Category: HM Government

GCSE, A and AS Levels examinations.

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There are no doubt some among our community who were due to take exams this year. Hopefully, they will be aware of the alternative arrangements, but just is case below is the announcement made by HM Government this afternoon.

1. Did exams need to be cancelled?

From Friday 20 March, all educational settings are closed to everyone except the children of critical workers and vulnerable children.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is expected to continue having a significant impact on the education system, and the country, for months to come. Therefore, exams have been cancelled now to give pupils, parents, and teachers certainty, and enable schools and colleges to focus on supporting vulnerable children and the children of key workers.

2. What will happen to those who have already done some non-exam assessment?

Students who were due to sit A level, AS level or GCSE exams this summer will receive a calculated grade. The calculated grade process will take into account a range of evidence including, for example, non-exam assessment and mock results, and the approach will be standardised between schools and colleges. There’s separate guidance from Ofqual on awarding GCSE, AS and A levels which includes the implications for non-exam assessment.

3. How will you address the fact that students from disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to have their grades under-predicted?

This summer’s calculated grades are not predicted grades. Ofqual, the independent qualifications regulator, is developing a fair and robust process that takes into account a broad range of evidence, including assessments by schools and colleges of the grades that students would have been likely to obtain if exams went ahead and their prior attainment. Ofqual will make every effort to ensure that the process does not disadvantage any particular group of students.

Pupils who do not feel their calculated grade reflects their ability will have the opportunity to sit an exam as soon as is reasonably possible after schools and colleges open again.

4. Will all students get their predicted grade?

No. We know that simply using predicted grades would not be fair to all students. The ‘centre assessment grade’ which the exam boards will ask schools and colleges to submit for A and AS levels and GCSEs will take into account an assessment of the likely grade that students would have obtained had exams gone ahead, and these will be standardised across schools and colleges. For this reason, students’ final calculated grades will not necessarily reflect their predicted grades.

5. Will schools be using mock exam results as a barometer for results – and is this fair on students as they did not know at the time these would be used as their final mark?

Mock exam results will be one of the pieces of evidence that will be taken into account in this process, alongside other factors. There’s separate guidance from Ofqual on awarding GCSE, AS and A levels which explains to schools and colleges how to do this fairly and robustly.

6. Will the past performance of the school be taken into account when devising the calculated grade?

Ofqual’s guidance says that one of the sources of evidence schools and colleges should draw on is the performance of this year’s students compared to those in previous years. However, this is only one of the sources of evidence that will be taken into account.

7. Is this an entirely new system?

This is a new system, but one which builds on existing practices, as education professionals are used to making holistic judgements about their students. These judgements will be standardised at national level to give grades that are as fair as possible.

8. Will universities, colleges and sixth forms accept these grades?

The calculated grades awarded this summer will be formal grades, with the same status as grades awarded in any other year. They will therefore be accepted by all institutions.

University representatives have already confirmed that they expect universities to do all they can to support students and ensure they can progress to higher education.

9. What if I am unhappy with my calculated grade?

Ofqual and the exam boards are working to ensure that candidates are awarded a fair grade that recognises the work they have put in. If an A level, AS level or GCSE student does not believe the correct process has been followed in their case they will be able to appeal on that basis. Ofqual will consult shortly on the arrangements for these appeals. In addition, if a student does not feel their grade reflects their performance, they will have the opportunity to sit an exam, as soon as is reasonably possible after schools and colleges open again. Students will also have the option to sit their exams in summer 2021, in line with usual practice.

10. What about private candidates or home educated students?

Where schools and colleges have accepted entries from external candidates (students who they have not taught themselves, because they have been home-schooled, following distance-learning programmes or studying independently), those students should be taken account of in the process of producing centre assessment grades, where the head teacher or principal is confident that they and their staff have seen sufficient evidence of the student’s achievement to make an objective judgement.

Ofqual is also exploring urgently whether there are options for those students who do not have an existing relationship with an exams centre and who need results this summer for progression purposes, and will provide an update as soon as possible. Unfortunately, this is unlikely to be possible for all external candidates, some of whom may instead need to take exams in the autumn to get their grades.

Ofqual has asked organisations that represent higher and further education providers to consider the steps that providers could take when making admissions decisions this summer for any private candidates who do not receive a grade. They have said that they believe that institutions will consider a range of other evidence and information for these students to allow them to progress wherever possible.

11. Can private centres run GCSEs or A levels if they chose to do so?

No. Exam boards will not be issuing papers for this summer’s GCSE, AS and A levels so there will not be the opportunity to sit them at any centre.

12. Does this mean every exam in every module in every subject being cancelled, or will a limited number go ahead at GCSE and/or A level?

Exam boards will not be issuing papers for this summer’s GCSE, AS and A levels so there will not be the opportunity to sit them in any subject.

13. What about vocational and technical qualifications?

Many students will be taking vocational or technical qualifications instead of or alongside GCSEs, AS and A levels. While this process does not apply to those qualifications, the same aims apply. Our priority is to ensure that students and adult learners taking vocational and technical qualifications can move on as planned to the next stage of their lives, including starting university, college or sixth form courses, or apprenticeships in the autumn or getting a job or progressing in work.

Ofqual is working urgently with awarding organisations to develop an approach and will provide further information as soon as possible.

14. Will students be required to do further work to contribute towards their grade?

There is no requirement for schools and colleges to set additional mock exams or homework tasks for the purposes of determining a centre assessment grade, and no student should be disadvantaged if they are unable to complete any work set after schools were closed. Where additional work has been completed after schools and colleges were closed on 20 March, Ofqual is advising head teachers and principals to exercise caution where that evidence suggests a change in performance. In many cases this is likely to reflect the circumstances and context in which the work is done.

15. Can schools and colleges take incomplete coursework into account?

Ofqual’s guidance on awarding GCSE, AS and A levels makes clear that schools and colleges do not need to ask students to complete any unfinished non-exam assessment work for the purposes of grading. Where they do choose to take into account coursework completed after 20 March, Ofqual is advising head teachers and principals to exercise caution where that evidence suggests a change in performance. In many cases this is likely to reflect the circumstances and context in which the work is done.

16. What will young people with university offers do?

The grades awarded this summer will be formal grades, with the same status as grades awarded in any other year. There is no reason for the usual admissions cycle to be disrupted.

University representatives have already confirmed that they expect universities to do all they can to support students and ensure they can progress to higher education

17. Do universities need to start making unconditional offers / should I accept an unconditional offer now that exams are cancelled?

Universities should not begin making new unconditional offers and applicants should feel no pressure to accept such offers, as they will be awarded a formal calculated grade for each exam they would have taken.

