Category: HM Government

HM Government – Statement on Nottinghamshire Very High Alert Status

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Following close discussions with local leaders, the whole of Nottinghamshire, comprising the 8 districts of Ashfield, Bassetlaw, Broxtowe, Gedling, Mansfield, Newark and Sherwood, Nottingham and Rushcliffe, will move from local COVID alert level high to very high from 00.01 on 30 October. This means that new measures will come into place including:

  • people must not socialise with anybody they do not live or have formed a support bubble with, in any indoor setting or in any private garden or at most outdoor hospitality venues and ticketed events
  • people must not socialise in a group of more than 6 in an outdoor public space such as a park or beach, the countryside, a public garden or outdoor sports courts/facilities
  • all pubs and bars must close, unless they are serving substantial meals
  • people should try to avoid travelling outside the very high alert level or entering a very high alert level area, other than for work, education or for caring responsibilities or to travel through as part of a longer journey
  • residents should avoid staying overnight in another part of the UK, and others should avoid staying overnight in the very high alert area

In addition, following discussions with local leaders it was agreed that from 30 October at 00.01 the following measures will also come into place:

  • all hospitality venues (cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars and social clubs) can remain open to offer substantial meals, or must move to operate a delivery and takeaway service only. Alcohol can only be served with a substantial meal
  • the use of shared smoking equipment (such as but not limited to shisha) in hospitality venues will be prohibited
  • betting shops, car boot sales and auction houses (with the exception of livestock and agricultural equipment sales) must close
  • alcohol sales must be prohibited after 9pm where alcohol is purchased to consume off premises, for example shops. Alcohol can continue to be purchased in hospitality venues where accompanying a substantial meal, up until 10pm
  • indoor entertainment and tourism venues must close, except for ice skating rinks, cinemas, concert halls, and theatres. Hotels and other accommodation can stay open
  • outdoor entertainment and tourism venues can remain open, with the exception of their indoor attractions (such as at animal attractions or landmarks)
  • saunas and steam rooms must close
  • leisure and sporting facilities (such as leisure centres, gyms, fitness and dance studios, swimming pools and sports courts) can remain open. It is strongly advised that indoor group exercise classes (including dance and fitness classes) should not take place
  • personal care settings such as tattoo parlours, tanning and nail salons, and piercing services must close. Hairdressers and barber salons can remain open but cannot perform services that are otherwise closed. It is advised that personal care services do not take place in private homes.
  • public buildings such as town and parish halls, community centres and libraries can remain open to run activities such as childcare and support groups. Public buildings should not host events for private hire, such as birthday parties or other social activities

Weekly case rates

The rate of COVID-19 infections is rising rapidly across the UK. The weekly case rate in England stood at 201 people per 100,000 from 15 October to 21 October, up from 100 people per 100,000 for the week 25 September to 1 October. Cases are not evenly spread, with infection rates rising more rapidly in some areas than others.

In Nottinghamshire, infection rates are among the highest in the country and continue to rise rapidly. The weekly case rate stands at 364 people per 100,000 in Nottinghamshire County, and is 239 per 100,000 in those over 60 rising to 772 per 100,000 in those aged 17-21 years old. In Nottingham City the current weekly case rate per 100,000 rises to 493 per 100,000, with 918 per 100,000 aged between 17-21. As of 20 October, there were 194 confirmed COVID-19 cases at Nottingham University Hospitals Trust, with 11 mechanical ventilation beds occupied by confirmed COVID-19 patients.

To support the local community during this period, it has also been agreed in principle with local leaders that the move to the local COVID alert level: very high will be supported by funding that is proportionate to that received by other regions that have moved to local COVID alert level: very high. This will include additional funding from the Contain Outbreak Management Fund to support proactive containment and intervention measures, as well as business support funding.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said:

We have seen infection rates rising sharply across Nottinghamshire, and in close collaboration with local leaders we have agreed on a package of local measures to stop this virus in its tracks. I understand how difficult life is under these restrictions and the impact they have on families and businesses, but we never take these decisions lightly.

I want to thank local leaders for their continued support, and to extend my gratitude to the people of Nottinghamshire who have shown real resilience, consistently working together to follow the rules and help bring down rates of infection.

Everyone has a part to play in controlling the virus – remember Hands, Face, Space – self-isolate and get tested if you have symptoms and follow the rules where you live.

Minister of State Rt Hon Christopher Pincher MP said:

I would like to thank the local leaders in Nottinghamshire for entering into productive discussions and coming to an agreement as quickly as possible.

We are very conscious that these new restrictions will have a huge impact on those living and working in the county, but this action is vital and is based on public health advice. In order to support local people, businesses and the councils, we worked together to agree an extensive package of support.

These restrictions will be reviewed in 28 days to ensure they are only in place for as long as necessary. We are working closely with leaders across Nottinghamshire to support local people and businesses through the ongoing challenges this pandemic brings.

All available data for the areas that will move to local COVID alert level: very high have been assessed by the government, including the Health and Social Care Secretary, NHS Test and Trace, the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC), Public Health England (PHE), the Chief Medical Officer and the Cabinet Office. Data assessed includes incidence, test positivity and the growth rate of the virus.

It is essential that these outbreaks are contained to protect lives and our NHS, and prevent greater economic damage in the future. We face a new challenge as we head into the winter, and we know that even mild cases of COVID-19 can have devastating consequences for people in all age groups, along with the risk of long COVID.

Our strategy is to suppress the virus while supporting the economy, education and the NHS, until an effective vaccine is widely available. Local action is at the centre of our response, and engagement with local authorities is, and will continue to be, a key part of this process.

Background information

Case rates per 100,000 people (data for specimens taken between 15 October 2020 and 21 October 2020):

  • in Ashfield, weekly case rates stand at 295 people per 100,000, is 324 per 100,000 in those aged 17 to 21 and is 262 per 100,000 in the over-60s
  • in Bassetlaw, weekly case rates stand at 272 people per 100,000, is 489 per 100,000 in those aged 17 to 21 and is 172 per 100,000 in the over-60s
  • in Broxtowe, weekly case rates stand at 360 people per 100,000, is 612 per 100,000 in those aged 17 to 21 and is 230 per 100,000 in the over-60s
  • in Gedling, weekly case rates stand at 410 people per 100,000, is 823 per 100,000 in those aged 17 to 21 and is 301 per 100,000 in the over-60s
  • in Mansfield, weekly case rates stand at 282 people per 100,000, is 520 per 100,000 in those aged 17 to 21 and is 292 per 100,000 in the over-60s
  • in Newark and Sherwood, weekly case rates stand at 192 people per 100,000, is 408 per 100,000 in those aged 17 to 21 and is 111 per 100,000 in the over-60s
  • in Nottingham, weekly case rates stand at 494 people per 100,000, is 918 per 100,000 in those aged 17 to 21 and is 280 per 100,000 in the over-60s
  • in Rushcliffe, weekly case rates stand at 380 people per 100,000, is 1112 per 100,000 in those aged 17 to 21 and is 261 per 100,000 in the over-60s

On 12 October, the government introduced a new, simplified framework for local interventions based around three new local COVID alert levels.

The postcode checker shows which alert level applies in each area.

The NHS COVID-19 app will also direct people to this information.

We have provided £3.7 billion of funding to local authorities in England to respond to pressures in all their services.

The Prime Minister also announced on Monday 12 October additional COVID funding of around £1 billion, which will provide local authorities with additional money to protect vital services. The government will set out further information in due course on how this new funding will be allocated.

See data slides on the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation in Nottinghamshire.

See guidance on each local COVID alert level.

Nottingham and Nottinghamshire move to Tier Three – ‘Very High’ alert level

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All nine councils have now agreed that Nottingham and Nottinghamshire should move together into Tier 3 restrictions for the city and the county following discussions between Government and Council Leaders.

The ‘Very High’ alert measures come into force at one minute past midnight on Friday 30 October 2020.

 

The Tier 3 restrictions mean:

  • People must not meet socially with friends and family indoors in any setting unless they are part of their household or support bubble. This includes private homes and indoors in hospitality venues, such as pubs.
  • People must not meet with people outside of their household or support bubble in a private garden or in most outdoor public venues.
  • People can continue to see friends and family in groups of six or less that they don’t live with (or have formed a support bubble with) in certain outdoor public spaces, such as a park or public garden.
  • All pubs and bars must close unless they are serving substantial meals, such as a main lunchtime or evening meal. They can only serve alcohol as part of a meal. Pubs, bars and restaurants must still close between 10pm and 5am.
  • Wedding receptions will not be permitted, but people can get married with a maximum of 15 people at the ceremony (check with the venue for additional restrictions).
  • Avoid travelling outside the Very High alert area or entering a Very High alert level area, other than for work, education or for caring responsibilities, or to travel through as part of a longer journey.
  • Avoid staying overnight in another part of the UK.

As well as the main Tier 3 restrictions, Council Leaders have agreed the following additional local restrictions:

  • All hospitality venues (cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars and social clubs) can only remain open to offer substantial meals, or must move to operate a delivery and takeaway service only. Alcohol can only be served with a substantial meal.
  • The use of shared smoking equipment (such as but not limited to shisha) in hospitality venues will be prohibited.
  • Betting shops, car boot sales and auction houses (with the exception of Livestock and agricultural equipment sales) must close.
  • Alcohol sales must be prohibited after 9pm where alcohol is purchased to consume off premises, for example shops. Alcohol can continue to be purchased in hospitality venues where accompanying a substantial meal, up until 10pm.
  • Indoor entertainment and tourism venues must close, except for ice-skating rinks, cinemas, concert halls, and theatres. Hotels and other accommodation can stay open.
  • Outdoor entertainment and tourism venues can remain open, with the exception of their indoor attractions (such as animal attractions or landmarks).
  • Saunas and steam rooms must close.
  • Leisure and sporting facilities (such as leisure centres, gyms, fitness and dance studios, swimming pools and sports courts) can remain open. It is strongly advised that indoor group exercise classes (including dance and fitness classes) should not take place.
  • Personal care settings such as tattoo parlours, tanning and nail salons, and piercing services must close. Hairdressers and barber salons can remain open but cannot perform services that are otherwise closed. It is advised that personal care services do not take place in private homes.
  • Public buildings such as town and parish halls, community centres and libraries can remain open to run activities such as childcare and support groups. Public buildings should not host events for private hire, such as birthday parties or other social activities.

Government and local partners will closely monitor the impact of these new restrictions, which will be in place for 28 days from Friday 30th October and will be kept under review.

As well as the new restrictions, please continue to:

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

People who have symptoms of Covid-19 – high temperature, continuous cough or loss of taste or smell – must self-isolate immediately and book a test online or by calling 119.

More information

We appreciate there is a lot of information to absorb. We are continuing to work through the guidance for these stricter/additional restrictions and will share more details, guidance and FAQs as soon as possible. This information will be posted on the council websites.

 

More detail about the Tier 3 restrictions are on the Government website here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/local-covid-alert-level-very-high

Local COVID alert levels: what you need to know

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Information on local COVID alert levels, including what they mean, why they are being introduced and what the different levels are.

These rules will apply from 00.01 on Wednesday 14 October. You must follow the current guidance until then.

What local COVID alert levels mean

Local COVID alert levels set out information for local authorities, residents and workers about what to do and how to manage the outbreak in their area.

Find out what you can and cannot do if you live, work or travel in each local COVID alert level.

Check the local COVID alert level of your local area to see which level applies to you.

Why the government is introducing local COVID alert levels

The government is committed to ensuring the right levels of intervention in the right places to manage outbreaks. Working with local authorities through the contain framework, our approach has been simplified so that there are now 3 local COVID alert levels.

Local COVID alert level: medium

This is for areas where national restrictions continue to be in place.

