The Health Secretary has said it is "absolutely fine" for people to travel to see friends outside after a police chief revealed the new ‘stay local’ message was not legally enforceable.

The 'stay home' slogan has now been dropped following the relaxation of lockdown rules yesterday.

In England, gatherings of up to six people outside are permitted, and outdoor sports facilities have reopened.

Matt Hancock has revealed he plans to travel to Suffolk from London this weekend, having not been back to his constituency in the county since November.

Speaking to ITV’s This Morning, Mr Hancock said people should aim to minimise travel but could travel in England to see family and friends.

“We’re saying that you should minimise travel but if you want to travel to see friends and family then that is absolutely fine,” he added.

“For instance, I haven’t been home to Suffolk since November.

“I’m planning to go this weekend, but only go for the day because there’s no overnight stays, but I’m going to go for the day on Easter Sunday.

“I’m going to see friends in Suffolk outdoors, and then come back again.”

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His comments come as the national chairman of the Police Federation, John Apter, revealed there was no law meaning people must stay local in England, unlike the previous stay at home requirement.

Speaking on Good Morning Britain, he said: “What’s been announced is that the Government say you should stay at home, you should limit your travel, but that’s not legislation.

"It's not a rule, it's guidance, and as I said, guidance is not legally enforceable.

"As a member of the public, we've got a moral duty to our fellow citizens but it’s not legally enforceable."

In response, Susanna Reid, host of Good Morning Britain, said: "Legally there is no restriction on the distance you can travel or the number of journeys you can make."

He added that travel would now be policed in a similar way to social distancing measures, saying: “It’s the same with social distancing. In some parts of the country and the devolved governments there’s some element of law around social distancing but in England there’s not.

“I think people expect the police to enforce social distancing but it’s not legally enforceable.”

The change to the rules on travel leads to the prospect of busy roads over the coming weekend.

Traffic could be hampered by planned engineering works on the railways in Essex.

National Rail has announced there will be no trains running between Shenfield and London Liverpool Street between Good Friday and Easter Monday, meaning all services will be affected in Essex.

Replacement buses will be available.

Buses will also replace trains between Southend Victoria and Newbury Park all weekend, and will also be in service between Wickford and Southminster.

Greater Anglia is urging passengers to check their journeys before they travel.

Managing director Jamie Burles said: “This work will help to improve punctuality and performance along these vital parts of the network.

“We will be running a rail replacement bus service while the work takes place so customers will be able to complete their journeys.

"Passengers should check before they travel, allow more time for their journey and wear a face covering when travelling by train or rail replacement bus and at our stations.

“Government travel guidance for Easter is to minimise journeys and avoid travelling at busy times and on the busiest routes.

"Greater Anglia has several measures in place to keep you safe, from regular cleaning and sanitisation of trains and stations, to making it easier for you to socially distance.

“We would like to thank customers for their patience while this work takes place.”