18. If I already have an unconditional offer, does that remain?

Yes. An unconditional offer means you have already met the entry requirements, so the place is yours if you want it.

19. If I take the exam option, will I still be able to go to university this year?

Students who do not feel their calculated grade reflects their performance will have the opportunity to sit an exam as soon as is reasonably possible after the beginning of the academic year.

While it cannot be guaranteed in every circumstance, Universities UK has assured us that the majority of universities will do all they can to ensure that such students who take this option are able to begin their course with a delayed start time.

If a student is in this situation, they should speak to the university from which they have an offer after receiving their calculated grade.

20. Are iGCSEs and the International Baccalaureate also cancelled?

Yes. Summer exams for both international GCSEs and the International Baccalaureate have been cancelled in all countries this year.

21. How will colleges, sixth forms and universities cope with the fact that these students will have missed out on some of their education?

These are extraordinary circumstances. We are working with schools, sixth forms, colleges and universities to ensure that we do everything we can to best help students prepare for and progress to the next stage of their education.

22. Might the exams be reinstated if the coronavirus (COVID-19) is not as bad as expected?

No. The decision has been taken to cancel all exams this summer.

Government cracks down on spread of false coronavirus information online

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The Government released the press release below in respect of fake news across social media.

Specialist units across government are working at pace to combat false and misleading narratives about coronavirus, ensuring the public has the right information to protect themselves and save lives.

The Rapid Response Unit, operating from within the Cabinet Office and No10, is tackling a range of harmful narratives online – from purported ‘experts’ issuing dangerous misinformation to criminal fraudsters running phishing scams.

Up to 70 incidents a week, often false narratives containing multiple misleading claims, are being identified and resolved. The successful ‘Don’t Feed the Beast’ public information campaign will also relaunch next week, to empower people to question what they read online.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said:

We need people to follow expert medical advice and stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives. It is vital that this message hits home and that misinformation and disinformation which undermines it is knocked down quickly.

We’re working with social media companies, and I’ll be pressing them this week for further action to stem the spread of falsehoods and rumours which could cost lives.

When false narratives are identified, the government’s Rapid Response Unit coordinates with departments across Whitehall to deploy the appropriate response. This can include a direct rebuttal on social media, working with platforms to remove harmful content and ensuring public health campaigns are promoted through reliable sources.

The unit is one of the teams feeding into the wider Counter Disinformation Cell led by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, made up of experts from across government and in the tech sector.

The Cell is engaging with social media platforms and with disinformation specialists from civil society and academia, to establish a comprehensive overview of the extent, scope and impact of disinformation related to coronavirus.

The Culture Secretary will be contacting social media companies this week to thank them for their good efforts to date, assess the progress made and discuss what other potential measures can be put in place to ensure accurate, honest information consistently reaches users of their platforms.

Penny Mordaunt, Paymaster General said:

Holding your breath for ten seconds is not a test for coronavirus and gargling water for 15 seconds is not a cure – this is the kind of false advice we have seen coming from sources claiming to be medical experts.

That is why government communicators are working in tandem with health bodies to promote official medical advice, rebut false narratives and clamp down on criminals seeking to exploit public concern during this pandemic.

But the public can also help with this effort, so today we implore them to take some simple steps before sharing information online, such as always reading beyond the headline and scrutinising the source.

The public can help stop the spread of potentially dangerous or false stories circulating online by following official government guidance – the ‘SHARE’ checklist (see further information). This includes basic but essential advice such as checking the source of a story and analysing the facts before sharing.

Certain states routinely use disinformation as a policy tool, so the government is also stepping up its efforts to share its assessments on coronavirus disinformation with international partners. Working collaboratively has already helped make the UK safer, providing ourselves and our allies with a better understanding of how different techniques are used as part of malicious information operations – and how to protect against those techniques more effectively.

These measures follow recent advice from the National Cyber Security Centre, which revealed a range of attacks being perpetrated online by cyber criminals seeking to exploit coronavirus earlier this month.

This included guidance on how to spot and deal with suspicious emails related to coronavirus, as well as mitigate and defend against malware and ransomware.

Further information

To help the public spot false information the government is running the SHARE checklist and Don’t Feed The Beast campaign here. This gives the public five easy steps to follow to identify whether information may be misleading:

  • Source – make sure information comes from a trusted source
  • Headline – always read beyond the headline
  • Analyse – check the facts
  • Retouched – does the image or video look as though it has been doctored?
  • Error – look out for bad grammar and spelling

New drive for Coronavirus testing

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  • Government working with industry, philanthropy and universities to significantly scale up testing.
  • New partnership with Thermo Fisher Scientific, Amazon, Boots, Royal Mail and Randox, alongside the Wellcome Trust and top UK universities to boost testing capacity for frontline NHS staff.

Dozens of universities, research institutes and companies across Britain are lending their testing equipment to 3 new hub laboratories which will be set up for the duration of the crisis. No equipment already in use for coronavirus testing or other vital work will be taken.

All current coronavirus testing and research will continue, including at existing local NHS and Public Health England test laboratories, and this new programme will add significant new capacity.

Thermo Fisher Scientific and Randox, who make the equipment, are providing extensive logistical and technical support.

The first lab is now undergoing validation which is expected by tomorrow. Once approval is given, it is expected to enter operation over the weekend, initially on a fairly small scale, and processing around 800 samples.

It will be scaled up every week from then on, with 2 other hub laboratories being stocked with equipment and opening soon.

The first samples to be processed in the labs will be taken from frontline health workers. As the labs’ capacity increases, other frontline workers will be tested. The samples will be taken at special sites set up around the country, initially in coronavirus hotspots such as London.

Work is also underway to source more of the kits needed to take samples from people – of which there is a worldwide shortage.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said:

We want to save lives, protect the most vulnerable, and relieve pressure on our NHS.

Healthcare staff are key in our fight against the virus and I want to ensure that any frontline NHS or care worker who has symptoms of coronavirus or who has a family member with symptoms can be tested quickly and reliably.

I pay tribute to the generosity and public spirit of Britain’s universities, research institutes and companies who have lent us their equipment without hesitation.

Dr Jenny Harries, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, said:

Laboratory-based testing on this scale is a little like building the medical equivalent of a car factory. We are assembling many different parts, some of them quite specialised and hard to find, then getting them to work accurately together in a highly co-ordinated process. There are bound to be teething problems, so we cannot switch on hundreds of thousands of lab tests overnight. But we hope that soon these hub laboratories will be operating round the clock, allowing us to significantly scale up our testing.

This new service, which will be free, will help end the uncertainty of whether NHS staff need to stay at home. Those who test negative for coronavirus will be able to return to work – enhancing the capacity of the NHS and social care to treat patients and care for those in community settings, with plans for a full roll-out for health, social care and other frontline workers.