This means:

  • you must not socialise in groups larger than 6, indoors or outdoors (other than where a legal exemption applies)
  • businesses and venues can continue to operate, in a COVID-secure manner, other than those that remain closed in law
  • certain businesses are required to ensure customers only consume food and drink while seated, and must close between 10pm and 5am
  • businesses and venues selling food for consumption off the premises can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-through
  • schools and universities remain open
  • places of worship remain open, subject to the rule of 6
  • weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on numbers of attendees
  • exercise classes and organised sport can continue to take place outdoors, or indoors if the rule of 6 is followed

You must:

You should continue to:

  • follow social distancing rules
  • work from home where you can effectively do so
  • when travelling, plan ahead or avoid busy times and routes. Walk or cycle if you can

Find out more about the measures that apply in medium alert level areas to help reduce the spread of COVID-19

Local COVID alert level: high

This is for areas with a higher level of infections where some additional restrictions are in place.

This means on top of restrictions in alert level medium:

  • you must not socialise with anybody outside of your household or support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place
  • you must not socialise in a group of more than 6 outside, including in a garden or other spaces like beaches or parks (other than where specific exemptions apply in law)
  • businesses and venues can continue to operate, in a COVID-secure manner, other than those that remain closed in law
  • certain businesses are required to ensure customers only consume food and drink while seated, and must close between 10pm and 5am
  • businesses and venues selling food for consumption off the premises can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-through
  • schools, universities and places of worship remain open
  • weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of attendees
  • exercise classes and organised sport can continue to take place outdoors. These will only be permitted indoors if it is possible for people to avoid mixing with people they do not live with or share a support bubble with, or for youth or disability sport
  • you can continue to travel to venues or amenities that are open, for work or to access education, but should look to reduce the number of journeys you make where possible

You must:

You should continue to:

  • follow social distancing rules
  • work from home where you can effectively do so
  • walk or cycle where possible, or plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport

Find out more about the measures that apply in high alert level areas to help reduce the spread of COVID-19

Local COVID alert level: very high

This is for areas with a very high level of infections and where tighter restrictions are in place. The restrictions placed on areas with a very high level of infections can vary, and are based on discussions between central and local government. You should therefore check the specific rules in your area.

At a minimum, this means:

  • you must not socialise with anybody you do not live with, or have formed a support bubble with, in any indoor setting or in any private garden or at most outdoor hospitality venues and ticketed events
  • you must not socialise in a group of more than 6 in an outdoor public space such as a park or beach, the countryside, a public garden or a sports venue
  • pubs and bars must close. They can only remain open where they operate as if they were a restaurant, which means serving substantial meals, like a main lunchtime or evening meal. They may only serve alcohol as part of such a meal
  • schools and universities remain open
  • places of worship remain open, but household mixing is not permitted
  • weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of attendees. However, wedding receptions are not allowed
  • exercise classes and organised sport can continue to take place outdoors. These will only be permitted indoors if it is possible for people to avoid mixing with people they do not live with (or share a support bubble with), or for youth or disability sport
  • you should try to avoid travelling outside the very-high alert level area you are in or entering a very-high alert level area, other than for things like work, education or youth services, to meet caring responsibilities or if you are travelling through as part of a longer journey
  • you should avoid staying overnight in another part of the UK if you are resident in a very-high alert level area, or avoid staying overnight in a very-high alert level area if you are resident elsewhere

You must:

You should continue to:

  • follow social distancing rules
  • work from home where you can effectively do so
  • travel to venues or amenities that are open, for work or to access education, but aim to reduce the number of journeys you make

This is the baseline in very-high alert level areas. The government will also seek to agree additional interventions in consultation with local authorities, in order to drive down transmission of the virus. These could include the following options:

  • restrictions preventing the sale of alcohol in hospitality or closing all hospitality (except takeaway and delivery)
  • closing indoor and outdoor entertainment venues and tourist attractions
  • closing venues such as leisure centres and gyms (while ensuring provision remains available for elite athletes, youth and disabled sport and physical activity)
  • closing public buildings, such as libraries and community centres (while ensuring provision remains available for youth and childcare activities and support groups)
  • closing personal care and close contact services or prohibiting the highest-risk activities
  • closing performing arts venues for the purposes of performing to audiences

You should therefore check whether additional restrictions apply in your area.

Find out more about the measures that apply in very high alert level areas to help reduce the spread of COVID-19

Published 12 October 2020

Local COVID Alert level: High

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Find out what restrictions are in place if you live in an area where the Local COVID Alert level is High.

All Alert Levels

In all areas of England, you should remember ‘Hands. Face. Space’:

  • HANDS – wash your hands regularly and for 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 or increasing ventilation indoors)

This guidance is for the general public who are fit and well. There is separate guidance for:

HIGH ALERT LEVEL

Meeting family and friends

You must not meet socially with friends and family indoors in any setting unless you live with them or have formed a support bubble with them. This includes private homes, and any other indoor venues such as pubs and restaurants.

A support bubble is where a household with one adult joins with another household. Households in that support bubble can still visit each other, stay overnight, and visit public places together.

Informal childcare can also be provided via childcare bubbles. Find out more about childcare bubbles in the ‘Childcare’ section below.

You may continue to see friends and family you do not live with (or have not formed a support bubble with) outside, including in a garden or other outdoor space. When you do so, you must not meet in a group of more than 6. This limit of 6 includes children of any age.

Meeting in larger groups is against the law – with certain exceptions (see below). 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 fined £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.

If you live in a High alert level area you also cannot meet indoors with people outside of the area, unless exceptions apply.

When meeting friends and family you should:

There are exceptions where people from different households can gather beyond the limits set out above. These exceptions are:

  • in a legally permitted support bubble
  • in a legally permitted childcare bubble (see section on childcare below for more details)
  • for work, volunteering to provide voluntary or charitable services (see guidance on working safely in other people’s homes)
  • for registered childcare, education or training
  • for arrangements where children do not live in the same household as both their parents or guardians
  • for prospective adopting parents to meet a child or children who may be placed with them
  • for supervised activities provided for children, including wraparound care (before and after school childcare), youth groups and activities, and children’s playgroups
  • for birth partners
  • to see someone who is dying
  • to provide emergency assistance, and to avoid injury or illness, or to escape a risk of harm
  • to fulfil a legal obligation, such as attending court or jury service
  • to provide care or assistance to someone vulnerable
  • to facilitate a house move
  • for a wedding or equivalent ceremony and wedding receptions where the organiser has carried out a risk assessment and taken all reasonable measures to limit the risk of transmission of the virus – up to a maximum of 15 people (not to take place in private dwellings)
  • for funerals – up to a maximum of 30 people. Wakes and other commemorative events are permitted with up to 15 people present (not to take place in private dwellings)
  • for elite sportspeople and their coaches if necessary for competition and training, as well as parents or guardians if they are a child
  • for outdoor exercise and dance classes, organised outdoor sport, and licensed outdoor physical activity
  • indoor organised team sports for disabled people, and youth sport
  • support groups of up to 15 participants – formally organised groups to provide mutual aid, therapy or any other form of support (not to take place in private dwellings)
  • protests – if organised in compliance with COVID-secure guidance

Other activities, such as indoor exercise classes and other activity groups can only continue provided that households or support bubbles do not mix. Where it is likely that groups will mix, these activities must not go ahead.

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

Visiting other venues, including shops, restaurants, pubs and places of worship

Venues following COVID-19 secure guidance can host more people in total, but no one must mix indoors with anyone who they do not live with (or have formed a support bubble with) unless exemptions apply. Outdoors, you can meet in groups of up to 6 people.

This includes in:

  • pubs and restaurants
  • shops
  • leisure and entertainment venues
  • places of worship

At least one person in your group should give their contact details to the venue or check in using the official NHS COVID-19 app so NHS Test and Tracecan contact you if needed.

Protecting people more at risk from coronavirus

If you have any of the following health conditions, you may be clinically vulnerable, meaning you could be at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus. If you are clinically vulnerable you:

  • can go outside as much as you like but you should still try to keep your overall social interactions low
  • can visit businesses, such as supermarkets, pubs and shops, whilst keeping 2 metres away from others wherever possible or 1 metre plus other precautions
  • should continue to wash your hands carefully and more frequently than usual and maintain thorough cleaning of frequently touched areas in your home and/or workspace

Clinically vulnerable people are those who are:

  • aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions)
  • under 70 with an underlying health condition listed below (that is, anyone instructed to get a flu jab each year on medical grounds):
    • chronic (long-term) mild to moderate respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis
    • chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
    • chronic kidney disease
    • chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
    • chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), or cerebral palsy
    • diabetes
    • a weakened immune system as the result of certain conditions or medicines they are taking (such as steroid tablets)
    • being seriously overweight (a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above)
  • pregnant women

There is a further group of people who are defined, also on medical grounds, as clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus – that is, people with specific serious health conditions. At each local COVID alert level, there is additional advice that clinically extremely vulnerable people must follow

Business and venues

All businesses and venues should follow COVID-19 Secure guidelines to protect customers, visitors and workers.

Restrictions on businesses and venues in High alert level areas include:

  • certain businesses selling food or drink on their premises are required to close between 10pm and 5am. Businesses and venues selling food for consumption off the premises, can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-through. Orders must be made via phone, online or by post. Hospitality venues in ports, on transport services and in motorway service areas do not need to close at 10pm, but must not serve alcohol after that time. There is full guidance on what businesses are permitted to remain open
  • businesses must ensure that they operate in a COVID-19 Secure manner, including restrictions on table service and group bookings
  • certain businesses and venues are required to collect customer, visitor, and staff data to support NHS Test and Trace
  • the wearing of face coverings for customers and staff in certain indoor settings
  • businesses must ensure that if their workers are required to self-isolate, they do not work outside their designated place of self-isolation
  • businesses and venues must ensure people do not meet in their premises with people from outside of their household or support bubble
  • businesses and venues that fail to comply with these restrictions may face fines of up to £10,000, prosecution, or in some cases closure.

See full guidance on which businesses and venues are permitted to be open where the local COVID alert level is High.

Going to work

To help contain the virus, office workers who can work effectively from home should do so over the winter. Where an employer, in consultation with their employee, judges an employee can carry out their normal duties from home they should do so.

Public sector employees working in essential services, including education settings, should continue to go into work where necessary.

Anyone else who cannot work from home should go to their place of work.

The risk of transmission can be substantially reduced if COVID-19 Secure guidelines are followed closely. Extra consideration should be given to those people at higher risk.

Those classed as clinically extremely vulnerable can go to work as long as the workplace is COVID-19 Secure, but should carry on working from home wherever possible.

There is no limit to the group size when you are meeting or gathering for work purposes, but workplaces should be set up to meet the COVID-19 Secure guidelines.

For more information, follow the guidance on how to return to work safely.

Going to school, college and university

The government has prioritised ensuring all children can attend school safely, to support their wellbeing and education and help working parents and guardians.

You can find out more about the government’s approach to education and how schools have prepared. This is applicable in all the local COVID Alert Levels.

Universities have welcomed students back and we have published guidance advising universities on reopening to ensure they have safety measures in place to minimise the spread of the virus.

You can move home and travel to go to university but there are some stricter rules in place for areas in high alert level areas:

You must not move backward and forward between your permanent home and term time address during term time – subject to limited exemptions set out in law.

Students living at their university term time address in a High alert level area should follow the same guidance on meeting other people and travel as others in that area.

Commuter students (those who live at a family home and travel to/from university each day) should be able to continue to travel to/from their university as required, this being for education purposes. If you commute into a High alert level area to go to university you must not:

  • meet people you do not live with in their home inside the area, unless they’re in your household, childcare or support bubble
  • host people you do not live with in your home, if they live in the affected area, unless they’re in your childcare or support bubble
  • meet people you do not live with in their student halls, whether inside or outside of the area, unless they’re in your childcare or support bubble

If you move out of, or currently live outside of, an affected area you should not:

  • host people you do not live with in your home or student halls if they live in a High alert level area (unless they’re in your household, support bubble or childcare bubble)

Childcare

There are exceptions from legal gatherings limits for registered childcare, education or training, and supervised activities provided for children, including wraparound care, youth groups and activities, and children’s playgroups. This means you can continue to use early years and childcare settings, including childminders, after-school clubs and nannies. See guidance on working safely in other people’s homes.

