue is, do you have a reasonable excuse for being out and that can apply to someone from Hull or Grimsby or Bradford or London.

There is a real difference in what you can and should do but as long as you have a reasonable excuse you are allowed to leave your house.

You can travel to where you want for exercise but whether it is wise… Doing something unwise doesn’t make it illegal.

Making a complaint to police.

This incident provides a handy example of how to make a complaint to police when mistreated under lockdown laws.
“I was approached by an officer (2377) today whilst working as a busker in Norton, who insisted I move on under the Coronavirus regulations as he claimed my work was ‘non-essential’ and threatened me with a Fixed Penalty Notice.
I politely tried to explain to him that you can leave home for work purposes “where it is not reasonably possible for that person to work, or provide those services” from home according to the law itself.
In addition the guidance to the law clarifies that “The government is NOT saying that only people doing ‘essential’ work can go to work. ANYONE who cannot work from home can still go to work” This seems abundantly clear.
A statement from my union, the Musicians’ Union, in line with government authorities says “busking is allowed for work purposes as long as it is not encouraging mass crowds. Audiences will need to adhere to the appropriate social distancing guidelines.”
There was no crowd, no issue of social distancing, and there had also been no complaints about the nature of my performance.
The officer was abrasive in nature and refused to listen to what I was saying, despite having screenshots of the above information on my phone. He claimed that what I was saying was my ‘opinion’ or ‘interpretation’ despite the fact that I was reading the law and guidance word for word.
He talked over me constantly and insisted I “show some respect’ and wait until he had finished then once he had and I took my turn to speak he walked away from me and turned his back, before returning to reiterate that he would take enforcement action if I didn’t move on.
I am concerned that police officers are unaware of the true content of the Coronavirus regulations. Even when presented with the exact wording from the government’s own website this officer chose to ignore it and insist on his own interpretation.
Although I am repeating myself I would like to emphasise that the government guidance does not distinguish between essential and non-essential work. You can go to work where it is ‘unreasonable to do your job from home’. Clearly, as a self-employed street musician, it is not possible for me to do this from home.”