Amazon and Royal Mail will help with logistics, while Boots has been supporting initial trials by supplying volunteer healthcare clinicians as testers. It will continue this support as the testing rolls out across the UK. Testing will not be done at Boots stores and these tests will not be available over the counter or for purchase online from any retailers.

Sebastian James, Managing Director, Boots UK and ROI said:

I am extremely proud that Boots is supporting COVID-19 testing for NHS workers. Boots has been at the heart of UK healthcare for 171 years and has always come forward to support the community in times of need. We will work with the NHS to recruit trained professionals – both Boots colleagues and from the wider community.

I am sure there will be many trained healthcare clinicians and students, who will step forward to support our dedicated NHS colleagues. Drive through test locations are being defined but will be spread across the UK; they will not however be in Boots stores, allowing our colleagues to focus on supporting our patients and customers.

Doug Gurr, UK Country Manager, Amazon, said:

We believe our role serving customers and the community during this time is a critical one, and we are committed to working closely with the Government to identify ways in which we can support efforts to respond to the crisis.

Mark Stevenson, executive vice president and chief operating officer, Thermo Fisher Scientific, said:

Our diagnostic test for COVID-19 will help to protect patients and enable medical staff to respond swiftly to treat those who are ill and prevent the spread of infection. This is closely aligned with Thermo Fisher’s mission – to enable our customers to make the world healthier, cleaner and safer. In partnership with the UK government and our industry partners, we are committed to expanding the availability of diagnostic testing to prevent the spread of this virus.

Randox CEO Dr Peter FitzGerald said:

We are committed to this important initiative to support NHS frontline staff.

We have significant diagnostic capability and assets within the UK and, at this time of unparalleled national need, look forward to working with collaborative partners to meet the Government’s objectives.

Sir Jeremy Farrar, Director of Wellcome, said:

Widespread diagnostic testing during a pandemic is enormously important to controlling the spread of infection. This initiative is a substantial step forward in our ability to fight this disease that will save many lives.

Alongside other difficult but necessary public health measures such as physical distancing, cancelling mass gatherings, and school closures, testing is a critically important part of the response. Wellcome is extremely grateful to the government, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Amazon and Randox for joining this important partnership, and has been supporting this critical initiative.

Rico Back, Royal Mail Group Chief Executive Officer, said:

Royal Mail fully understands the devastating impact of the coronavirus outbreak on families, businesses and communities across the UK. We have a responsibility to help people stay connected, especially in this crisis when many are unable to leave their home.

The Universal Postal Service provides a lifeline for businesses and communities across the UK, and never more so than at this difficult time. We already deliver vital Government mail in relation to coronavirus. We are working closely with pharmacies and NHS trusts across the UK. And we are delivering many prescriptions and hospital appointments. This is of key importance for us. We will safely deliver these vital tests, a key step forward in the nation’s battle against the virus.

Coronavirus Act 2020

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The Coronavirus Act 2020 received the Royal Asset on the 25th March, 2020 and is now law.

Below is a summary of the Act, you can view a copy of the actual act by clicking here.


The UK government’s coronavirus action plan, published on 3 March, set out measures to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak that are reasonable, proportionate and based on the latest scientific evidence. Specifically, it detailed:

  • what we know about the virus and the disease it causes
  • how we have planned for an infectious disease outbreak
  • what we are planning to do next, depending on the course the coronavirus outbreak takes
  • the role the public can play in supporting this response, now and in the future

The plan also includes information on the government’s 4-stage strategy: contain, delay, research, mitigate. It sets out advice for how the public should respond in each stage, including what to expect as the outbreak advances.

It also envisaged that changes to legislation might be necessary in order to give public bodies across the UK the tools and powers they need to carry out an effective response to this emergency. This paper sets out, subject to final approvals, the elements of the bill and the reasons why they are needed.

The development of an effective response to the epidemic requires a number of actions. Some of these involve the use of tools and powers that are set out in statute. The governments of the UK therefore resolved to review and where necessary amend the legislation, to ensure that the UK’s response is consistent and effective.

Some of the proposed changes therefore deal with easing the burden on frontline NHS and adult social care staff, some help staff by enabling them to work without financial penalty, and some support people and communities in taking care of themselves, their families and loved ones, and their wider community.

The legislation will be time-limited – for 2 years – and not all of these measures will come into force immediately. The bill allows the 4 UK governments to switch on these new powers when they are needed, and, crucially, to switch them off again once they are no longer necessary, based on the advice of Chief Medical Officers of the 4 nations.

The measures in the coronavirus bill are temporary, proportionate to the threat we face, will only be used when strictly necessary and be in place for as long as required to respond to the situation.

We have worked closely with the devolved administrations to develop an effective package of measures to support frontline staff and individuals involved in this vital national response.

Contents of the bill

The bill enables action in 5 key areas:

  1. increasing the available health and social care workforce – for example, by removing barriers to allow recently retired NHS staff and social workers to return to work (and in Scotland, in addition to retired people, allowing those who are on a career break or are social worker students to become temporary social workers)
  2. easing the burden on frontline staff – by reducing the number of administrative tasks they have to perform, enabling local authorities to prioritise care for people with the most pressing needs, allowing key workers to perform more tasks remotely and with less paperwork, and taking the power to suspend individual port operations
  3. containing and slowing the virus – by reducing unnecessary social contacts, for example through powers over events and gatherings, and strengthening the quarantine powers of police and immigration officers
  4. managing the deceased with respect and dignity – by enabling the death management system to deal with increased demand for its services
  5. supporting people – by allowing them to claim Statutory Sick Pay from day one, and by supporting the food industry to maintain supplies

The proposals set out in the bill will significantly enhance the ability of public bodies across the UK to provide an effective response to tackle this epidemic. We are therefore aiming for it to reach the statute book and begin to take effect from the end of this month. However, the provisions relating to Statutory Sick Pay are intended to have retrospective effect to 13 March.

Increasing the available health and social care workforce

Although we are implementing measures to save lives through delaying and flattening the peak of the epidemic, it is clear that the next few months will present a significant level of challenge for the NHS and anyone working in caring professions. As in all sectors, there will be pressures from increased staff absence, if staff are unwell or self-isolating with their households.

In addition to this, there will be increased numbers of people becoming ill with COVID-19 and some of these people will require medical treatment or need to be admitted to hospital. These additional patient volumes will place pressure on our NHS. To ensure the best possible level of care is provided to those most in need, we may need to take measures to increase the available health and social care workforce and reduce the number of admin tasks they have to perform so they have more time to spend with patients.