The following people can provide childcare support in private homes and gardens:

  • registered childcare providers, including nannies
  • people in your support bubble
  • people in your childcare bubble

A childcare bubble is where someone in one household provides informal (unpaid and unregistered) childcare to a child aged 13 or under in another household. For any given childcare bubble, this must always be between the same 2 households.

Friends or family who do not live with you and are not part of a support or childcare bubble must not visit your home to help with childcare. Childcare bubbles are to be used to provide childcare only, and not for the purposes of different households mixing where they are otherwise not allowed to do so.

The tiers of restriction for education and childcare, summarised in annex 3 of the contain framework and in guidance on higher education, are separate to the local COVID alert level framework. Decisions on any restrictions necessary in education or childcare settings are taken separately on a case-by-case basis in the light of local circumstances, including information about the incidence and transmission of COVID-19.

Visiting relatives in care homes

You should not visit a care home except in exceptional circumstances, for example to visit an individual who is at the end of their life. See the guidance on visiting relatives in care homes.

Travel

You may continue to travel to venues or amenities which are open, for work, voluntary, charitable or youth services, or to access education, within a High alert level area, but you should and aim to reduce the number of journeys you make where possible. If you need to travel we encourage you to walk or cycle where possible, or to plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport. This will allow you to practise social distancing while you travel.

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

It is difficult to socially distance during car journeys and transmission of coronavirus can occur in this context. So you should avoid travelling with someone from outside your household or your support bubble unless you can practise social distancing. See the guidance on car sharing.

You can still travel within High alert level areas to hotels and other guest accommodation, but you should only do this with people in your household or support bubble.

You can still go on holiday outside of High alert level areas, but you must only do this with people in your household or support bubble.

When travelling, it is important that you respect the rules in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and do not travel to different parts of the UK where their intended activities there would be prohibited by legislation passed by the relevant devolved administration. You should also avoid travelling to any part of the country subject to higher local COVID alert levels.

There is guidance on what to do if you’ve booked holiday accommodation in a local restriction area.

Weddings, civil partnerships, religious services and funeral

You can attend places of worship for a service if you’re in a High alert level area. However, you must not mingle with anyone outside of your household or support bubble. You should follow the national guidance on the safe use of places of worship.

Wedding and civil partnership ceremonies and receptions must only take place in COVID-19 Secure venues or in public outdoor spaces unless in exceptional circumstances. Weddings, civil partnership ceremonies and wedding receptions are restricted to 15 people. Receptions should be sit down meals to ensure people can keep their distance from each other, and mustn’t take place in private dwellings.

Funerals must only take place in COVID-secure venues or in public outdoor spaces with up to 30 people in attendance. Wakes or linked ceremonial events (such as stone-settings) before or after the funeral are limited to 15 people and must not take place in private homes. Where food or drink is consumed, this should be in the form of a sit down meal.

Anyone working at a wedding, civil partnership ceremony, reception, wake or funeral is not generally counted as part of the limit. Within these larger gatherings, people do not need to limit their interaction to groups of 6 or their own household, but social distancing should still be followed between people who do not live together or share a support bubble.

People living outside of a high alert level area can travel to this area to attend an event, but they must not meet with another household indoors.

Read the guidance on small marriages and civil partnerships and managing a funeral during the coronavirus pandemic.

Sport and physical activity

In line with guidelines from national sporting bodies, you can take part in sport and physical activity outdoors.

Organised indoor exercise classes are only permitted if it is possible for people to avoid mixing in with people you do not live with or share a support bubble with). There are exceptions to enable disability and youth sport and physical activity indoors, in any number.

You should follow the guidance on:

Moving home

You can still move home if you’re in a High alert level area. Estate and letting agents and removals firms can continue to work and people looking to move home can continue to undertake viewings.

Follow the national guidance on moving home safely which includes advice on social distancing and wearing a face covering.

Financial support

Wherever you live, you may be able to get financial help through the:

Published 12 October 2020

 

PM Commons statement on coronavirus: 12 October 2020

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Oral statement to Parliament

Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a statement on coronavirus to the House of Commons.

Mr Speaker, with your permission, I will make a statement on our continuing fight against coronavirus and how we intend to fulfil our simultaneous objectives saving lives, protecting the NHS while keeping our children in school and our economy running, and protecting jobs and livelihoods

This morning the Deputy Chief Medical Officer set out the stark reality of the second wave of this virus the number of cases has quadrupled in the last three weeks there are now more people in hospital with Covid than when we went into lockdown on March 23 and deaths are already rising and of course there are those who say that on that logic we should go back into a full national lockdown of indefinite duration closing schools and businesses telling people again to stay at home as we did in March once again shuttering our lives and our society I do not believe that would be the right course,

We would not only be depriving our children of their education we would do such damage to our economy as to erode our long term ability to fund the NHS and other crucial public services

And on the other side of the argument there are those who think that the patience of the public is now exhausted and that we should abandon the fight against Covid stand aside, let nature take her course, and call a halt to these repressions of liberty and of course I understand those emotions I understand the frustration of those who have been chafing under the restrictions, the sacrifices they have made.

But if we were to follow that course Mr Speaker, and let the virus rip, then the bleak mathematics dictate that we would suffer not only an intolerable death toll from Covid, We would put such huge strain on our NHS, with an uncontrolled second spike that our doctors and nurses would be simply unable to devote themselves to the other treatments for cancer, for heart disease and hundreds more that have already been delayed and that would be delayed again with serious long term damage to the health of the nation and I am afraid it is no answer to say that we could let the virus take hold among the young and fit while shielding the elderly and vulnerable because the virus would then spread with such velocity in the general population that there would be no way of stopping it from spreading among the elderlyand even if the virus is less lethal for the under 60s there will still be many younger people for whom, alas, it remains lethal

So Mr Speaker, we don’t want to go back to another national lockdown

We can’t let the virus rip and so we have followed since June a balanced approach with the support of many Members across the House to keeping the R down while keeping schools and the economy going and controlling the virus by changing our behaviour so as to restrict its spread

That is why we have the Rule of Six, and why we have restrictions such as a 10pm closing time on our hospitality sector.

Mr Speaker, I take no pleasure whatsoever in imposing restrictions on these businesses, many of which have gone to great lengths to reopen as safely as possible.

Nor do I want to stop people enjoying themselves, but we must act to save lives. And the evidence shows that in changing our behaviour in restricting transmission between us our actions are saving lives.

Left unchecked each person with the virus will infect on average between 2.7 and 3 others but SAGE assess that the current R nationally is between 1.2 and 1.5.

So we are already suppressing that R to well below its natural level which is why the virus is not spreading as quickly as it did in March.

But we need to go further.

In recent months, we have worked with local leaders to counter local spikes with targeted restrictions.

But this local approach has inevitably produced different sets of rules in different parts of the country that are now complex to understand and enforce.

So just as we simplified our national rules with the Rule of Six, we will now simplify and standardise our local rules by introducing a three tiered system of local Covid Alert Levels in England – set at medium, high, and very high.

The “medium” alert level, which will cover most of the country, and will consist of the current national measures.

This includes the Rule of Six and the closure of hospitality at 10pm.

The “high” alert level reflects the interventions in many local areas at the moment.

This primarily aims to reduce household to household transmission, by preventing all mixing between different households or support bubbles indoors.

In these areas, the Rule of Six will continue to apply outdoors, where it is harder for the virus to spread, in public spaces as well as private gardens.

Most areas which are already subject to local restrictions will automatically move into the “high” alert level.

As a result of rising infection rates, Nottinghamshire, East and West Cheshire and a small area of High Peak will also move into the “high” alert level.

The “very high” alert level will apply where transmission rates are rising most rapidly and where the NHS could soon be under unbearable pressure without further restrictions.

In these areas the government will set a baseline of prohibiting social mixing indoors and in private gardens and, I’m sorry to say, closing pubs and bars,

We want to create the maximum possible local consensus behind this more severe local action, so in each area, we will work with local government leaders on the additional measures which should be taken.

This could lead to further restrictions on the hospitality, leisure, entertainment or personal care sectors.

But retail, schools and universities will remain open.

As my Rt Hon Friend the Chancellor has set out, the government will expand its unprecedented economic support to assist those affected by these decisions, extending our Job Support Scheme to cover two-thirds of the wages of those in any business that is required to close, and providing those businesses with a cash grant of up to £3,000 a month, instead of £1500 every three weeks.

We will also provide Local Authorities across England with around £1 billion of new financial support, on top of our £3.6 billion Towns Fund.

And for very high areas, we will give further financial support for local test and trace, and local enforcement and assistance from the armed forces – not for enforcement but rather to support local services, if desired in the local area.

Mr Speaker, I can report that we have been able to reach agreement with leaders in Merseyside.

Local Authorities in the Liverpool City Region will move into the “very high” alert level from Wednesday.

In addition to the baseline I have outlined, that is as well as pubs and bars, in Merseyside gyms and leisure centres, betting shops, adult gaming centres and casinos will also close.

I would like to put on record my thanks to Steve Rotheram and his colleagues for their cooperation in very difficult circumstances.

Engagement with other leaders in the North West, the North East and Yorkshire & Humber is continuing.

I know how difficult this is – they like, like everyone in the House, us are grappling with very real dilemmas – but we cannot let the NHS fall over when lives are at stake.

So let me repeat the offer that we are making to those local authorities – work with us on these difficult but necessary measures in the areas that are rated very high areas, in return for:

  • more support for local test and trace
  • more funding for local enforcement
  • the offer of help from the armed services
  • the job support scheme as announced by the Chancellor

I believe not to act would be unforgivable, so I hope that rapid progress can be made in the coming days.

Regulations for all three Covid local alert levels are being laid today. They will be debated and voted on tomorrow, before coming into force on Wednesday.

We will also keep these measures under constant review, including a four-week sunset clause for interventions in “very high” areas.

A postcode search on gov.uk, as well as the NHS Covid-19 app, will show which local alert level applies in each area and we are also publishing updated guidance to explain what the Covid alert levels mean for those who are clinically extremely vulnerable.

And while these levels specifically apply to England, we continue work closely with the Devolved Administrations to tackle this virus across the whole of United Kingdom.

Mr Speaker

This is not how we want to live our lives, but this is the narrow path we have to tread between the social and economic trauma of a full lockdown and the massive human and indeed economic cost of an uncontained epidemic With local and regional and national government coming together in a shared responsibility and a shared effortto deliver ever better testing and tracing, ever more efficient enforcement of the rules and with ever improving therapies, with the mountains of PPE and the ventilators that we have stockpiled

With all the lessons we have learned in the last few months we are becoming better and better at fighting this virus and though I must warn the House again that the weeks and months ahead will continue to be difficult and will test the mettle of this country

I have no doubt at all that together we will succeed

And I commend this statement to the House

New legal duty to self-isolate comes into force today

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Legal duty to self-isolate comes into force today, to ensure compliance and reduce spread of COVID-19

  • Support is now available for people on low incomes who are unable to work while self-isolating through the £500 Test and Trace Support Payment
  • Fines for those breaking the rules now in place starting at £1,000 and increasing up to £10,000 for repeat offenders

From today (Monday 28 September) people across England will be required by law to self-isolate if they test positive or are contacted by NHS Test and Trace.

Those on lower incomes who cannot work from home and have lost income as a result will also be eligible for a new £500 Test and Trace Support Payment.

Local Authorities will be working quickly to set up Test and Trace Support Payment schemes and we expect them to be in place by 12 October. Those who are told to self-isolate from today will receive backdated payments, if they are eligible, once the scheme is set up in their Local Authority.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said:

Anyone can catch coronavirus and anyone can spread it. We all have a crucial part to play in keeping the number of new infections down and protecting our loved ones.

As cases rise it is imperative we take action, and we are introducing a legal duty to self-isolate when told to do so, with fines for breaches and a new £500 support payment for those on lower incomes who can’t work from home while they are self-isolating.

