COVID

We are currently in a National Lockdown.

Please familiarise yourself with what this means with information from the Government website below.

Summary: what you can and cannot do during the national lockdown

You must stay at home. The single most important action we can all take is to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives.

You should follow this guidance immediately. This is the law.

Leaving home

You must not leave, or be outside of your home except where necessary. You may leave the home to:

  • shop for basic necessities, for you or a vulnerable person
  • go to work, or provide voluntary or charitable services, if you cannot reasonably do so from home
  • exercise with your household (or support bubble) or one other person, this should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.
  • meet your support bubble or childcare bubble where necessary, but only if you are legally permitted to form one
  • seek medical assistance or avoid injury, illness or risk of harm (including domestic abuse)
  • attend education or childcare – for those eligible

If you do leave home for a permitted reason, you should always stay local – unless it is necessary to go further, for example to go to work. Stay local means stay in the village, town, or part of the city where you live.

If you are clinically extremely vulnerable you are advised to only go out for medical appointments, exercise or if it is essential. We recommend that you do not attend work

Meeting others

You cannot leave your home to meet socially with anyone you do not live with or are not in a support bubble with (if you are legally permitted to form one).

You may exercise on your own, with one other person, or with your household or support bubble. This should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.

You cannot meet other people you do not live with, or have not formed a support bubble with, unless for a permitted reason.

Stay 2 metres apart from anyone not in your household.

Education

Colleges, primary and secondary schools will remain open only for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers. All other children will learn remotely until February half term.

Early years settings remain open.

Higher Education provision will remain online until mid February for all except future critical worker courses.

Who this guidance is for

You should follow this guidance immediately. This is the law. There is additional guidance for households with a possible or confirmed coronavirus infection.

If you are clinically extremely vulnerable you are advised to follow shielding guidance. We recommend that you do not attend work, school, college or university. You should limit the time you spend outside the home. You should only go out for medical appointments, exercise or if it is essential.

Hands. Face. Space.

Approximately 1 in 3 people who have coronavirus have no symptoms and could be spreading it without realising it.

Remember – ‘Hands. Face. Space.’

  • hands – wash your hands regularly and for at least 20 seconds
  • face – wear a face covering in indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult, and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet
  • space – stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place (such as wearing face coverings)

You should avoid all non-essential meetings and interactions. In all circumstances, you should follow the guidance on meeting others safely.

Reducing the chance of catching or spreading the virus in your home

Coronavirus spreads from person to person through small droplets, tiny airborne particles known as aerosols and through direct contact.

To reduce the chance of catching or passing on coronavirus to or from the people you live with, you should:

  • wash your hands regularly and for at least 20 seconds
  • regularly clean frequently touched surfaces
  • make sure you let plenty of fresh air into your home without getting uncomfortably cold. This should be balanced with other considerations such as comfort, safety and security.

There is further guidance on:

When you can leave home

You must not leave or be outside of your home except where you have a ‘reasonable excuse’. This is the law. The police can take action against you if you leave home without a ‘reasonable excuse’, and issue you with a fine (Fixed Penalty Notice).

You can be given a Fixed Penalty Notice of £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400.

A ‘reasonable excuse’ includes:

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

Volunteering

You can also leave home to provide voluntary or charitable services. You must volunteer from home unless it is not reasonably possible for you to do so.

Essential activities

You can leave home to buy things at shops or obtain services where necessary. You may also leave your home to do these things on behalf of a disabled or vulnerable person or someone self-isolating.

Education and childcare

You can only leave home for education, registered childcare, and supervised activities for children where the child is eligible to attend. Access to education and children’s activities for school-aged pupils is restricted. See further information on education and childcare. You can continue existing arrangements for contact between parents and children where they live apart. If you live in a household with anyone aged under 14, you can also form a childcare bubble.

Meeting others and care

You can leave home:

  • to visit people in your support bubble ( if you are legally permitted to form one)
  • to provide informal childcare for children under 14 as part of a childcare bubble (for example, to enable parents to work, not to enable social contact between adults)
  • to provide care for disabled or vulnerable people
  • to provide emergency assistance
  • to attend a support group (of up to 15 people)
  • for respite care where that care is being provided to a vulnerable person or a person with a disability, or is a short break in respect of a looked-after child.

Exercise

You can continue to exercise alone, with one other person or with your household or support bubble. This should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.You should maintain social distancing. See exercising.

Medical reasons

You can leave home for a medical reason, including to get a COVID-19 test, for medical appointments and for emergencies.

Maternity

You can leave home to be with someone who is giving birth or, accessing other maternity services, or to be with a baby receiving neonatal critical care. There is NHS guidance on pregnancy and coronavirus.

Harm

You may leave home, to avoid injury or illness or to escape risk of harm (such as domestic abuse).

Compassionate visits

You may also leave home to visit someone who is dying or someone in a care home (if permitted under care home guidance), hospice, or hospital, or to accompany them to a medical appointment.

Animal welfare reasons

You can leave home for animal welfare reasons, such as to attend veterinary services for advice or treatment.

Communal worship and life events

You can leave home to attend or visit a place of worship for communal worship, to attend a funeral or event related to a death, to visit a burial ground or a remembrance garden, or to attend a wedding ceremony. You should follow the guidance on the safe use of places of worship and must not mingle with anyone outside of your household or support bubble. Weddings, funerals and religious, belief-based or commemorative events linked to someone’s death are all subject to limits on the numbers that can attend.