To support this, the bill seeks to:

  • enable regulators to emergency register suitable people as regulated healthcare professionals, such as nurses, midwives or paramedics. This might include (but will not be limited to) recently retired professionals and students who are near the end of their training. Registered staff can then be used appropriately, with decisions made on a local basis, to increase the available health and social care workforce and enable essential health and care services to function during the height of the epidemic
  • enable regulators to temporarily add social workers to their registers who may have recently left the profession. This will ensure vital continuity of care for vulnerable children and adults
  • enable employees and workers to take Emergency Volunteer Leave in blocks of 2, 3 or 4 weeks’ statutory unpaid leave and establish a UK-wide compensation fund to compensate for loss of earnings and expenses incurred at a flat rate for those who volunteer through an appropriate authority. This will ensure that volunteers do not suffer financial disadvantage as a result of performing a public good. Volunteers play a critical role in the delivery of health and social care services and are particularly important in caring for the most vulnerable in our society, such as the elderly, those with multiple long-term conditions or those suffering from mental ill-health
  • provide indemnity for clinical negligence liabilities arising from NHS activities carried out for the purposes of dealing with, or because of, the coronavirus outbreak, where there is no existing indemnity arrangement in place. This will ensure that those providing healthcare service activity across the UK are legally protected for the work they are required to undertake as part of the COVID-19 response. This is in line with and will complement existing arrangements
  • suspend the rule that currently prevents some NHS staff who return to work after retirement from working more than 16 hours per week, along with rules on abatements and drawn-down of NHS pensions that apply to certain retirees who return to work. This will allow skilled and experienced staff who have recently retired from the NHS to return to work, and also allow retired staff who have already returned to work to increase their commitments if required, without having their pension benefits suspended

Easing the burden on frontline staff, both within the NHS and beyond

In the NHS and in other sectors who undertake activities that are vital to keeping the country running safely and securely, we may also face particular increased pressures as a result of staff absence or increased work volumes. This could include those caring for children or in education, protecting our borders, detaining and treating people under the Mental Health Act, supporting local authorities and ensuring national security. By reducing the number of admin tasks they have to perform, allowing key workers to perform more tasks remotely and with less paperwork, we will enable these crucial services to continue to operate effectively during periods of reduced staffing.

To support this the bill seeks to:

  • enable existing mental health legislation powers to detain and treat patients who need urgent treatment for a mental health disorder and are a risk to themselves or others, to be implemented using just one doctor’s opinion (rather than the current 2). This will ensure that those who were a risk to themselves or others would still get the treatment they need, when fewer doctors are available to undertake this function
  • temporarily allow extension or removal of time limits in mental health legislation to allow for greater flexibility where services are less able to respond. These temporary changes would be brought in only in the instance that staff numbers were severely adversely affected during the pandemic period and provide some flexibility to help support the continued safe running of services under the Mental Health Act
  • allow NHS providers to delay undertaking the assessment process for NHS continuing healthcare for individuals being discharged from hospital until after the emergency period has ended
  • make changes to the Care Act 2014 in England and the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 to enable local authorities to prioritise the services they offer in order to ensure the most urgent and serious care needs are met, even if this means not meeting everyone’s assessed needs in full or delaying some assessments. During a pandemic, a lot of people who work in health and social care could be off sick or may need to care for loved ones. This could mean that local authorities, which are responsible for social care, may not be able to do all the things they are usually required to do

Local authorities will still be expected to do as much as they can to comply with their duties to meet needs during this period and these amendments would not remove the duty of care they have towards an individual’s risk of serious neglect or harm.

These powers would only be used if demand pressures and workforce illness during the pandemic meant that local authorities were at imminent risk of failing to fulfil their duties and only last the duration of the emergency. It would ensure that local authorities will continue to be able to deliver the best possible care services during the peak and to protect the lives of the most vulnerable members of society.

  • temporarily relax local authorities’ duties in relation to their duties to conduct a needs assessment and prepare an adult carer support plan/young care statement under the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968, the Children (Scotland) Act 1995, the Social Care (Self-directed Support) (Scotland) Act 2013 and the Carers (Scotland) Act 2016 to enable them to prioritise people with the greatest needs
  • provide powers to require educational institutions or childcare providers to stay open or relax some requirements around education legislation in order to help these institutions run effectively during the event of an emergency. This could include reducing teacher ratios, adapting school meal standards and relaxing provisions for those with special educational needs. This will ensure that children, young people and those who work with them remain safe, while minimising disruption to everyday life and progression to further and higher education or employment by ensuring schools have the flexibility and support they need to respond pragmatically to the changing situation
  • enable the Home Secretary to request that port and airport operators temporarily close and suspend operations if Border Force staff shortages result in a real and significant threat to the UK’s border security. This is to ensure the UK can maintain adequate border security throughout the pandemic and protect the public from the threat of criminality or importation of prohibited items that could result from an inadequately controlled border. This would only be used in extremis, where necessary and proportionate, and any direction will be kept to the minimum period necessary to maintain the security of the UK border
  • expand availability of video and audio link in court proceedings. This would include magistrates’ court hearings taking place by phone or by video, should an individual appeal restriction of movement due to quarantine measures. This will ensure that an appeal takes place but will not require a person to break quarantine in order to attend in person. It will also enable the expansion of the availability of video and audio link in various criminal proceedings, including full video and audio hearings in certain circumstances, and public participation in relation to these and other court and tribunal proceedings conducted by audio and video. The measures will enable a wider range of proceedings to be carried out by video, so that courts can continue to function and remain open to the public, without the need for participants to attend in person. This will give judges more options for avoiding adjournments and keeping business moving through the courts to help reduce delays in the administration of justice and alleviate the impact on families, victims, witnesses and defendants
  • ensure that the Treasury can transact its business at all times, by making it possible for a single commissioner or a single Treasury minister to sign instruments and act on behalf of the commissioners, during a COVID-19 emergency period. Under current rules, where any instrument or act is required to be signed by the Commissioners of Her Majesty’s Treasury, it must be signed by 2 or more of the commissioners. This change will ensure that the Treasury can transact its business at all times during a COVID-19 emergency period, should commissioners be unable to fulfil their duty
  • allow temporary judicial commissioners (JCs) to be appointed at the request of the Investigatory Powers Commissioner, in the event that there are insufficient JCs available to operate the system under the Investigatory Powers Act 2016. This is the one of the critical pieces of domestic legislation for national security. It creates the statutory basis for the use of the investigatory powers by the intelligence and law enforcement agencies, using warrants issued under the act. These warrants provide the agencies with the capability they need to protect national security and investigate and prevent serious crime. The Home Secretary, again at the request of the Investigatory Powers Commissioner, will also be allowed to vary the time allowed for urgent warrants to be reviewed by a JC and how long they can last before they need to be reviewed. The maximum time allowed for a review will be increased to a maximum of 12 days (up from the current 3 days). Maintaining national security capabilities at a time of potential widespread upheaval is critical and it is necessary to ensure that the powers to vary specific aspects of the regime are available to the government should they be deemed necessary, for example if there are fewer JCs available than usual.