These simple steps can make a huge difference to reduce the spread of the virus, but we will not hesitate to put in place further measures if cases continue to rise.

As the infection is now spreading rapidly again, these new measures will help ensure compliance and reduce the spread of COVID-19.

A number of steps will also be taken to make sure that people are complying with the rules. These include:

  • NHS Test and Trace call handlers increasing contact with those self-isolating;
  • Using police resources to check compliance in highest incidence areas and in high-risk groups, based on local intelligence;
  • Investigating and prosecuting high-profile and egregious cases of non-compliance; and
  • Acting on instances where third parties have identified others who have tested positive, but are not self-isolating.

Recognising that self-isolation is one of the most powerful tools for controlling the transmission of COVID-19, this new Test and Trace Support payment of £500 will ensure that those on low incomes are able to self-isolate without worry about their finances.

Just under 4 million people who are in receipt of benefits in England will be eligible for this payment, which will be available to those who have been notified that they must self-isolate from today

Home Secretary Priti Patel said:

These new measures are about saving lives. Everyone must take personal responsibility and self-isolate if they test positive or if told to do so by NHS Test and Trace.

For those who fail to do so, the police will enforce the law. These new fines are a clear sign that we will not allow those who break the rules to reverse the hard-won progress made by the law-abiding majority.

Local Government Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said:

Councils across the country are working at pace to set up new self-isolation support payment schemes and ensure people in their communities have the information and advice they need to stay safe and reduce the spread of the virus.

Since the start of the pandemic councils have played a crucial role in supporting businesses and their communities, and I want to thank them for their hard work as they roll out this new support for those who need to self-isolate.

Fines will also be introduced from today for those breaching self-isolation rules, starting at £1,000, in line with the existing penalty for breaking quarantine after international travel. This could increase to up to £10,000 for repeat offences and the most serious breaches, including for those preventing others from self-isolating.

Employers who force or allow staff to come to work when they should be self-isolating will also be liable for fines of up to £10,000, sending a clear message that this will not be tolerated.

If someone or another member of their household has symptoms of coronavirus, they should, as now, isolate immediately. If someone receives a positive test result, they are now required by law to self-isolate for the period ending 10 days after displaying symptoms or after the date of the test, if they did not have symptoms. Other members of their household must self-isolate for the period ending 14 days after symptom onset, or after the date of the initial person’s positive test.

If someone is instructed to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace, because they have had close contact with someone outside their household who has tested positive, they are legally required to self-isolate for the period notified by NHS Test and Trace. Both household and non-household contacts must self-isolate for the full period, regardless of whether they have symptoms and, if they develop symptoms and take a test, regardless of whether any test taken gives a negative result.

Further information

Individuals will receive this payment on top of any Statutory Sick Pay or benefits they receive. Currently individuals in employment who are self-isolating and cannot work from home are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if they earn more than £120 a week from a single employer. Depending on their circumstances, they might also be able to claim Universal Credit and/ or new style Employment and Support Allowance.

The criteria for self-isolation payment is:

  • have been instructed to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace, either because they’ve tested positive or are the close contact of a positive case;
  • are employed or self-employed
  • are unable to work from home and will lose income as a result;
  • are currently receiving Universal Credit, Working Tax Credit, income-based Employment and Support Allowance, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit and/or Pension Credit

This will initially be England-only, but we are engaging with DAs to explore opportunities for a UK-wide scheme delivered through LAs, seeking as much alignment as possible.

Councils will also have discretion to make payments to those who don’t receive the qualifying benefits, but are on a low income and could suffer financial hardship as a result of not being able to work.

As per the current guidance, the legal obligation to self-isolate will afford specific exemptions including for those who need to escape from illness or harm during their isolation, and those that require care.

Local Authorities will focus on the principle of encouraging, educating and supporting self-compliance. Where there is clear evidence that someone is not following the rules, the police will determine what follow-up action to take.

Users of the official NHS COVID-19 contact tracing app are anonymous and we cannot force them to self-isolate or identify them if they are not self-isolating. The app will advise a user to self-isolate if they have come into close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus. Users should follow that advice to protect their loved ones and stop the spread of the virus.

NHS COVID-19 app launches across England and Wales

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NHS COVID-19 app launches to help control coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission

  • NHS COVID-19 app launches nationwide to help control COVID-19 transmission alongside national and local contact tracing
  • Features of the app include contact tracing using Bluetooth, risk alerts based on postcode district, QR check-in at venues, symptom checker and test booking – with user privacy and data security at its heart
  • Businesses are now required by law to display the official NHS QR code posters from today so people can check-in at different premises with the app

People across England and Wales are being urged to download the NHS COVID-19 app to help control the spread of coronavirus and protect themselves and their loved ones as case numbers rise.

The app launches today, and after positive trials and rigorous testing is an important new tool to work alongside traditional contact tracing to help reduce the spread of the virus.

It will be available to those aged 16 and over in multiple languages. It forms a central part of the NHS Test and Trace service in England and the NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect programme – identifying contacts of those who have tested positive for coronavirus.

As part of a major campaign to encourage downloads of the app a new advertisement will launch on primetime TV tonight with the strapline ‘Protect your loved ones. Get the app.’

Today the UK’s major mobile network operators, including Vodafone, Three, EE and O2, Sky and Virgin, have confirmed that all in-app activity will not come out of customers’ data allowance.

The contact tracing element of the app works by using low-energy Bluetooth to log the amount of time you spend near other app users, and the distance between you, so it can alert you if someone you have been close to later tests positive for COVID-19 – even if you don’t know each other.

The app will advise you to self-isolate if you have been in close contact with a confirmed case. It will also enable you to check symptoms, book a free test if needed and get your test results.

The app has been designed with user privacy in mind, so it tracks the virus, not people and uses the latest in data security technology to protect privacy. The system generates a random ID for an individual’s device, which can be exchanged between devices via Bluetooth (not GPS). These unique random IDs regenerate frequently to add an extra layer of security and preserve anonymity.

The app does not hold personal information such as your name, address or date of birth, and only requires the first half of your postcode to ensure local outbreaks can be managed. No personal data is shared with the government or the NHS.

UK government Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said:

We are at a tipping point in our efforts to control the spread of this virus. With infection rates rising we must use every tool at our disposal to prevent transmission, including the latest technology.

We have worked extensively with tech companies, international partners, and privacy and medical experts – and learned from the trials – to develop an app that is secure, simple to use and will help keep our country safe.

Today’s launch marks an important step forward in our fight against this invisible killer and I urge everyone who can to download and use the app to protect themselves and their loved ones.

From today certain businesses in England are required by law to display NHS Test and Trace QR codes so customers with the NHS COVID-19 app can use them to check-in. QR codes will help businesses meet their legal requirement to log contact details and allow public health leads to send alerts based on whether people have checked in at venues. So far, more than 160,000 businesses have already downloaded QR codes. Venues in Wales that are legally required to collect and keep a record of visitors will still need to do so.

The NHS Test and Trace team behind the app has worked closely with major tech companies, including Google and Apple, scientists within the Alan Turing Institute and Oxford University, Zuhlke Engineering, medical experts, privacy groups, at-risk communities and teams in countries across the world using similar apps – such as Germany, to develop an app that is safe, simple and secure.

The app has been through successful trials in the Isle of Wight, Newham and among NHS Volunteer Responders. Lessons learned have informed the final version that is launching today.

Dido Harding, Executive Chair of England’s NHS Test and Trace Programme, said:

We want to make it as easy as possible for everyone to engage with England’s NHS Test and Trace service. The NHS COVID-19 app enables the majority of people with a smartphone to find out if they are at risk of having caught the virus and need to self isolate, order a test if they have symptoms, and access the right guidance and advice.

The features of this app, including QR code check-in at venues, work alongside our traditional contact tracing service and will help us to reach more people quickly in their communities to prevent further spread of the virus.

This is a welcome step in protecting those around us.

Simon Thompson, Managing Director of the NHS COVID-19 App, said:

We have worked tirelessly to develop the new NHS COVID-19 app and we are incredibly grateful to all residents of the Isle of Wight, London Borough of Newham, and NHS Volunteer Responders, the learnings and insight have made the app what it is today. We are now ready to roll-out the app across England and Wales.

This new version is so much more than just a contact tracing app – it has a range of features which will quickly alert you if you’re at risk of coronavirus. The more people who use it, the better it works.

We are confident that every person who downloads the app will be helping to protect themselves and their loved ones.

Wales’ Health and Social Services Minister, Vaughan Gething, said:

The launch of the NHS COVID-19 app is an important part of Wales’ coronavirus response, bolstering our Test, Trace, Protect programme. The more people who download and use this app, the more it will help us to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

We have worked closely with the app development team to ensure it works seamlessly across England and Wales, providing people with the right advice based on where they live. In Wales, the app will complement our existing contact tracing and testing services and will further support our co-ordinated response to COVID-19 at both a local and national level.

I strongly encourage everyone in Wales to download and use the app to keep Wales safe.

In a joint statement Apple and Google said:

We built the exposure notifications system to enable public health authorities in their efforts to develop apps to help reduce the spread of the virus while ensuring people can trust in the privacy-preserving design. We are committed to supporting the government’s effort to launch an app based on this technology.

Hamish MacLeod, Director at Mobile UK, said:

The mobile industry welcomes the opportunity to support the government’s efforts to combat the global COVID-19 pandemic by zero-rating access to the new NHS COVID-19 app. Customers can be reassured that all in-app activity will not come out of their data allowance.

Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said:

The NHS COVID-19 app is a great addition to the safety measures already being put in by retailers. We hope it provides extra reassurance for customers and their families all across the country.

As well as contact tracing, the app has a range of additional, enhanced features that will help to reduce personal and public risk from COVID-19 as part of the wider testing and contact tracing service:

  • alert: letting users know the level of coronavirus risk in their postcode district
  • QR check-in: enabling users to check-in at a venue and alerting them if they have recently visited somewhere they may have come into contact with someone who later tests positive for COVID-19
  • symptoms: allowing users to check if they have coronavirus symptoms and see if they need to order a free test
  • test: helping users book a free test through the app and get results to know whether they have COVID-19
  • isolate: if a user is told to self-isolate, a timer feature will help count down that period and access will be provided to relevant advice

Notes to editors

More information on the NHS COVID-19 app App explainer video [App privacy video}(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lCH__yEHa4s&)

When someone reports symptoms through the app, it will detect any other app users that the person has been in close contact with over the past few days, including unknown contacts such as someone they may have sat next to on public transport. The app will be able to anonymously alert these contacts and provide advice, including how to get a test if they have symptoms.

The mobile industry has committed to supporting the new app with the major operators Vodafone, Three, EE and O2 (including giffgaff and Tesco Mobile), Sky and Virgin, ‘zero-rating’ data charges for all in-app activity. This means customers will not be charged for data when using the in-app functions, or if they are directed out of the app to information on nhs.uk websites. If a customer is directed to other web pages outside of the app, this may use data from their allowance.

  1. Customers will need data in order to download the Test and Trace app initially, this cannot be zero-rated.
  2. In-app activity has been zero-rated by mobile operators. From the app, customers may be directed to nhs.uk websites, which have also been zero rated. However, if a user is passed from the app to websites on gov.uk, data charges will apply.
  3. O2, Three UK and Virgin Media have zero-rated the subdomain .gov.uk for registering a COVID-19 test
  4. A full list of compatible devices is available.

Those who may not have access to the app, or the ability to use a smartphone should continue to use traditional contact tracing services provided by NHS Test and Trace or, NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect.

Find out more information about how businesses can prepare for the NHS COVID-19 app.

Coronavirus outbreak FAQs: what you can and can’t do – Updated

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Updated after the PM’s statement on the 22nd September.

1. Changes from 22 September

On 22 September, the government announced new measures to suppress the virus.

Some of these new restrictions will be set out in the law and guidance. The police and other enforcement officers are able to issue penalties to those that don’t comply with law.

Further information on these changes can be found in the relevant section below.

Detailed guidance on the new rules on how to meet people safely, including our changes to gatherings rules, can be found here.

