UPDATED – What you can and can’t do from the 1st June 2020

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The government has set out its plan to return life to as near normal as we can, for as many people as we can, as quickly and fairly as possible in order to safeguard livelihoods, but in a way that is safe and continues to protect our NHS.

The government has published staying safe outside your home guidance on what the new rules will mean. This page sets out key FAQ to help you prepare for these changes.

This guidance applies in England – people in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should follow the specific rules in those parts of the UK.

1. Gatherings, public spaces, and outdoor activities

1.1 What can I do that I couldn’t do before?

From Monday 1 June, there are a limited number of things you will be able to do in England that you could not do before:

  • spend time outdoors, including private gardens and other outdoor spaces, in groups of up to six people from different households, following social distancing guidelines
  • visit car showrooms and outdoor markets
  • in line with the arrangements made by your school, send your child to school or nursery if they are in early years, reception, year 1 or year 6, if you could not before
  • if you are an elite athlete as defined by this guidance, train and compete using the specified gyms, pools and sports facilities you need – which will, in the coming weeks, we hope enable others to watch live sport on TV

At all times, you should continue to adhere to strict social distancing guidelines when you are outside your home, particularly ensuring you are two metres away from anyone outside your household.

You cannot:

  • visit friends and family inside their homes
  • stay overnight away from your own home, except for in a limited set of circumstances, such as for work purposes
  • exercise in an indoor sports court, gym or leisure centre, or go swimming in a public pool
  • use an outdoor gym or playground
  • gather outdoors in a group of more than six (excluding members of your own household)

1.2 I don’t have to stay at home anymore?

You should continue to stay alert and limit your contact with others. Staying at home is the easiest way to do this.

However, from Monday 1 June, you can spend time outdoors and meet in groups of up to six. You should stay alert and always practise social distancing with people from outside of your household keeping 2 metres apart.

The more people you have interactions with, the more chance the virus has to spread. Therefore, try to limit the number of people you see – especially over short periods of time.

If you are showing coronavirus symptoms, or if you or any of your household are self-isolating, for example if you have been contacted as part of the test and traceprogramme, you should stay at home – this is critical to staying safe and saving lives.

1.3 What else is a criminal offence?

It is a criminal offence to:

  • incite others to commit one of the above offences by e.g. inviting people to a party
  • threaten others with infection by coronavirus, for example by coughing or spitting in their direction

1.4 Can I meet my friends and family in the park?

From Monday 1 June, you can meet in a group of up to six people, including children, if you are outdoors. You should ensure you stay at least 2 metres away from the people you do not live with. Public gatherings of more than six people from different households will be prohibited in law. Any gatherings before Monday 1 June should be no more than two people from different households and this is prohibited in law. There is no limit to the size of a gathering in an outdoor space if you are all members of the same household.

Try to limit the number of people you see – especially over short periods of time – and be sure to stay 2 metres apart when you do.

1.5 If I can socially distance, can I play sport with someone I don’t live with? What about tennis / croquet / cricket / Frisbee?

From Monday 1 June, you can exercise or play sport in groups of up to six people from other households, but should only do so where it is possible to maintain a 2 metre gap from those you do not live with.

People who play team sports can meet to train together and do things like conditioning or fitness sessions but they must be in separate groups of no more than six and must be 2 metres apart at all times. While groups could practice ball skills like passing and kicking, equipment sharing should be kept to a minimum and strong hand hygiene practices should be in place before and after. You can also play doubles tennis with people from outside of your household as long as you remain 2 metres apart as far as possible. Any equipment that is used should be cleaned frequently. Cleaning should be particularly thorough if it is to be used by someone else.

And if you are showing coronavirus symptoms, or if you or any of your household are self-isolating, you should stay at home – this is critical to staying safe and saving lives.

1.6 Can I sit in someone’s back garden?

Yes, from Monday 1 June you can spend time in gardens and other private outdoor spaces such as yards or roof terraces in a group of up to six people from different households – as long as you maintain social distancing at all times with people outside your household.

You should not go indoors unless you need the toilet or are passing through to access the garden. Avoid touching surfaces and if you use the toilet wash your hands thoroughly, wipe down surfaces, use separate or paper towels and wash or dispose of them safely after use.

If you no longer want to remain outdoors, you should go home. Don’t go into garages, sheds or cabins – these are all indoor areas and where the risk of transmission is higher.

1.7 Can I use garden equipment like tables and chairs? What about a climbing frame or paddling pool?

You should not be sharing garden equipment with people outside of your household because of the risk of transmission. You could bring your own or if you have to use chairs, for example, you should wipe them down carefully with household cleaner before and after use.

You should try to avoid shared equipment, for example you should use your own tennis racquet, golf club or basketball. Any equipment that is used should be cleaned frequently. Cleaning should be particularly thorough if it is to be used by someone else.

You should avoid using paddling pools and private swimming pools with people outside of your household.

1.8 Can I share food and drink, including having a picnic or a barbeque in an outdoor space?

Yes but stay alert. You should not pass each other food or drink unless you live together. You should not use plates or utensils that someone from another house has touched – either bring your own or ensure you have thoroughly cleaned them before using. Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly for at least 20 seconds and use disposable towels if possible.