Delaying and slowing the virus

The government’s objective is to delay and flatten the peak of the epidemic by bringing forward the right measures at the right time, so that we minimise suffering and save lives. To slow the virus, we will need people to reduce unnecessary social contacts, which, for periods of time, may mean preventing gatherings of people, postponing electoral events over the course of the year or closing schools, further or high education premises or childcare providers. This will help mitigate the risk to public health arising from such mass gatherings.

This will happen only where necessary, to help minimise disruption to everyday life and progression of children and young people to further and higher education or employment. The measures would only be put in place for the period of time required to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To support this, the bill seeks to:

  • enable the government to restrict or prohibit events and gatherings during the pandemic in any place, vehicle, train, vessel or aircraft, any movable structure and any offshore installation and, where necessary, to close premises
  • provide a temporary power to close educational establishments or childcare providers
  • postpone the local, mayoral and Police and Crime Commissioner elections that were due to take place in England in May this year until May 2021. Provision will also be made to postpone other electoral events over the course of the year (such as by-elections)

It’s also important that all UK countries have equivalent legal measures in place to delay or prevent further transmission of the virus, to ensure consistency across the whole UK. For example, removing a current restriction in how Scottish territorial Health Boards can deliver vaccination programmes would mean that, when a vaccine becomes available, it can reach as many people as possible. To support this, the bill seeks to:

  • enable the departments of health in Northern Ireland and Scotland to make regulations for additional measures to be introduced to help them delay or prevent further transmission of COVID-19. Equivalent powers already exist in England and Wales and these provisions would bring them in line with the rest of the UK
  • remove a restriction in how Scottish territorial Health Boards can deliver vaccination programmes so a wider range of healthcare professionals in Scotland would be able to administer a vaccine.

Public support and compliance is crucial and we are grateful for the flexibility people have shown, but we need to ensure police and immigration officers have the authority to enforce these measures where necessary. Therefore, the bill will enable the police and immigration officers to detain a person, for a limited period, who is, or may be, infectious and to take them to a suitable place to enable screening and assessment.

Managing the deceased with respect and dignity

The steps the government is taking to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic will save lives. However, sadly, as has already been seen, people will lose loved ones as a result of this disease. We want to ensure the deceased are treated with the utmost respect and dignity and that the current procedures in relation to death and still-birth registration and management are modified to enable this and to protect public health. This will take account of the fact that families who have lost a loved one may be self-isolating, and that there may be reduced capacity to register and manage deaths as a result of pandemic-related sickness absence.

The bill intends to make changes to:

  • mean a coroner is only to be notified where a doctor believes there is no medical practitioner who may sign the death certificate, or that they are not available within a reasonable time of the death
  • introduce powers to enable the provisions under the Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Act 2016 relating to the collection of ashes to be suspended and replaced with a duty to retain until the suspension is lifted, except where family wishes are known. Also, suspend an offence in section 49 of the 2016 Act, allowing any relative of the deceased to complete the cremation application form, regardless of the required hierarchy set out by section 65 of the 2016 Act
  • expand the list of people who can register a death to include funeral directors acting on behalf of the family
  • enable electronic transmission of documents that currently have to be physically presented in order to certify the registration of a death
  • remove the need for a second confirmatory medical certificate in order for a cremation to take place
  • remove the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 requirement that any inquest into a COVID-19 death must be held with a jury. Other notifiable diseases will still require an inquest with a jury
  • suspend the referral of certificates to the Death Certification Review Service (DCRS) for review in Scotland under the Certification of Death (Scotland) Act 2011. The timing of the suspension to be at the discretion of Scottish ministers

If the scientific advice indicates that the number of people who might die from COVID-19 is likely to significantly exceed the capacity locally to manage the deceased and other contingency measures have been deployed, local government will have the ability to take control of a component or components of the death management process in their area.

For example, local authorities may choose to direct local actors such as funeral directors, mortuaries owners, crematoriums owners and others, to streamline the death management process. This may include an increase in the operating times of crematoriums, directing companies to use their vehicles to move bodies, or directing others not directly involved in the funeral sector, to provide necessary support.

Only in the most extreme situations where there is a risk to public health would the powers of direction be used and only be used when scientific evidence and operational advice suggests that it is necessary. Activating the powers will ensure the local death management system continues to work effectively to protect public health and the dignity of the deceased. Personal choice will be respected as far as possible, especially in regard to how we handle loved ones after they have passed.

Protecting and supporting people

We are asking people to stay at home if they have a high temperature or a new and continuous cough, or if anyone in their household has one of those 2 symptoms. In the event of a wider outbreak of COVID-19, the number of people that would be off work would increase significantly. This would include those that were displaying-virus like symptoms and those who were self-isolating as a precautionary measure.

We want to ensure the Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) provisions support people in complying with this request and that they have retrospective effect from 13 March 2020. By ensuring that people receive SSP from the first day that they are off work, we will ensure that those who are unwell or have been instructed to self-isolate can do so without the fear of losing pay. This will be an important measure in the event of a severe outbreak. By refunding small businesses, we hope to alleviate the significant financial burden on employers through increased SSP costs.

The bill is therefore seeking to:

  • give the government the power to temporarily suspend the rule that means SSP is not paid for the first 3 days of work that you miss because of sickness. These days are known as waiting days. Lifting this rule will enable us to respond quickly to an outbreak
  • enable employers with fewer than 250 employees to reclaim SSP paid for sickness absences relating to coronavirus during the period of the outbreak. This is because the government wants to ensure that businesses are supported to deal with the temporary economic impacts of an outbreak of coronavirus
  • require industry to provide information about food supplies, in the event that an industry partner does not co-operate with our current voluntary information-sharing arrangements during a period of potential disruption


How to help safely

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The single most important action we can all take, in fighting coronavirus, is to stay at home in order to protect the NHS and save lives.

Full guidance on staying at home and away from others can be found on

You should only leave the house for one of four reasons, and one of these is to provide care or to help a vulnerable person. Even when you are doing this, you need to do so safely. You should be minimising time spent outside of the home and ensuring you are 2 metres (6 feet) apart from anyone outside of your household.

This guidance outlines how you can help and importantly, how to do this safely.

If you live in Scotland, go to Ready Scotland for the latest information. If you live in Wales go to or for the latest information.