2. Social contact

See the guidance on meeting with others safely.

2.1 Can I visit people indoors?

Yes. When meeting with people you don’t live with you can socialise in groups of up to 6. This is a legal limit. If your household (and/or support bubble) is larger than 6 people, you can gather together.

You should continue to maintain social distancing with anyone you do not live with. There is further guidance on meeting others safely, which includes details of exemptions from this limit, including for larger households and support bubbles.

2.2 How many people am I allowed to meet with outdoors?

When meeting with people you don’t live with (or who you have not formed a support bubble with) you can socialise in groups of up to 6. If your household (and/or support bubble) is larger than 6 people, this is your largest permitted group and you cannot meet as a group with any additional people.

You should continue to maintain social distancing with anyone you do not live with. There is further guidance on meeting with others safely, which includes details of exemptions from this limit, including for larger households and support bubbles.

2.3 Can I use public transport if I’m seeing friends in a park or going to my parents’ garden?

You can help control coronavirus and travel safely by walking and cycling, if you can. However where this is not possible, you can use public transport or drive. If you do use public transport, you must wear a face covering and you should follow the safer travel guidance for passengers.

2.4 Are children counted in the group of 6?

Yes.

2.5 Can I share a private vehicle with someone from another household?

You should try not to share a vehicle with those outside your household or social bubble. If you need to, try to:

  • share the transport with the same people each time
  • keep to small groups of people of up to the legal limit of 6 people at any one time
  • open windows for ventilation
  • travel side by side or behind other people, rather than facing them, where seating arrangements allow
  • face away from each other
  • consider seating arrangements to maximise distance between people in the vehicle
  • clean your car between journeys using standard cleaning products – make sure you clean door handles and other areas that people may touch
  • make sure the driver and passengers wear a face covering

The Department for Transport has provided specific guidance on using private vehicles. Please see their guidance on private cars and other vehicles for more information on car sharing and traveling with people outside your household group.

2.6 Can I stay overnight in someone else’s home?

Yes, you can stay overnight in someone else’s home, but only if you do not form a gathering of more than 6 people. You may only form a gathering of more than 6 people for an overnight stay if it is with your support bubble.

You should ensure you maintain social distancing with anyone you do not live with or who is not in your support bubble. Take particular care to maintain excellent hygiene – washing hands and surfaces – especially when using shared facilities like bathrooms wherever possible.

People in the same support bubble can stay overnight with each other in larger groups as they count as one household.

2.7 Can I look after my grandchildren?

Yes. People in groups of up to 6 can meet indoors or outdoors, which enables you to spend time with your grandchildren (although whole families may not be able to meet up at once).

We recognise that grandparents and other relatives often provide informal childcare for young children, and this can be very important. Although you should try to maintain social distance from people you do not live with wherever possible, it may not always be practicable to do so when providing care to a young child or infant. If this is this case – and where young children may struggle to keep social distance – you should still limit close contact as much as possible, and take other precautions such as washing hands and clothes regularly.

If you have formed a support bubble with your grandchildren’s household, which is allowed if either you or they live in a ‘single adult household’, then there can be close contact and social distancing is not necessary.

2.8 Is there a limit on the number of people attending funerals?

The rule of 6 does not apply to funerals. For funerals, there is a higher, legal gatherings limit of 30 people. Anyone working is not included. You should still socially distance from people you do not live with (or have formed a support bubble with). Funeral providers will limit capacity based on how many people they can safely accommodate with social distancing in place.

This limit only applies to the funeral ceremony itself – other than for religious, ceremonial purposes, wakes must only take place in groups of no more than six unless everyone present is from the same household or support bubble. Anyone who is working is not included.

The guidance on funerals can be found here.

2.9 Can weddings and civil partnership ceremonies go ahead?

Wedding and civil partnership ceremonies and receptions must only take place in COVID-19 Secure venues or in public outdoor spaces. From 28 September, weddings, civil partnership ceremonies and wedding receptions are restricted to 15 people. Receptions must be sit down meals. Anyone working is not counted as part of the limit.

Within these larger gatherings, people do not need to limit their interaction to groups of 6, but social distancing should still be followed between people not in the same household or support bubble.

See further guidance on wedding ceremonies and civil partnerships.

2.10 When can I gather in groups of more than 6?

If you live in a household with more than 6 people, you can continue to gather in and attend all settings together. This same applies for your support bubble. All venues should continue to accommodate groups larger than 6 who live together or are in the same support bubble.

There are exceptions where groups can be larger than 6 people, including:

  • for work, or the provision of voluntary or charitable services
  • registered childcare, education or training
  • supervised activities provided for children, including wraparound care, youth groups and activities, and children’s playgroups
  • providing support to a vulnerable person
  • providing emergency assistance, and to avoid injury or illness or to escape risk of harm
  • for arrangements where children do not live in the same household as both their parents
  • fulfilling a legal obligation such as attending court or jury service
  • weddings and civil partnership ceremonies and receptions – from 28 September, up to 15 people, in a public place
  • funerals – up to 30 people. From 28 September, this does not include wakes (which are subject to the rule of 6), other than for religious ceremonial purposes
  • organised outdoor sport or licensed outdoor physical activity, and supervised sporting activity (indoors or outdoors) for under-18s. Organised indoor sport or exercise classes can take place in larger numbers, provided groups of more than 6 do not mix. Organised indoor team sports for disabled people can take place in any number.
  • elite sporting competition and training
  • support groups up to 15 – formally organised groups to provide mutual aid, therapy or any other form of support. This includes support to victims of crime, recovering addicts, new parents, people with long-term illnesses, those facing issues relating to their sexuality or gender, and those who have suffered bereavement.
  • protests – if organised in compliance with COVID-19 Secure guidance. All individuals must be socially distanced.

Where a group includes someone covered by one of these exemptions, they are not counted as part of the gatherings limit. This means, for example, that a tradesperson can go into a household of six without breaching the limit if they are there for work.

2.11 Does this mean that no more than six people can be in a pub, restaurant or place of worship at once?

Venues following COVID-19 Secure guidelines can host more than 6 people in total, but no one should visit in a group of greater than 6 (unless you are all from the same household or support bubble). When you visit one of these places, such as a pub, shop, leisure venue, restaurant or place of worship you should:

  • follow the limits on the number of other people you should meet with as a group (it will be illegal to be in a group of more than six from outside of your household or support bubble). If your household and/or support bubble is larger than 6 people, this is your largest permitted group and you cannot meet as a group with any additional people.
  • avoid mingling with anyone outside the group you are with, even if you see other people you know
  • provide your contact details to the organiser so that you can be contacted if needed by the NHS Test and Trace programme
  • wear a face covering (except for when eating and drinking)

2.12 Can I have a celebration for significant or ceremonial life events, other than weddings?

As of 28 September, the rule of six will apply to standalone religious and belief-based life cycle ceremonies, such as stone setting ceremonies or wakes. This means that these events must be limited to 6 attendees.

Events like christenings and bar/bat mitzvahs can take place as part of a larger gathering within communal worship provided that groups of more than 6 do not mingle.

2.13 Do I have to socially distance from my partner / boyfriend / girlfriend?

People in an established relationship do not need to socially distance. If in the early stages of a relationship, you should take particular care to follow the guidance on social distancing. If you intend to have close contact with someone, you should discuss how you can help to prevent risks of transmission as a couple, for example, by ensuring you are both avoiding close contact with people you do not live with.

2.14 How will the new rules on gatherings be enforced?

The police will be able to enforce these legal limits, and if you break them you could face a fine (fixed penalty notice) of £200, doubling for further breaches up to a maximum of £6,400.

Hospitality businesses are also required to ensure there are no unlawful gatherings in their premises. We know the majority of businesses are responsible and are taking the necessary steps to be COVID-19 Secure, but for those businesses who won’t take those steps, egregious breaches will be enforced. Any breaches are liable of a fine of up to £10,000. We will be extending these legal requirements to extra businesses in the leisure and entertainment sectors from 28 September.

Anyone holding a gathering of more than 30 (such as a rave or house party) could face a £10,000 fine.

2.15 Can I gather in a group of more than 6 for childcare?

There is an exemption to the legal gatherings limit for the purposes of education, training, formal registered childcare, and supervised activities for children (including before and after school clubs, or other out-of-school setting provision for children.

Youth groups and other children’s groups are also exempt from the gatherings limit. Family and friends can continue to provide informal childcare as long as groups from different households don’t exceed 6 people and the activity is strictly limited to childcare needs.

3. Visiting public places and taking part in activities

3.1 Are there restrictions on how far I can travel?

No. You can travel irrespective of distance, but you should take hygiene and safety precautions if using services on the way.

You can use public transport but it is better to travel in other ways if possible. It is difficult to socially distance during car journeys and transmission of coronavirus can occur in this context. So avoid travelling with someone from outside your household or your support bubble unless you can practise social distancing.

Further guidance on car sharing is available. If you need to use public transport, you should follow the safer travel guidance for passengers. When travelling on public transport you are legally required to wear a face covering.

If visiting other parts of the UK – Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – you must adhere to the laws and guidance of the devolved administrations at all times. If you wish to travel internationally, you should follow the laws of other countries and FCDO international travel advice. Upon return to the UK, you must by law self-isolate for 14 days, unless you have come from one of the countries listed here, and you are required to complete a passenger locator form before arriving in the UK. This is crucial to help to ensure the virus does not spread across borders.

3.2 Are day trips ok?

Yes, day trips to outdoor open space are allowed. You should take hygiene and safety precautions if using services on the way. You should practise social distancing from other people outside your household or support bubble. You should walk or cycle if you can, however where this is not possible, you can use public transport or drive. If you do use public transport, you must wear a face covering and should follow the safer travel guidance for passengers.

3.3 Can I go on holiday? Can I stay in my second home?

Yes.

However, you should not go on holiday in England with people you do not live with (or who are not in your support bubble) in a group larger than 6 people. Doing so is against the law. You should ensure you maintain social distancing with anyone you do not live with or is not in your support bubble.

If you are in a support bubble, or if the group consists solely of people you live with, you can stay overnight without needing to maintain social distancing. People in the same support bubble can also gather together indoors even if the group size is more than 6.

Take particular care to maintain excellent hygiene – washing hands and surfaces – and avoid using shared facilities like bathrooms wherever possible.

3.4 What happens if I become unwell while on holiday in England?

If you develop symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) while staying in overnight accommodation you should inform the accommodation provider immediately, self-isolate where you are to minimise any risk of transmission, and request a test by calling 119 or online at nhs.uk. If your test is positive you should return home as quickly and directly as possible. You should use private transport but only drive yourself if you are well enough to do so safely and can avoid contact with others on your journey home.

Avoid using public transport in order to reduce the spread of the virus. If you cannot avoid using public transport, you should continue to self-isolate in your accommodation and call 111 for further advice.

In most cases, it will not be possible to self-isolate at your holiday accommodation. In these cases, you should make arrangements to travel home as safely as possible, while minimising the risk of infecting others.

It may be possible for you to agree with the accommodation provider to extend your stay in order to self-isolate until you are well enough to travel. Unless otherwise provided for in the contractual terms of the booking, you will be expected to pay the costs of an extended stay in all but exceptional circumstances.

Once home, you should continue to follow the government guidance on self-isolation, household isolation and social distancing.

3.5 What if I can’t travel home?

If you feel so unwell that you cannot travel, or if you cannot avoid using public transport, (for example because you do not have the means to travel via private transport), you should call 111 and ask to discuss your circumstances with an appropriate health care professional.

3.6 What happens if I am on holiday in England and I am contacted by NHS Test and Trace?

If NHS Test and Trace contacts you while you are on holiday to tell you that you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus, you should tell your accommodation provider immediately and make arrangements to return home as quickly and directly as you can.

You should self-isolate for 14 days from the last day you had contact with the person who tested positive, even if you remain well. If you cannot avoid using public transport to get home, you should continue to self-isolate where you are staying and call 111 for advice.

