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

To find out more visit Gov.uk

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. The law will be updated to reflect these new rules.

Leaving home

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
  • 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
  • You can leave your home to exercise or to visit a public outdoor place for outdoor recreation, such as a coffee on a bench or a picnic in a park. This can be on your own, with one other person when in a public outdoor place, or with your household or support bubble.
  • You should minimise the time you spend outside your home, and you should not travel outside your local area. Stay 2 metres apart from anyone not in your household or support bubble and follow the guidance on how to stop the spread of coronavirus at all times.

If you are clinically extremely vulnerable you should only go out for medical appointments, exercise or if it is essential. You should not attend work

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)

In all circumstances, you should follow the guidance on meeting others safely.

When you can leave home

You must not leave or be outside of your home except where you have a ‘reasonable excuse’. This will be put in 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, including but 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.
  • Essential activities - you can leave home to buy things at shops or obtain services. 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 they are eligible to attend. Access to education and children’s activities for school-aged pupils is restricted. See further information on education and childcare. People can continue existing arrangements for contact between parents and children where they live apart. This includes childcare bubbles.
  • 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, and 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), or 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.
  • You can leave your home to exercise or to visit a public outdoor place for outdoor recreation, such as a coffee on a bench or a picnic in a park. This can be on your own, with one other person when in a public outdoor place, or with your household or support bubble.
  • Medical reasons - You can leave home for a medical reason, including to get a COVID-19 test, for medical appointments and emergencies.
  • Harm and compassionate visits - you can leave home to be with someone who is giving birth, to avoid injury or illness or to escape risk of harm (such as domestic abuse). You can 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, a funeral or event related to a death, 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 when attending a place of worship.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, and weddings and civil ceremonies may only take place in exceptional circumstances.

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, or where it is reasonably necessary for voting in an election or referendum.

Exercising and meeting other people

You should minimise time spent outside your home.

You can leave your home to exercise or to visit a public outdoor place for outdoor recreation, such as a coffee on a bench or a picnic in a park. This can be on your own, with one other person when in a public outdoor place, or with your household or support bubble.

You should minimise the time you spend outside your home, and you should not travel outside your local area. Stay 2 metres apart from anyone not in your household or support bubble and follow the guidance on how to stop the spread of coronavirus at all times.

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

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.

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.

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.

Protecting people more at risk from coronavirus

If you are clinically vulnerable, you could be at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus. There is additional advice for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus. Those who are clinically extremely vulnerable should not attend work, school, college or university, and limit the time you spend outside the home. You should only go out for medical appointments, exercise or if it is essential.

Travel

You must not leave your home unless you have a reasonable excuse (for example, for work or education purposes). If you need to travel you should stay local – meaning avoiding travelling outside of your village, town or the part of a city where you live – and look to reduce the number of journeys you make overall. The list of reasons you can leave your home and area include, but are not limited to:

  • work, where you cannot reasonably work from home
  • accessing education and for caring responsibilities
  • visiting those in your support bubble – or your childcare bubble for childcare
  • visiting hospital, GP and other medical appointments or visits where you have had an accident or are concerned about your health
  • buying goods or services that you need, but this should be within your local area wherever possible
  • outdoor exercise. This should be done locally wherever possible, but you can travel a short distance within your area to do so if necessary (for example, to access an open space)
  • attending the care and exercise of an animal, or veterinary services

If you need to travel, walk or cycle where possible, and plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport. This will allow you to practice social distancing while you travel.

Avoid car sharing with anyone from outside your household or your support bubble. See the guidance on car sharing.

If you need to use public transport, you should follow the safer travel guidance.

Going to work

You may only leave your home for work if you cannot reasonably work from home.

Where people cannot work from home - including, but not limited to, people who work in critical national infrastructure, construction, or manufacturing - they should continue to travel to their workplace. This is essential to keeping the country operating and supporting sectors and employers.

Public sector employees working in essential services, including childcare or education, should continue to go into work.

Where it is necessary for you to work in other people’s homes - for example, for nannies, cleaners or tradespeople - you can do so. Otherwise, you should avoid meeting for work in a private home or garden, where COVID-19 Secure measures may not be in place.

Going to school, college and university

From 8 March, all school pupils and students in further education should return to school and college.

All schools, colleges and other further education settings are open for face-to-face teaching during term time. It remains very important for children and young people to attend, to support their wellbeing and education and to help working parents and guardians.

All secondary pupils and college students will be offered testing from 8 March, and those who consent to testing should return to face-to-face education following their first negative test result. If you or your child (if they are aged over 16) do not consent, they will not be stopped from going back and will return in line with their school or college’s arrangements.

There is further guidance on what parents need to know about early years providers, schools and colleges during COVID-19.