1. Can I help?

You can only provide support to people who are in isolation if you fulfil ALL of the conditions below:

  • You are well and have no symptoms like a cough or high temperature and nobody in your household does
  • You are under 70
  • You are not pregnant
  • You do not have any long-term health conditions that make you vulnerable to coronavirus.

2. Who can I help?

You can help households who are isolating. This could include friends and family members as well as your neighbours.

If you want to help in your local community, but don’t know how, further information can be found in the details below.

Always remember, you should only provide support in person where it is essential for the health or care of a vulnerable person.

3. How can I help safely?

The single most important action we can all take, in fighting coronavirus, is to stay at home in order to protect the NHS and save lives.

When we reduce our day-to-day contact with other people, we will reduce the spread of the infection and save lives. This remains the case when you are helping others.

You should not go inside the homes of anyone you do not live with, especially vulnerable people or people who believe they may be infected and are isolating themselves. Breaking these rules could put you at risk of infection, or risk spreading it to others.

If you are picking things up for others, try to limit the amount of time you spend outside of your home by picking up essential items for them when you do your own shopping or collect their medicines during the same trip.

You should stay 2m or six feet away from anyone you do not live with at all times. Do not share a car journey with them.

You should also regularly wash your hands with soapy water for at least 20 seconds.

If you have offered to help other people, please do not place yourself in positions where you may feel unsafe, for instance helping late at night.

You must also always adhere to our advice on how to stay safe.

If you or someone in your household has shown symptoms, or if you are more vulnerable to coronavirus yourself, then you must stay home. You still play an important role but will need to do this from home.

4. What can I do?

There are many ways you can help friends or family as well as neighbours who are in isolation.

4.1 Help with food shopping

If people staying at home because of coronavirus need basic necessities, you could do this yourself and leave the groceries on the person’s doorstep. Try to limit the amount of time you spend outside of your home by picking up essential items for others only when you do your own shopping.

Or you could help those who aren’t as familiar with online shopping by placing an order for them or by talking them through the process over the phone.

4.2 Collecting medication

You can pick up medicines on someone else’s behalf. People should only request medication that they need, in their usual quantities. Remember to keep a safe distance when leaving any items on the person’s doorstep or drop off area, and make sure that they have collected the medication before leaving.

4.3 Stay in touch over the phone or via social media

Staying at home for a long time can be a lonely experience and may impact on people’s wellbeing. Just saying hello and regularly checking in over the phone or by video-chat is important, or you could help people by recommending information from organisations like Every Mind Matters.

4.4 Encourage people to stay mentally and physically active

People who have experienced staying at home have kept themselves busy with activities such as cooking, reading, online learning or watching films. Swap suggestions about how people you are supporting can keep themselves busy. If people are well enough, encourage them to do some light exercise and keep active around the home, perhaps by using an online exercise class.

4.5 Share trusted sources of information

It’s easy to become worried by online information, some of which may be deliberately designed to mislead people. Help your community by sharing trusted information from the NHSPublic Health England or the Department of Health and Social Care.

5. What should I do if I’m worried about someone’s health?

Encourage anyone you are in touch with or supporting to use the NHS 111 online Coronavirus service. They should only call 111 if they can’t get online, their symptoms worsen or they have been instructed to. Call 999 if you believe someone’s life is at risk.

6. How to stay safe when accepting help from others

Please refer to guidance on staying at home.

If you are receiving voluntary help do not share financial details like credit/debit card numbers or personal information.

If someone you don’t know calls at your home, always ask for ID and always ensure you are comfortable sharing details like your phone number or address. Only provide information on a need to know basis and if you have seen ID. Do not feel pressured into providing information. If you have doubts about those who are approaching you, and are concerned, it is advised that you don’t engage, and report serious suspicious behaviour to the police.

Remember that genuine volunteers have been instructed not to enter your home.

7. Volunteering

Volunteering will be crucial in the response to coronavirus and people have not been stopped from doing this.

However, volunteering that requires going out of the house is now only permitted in certain circumstances. If you are well and are not at risk from coronavirus you can undertake essential activities including:

  • Delivering food
  • Helping people with their medical needs, such as picking up prescriptions
  • Providing essential care or to help a vulnerable person or person(s), including through essential public and voluntary services, such as food banks, homeless services, and blood donation sessions

Voluntary organisations are supporting people across the UK in this time of high need, providing practical, emotional and social support.

You can find local volunteering opportunities by visiting Do-IT, Volunteering Matters, or Reach Volunteering.

You could approach your local volunteer centre, or find your local member of the National Association for Voluntary and Community Action.

Visit Volunteering Wales to find volunteering opportunities in Wales. Visit Volunteer Scotland to find volunteering opportunities in Scotland.

For more information on what sort of help is most needed and how to help safely please see the guidance above.

8. Your NHS needs YOU – Join the NHS Volunteer Responders

NHS Volunteer Responders is a new group that will carry out simple, non-medical tasks to support people in England who have been asked to shield themselves from coronavirus because of underlying health conditions. They will be used by healthcare professionals to make sure people who are highly vulnerable to coronavirus (COVID-19) are able to stay safe and well at home.

8.1 Who can join and what are the tasks?

The NHS and social care urgently need people to join the NHS Volunteer Responders to do simple but vital tasks including driving people to and from hospital, and delivering food and medication. Volunteers will also support the NHS to transport equipment and supplies, and make regular phone calls to check on people isolating at home.

Please note, to comply with the UK’s current ‘Stay at Home’ rules you can only volunteer to carry out those tasks which involve leaving your home if you fulfil ALL of the conditions below:

  • You are well and have no symptoms like a cough or high temperature and neither does anybody in your household
  • You are under 70
  • You are not pregnant
  • You do not have any long-term health conditions that make you vulnerable to coronavirus

Read the guidance for those at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus

9. I need to stay at home – can I still help?

You can sign up as a telephone ‘check in and chat’ volunteer even if you are staying at home and you are in one of the groups listed above.

10. How do I join?

Register directly

You will be asked to select from a list of tasks. Once your registration and checks are complete you will be sent details of how to receive tasks direct to your device. Local volunteer tasks will be pushed to your phone with an alert when you switch the app to ‘on duty’.

11. Why has NHS Volunteer Responders been set up?

It is vital that health and social care teams can easily match people who need help to self-isolate with ID-checked volunteers in a managed, England-wide system. This service aims to support people who have specific health conditions which put them at high risk from coronavirus. It will be used by doctors, nurses, social workers, care workers and others where there is no alternative local support for their patients, and will help to keep hospital beds available to those who need them most.

12. Is this different from helping out my neighbours and local charities?

NHS Volunteer Responders is not intended to replace any local provision. It will provide a service where informal support is not available or where health and social care professionals do not have a way to refer people into those systems. It is being delivered by Royal Voluntary Service one of the country’s largest and long-standing volunteering charities.