If it is agreed with the accommodation provider that you can extend your stay in order to self-isolate until you are able to make safe travel arrangements, unless otherwise provided for in the contractual terms of the booking, you will be expected to pay the costs of an extended stay in all but exceptional circumstances.

In many cases it will not be possible to self-isolate at your holiday accommodation. In these cases, you should make arrangements to travel home as safely as possible, while minimising the risk to others. If this isn’t possible because you feel so unwell that you cannot travel, or if you cannot avoid using public transport, you should call 111 for advice.

If you start to feel unwell during your self-isolation period, get a test either online at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119.

People you have been travelling with, or people you live with, do not need to self-isolate if you do not have symptoms, unless contacted and asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace.

3.7 Do I need to follow the rules if I’m on holiday in another country?

If you are abroad, you should follow the rules of the country you are in. You should also follow the same principles to keep you and your loved ones safe. It is essential to maintain social distancing wherever possible from those you don’t live with and wash your hands regularly. These rules are important wherever you are in the world.

3.8 Can I visit outdoor tourist sites? What about indoor ones?

Yes, you can still travel to outdoor areas, such as National Parks or beaches. It is advisable to check ahead to ensure the venue is open to visitors. You are also able to visit most indoor sites and attractions.

When going with people you don’t live with you should only attend in groups of up to 6 people. This does not apply if your household (and/or support bubble) is larger than 6 people, in which case the largest permitted group is your household or bubble. Exemptions apply, for example for school groups.

3.9 Can I pray in a place of worship?

Yes, places of worship will stay open for services and communal prayer in line with guidance for reopening Places of Worship.

Places of worship can stay open for services for more than 6 people. However, you must not mingle in a group of more than 6 people (other than with people you live with or have formed a support bubble with), in which case the largest permitted group is your household or bubble.

Strict adherence to social distancing is strongly advised and a distance of 2 metres (or 1 metre with additional COVID-19 Secure measures in place) should be kept from people you do not live with wherever possible.

3.10 Can I send my teenagers to their youth club?

Yes, you can. However, you should advise your children to maintain social distancing, wash their hands regularly and limit social interaction outside of these formal activities with anyone they do not live with.

The club should also follow COVID-19 Secure guidance.

3.11 Can I go to a pub or restaurant with people I don’t live with?

When eating or drinking out with people you do not live with (and who are not in your support bubble), you must keep to the wider rules on group sizes: you must only attend these places in groups of up to 6 people. You can attend in larger numbers with the people you live with or who are in your support bubble – in this case the maximum size of the group will be just those you live with or your support bubble.

If you visit pubs, restaurants and other venues in the hospitality sector you must provide your contact information, or check in using the official NHS QR code before being allowed entry to the venue.

In all cases, people from different households should ensure they socially distance as much as possible. You should think about where to sit at a table with this in mind – the premises should also take reasonable steps to help you do so in line with COVID-19 Secure guidelines. It remains the case that you do not need to maintain social distancing with those in your support bubble. This change also does not affect the support you receive from your carers.

From 24 September it is mandatory to wear a face covering in a pub or restaurant, except for when eating or drinking.

3.12 Can I register the birth of my child?

You are permitted to register the birth of your child. You should check whether your local register office is open. The office will also be able to advise you on appointment availability.

3.13 Can I go to the theatre or a concert?

You can now attend indoor and outdoor performances, for example dramatic, musical or comedy shows.

If you are watching the performance, you should:

  • only attend in a group of no larger than 6, unless attending with those you live with or your support bubble
  • socially distance from people you do not live with (or who are not in your support bubble)

3.14 When will I be able to go to a football match?

Due to rising prevalence levels, it is not safe to allow fans to return to stadia. We will continue to monitor the virus, and return crowds to stadia when it is safe to do so.

3.15 Can I still participate in sport and physical activity in groups of more than 6?

Adults can continue to take part in outdoor organised sport and licensed physical outdoor activity in groups of more than six, provided it is organised by a national governing body, club, registered instructor/coach, business or charity; and/or involve someone who has received an official license to use equipment relevant to the activity. In all cases, the organiser must conduct a risk assessment and ensure compliance with COVID-19 Secure guidance.

You should only be playing outdoor team sports and partaking in outdoor physical activity where the relevant governing body has published guidance on how to do so safely, and you can play outdoors. See a list of team sports governing bodies which have developed guidance. Other outdoor sports or licensed outdoor physical activities may also be permitted if this is formally organised by a sports club or similar organisation and following sports-governing body guidance.

For adults, outdoor organised exercise classes can still take place in groups larger than six. When participating in any exempted activity like this, you must not mingle in groups of more than 6 before and after the activity. You should always ensure you socially distance from people you do not live with (or have formed a support bubble with) wherever possible.

From 24 September, organised indoor sport and indoor exercise classes can continue to take place with larger numbers present, provided groups of more than six do not mix. If groups of six are likely to mix, these indoor activities must not go ahead. There is an exemption or organised indoor team sports for disabled people.

The relevant indoor sport facilities guidance or outdoor guidance must be followed for these activities. Organised Sport and Physical Activity events are allowed provided they follow guidance for the public on the phased return of outdoor sport and recreation in England. All supervised activities for under 18s, including sports and exercise groups, indoors and out, are permitted where a risk assessment has been carried out. This should follow guidance on out of school settings.

Other forms of exercise must only take place in groups of six unless everyone is from the same household or support bubble.

When playing sports informally (where not organised in line with the rules above) with people you don’t live with, you must limit the size of your group to 6. It is illegal to do so in a larger group and you may be fined.

3.16 Do I have to wear a face covering in public?

You are required to wear a face covering in the following settings:

  • on public transport
  • indoor transport hubs
  • taxis and private hire vehicles (PHVs) (from 23 September)
  • shops and supermarkets
  • hospitality venues, such as pubs and restaurants, except when eating or drinking (from 24 September)
  • indoor shopping centres
  • banks and building societies
  • post offices
  • museums
  • galleries
  • cinemas and theatres
  • places of worship
  • public libraries

People are also strongly encouraged to wear face coverings in any other enclosed public spaces where there are people they do not normally meet.

From 23 September, you will need to wear face coverings in taxis and private hire vehicles. You will also need to wear face coverings in hospitality venues, when you are not eating or drinking. From 24 September, in retail and hospitality settings, staff will be required to wear face covering as well. Please check sector specific guidance to see if this requirement applies to your workplace.

You do not need to wear a face covering if you have a legitimate reason not to. This includes (but is not limited to):

  • children under 11
  • because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability
  • to communicate with someone who relies on lip reading
  • to avoid harm or injury; to identify yourself
  • to eat or drink if necessary

You can carry something that says you do not have to wear a face covering for medical reasons. This is a personal choice, and is not necessary in law – you should not routinely be required to produce any written evidence to justify the fact you are not wearing a face covering.

Relevant guidance on face coverings is available here

3.17 Can I go to my support group?

Some types of support group are exempt from the legal gatherings limit of 6. A maximum number of 15 people can attend such groups.

Support groups can take place in groups of up to 15 in a public place, if the support group is organised by a business, a charitable, benevolent or philanthropic institution or a public body to provide mutual aid, therapy or any other form of support to its members or those who attend its meetings. This includes, but is not limited to, providing support:

  • to victims of crime (including domestic abuse)
  • to those with, or recovering from, addictions (including alcohol, narcotics or other substance addictions) or addictive patterns of behaviour
  • to new and expectant parents
  • to those with, or caring for persons with, any long-term illness, disability or terminal condition or who are vulnerable
  • to those facing issues related to their sexuality or identity including those living as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender
  • to those who have suffered bereavement

This is an exemption to the legal gatherings limit of 6 people.

Support groups not covered by this exemption can still take place if they do not breach the new gatherings limit of six people. This means that for these other groups, in a COVID-19 Secure venue or public outdoor place, there can be more than 6 people in total present, but social interaction and shared activity must be limited to groups of 6. Where this is unlikely to be possible, no more than 6 people should attend. Anybody who is working in facilitating the group or attending for work purposes is not included.

3.18 Can I go to my hobby club / amateur musical group / other leisure activity?

It is against the law to gather in groups of more than 6, where people are from different households or support bubbles. Some activities – such as those organised for under-18s – are exempt. In a COVID-19 Secure venue or public outdoor place, non-professional performing arts activity, including choirs, orchestras or drama groups can continue to rehearse or perform together where this is planned activity in line with the performing arts guidance and if they can do so in a way that ensures that there is no interaction between groups of more than 6 at any time.

If an amateur group is not able to ensure that no mingling takes place between these sub-groups of no more than 6 (including when arriving at or leaving activity or in any breaks or socialising) then such non-professional activity should not take place.

4. Clinically vulnerable groups and clinically extremely vulnerable groups, and care homes

If you have any of the health conditions listed in the clinically vulnerable guidance or are over 70 you could be at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus.

Specific advice can be found in the clinically vulnerable guidance.

4.1 What is the current guidance for people identified as clinically extremely vulnerable who were previously advised to shield?

Formal shielding advice is currently paused nationally – check any local variations.

This means:

  • you can continue to go to work as long as the workplace is COVID-19 Secure but should carry on working from home wherever possible
  • clinically extremely vulnerable children should attend education settings in line with the wider guidance on reopening of schools and guidance for full opening: special schools and other specialist settings
  • you can go outside as much as you like but you should still try to keep your overall social interactions low and keep to the new gathering limit of 6
  • you can visit businesses, such as supermarkets, pubs and shops, whilst keeping 2 metres away from others wherever possible or 1 metre plus other precautions
  • you should continue to pay particular attention to washing your hands carefully and more frequently than usual and maintaining thorough cleaning of frequently touched areas in your home and/or workspace

For practical tips on staying safe see the meeting with others safely guidance.

Those who were previously identified to be on the Shielding patient list and need extra help may still be able to get:

  • local volunteer support by contacting your local authority
  • prescriptions, essential items and food you buy delivered by NHS Volunteer Responders
  • priority slots for supermarket deliveries (if you previously registered for free food parcels).

Further information can be found in the clinically extremely vulnerable guidance.

4.2 What safety standards have been put in place in care homes?

We have published a winter plan for adult social care. The plan sets out the actions the government will be taking at the national level; and the actions that every local area and care provider needs to take to prevent and manage COVID-19 in care homes.

Detailed guidance on isolation procedures, PPE and infection control, cleaning and how to provide personal care safely has been published. As with all of our advice, this guidance is kept under constant review and updated frequently, in line with the latest scientific evidence.

4.3 Can I still visit a family member who lives in a care home?

Preventing infection is our priority and so any area that is designated as ‘an area of intervention’ will immediately have visits restricted.

We have introduced tightened measures which will enable residents and their loved ones to have safe visits for low prevalence areas, such as supervision by staff to ensure they are COVID-19 Secure.

More information on visiting arrangements in care homes

5. Going to work and being COVID-19 Secure

5.1 Who is allowed to go to work?

With the exception of the organisations listed in this guidance on closing businesses and venues, the government has not required any other businesses to close to the public – it is important for business to carry on.

To help contain the virus, office workers who can work effectively from home should do so over the winter. Where an employer, in consultation with their employee, judges an employee can carry out their normal duties from home they should do so. Public sector employees working in essential services, including education settings, should continue to go into work where necessary. Anyone else who cannot work from home should go to their place of work. The risk of transmission can be substantially reduced if COVID-19 Secure guidelines are followed closely. Extra consideration should be given to those people at higher risk.

If you are clinically extremely vulnerable, you can go to work as long as the workplace is Covid-19 Secure but should carry on working from home wherever possible.

Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus should not attend work. They should immediately self isolate at home and get a test. Their household members should self isolate too. There is specific guidance for those showing symptoms.

5.2 What are the ‘COVID-19 Secure’ safety guidelines workplaces have to put in place?

We have set out clear, practical steps that businesses should take to ensure they are COVID-19 Secure and customers are confident to visit.