Further reasonable excuses

There are further reasonable excuses. For example, you may leave home to fulfil legal obligations, or to carry out activities related to buying, selling, letting or renting a residential property, for the purpose of picketing, or where it is reasonably necessary for voting in an election or referendum.

Meeting other people

It is against the law to meet socially with family or friends unless they are part of your household or support bubble. You cannot leave home for recreational or leisure purposes (such as for a picnic or a social meeting).

Exercising

You should minimise time spent outside your home, but you can leave your home to exercise. This should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.

You can exercise in a public outdoor place:

  • by yourself
  • with the people you live with
  • with your support bubble (if you are legally permitted to form one)
  • in a childcare bubble where providing childcare
  • or, when on your own, with 1 person from another household

This includes but is not limited to running, cycling, walking, and swimming. Personal training can continue if participants are from the same household or support bubble. It can also continue if it is one-one-one, although this should only take place in a public outdoor place, and not in someone’s private home or garden.

Public outdoor places include:

  • parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, forests
  • public gardens (whether or not you pay to enter them)
  • the grounds of a heritage site
  • playgrounds

Outdoor sports venues must close, for example:

  • tennis courts
  • golf courses
  • swimming pools

Children under 5, and up to 2 carers for a person with a disability who needs continuous care, are not counted towards the gatherings limits for exercising outside.

If you (or a person in your care) have a health condition that routinely requires you to leave home to maintain your health – including if that involves travel beyond your local area or exercising several times a day – then you can do so.

When around other people, stay 2 metres apart from anyone not in your household – meaning the people you live with – or your support bubble. Where this is not possible, stay 1 metre apart with extra precautions (like wearing a face covering).

Face coverings

You must wear a face covering in many indoor settings, such as shops or places of worship where these remain open, and on public transport, unless you are exempt. This is the law. Read guidance on face coverings.

Support and childcare bubbles

You have to meet certain eligibility rules to form a support or childcare bubble. This means not everyone will be able to form a bubble.

A support bubble is a support network which links two households. You can form a support bubble with another household of any size only if you meet the eligibility rules.

It is against the law to form a support bubble if you do not follow these rules.

You are permitted to leave your home to visit your support bubble (and to stay overnight with them). However, if you form a support bubble, it is best if this is with a household who live locally. This will help prevent the virus spreading from an area where more people are infected.

If you live in a household with anyone aged under 14, you can form a childcare bubble. This allows friends or family from one other household to provide informal childcare.

You must not meet socially with your childcare bubble, and must avoid seeing members of your childcare and support bubbles at the same time.

There is separate guidance for support bubbles and childcare bubbles.

Where and when you can meet in larger groups

There are still circumstances in which you are allowed to meet others from outside your household, childcare or support bubble in larger groups, but this should not be for socialising and only for permitted purposes. A full list of these circumstances will be included in the regulations, and includes:

  • for work, or providing voluntary or charitable services, where it is unreasonable to do so from home. This can include work in other people’s homes where necessary – for example, for nannies, cleaners, social care workers providing support to children and families, or tradespeople. See guidance on working safely in other people’s homes. Where a work meeting does not need to take place in a private home or garden, it should not – for example, although you can meet a personal trainer, you should do so in a public outdoor place.
  • in a childcare bubble (for the purposes of childcare only)
  • where eligible to use these services, for education, registered childcare, and supervised activities for children. Access to education and childcare facilities is restricted. See further information on education and childcare.
  • for arrangements where children do not live in the same household as both their parents or guardians
  • to allow contact between birth parents and children in care, as well as between siblings in care
  • for prospective adopting parents to meet a child or children who may be placed with them
  • to place or facilitate the placing of a child or children in the care of another by social services
  • for birth partners
  • to provide emergency assistance, and to avoid injury or illness, or to escape a risk of harm (including domestic abuse)
  • to visit someone who is dying or to visit someone receiving treatment in a hospital, hospice or care home, or to accompany a family member or friend to a medical appointment
  • to fulfil a legal obligation, such as attending court or jury service
  • for gatherings within criminal justice accommodation or immigration detention centres
  • to provide care or assistance to someone vulnerable, or to provide respite for a carer
  • for a wedding or equivalent ceremony. This should only be in exceptional circumstances and is limited to 6 people.
  • for funerals – up to a maximum of 30 people. Wakes and other linked ceremonial events can continue in a group of up to 6 people.
  • for elite sportspeople (and their coaches if necessary, or parents/guardians if they are under 18) – or those on an official elite sports pathway – to compete and train
  • to facilitate a house move

Support groups that have to be delivered in person can continue with up to 15 participants where formally organised to provide mutual aid, therapy or any other form of support – but they must take place at a premises other than a private home.

Where a group includes someone covered by an exception (for example, someone who is working or volunteering), they are not generally counted as part of the gatherings limit. This means, for example, a tradesperson can go into a household without breaching the limit, if they are there for work, and the officiant at a wedding would not count towards the limit.

If you break the rules

The police can take action against you if you meet in larger groups. This includes breaking up illegal gatherings and issuing fines (fixed penalty notices).

You can be given a Fixed Penalty Notice of £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400. If you hold, or are involved in holding, an illegal gathering of over 30 people, the police can issue fines of £10,000.