13. I am clinically trained – how can I volunteer to help the NHS?

The NHS Volunteer Responders will not undertake clinical tasks. If you are clinically trained please visit the NHS website

Alternatively, contact your local hospital trust.

MOT Extension

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The Government has granted car owners a six-month exemption from MOT Testing.

The exemption will not come into force until the 30th March, 2020 so any vehicle requiring an MOT before that date MUST have the MOT test.

The exemption applies to cars, motorcycles and vans, but warned that the vehicle must be maintained in a roadworthy condition.


A quiet day

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Whilst there has been a number of Government notices issued today they have been on technical issues.

The Prime Minister’s statement this afternoon largely about testing and of course Staying at home, Social Distancing and Washing your hands.

On a positive note the call for 250,000 NHS volunteers yesterday has resulted in 405,000 volunteers in just 24 hours.

Please remember all the instructions previously laid out, on the Royal Assent of the Coronavirus Act scheduled for tomorrow will carry the full force of the law.

Stay at Home (if you can), following the rules on Social Distancing (a minimum of 2 metres) and wash your hands. Also remember that the rules also apply to children as well as adults.



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As a country, we all need to do what we can to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

That is why the government has given clear guidance on self-isolation, staying at home and away from others, and asked that schools only remain open for those children who absolutely need to attend.

On 23 March the Government, stepped up measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus and save lives. All non-essential premises must now close. Takeaway and delivery services may remain open and operational in line with guidance on Friday 20 March. Online retail is still open and encouraged and postal and delivery service will run as normal.

Retail and public premises which we expect to remain open must:

  • Ensure a distance of two meters between customers and shop assistants; and
  • Let people enter the shop only in small groups, to ensure that spaces are notcrowded.
  • Queue control is required outside of shops and other essential premises thatremain open.

    Parks will remain open but only for individuals and households to exercise once a day. Communal spaces within parks such as playgrounds and football pitches will be closed.

    Non-essential businesses and premises must now shut
    The following businesses and premises must remain closed:

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Business, premises or place


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Food and drink




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Food delivery and takeaway can remain operational.

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Cafes, including workplace canteens

Food delivery and takeaway can remain operational.
Cafés or canteens at hospitals, care homes or schools; prison and military canteens; services providing food or drink to the homeless.


Public houses


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Bars and nightclubs, including bars in hotels or members’ clubs


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Hair, beauty and nail salons, including piercing and tattoo parlours

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Massage parlours


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All retail with notable exceptions


Supermarkets and other food shops, health shops, pharmacies including non- dispensing pharmacies, petrol stations, bicycle shops, home and hardware shops, laundrettes and dry cleaners, bicycle shops, garages, car rentals, pet shops, corner shops, newsagents, post offices, and banks.

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Outdoor and indoor markets

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Market stalls which offer essential retail, such as grocery and food.


Auction houses

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Car showrooms


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Hotels, hostels, BnBs, campsites and boarding houses for commercial use

Where people live in these as interim abodes whilst their primary residence is unavailable they may continue to do so.

Key workers can continue to stay in hotels or similar where required.


Caravan parks/sites for commercial uses

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Where people live permanently in caravan parks or are staying in caravan parks as interim abodes where their primary residence is not available, they may continue to do so.

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Non-residential institutions




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Community centres, youth centres and similar

Facilities may remain open for the purpose of hosting essential voluntary or public services, such as food banks or homeless services.

We will do everything to support vulnerable people who are without a network of friends and families.


Places of worship for services

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Funerals following the social distancing guidance; places of worship should remain open for solitary prayer.

Live streaming of a service without audience would be permissible.


Cinemas, theatres and concert halls

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Live streaming of a performance by a small group could be permissible with social distancing observed.

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Assembly and leisure


Museums and galleries

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Bingo halls, casinos and betting shops

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Skating rinks


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Fitness studios, gyms, swimming pools or other indoor leisure centres


Arcades, bowling alleys, soft play centres and similar


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Outdoor recreation

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Enclosed spaces in parks, including playgrounds, sports courts and pitches, and outdoor gyms or similar


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These premises and other venues must close as they involve prolonged close social contact, which increases the chances of infection spreading.

Takeaway and delivery facilities should remain open and operational.

This means people can continue to enter premises to access takeaway services, including delivery drivers. Planning regulation will be changed to enable restaurants, cafes and pubs which do not currently offer delivery and hot food takeaway to do so. This will be clearly communicated by the government when in effect. People must not consumer food or drinks on site at restaurants, cafes or pubs whilst waiting for takeaway food,

Those venues offering takeaway or delivery services must not include alcoholic beverages in this list if their license does not already permit.

Length of closure

We are asking the businesses and premises and other venues outlined above not to open for trade from close of trade 23 March 2020.

The Government will look again at these measures in three weeks, and relax them if the evidence shows this is possible.


Everyone is instructed to comply with the rules issued by the government in relation to coronavirus, in order to protect both themselves and others.

As of 2pm on 21 March 2020, closures on the original list from 20th March are now enforceable by law in England and Wales due to the threat to public health. The government will extend the law and enforcement powers to include the new list of premises for closure. Further measures on enforcement could be taken following the passage of the Coronavirus Bill through parliament.

A business operating in contravention of the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Business Closures) Regulations 2020 will be committing an offence. As agreed with the devolved administrations, these measures will be extended to Scotland and Northern Ireland by Ministerial Direction once the Coronavirus Bill is in force.

Environmental Health and Trading Standards officers will monitor compliance with these regulations, with police support provided if appropriate. Businesses and premises that breach them will be subject to prohibition notices, and potentially unlimited fines.

Financial Support

Her Majesty’s Treasury also announced on 20 March 2020 a comprehensive series of measures supporting wages, cash-flow for businesses, and the welfare system.

Business support

In England, under the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant (RHLG) announced on Monday March 16, businesses and premises in England in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors will be eligible for cash grants of up to £25,000 per property.

Eligible businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of up to £15,000 will receive a grant of £10,000. Eligible businesses and premises in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of between £15,001 and £51,000 will receive a grant of £25,000. Businesses with a rateable value of over £51,000 are not included in this scheme. For more information please visit

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Business rates

In England, as announced on Monday 16 March, the government will provide a business rates holiday for businesses and premises in the retail, hospitality and/or leisure sector. This includes the businesses and premises in scope for closure listed above. This will apply automatically to your next business rates bill in April 2020. For more information please visit

Further information

This guidance will be updated regularly as the situation develops. For information about support for business, please go to the Government’s Business Support webpage or visit

Devolved Administrations may issue further guidance on these matters within their nations.


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The single most important action we can all take, in fighting coronavirus, is to stay at home in order to protect the NHS and save lives.