From 24 September it will become law for certain businesses to put in place key COVID-19 Secure measures:

  • food and drink venues (except take-aways) must provide table service to prevent customers queuing to order, and customers must be seated when consuming food and drink inside the premises
  • the following venues will have restricted opening hours, requiring closure to the public between 10pm and 5am: businesses selling food or drinks (including cafes, bars, pubs and restaurants), social clubs, casinos, bowling alleys, amusement arcades (and other indoor leisure centres of facilities), fun fairs, theme parks, adventure parks, and bingo halls. Businesses and venues selling food for consumption off the premises, can continue to do so as long as this is through delivery service or drive-thru.
  • cinemas, theatres and concert halls can stay open after 10pm, only if the performance started before 10pm. They should not serve food or drink after this time.

From 28 September further measures will become law:

  • a wider range of leisure and entertainment venues, services provided in community centres and close contact settings will be subject to COVID19 Secure requirements in law. This includes ensuring customers observe the rule of six, and appropriate social distancing through signage, layout, and managing customer entry.
  • businesses must remind customers to wear face coverings where mandated.

Employers will be banned from requiring self-isolating employees from coming to work.

5.3 Can work gatherings exceed 6 people?

Work gatherings are exempt from the gatherings limit of 6. Where a group includes someone who is working, they are not counted as part of the gatherings limit. This means a tradesperson can go into a household of six without breaching the limit, if they are there for work.

5.4 Do I need to stay 2 metres apart – or 1 metre?

People should either stay 2 metres apart wherever possible or ‘1 metre plus’ where this is not – which is one metre plus mitigations that will help to prevent transmission. These mitigations will depend on the workplace or setting. For example, on public transport, shops, supermarkets and in other public places, people must wear a face covering, as it is not always possible to stay 2 metres apart. People should also wash or sanitise their hands regularly and avoid the busiest routes and times (like the rush hour).

In other spaces, mitigations could include installing screens, making sure people face away from each other, and interventions such as providing handwashing facilities, minimising the amount of time you spend with people outside your household or bubble, and being outdoors.

We have set out COVID-19 Secure guidance to help businesses take the measures that are right for them.

5.5 How will health and safety regulations be enforced?

Where the enforcing authority, such as the Health and Safety Executive or your local authority, identifies employers who are not taking action to comply with the relevant public health legislation and guidance to control public health risks (for example, not completing a new risk assessment taking account the risk of COVID-19, or taking insufficient measures in response), they will consider a range of actions to improve control of workplace risks. This includes giving specific advice to a business, or issuing an improvement notice, which a business must respond to in a fixed time, or a prohibition notice. Failure to comply is a criminal offence, which can lead to fines or imprisonment for up to two years, giving the COVID-19 Secure guidelines indirect legal enforceability.

Local authorities also have powers to place restrictions upon or close any premises if they believe it necessary to help prevent transmission of COVID-19.

Hospitality businesses are required to ensure there are no unlawful gatherings in their premises. We know the majority of businesses are responsible and are taking the necessary steps to be COVID-19 Secure, but for those businesses who won’t take those steps, we are introducing fines of up to £10,000. Local authorities also have powers to close those businesses that are putting the public at risk.

Government has announced an initial £60 million to support additional enforcement activity by local authorities and the police, in addition to funding that has already been awarded.

6. Workers’ rights

6.1 My employer is asking me to come to work but I’m scared.

To help contain the virus, office workers who can work effectively from home should do so over the winter. Where an employer, in consultation with their employee, judges an employee can carry out their normal duties from home they should do so. Public sector employees working in essential services, including education settings, should continue to go into work where necessary. Anyone else who cannot work from home should go to their place of work. The risk of transmission can be substantially reduced if COVID-19 Secure guidelines are followed closely. Extra consideration should be given to those people at higher risk.

If you remain concerned that your employer is not taking all practical steps to promote social distancing then you can report this to your local authority or the Health and Safety Executive who can take a range of action, including where appropriate requiring your employer to take additional steps.

6.2 What if they try to fire me because I won’t go to work but cannot work at home?

We urge employers to take socially responsible decisions and listen to the concerns of their staff. Employers and employees should come to a pragmatic agreement about their working arrangements.

If individuals need advice, they should approach ACAS where they can get impartial advice about work disputes.

7. Public Transport

7.1 Who is allowed to travel on public transport?

You should walk or cycle if you can. However where this is not possible, you can use public transport or drive. If you are using public transport, you should follow the safer travel guidance for passengers.

7.2 Should people wear face coverings on public transport?

It is the law that you must wear a face covering when travelling in England on a:

  • bus or coach
  • train or tram
  • ferry or hovercraft or other vessel
  • aircraft
  • cable car
  • in an enclosed transport hub, such as a train or bus station

If you do not wear a face covering you will be breaking the law and could be fined £200, or £100 if you pay the fine within 14 days. As announced, we will bring forward changes to mean that for repeat offenders these fines would double at each offence up to a maximum value of £6,400.

Please be aware that some people are exempt, and do not have to wear a face covering on public transport, including for health, age or equality reasons.

We have published guidance for those making face coverings at home, to help illustrate the process.

A face covering is not the same as the surgical masks or respirators used as part of personal protective equipment by healthcare and other workers; these should continue to be reserved for those who need them to protect against risks in their workplace such as health and care workers and those in industrial settings like those exposed to dust hazards.

7.3 Will a face covering stop me getting COVID-19?

The evidence suggests that face coverings can help us protect each other and reduce the spread of the disease from someone who is suffering from coronavirus, but not showing symptoms. That is why it is important to wear a face covering on public transport and it is required by law. It is currently mandatory to wear face coverings in shops, supermarkets, indoor shopping centres, banks, building societies, post offices, indoor transport hubs, museums, galleries, cinemas, places of worship, and public libraries. Relevant guidance on face coverings is available here.

To protect yourself, you should also continue to follow guidance on meeting safely with others and wash your hands regularly.

8. Schools and Childcare

8.1 Education and childcare

The government is committed to doing everything possible to allow all children to attend school safely, to support their wellbeing and education and help working parents. The overwhelming majority of children have now returned to school.

You can find out more about the government’s approach to education and how schools are preparing.

8.2 How will you make sure it is safe?

Keeping children and staff safe is our utmost priority. As more children return to school, we require new safety standards to set out how schools and early years settings can be adapted to operate safely.

We have published guidance advising schools and early years on reopening to ensure schools can adequately prepare new safety measures to operate safely and minimise the spread of the virus.

Protective measures to reduce transmission include regular hand cleaning, hygiene and cleaning measures, and small consistent groups. We have asked schools to consider staggering drop-off and arrival times, break times, and make use of outdoor space.

We have also published guidance on face coverings in education institutions that teach people in Years 7 and above. Schools and colleges have the discretion to require face coverings in communal areas where social distancing cannot be safely managed, if they believe that it is right in their particular circumstances. In areas where local restrictions apply, face coverings should be worn by adults and pupils (Years 7 and above) when moving around, such as in corridors and communal areas where social distancing is difficult to maintain.

Groups can be larger than 6 people for registered childcare, education and training purposes.

8.3 Can I go back to University?

Yes, Universities are preparing to welcome students back safely. Our guidance has advised safety measures, including good ventilation, using a blend of online and face to face provision, the use of face coverings in communal areas where distancing is not possible and good hand hygiene.

We have published guidance advising universities on reopening to ensure they can adequately prepare new safety measures to operate safely and minimise the spread of the virus. As with other essential services, employees working in education and higher education should continue to go into work where necessary.

Students will be expected to follow the latest guidance on social contact in their local area whilst attending university, and should not leave their university accommodation to go home in the event of an outbreak or restrictions being imposed on a local area.

8.4 Who is in my household if I am in university halls?

Your accommodation provider will identify your household in halls within which routine contact can be easily managed. A household in halls is normally considered to be those students living in the same flat or on the same floor who share a kitchen and/or bathroom rather than an entire block. You must not gather in groups of more than 6 with people who are not in your household.

9. Borders / international visitors

9.1 What are the rules for quarantining if you’ve been abroad?

Unless you have only been in a country or territory on the UK’s travel corridor list in the last 14 days, when you arrive in the UK you must travel directly to the place you are staying and not leave the place where you’re staying until 14 full days have passed since you were last in a country or territory not on that list. Exemptions are in place for some countries where the risk of transmission is low. Find out more about self-isolation when you travel to the UK. You must also complete a public health passenger locator form to provide details of your journey.

You may be fined up to £100 for failure to fill out the passenger locator form ahead of your arrival into the country, or more if you break this rule more than once. You also may not be allowed to enter the UK (unless you’re either British or a UK resident).

In England, if you are required to self-isolate and if you do not, you can be fined £1,000. If you do not provide an accurate contact detail declaration – or do not update your contact detail form in the limited circumstances where you need to move to another place to self-isolate – you can be fined. These fines start at £100 and will double – up to £3,200 – for repeated offences.

9.2 How do the quarantine exemptions work?

Passengers arriving from the countries and territories on the UK’s travel corridor list will not be required to self-isolate on arrival into the UK, unless you have visited or stopped in a country or territory not on that list in the preceding 14 days, when you must self-isolate at the address you provided on the public health passenger locator form.

We will keep the conditions in these countries and territories under review. If they worsen we will not hesitate to reintroduce self-isolation requirements.

Travellers should always check the latest FCO travel advice. Travel advice includes information on any health measures in place for visitors to the country or territory. These can include a requirement to self-isolate, quarantine, or undergo testing for COVID-19, or even restrictions on entry.

Information on self-isolation in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can be found on the Devolved Administration websites:

9.3 What rules do I need to follow if I am visiting the UK?

Before you travel to the UK from anywhere outside the Common Travel Area, you should complete the public health Passenger Locator Form, providing your journey and contact details, as well as the address where you will self-isolate.

If you are required to self-isolate, when you arrive in the UK you must travel directly to the place you are staying and not leave the place where you’re staying until 14 full days have passed since you were last in a non-exempt country or territory. The 14-day period starts from the day after you leave a non-exempt country or territory. A non-exempt country or territory is any country or territory that is not on the travel corridors list.

If you do not have any coronavirus symptoms at the end of your self-isolation period, you can stop self-isolating. You will then need to follow the same rules as people who live in the UK. People should follow the government guidelines, including maintaining social distancing with those they are not staying with and washing their hands regularly. If you develop symptoms at any time you should get a test and restart your period of isolation.

Statement by the Prime Minister to the House of Commons

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PM Commons statement on coronavirus: 22 September 2020

Mr Speaker, with your permission, I will make a statement on our response to the rising number of Coronavirus cases

and how we must act now to avoid still graver consequences later on.

At every stage in this pandemic we have struck a delicate balance between saving lives by protecting our NHS and minimising the wider impact of our restrictions.

And it is because of the common sense and fortitude of the British people that earlier this year we were able to avert an even worse catastrophe, forming a human shield around our NHS, and then by getting our country moving again by reopening key sectors of our economy and returning children to school.

But we always knew that while we might have driven the virus into retreat, the prospect of a second wave was real.

And I am sorry to say that – as in Spain and France and many other countries – we have reached a perilous turning point.

A month ago, on average around a thousand people across the UK were testing positive for Coronavirus every day.

The latest figure has almost quadrupled to 3,929.

Yesterday the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Adviser warned that the doubling rate for new cases could be between seven and 20 days with the possibility of tens of thousands of new infections next month.

I wish I could reassure the House that the growing number of cases is merely a function of more testing,

but a rising proportion of the tests themselves are yielding a positive result.

I also wish I could say that more of our people now have the antibodies to keep the virus off,

but the latest data suggest that fewer than 8 per cent of us are in this position.

It is true that the number of new cases is growing fastest amongst those aged 20-29,

but the evidence shows that the virus is spreading to other more vulnerable age groups,

as we have seen in France and Spain

where this has led to increased hospital admissions and, sadly, more deaths.

In the last fortnight, daily hospital admissions in England have more than doubled.

Tens of thousands of daily infections in October would, as night follows day, lead to hundreds of daily deaths in November and those numbers would continue to grow unless we act.