If you are in someone else’s garden, you must not go inside to help the host carry the food out or to help with the washing up.

1.9 When will I be able to invite others into my home ?

Right now you are only allowed to gather outdoors with people you do not live with. Seeing people outside, rather than inside, while obeying the ‘2 metre rule’, greatly reduces the risk of transmission. Close contact with people from other households means a much higher risk of transmission, and according to the scientific advice, we cannot safely allow people to see people they don’t live with indoors without the risk that the virus will spread. We recognise how difficult this is for people – particularly those who live alone and we are keeping this under constant review.

1.10 Can I visit a clinically vulnerable person?

We know that people 70 and over, those with certain underlying conditions and pregnant women are more vulnerable than others, so we have advised them to take particular care to avoid contact with others.

That means you can see them outdoors but be especially careful. You can visit a vulnerable person inside if you are providing care or assistance to them, following the advice set out here. You should not do so if you have coronavirus symptoms, however mild.

Wherever possible, you should stay at least 2 metres away from others, use a tissue when sneezing and dispose of it safely, cough into the crook of your elbow and wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser if washing facilities are not easily available.

If someone is defined as clinically extremely vulnerable and being asked to shield, you should follow the guidance for a shielded person as this is different to those that are vulnerable.

1.11 Are there restrictions on how far I can travel for my exercise or outdoor activity?

No. You can travel to outdoor open space irrespective of distance, as long as you can return the same night and do not put others at risk because of services you may need in the time you are away. You should continue to avoid using public transport and should cycle, walk or drive wherever possible.

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.

You shouldn’t travel with someone from outside your household unless you can practise social distancing – for example by cycling.

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

You should avoid using public transport if you can. You should cycle, walk or drive wherever possible. Consider all other forms of transport before using public transport. If you need to use public transport, use should follow the safer travel guidance for passengers.

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

You should avoid sharing a private vehicle with members of another household as you will not be able to keep strict social distancing guidelines. 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.

1.14 Are day trips and holidays ok? Can people stay in second homes?

Day trips to outdoor open space are permitted as long as you can return the same night. You should make sure you do not put others at risk because of services you may need in the time you are away. You should practise social distancing from other people outside your household. You should continue to avoid using public transport if you can. Consider all other forms of transport before using public transport. If you need to use public transport, use should follow the safer travel guidance for passengers.

You are not permitted to stay overnight away from the place where you are living for a holiday or similar purpose. This includes staying overnight in a second home. If your work requires you to stay away from home you can do but should continue to practice social distancing.

Premises such as hotels and bed and breakfasts will remain closed, except where providing accommodation for specific reasons set out in law, such as for critical workers where required for a reason relating to their work. Hotels are also available to host those self-isolating after arriving in the UK (where no other accommodation is available).

1.15 Can students return to their family home if they’ve been in halls all this time?

The general rule is that staying overnight somewhere that is not your home – the place you live – is not allowed.

If a student is opting to change their primary residence for the purpose of the emergency period to live back at their family home, this is permitted.

1.16 Will public toilets reopen?

Councils are responsible for public toilets and this decision is up to them. You should avoid using the public toilet where possible. If you need to use any of these facilities, you should practise social distancing and good hygiene (i.e. washing your hands thoroughly).

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

Yes, you can still travel to outdoor areas, such as National Parks or beaches. Some venues are not allowed to be open so it is advisable to check ahead to ensure the venue is open to visitors.

Indoor sites and some outdoor attractions are still not allowed to re-open.

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

The guidance on the number of people attending funerals has not changed.

1.19 Can weddings go ahead?

No, there’s no change at this time – you cannot gather in sufficient numbers indoors to enable a wedding ceremony. We understand the frustration couples planning a wedding must be feeling at this time. We are keeping these restrictions under review and will ease them as soon as it is safe to do so. We will continue to work closely with faith leaders and local government over the coming weeks to go through the practicalities of doing so.

Marriages and civil partnerships under the special procedure for those who are seriously ill and not expected to recover, are taking place in some cases where it is safe to do so in line with PHE guidance.

1.20 Can I pray in a place of worship?

No, it is still not possible to pray in a church, mosque, synagogue, temple or other place of worship. We will continue to review when it might be safe to ease restrictions on places of worship, including for private prayer.

1.21 Can I register the birth of my child?

You are permitted to register the birth of your child. You should check with your local register office to see if it is open.

2. Vulnerable groups, shielding, 70 year olds and over, and care homes

2.1 Does easing restrictions apply to healthy 70 year olds and over?

The advice for those aged 70 and over continues to be that they should take particular care to minimise contact with others outside their household.

If they do go out more frequently, they should be careful to maintain distance from others. They and everyone should continue to comply with any general social distancing restrictions.

We know that those aged 70 and over can be absolutely fit and healthy and it’s not the case that everybody over 70 has a chronic health condition or an underlying disease.

