cambridge– Within days, England will be in another national lockdown.We will all be told again to stay home to protect the country from the spreading coronavirus.In March it seemed a little more simple – lockdown was new to us and we knew we had to stay at home – but there are a few more exceptions this time around.
So, what are the new lockdown rules?
The government is set to release more detail in the coming days but for now, this is the government guidance.
It is important to note that support bubbles, which were introduced to allow a single adult household to join another household, remain in place.
What are you allowed to leave home for?
- for childcare or education, where this is not provided online
- for work purposes, where your place of work remains open and where you cannot work from home (including if your job involves working in other people’s homes)
- to exercise outdoors or visit an outdoor public place – with the people you live with, with your support bubble or, when on your own, with 1 person from another household.
- for any medical concerns, reasons, appointments and emergencies, or to avoid or escape risk of injury or harm – such as domestic abuse
- shopping for basic necessities, for example, food and medicine, which should be as infrequent as possible
- to visit members of your support bubble or provide care for vulnerable people, or as a volunteer
This list is not exhaustive and there are other limited circumstances where you may be permitted to leave or be outside of your home. These will be set out in law and further detailed guidance will be provided.
Can I meet with friends and family outside of my household or support bubble?
You must not meet socially indoors with family or friends unless they are part of your household – meaning the people you live with – or support bubble.
You can exercise or visit outdoor public places with the people you live with, your support bubble, or one person from another household.
Outdoor public places include:
- parks, beaches, countryside,
- public gardens (whether or not you pay to enter them), allotments
You cannot meet in a private garden.
Can I go to the pub or to the shops?
The answer is no, unless it is an essential trip to the shops.
Most businesses and venues are being forced to close for this lockdown.
- all non-essential retail, including, but not limited to clothing and electronics stores, vehicle showrooms, travel agents, betting shops, auction houses, tailors, car washes, tobacco and vape shops.
- indoor and outdoor leisure facilities such as bowling alleys, leisure centres and gyms, sports facilities including swimming pools, golf courses and driving ranges, dance studios, stables and riding centres, soft play facilities, climbing walls and climbing centres, archery and shooting ranges, water and theme parks,
- entertainment venues such as theatres, concert halls, cinemas, museums and galleries, casinos, adult gaming centres and arcades, bingo halls, bowling alleys, concert halls, zoos and other animal attractions, botanical gardens;
- personal care facilities such as hair, beauty and nail salons, tattoo parlours, spas, massage parlours, body and skin piercing services, non-medical acupuncture, and tanning salons.
What can stay open?
Food shops, supermarkets, garden centres and certain other retailers providing essential goods and services can remain open. Essential retail should follow COVID-secure guidelines to protect customers, visitors and workers.
Non-essential retail can remain open for delivery to customers and click-and-collect.
Playgrounds can remain open.
Hospitality venues like restaurants, bars and pubs must close, but can still provide takeaway and delivery services. However, takeaway of alcohol will not be allowed.
Hotels, hostels and other accommodation should only open for those who have to travel for work purposes and for a limited number of other exemptions which will be set out in law.
Some venues will be allowed to remain open for specific exempt activities, like childcare and support groups. Support groups that are essential to deliver in person can continue with up to 15 participants where formally organised to provide mutual aid, therapy or any other form of support. This includes support to victims of crime, people in drug and alcohol recovery, new parents and guardians, people with long-term illnesses, people facing issues relating to their sexuality or gender, and those who have suffered bereavement.
A number of public services will also stay open and you will be able to leave home to visit them. These include:
- the NHS and medical services like GPs. We are supporting the NHS to safely carry out urgent and non-urgent services and it is vital anyone who thinks they need any kind of medical care comes forward and seeks help.
- Jobcentre Plus sites
- Civil Registrations Offices
Can my wedding go ahead?
Unfortunately not. The rules had changed so weddings of 15 people were permitted but under the new rules weddings, civil partnership ceremonies will not be permitted to take place except in exceptional circumstances.
Places of Worship will be closed, unless they are being used for:
- To broadcast acts of worship
- Individual prayer
- Formal childcare or where part of a school
- Essential voluntary and public services, such as blood donation or food banks
- Other exempted activities such as some support groups
What about funerals?
Funerals can be attended by a maximum of 30 people, and it is advised that only close friends and family attend. Linked ceremonial events such as stone settings and ash scatterings can also continue with up to 15 people in attendance. Anyone working is not included. Social distancing should be maintained between people who do not live together or share a support bubble.
Can I go to work?
The government is once again saying that everyone who can work effectively from home must do so. Where people cannot do so (for instance people who work in critical national infrastructure, construction or manufacturing) they should continue to travel to work/attend their workplace.
Public sector employees working in essential services, including education settings, should continue to go into work. The government website says: “The risk of transmission can be substantially reduced if COVID-secure guidelines are followed closely. Extra consideration should be given to those people at higher risk.”
What about schools?
Unlike during the last lockdown, schools, colleges and universities are staying open.
The government says: “The Government will continue to prioritise the wellbeing and long-term futures of our young people and will not be closing schools, colleges or universities. It remains very important for children and young people to attend, to support their wellbeing and education and help working parents and guardians. Senior clinicians still advise that school is the best place for children to be, and so they should continue to go to school. Schools have implemented a range of protective measures to make them safe.
“The Prime Minister and Education Secretary have been clear that exams will go ahead next summer, as they are the fairest and most accurate way to measure a pupil’s attainment. We, therefore, need to keep schools and colleges open so that children are able to keep progressing towards exams and the next stage of education or employment. Students now have more time to prepare for their exams next year, as most AS, A levels and GCSEs will be held 3 weeks later to help address the disruption caused by the pandemic
Universities will also remain open but there are further restrictions in place:
- If you live at university, you must not move back and forward between your permanent home and student home during term time. You should only return home at the end of term for Christmas. We will publish further guidance on the end of term.
Some registered childcare and other childcare activities are able to go ahead to enable parents to work or for respite care.
Early years settings can remain open and parents are able to form a childcare bubble with another household for the purposes of informal childcare, where the child is 13 or under.
Can I go on holiday?
No, holidays are now banned, both in the UK and abroad.
You must only travel if it is essential, for example for work purposes. Overnight stays are also banned.
This includes staying at a second home.