And as with all respiratory viruses, Covid is likely to spread faster as autumn becomes winter.

Yesterday, on the advice of the four Chief Medical Officers, the UK’s Covid alert level was raised from 3 to 4, the second most serious stage, meaning that transmission is high or rising exponentially.

So this is the moment when we must act.

If we can curb the number of daily infections, and reduce the Reproduction rate to 1,

then we can save lives, protect the NHS, and the most vulnerable,

and shelter the economy from the far sterner and more costly measures that would inevitably become necessary later.

So we are acting on the principle that a stitch in time saves nine.

The Government will introduce new restrictions in England, carefully judged to achieve the maximum reduction in the R number with the minimum damage to lives and livelihoods.

I want to stress that this is by no means a return to the full lockdown of March.

We are not issuing a general instruction to stay at home.

We will ensure that schools, colleges and universities stay open – because nothing is more important than the education, health and well-being of our young people.

We will ensure that businesses can stay open in a Covid-compliant way.

However, we must take action to suppress the disease.

First, we are once again asking office workers who can work from home to do so.

In key public services – and in all professions where homeworking is not possible, such as construction or retail – people should continue to attend their workplaces.

And like Government, this House will be free to take forward its business in a Covid-secure way which you, Mr Speaker, have pioneered.

Second, from Thursday all pubs, bars and restaurants must operate table-service only, Mr Speaker, except for takeaways. Together with all hospitality venues, they must close at 10pm. To help the police to enforce this rule, I am afraid that means alas closing, and not just calling for last orders. Simplicity is paramount. The same will apply to takeaways – though deliveries can continue thereafter.

I am sorry this will hurt many businesses just getting back on their feet, but we must act to stop the virus from being transmitted in bars and restaurants.

Third, we will extend the requirement to wear face coverings to include staff in retail, all users of taxis and private hire vehicles, and staff and customers in indoor hospitality, except when seated at a table to eat or drink.

Fourth, in retail, leisure, tourism and other sectors, our Covid-secure guidelines will become legal obligations.

Businesses will be fined and could be closed if they breach these rules.

Fifth, now is the time to tighten up the rule of six. I’m afraid that from Monday, a maximum of 15 people will be able to attend wedding ceremonies and receptions. Though, up to 30 can still attend a funeral as now. We will also have to extend the rule of six to all adult indoor team sports.

Finally, we have to acknowledge that the spread of the virus is now affecting our ability to reopen business conferences, exhibitions and large sporting events so we will not be able to do this from 1 October.

And I recognise the implications for our sports clubs, which are the life and soul of our communities, and my RH Friends the Chancellor and Culture Secretary are working urgently on what we can do now to support them. Mr Speaker, these rules measures will only work if people comply.

There is nothing more frustrating for the vast majority, the law-abiding majority that do comply than the sight of a few brazenly defying the rules.

So these rules will be enforced by tighter penalties.

We have already introduced a fine of up to £10,000 for those who fail to self-isolate and such fines will now be applied to businesses breaking Covid rules.

The penalty for failing to wear a mask or breaking the rule of six will now double to £200 for a first offence.

We will provide the police and local authorities with the extra funding they need, a greater police presence on our streets, and the option to draw on military support where required to free up the police.

The measures I have announced all apply in England and the Devolved Administrations are taking similar steps.

I spoke yesterday with each of the First Ministers and again today and I thank them for their collaboration: the health of everyone in these islands depends on our common success.

Already about 13 million people across England are living under various local restrictions, over and above national measures.

We will continue to act against local flare-ups, working alongside councils and strengthening measures where necessary. And I want to speak directly to those who were shielding early in the pandemic and may be anxious about being at greater risk. Following advice from our senior clinicians, our guidance continues to be that you do not need to shield – except in local lockdown areas – and we will keep this under constant review. I must emphasise that if all our actions fail to bring the R below 1, then we reserve the right to deploy greater firepower, with significantly greater restrictions.

I fervently want to avoid taking this step, as do the Devolved Administrations, but we will only be able to avoid it if our new measures work and our behaviour changes.

Mr Speaker, we will spare no effort in developing vaccines, treatments and new forms of mass-testing but unless we palpably make progress, we should assume that the restrictions I have announced will remain in place for perhaps six months.

For the time being, this virus is a fact of our lives and I must tell the House and the country that our fight against it will continue.

We will not listen to those who say let the virus rip; nor to those who urge a permanent lockdown; we are taking decisive and appropriate steps to balance saving lives with protecting jobs and livelihoods.

I know all of this will have profound consequences for our constituents, so the government will give the House every opportunity to scrutinise our decisions.In addition to regular statements and debates,

Hon Members will be able to question the government’s scientific advisers more regularly, gain access to data about their constituencies, your constituencies and join daily calls with my RH Friend the Paymaster General.

After six months of restrictions, it would be tempting to hope that the threat has faded, and seek comfort in the belief that if you have avoided the virus so far then you are somehow immune.

I have to say that it is that kind of complacency that could be our undoing.

If we fail to act together now we will not only place others at risk but jeopardise our own futures with the more drastic action that we would inevitably be forced to take.

Mr Speaker, no British government would wish to stifle our freedoms in the ways that we have found necessary this year.

Yet even now we can draw some comfort from the fact that schools and universities and places of worship are staying open, shops can serve their customers,construction workers can go to building sites, and the vast majority of the UK economy can continue moving forwards.

We are also, Mr Speaker, better prepared for a second wave, with the ventilators, the PPE, the dexamethasone, the Nightingale Hospitals, and a hundred times as much testing.

So now it falls to each of us and every one of us to remember the basics – wash our hands, cover our faces, observe social distancing – and follow the rules.

Then we can fight back against this virus, shelter our economy from even greater damage, protect the most vulnerable in care homes and hospitals, safeguard our NHS and save many more lives.

And I commend this statement to the House.

Published 22 September 2020

New measures in response to the acceleration of coronavirus

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Oral Statement to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Health.

Mr Speaker, with permission, I’d like to make a statement on coronavirus.

This deadly virus continues to advance across the world.

The World Health Organization has confirmed that the number of new cases in Europe is now higher than during the peak in March.

Here, the latest ONS figures indicate 6,000 new infections a day, almost double the previous week.

As the Chief Medical Officer and the Chief Scientific Adviser said earlier today, we are seeing a rise in cases across all age groups. This pattern is emerging across the entirety of our United Kingdom.

And earlier this afternoon the Prime Minister held discussions with the First Ministers of the devolved administrations and the Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland to make sure that wherever possible we are united in our efforts to drive this virus down.

We know that the epidemic is currently doubling around every 7 days and that if we continue on this trajectory, we could see 50,000 cases a day by mid-October.

So there can be no doubt that this virus is accelerating.

And we must all play our part in stopping the spread.

Mr Speaker, I’d like to update the House on decisions the government has taken so far.

Self-isolation package

The first line of defence is, of course, the social distancing that every single one of us has the responsibility to follow.

This includes the basics: hands, faces and space and the rule of 6.

A crucial part of this is people self-isolating if they are at risk of passing on the virus.

People who have tested positive, and their close contacts, must self-isolate.

This is the primary way that we, together, break the chains of transmission.

Now, I know that self-isolation can be tough for many people, especially if you are not in a position to work from home.

And I don’t want anyone having to have to worry about their finances while they are doing the right thing.

So we will introduce a new £500 Isolation Support Payment for people on low incomes who can’t work because they’ve tested positive or are asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace.

It will start next Monday. It will apply directly in England.

And the UK government will be providing funding through the Barnett formula to the devolved administrations so that similar support can be given in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Mr Speaker, just as we are strengthening our support for those who self isolate, we propose to strengthen the sanctions for those who do not.

The vast majority of people who are asked to self-isolate do.

But these rules are so important that we must ensure that nobody breaks them.

We are therefore proposing a new legal duty to self isolate – again for people who test positive or who are asked to do so by NHS Test and Trace.

This is backed by fines of up to £10,000, for repeat offences and serious breaches.

We will step up enforcement too.

NHS Test and Trace will make regular checks on those who are self-isolating.

And we will crack down on employers who try to prevent staff from following the rules.

Over the past few months, self-isolation has been instrumental in breaking the chain and blunting the force of this virus.

We know that it works. And with winter ahead, we will support everyone to do what is right to help stop the spread of this virus.

Testing prioritisation

The next line of defence is testing and contact tracing.

We are doing more testing per head than almost any other major nation.

Our daily testing capacity is now at a record high – 253,521 – and it continues to grow.

And on Thursday, we announced that 2 new Lighthouse Labs will be set up in Newcastle, and Bracknell, increasing capacity further.

But as the House knows, alongside this record expansion, demand has gone up too.

And so we need to prioritise the tests for those who need them most.

To save lives, protect the most vulnerable and make sure our health and care services, and our schools, can operate safely.

Today we have published our list of where tests are being prioritised, setting out how we will make sure tests are allocated where they are needed most.

First, to support acute clinical care.

Second, to support and protect people in care homes.

Third, NHS staff, including GPs and pharmacists.

Fourth, targeted testing for outbreak management and surveillance studies.

Fifth, testing for teaching staff with symptoms, so we can keep schools and classes open.

And then the general public when they have symptoms, prioritising those in areas of high incidence.

And I want to reinforce this important point.

The system relies on people coming forward for tests if – and only if – they have symptoms of coronavirus or have been specifically advised to by a health professional.

The testing capacity we have is valuable. And we must, together, prioritise it for the people who need it the most.

Local action

The next part of our defence is local action.

We have been vigilant in monitoring the data and putting in place targeted local measures so we can come down hard on the virus wherever we see it emerging.

In the summer, when the virus was in retreat, we were able to relax some of the measures that we had put in place.

But now, as the virus is spreading once more, we have had to act.

On Thursday, I updated the House on the changes we were making in parts of the North East.

And on Friday, we introduced new rules for parts of the North West, West Yorkshire and the Midlands.

We have seen some concerning rates of infection in these areas.

Liverpool, for instance Mr Speaker, now has over 120 cases per 100,000 population and in Warrington it is about 100.

As a result, working with local councils, we are putting in place stronger restrictions to protect local people.

In parts of Lancashire, Merseyside, Warrington and Halton we are putting in place new measures from tomorrow.

As with our strategy overall, our goal is to protect education, and employment as much as possible, while bearing down on the virus.

Residents should not socialise with people outside their own households or support bubble.

Hospitality will be restricted to table service only. And operating hours will be restricted, so venues must close between 10pm to 5am.

From tomorrow, in Wolverhampton, Oadby and Wigston, and the whole of Bradford, Kirklees and Calderdale, people should not socialise outside their household or support bubble.

We know from experience that local action can work when local communities come together, to follow the rules, tackle the virus, and keep themselves safe.

And I know how hard this is. We are constantly looking for how we can ensure measures bear down on the virus as much as possible, while protecting both lives and livelihoods.

And I have heard the concerns about the impact of local action on childcare arrangements.

For many, informal childcare arrangements are a lifeline – without which, they couldn’t do their jobs.

So today, I am able to announce a new exemption for looking after children under the age of 14, or vulnerable adults, where that is necessary for caring purposes.

This covers both formal and informal arrangements.

It does not allow for playdates or parties, but it does mean that a consistent childcare relationship, that is vital for somebody to get to work, is allowed.

I’d like to thank colleagues from across the House, including the Right Honourable member for Berwick-upon-Tweed.

And the Honourable Members for Sunderland Central and North West Durham for working with us on this important issue.

I hope this change will provide clarity and comfort to so many people who are living with these local restrictions.

It shows the benefits of cross party working across the House, and listening to concerns, as we all do our best to tackle this dreadful disease together.

Conclusion

Mr Speaker, the virus is spreading.

We are at a tipping point.

I have today set out the measures the government is taking so far.

We are working right now on what further measures may be necessary.

And the Prime Minister will update the House tomorrow with any more action that we need to take.

This is a moment where we once again, must come together, to tackle this deadly disease.

And I commend this statement to the House.

Published 21 September 2020