When we reduce our day-to-day contact with other people, we will reduce the spread of the infection. That is why the government is now (23 March 2020) introducing three new measures.

1. Requiring people to stay at home, except for very limited purposes 2. Closing non-essential shops and community spaces
3. Stopping all gatherings of more than two people in public

Every citizen must comply with these new measures. The relevant authorities, including the police, will be given the powers to enforce them – including through fines and dispersing gatherings.

These measures are effective immediately. The Government will look again at these measures in three weeks, and relax them if the evidence shows this is possible.


You should only leave the house for one of four reasons.

  • ●  Shopping for basic necessities​, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible.
  • ●  One form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household.
  • ●  Any medical need​, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person.1
  • ●  Travelling to and from work​, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home.
    These four reasons are exceptions – even when doing these activities, you should be minimising time spent

    outside of the home and ensuring you are 2 metres apart from anyone outside of your household.
    These measures must be followed by everyone. Separate advice is available for individuals or households

    who are isolating​, and for the ​most vulnerable who need to be shielded​.
    If you work in a critical sector outlined in this ​guidance​, or your child has been identified as vulnerable, you

    can continue to take your children to school.


    Last week, the Government ordered certain businesses – including pubs, cinemas and theatres – to close.

    The Government is now extending this requirement to a further set of businesses and other venues, including:

● all non-essential retail stores – this will include clothing and electronics stores; hair, beauty and nail salons; and outdoor and indoor markets, excluding food markets.

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1 ​Where applicable, this includes moving children under 18 between their parents’ homes.

  • ●  libraries, community centres, and youth centres​.
  • ●  indoor and outdoor leisure facilities​ such as bowling alleys, arcades and soft play facilities.
  • ●  communal places within parks​, such as playgrounds, sports courts and outdoor gyms.
  • ●  places of worship, ​except for funerals attended by immediate families.
  • ●  hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, campsites, caravan parks, and boarding houses for commercial/leisure use (excluding permanent residents and key workers).

    More detailed information can be found ​here​, including a full list of those businesses and other venues that must close. Businesses and other venues not on this list may remain open.

    To make sure people are staying at home and apart from each other, the Government is also ​stopping all

    public gatherings of more than two people​. There are only two exceptions to this rule:

  • ●  where the gathering is of a group of people who live togethe​r – this means that a parent can, for example, take their children to the shops if there is no option to leave them at home.
  • ●  where the gathering is essential for work purposes – but workers should be trying to minimise all meetings and other gatherings in the workplace.

    In addition, the Government is stopping social events, including weddings, baptisms and other religious ceremonies. This will exclude funerals, which can be attended by immediate family.


    These measures will reduce our day to day contact with other people. They are a vital part of our efforts to reduce the rate of transmission of coronavirus.

    Every citizen is instructed to comply with these new measures.

    The Government will therefore be ensuring the police and other relevant authorities have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings where people do not comply.

    They will initially last for the three weeks from 23 March, at which point the Government will look at them again and relax them if the evidence shows this is possible.

Prime Minister addresses the Nation

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Below is the transcript of the PM’s address to the Nation. Fuller details of the precise measures will be published over the next couple days. We will post the information as it becomes available.

Good Evening,

The coronavirus is the biggest threat this country has faced for decades – and this country is not alone.

All over the world we are seeing the devastating impact of this invisible killer.

And so tonight I want to update you on the latest steps we are taking to fight the disease and what you can do to help.

And I want to begin by reminding you why the UK has been taking the approach that we have.

Without a huge national effort to halt the growth of this virus, there will come a moment when no health service in the world could possibly cope; because there won’t be enough ventilators, enough intensive care beds, enough doctors and nurses.

And as we have seen elsewhere, in other countries that also have fantastic health care systems, that is the moment of real danger.

To put it simply, if too many people become seriously unwell at one time, the NHS will be unable to handle it – meaning more people are likely to die, not just from Coronavirus but from other illnesses as well.

So it’s vital to slow the spread of the disease.

Because that is the way we reduce the number of people needing hospital treatment at any one time, so we can protect the NHS’s ability to cope – and save more lives.

And that’s why we have been asking people to stay at home during this pandemic.

And though huge numbers are complying – and I thank you all – the time has now come for us all to do more.

From this evening I must give the British people a very simple instruction – you must stay at home.

Because the critical thing we must do is stop the disease spreading between households.

That is why people will only be allowed to leave their home for the following very limited purposes:

  • shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible
  • one form of exercise a day – for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household
  • any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person; and
    travelling to and from work, but only where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home.
    That’s all – these are the only reasons you should leave your home.

You should not be meeting friends. If your friends ask you to meet, you should say No.

You should not be meeting family members who do not live in your home.

You should not be going shopping except for essentials like food and medicine – and you should do this as little as you can. And use food delivery services where you can.

If you don’t follow the rules the police will have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings.

To ensure compliance with the Government’s instruction to stay at home, we will immediately:

close all shops selling non-essential goods,​ including clothing and electronic stores and other premises including libraries, playgrounds and outdoor gyms, and places of worship;
we will stop all gatherings of more than two people in public – excluding people you live with;
and we’ll stop all social events​, including weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies, but excluding funerals.
Parks will remain open for exercise but gatherings will be dispersed.

No Prime Minister wants to enact measures like this.

I know the damage that this disruption is doing and will do to people’s lives, to their businesses and to their jobs.

And that’s why we have produced a huge and unprecedented programme of support both for workers and for business.

And I can assure you that we will keep these restrictions under constant review. We will look again in three weeks, and relax them if the evidence shows we are able to.

But at present there are just no easy options. The way ahead is hard, and it is still true that many lives will sadly be lost.

And yet it is also true that there is a clear way through.

Day by day we are strengthening our amazing NHS with 7500 former clinicians now coming back to the service.

With the time you buy – by simply staying at home –

  • we are increasing our stocks of equipment.
  • We are accelerating our search for treatments.
  • We are pioneering work on a vaccine.
  • And we are buying millions of testing kits that will enable us to turn the tide on this invisible killer.

I want to thank everyone who is working flat out to beat the virus.

Everyone from the supermarket staff to the transport workers to the carers to the nurses and doctors on the frontline.

But in this fight we can be in no doubt that each and every one of us is directly enlisted.

Each and every one of us is now obliged to join together.

  • To halt the spread of this disease.
  • To protect our NHS and to save many many thousands of lives.

And I know that as they have in the past so many times.

The people of this country will rise to that challenge.

And we will come through it stronger than ever.

We will beat the coronavirus and we will beat it together.

And therefore I urge you at this moment of national emergency to stay at home, protect our NHS and save lives.

Thank you.