The following people in England will have access to regular rapid lateral flow testing as schools and colleges reopen for more students:

  • secondary school pupils and college students
  • primary and secondary school staff and college staff
  • households, childcare and support bubbles of primary and secondary-age pupils and college students
  • households, childcare and support bubbles of primary and secondary school and college staff

See the guidance on rapid lateral flow testing for households and bubbles of school pupils and staff

Universities

Students in university and other higher education settings undertaking practical and practice based courses who require specialist equipment and facilities can now attend in person teaching and learning. Providers should not ask students to return if their course can reasonably be continued online.

All other students should continue to learn remotely.

Students eligible to attend in person teaching are encouraged to take a test before they travel. Students should check if rapid lateral flow tests are available in their area.

Students should be tested twice upon their return to university, and then twice weekly afterwards. Universities will provide information on how to get tested upon their return.

There is guidance for universities and students starting and returning to higher education in the spring term. This explains how the government will support higher education providers to enable students that need to return to do so as safely as possible.

Students who have returned to higher education settings including university should not move back and forward between their permanent home and student home during term time, unless they have an exemption.

Higher education students who have moved to university accommodation and returned to face to face learning will be able to move back to their permanent home at the end of the Spring term for the Easter holidays, if they wish to. In order to minimise the risk of transmission, we strongly advise however that students remain in their term time accommodation where possible, especially those students who returned to campus from 8 March. Students should take a test before they travel.

Students attending in-person teaching and learning can meet in groups of more than their household as part of their formal education or training, where necessary for the purpose of studying. Students must not gather socially where not otherwise permitted in law and should follow the rules set out in this guidance.This includes staying 2 metres apart from anyone not in their household or support bubble.

Students should follow the guidance on how to stop the spread of coronavirus at all times.

Childcare

There are several ways that parents and carers can continue to access childcare:

  • Early Years settings (including nurseries and childminders) remain open
  • Vulnerable children and children of critical workers can continue to use registered childcare, childminders and other childcare activities (including wraparound care)
  • parents are able to form a childcare bubble with one other household for the purposes of informal childcare, where the child is under 14. This is mainly to enable parents to work, and must not be used to enable social contact between adults
  • some households will also be able to benefit from being in a support bubble
  • nannies will be able to continue to provide services, including in the home

Care home visits

Visits to care homes should be enabled to take place, in line with the guidance, wherever it is safe to do so.

Each resident should be asked to nominate a “single named visitor” who can make indoor visits regularly. These visitors will need to take a rapid lateral flow test provided by the care home, and receive a negative result before each visit. Physical contact should be kept to a minimum. The visitor may wish to hold hands with the care home resident but should be aware that any physical contact increases the risk of infection. Close physical contact, including hugging, should not happen.

The visitor should wear appropriate PPE (including gloves), and follow all other infection prevention measures as advised by the care home staff.

With the agreement of the care home, an “essential care giver” can visit in order to provide close contact personal care. These visitors will access the same testing and PPE arrangements as care home staff.

There will be additional visiting opportunities with arrangements such as substantial screens, visiting pods, or behind windows – allowing residents to see other family or friends in addition to their single named visitor.

In the case of an outbreak in a care home, visits should stop immediately. However visits in exceptional circumstances, including end of life, should always be enabled.

You should check the guidance on visiting care homes during COVID-19 to find out how visits should be conducted. Residents must follow the national restrictions if they are having a visit out of the care home. This means, for example, that under current rules they cannot meet other people indoors when they leave the home (except in exceptional circumstances such as end of life). There is separate guidance for those in supported living.

Financial support

Wherever you live, you may be able to get financial help

Businesses and venues which can remain open

Other businesses and venues are permitted to stay open, following COVID-19 secure guidelines. Businesses providing essential goods and services can stay open. The full list of these businesses can be found in the guidance on closing certain businesses and venues in England, but includes:

  • essential retail such as food shops, supermarkets, pharmacies, garden centres, building merchants and suppliers of building products and off-licences
  • market stalls selling essential retail may also stay open
  • businesses providing repair services may also stay open, where they primarily offer repair services
  • petrol stations, automatic (but not manual) car washes, vehicle repair and MOT services, bicycle shops, and taxi and vehicle hire businesses
  • banks, building societies, post offices, short-term loan providers and money transfer businesses
  • funeral directors
  • laundrettes and dry cleaners
  • medical and dental services
  • vets and retailers of products and food for the upkeep and welfare of animals
  • animal rescue centres, boarding facilities and animal groomers (may continue to be used for animal welfare, rather than aesthetic purposes)
  • agricultural supplies shops
  • mobility and disability support shops
  • storage and distribution facilities
  • car parks, public toilets and motorway service areas
  • outdoor playgrounds
  • outdoor parts of botanical gardens and heritage sites for exercise
  • places of worship
  • crematoriums and burial grounds

  

If your mental health is suffering and you need help, please get in touch as soon as possible:

For Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire, call 0300 123 0907 or visit https://www.combined.nhs.uk/get-in-touch/contact-us/

For the rest of Staffordshire, please call 0808 196 3002 or visit https://www.mpft.nhs.uk/emergency-help