But unfortunately, we also know that as you get older, there is a higher risk of coronavirus having a more serious impact with infection. Complications and deaths are more common in the elderly, even those without pre-existing conditions.

2.2 How long will shielding be in place?

We’ve advised individuals with very specific medical conditions to shield until the end of June and to do everything they can to stay at home. From 1 June, those shielding may wish to consider spending time outdoors once a day. This can be with members of their own household or, for those shielding alone, with one person from another household.

If individuals wish to spend time outdoors, they should take extra care to minimise contact with others by keeping 2 metres apart at all times. This is because we believe they are likely to be at the greatest risk of serious complications from coronavirus.

We know this is challenging guidance to follow, which is why we have a support scheme in place to provide help with access to food and basic supplies, care, medicines and social support.

We are keeping the guidance to shielded people under review.

2.3 What safety standards will need to be put in place in care homes?

We have issued detailed guidance about infection control and staff safety in care homesto help admit and care for residents safely and protect care home staff.

This includes isolation procedures, PPE and infection control training for all staff, cleaning and how to provide personal care safely.

As with all of our advice, this guidance is kept under constant review and updated frequently, in line with the latest scientific evidence.

3. Going to work / Safer spaces

3.1 Who is allowed to go to work?

In the first instance, employers should make every effort to support working from home, including by providing suitable IT and equipment as they have been already. This will apply to many different types of businesses, particularly those who typically would have worked in offices or online.

Where work can only be done in the workplace, we have set out tailored guidelines for employers to help protect their workforce and customers from coronavirus while still continuing to trade or getting their business back up and running. We have published detailed COVID-19 secure guidelines, which has been developed in consultation with businesses and trades unions.

These ‘back to work’ guidelines apply to those in essential retail like:

  • supermarkets
  • those in construction and manufacturing
  • those working in labs and research facilities
  • those administering takeaways and deliveries at restaurants and cafes
  • tradesmen, cleaners and others who work in people’s homes
  • those who are facilitating trade or transport goods

Non-essential retail, restaurants, pubs, bars, gyms and leisure centres will remain closed. They will reopen in a phased manner provided it is safe for everyone for them to do so they are able to meet the COVID-19 secure guidelines to protect consumers and workers and – the Government has announced its intention to reopen non-essential retail from 15 June, but only provided the five tests are still being met and shops have been made Covid secure.

There are specific guidelines for those who are vulnerable, shielding, or showing symptoms that should be observed when considering whether to go back to work.

3.2 What is a critical worker?

Critical workers are those working in health and care and other essential services, who can take their children to school or childcare, regardless of year group, and can use hotels and other accommodation services for work related purposes – for example if they can’t get home after a shift or need to isolate from their families. This critical worker definition does not affect whether or not you can travel to work – if you are not a critical worker, you may still travel to work if you cannot reasonably work from home.

3.3 What is meant by the phased approach?

Not all forms of work will return to normal at once. People will have to prepare for a new type of normal. We need to make sure that any changes we do make are carefully monitored and that we aren’t doing anything to increase the risk of infection and push the Reproductive value ‘R’ above 1. ‘R’ describes how many people on average will be infected for every one person who has COVID-19.

We will ensure that businesses have time to prepare their premises to operate as safely as possible.

We will set out more detail about the phasing in due course.

3.4 Will you open pubs / cinemas / hairdressers in July?

The roadmap sets out that some businesses (like pubs, cinemas or hairdressers) will not open until Step 3 is reached.

The government’s current planning assumption is that this step will be no earlier than 4 July and subject to further detailed scientific advice, provided closer to the time, on how far we can go. When they do reopen, they should also meet the COVID-19 secure guidelines.

3.5 What are the ‘Covid-Secure’ safety guidelines workplaces have to put in place?

We have set out clear, practical steps that businesses should take to ensure their workplaces are COVID-19 secure and give their staff the confidence to return back to work.

These include how to keep as many people as possible safely apart from those they do not live with in various workplace settings.

3.6 Do people need to wear face coverings at work?

Face coverings are not compulsory. However, if you can, people are advised to wear face coverings in enclosed public spaces where social distancing is not possible or where you are more likely to come into contact with people you do not normally meet. For example, on public transport or in some shops. Face coverings can help us protect each other and reduce the spread of the disease if you are suffering from coronavirus, but not showing symptoms. You should be prepared to remove your face covering if asked to do so by police officers and staff for the purposes of identification.

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.

3.7 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 if you are suffering from coronavirus, but not showing symptoms.

To protect yourself, you should continue to follow social distancing measures and isolation guidance and wash your hands regularly.

4. Workers’ rights

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

Employers and staff should discuss and agree working arrangements.

Employers should make all efforts to help people to work from home where they can. But where work cannot be done at home, employers should take clear, practical steps to help protect workers and create safe places to work, such as shift working or staggering processes. To identify the precautions needed to manage risk, your employer should discuss the workplace risk assessment with you to identify the practical ways of managing those risks.

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.

4.2 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.

5. Public Transport

5.1 Who is allowed to travel on public transport?

If you cannot work from home and have to travel to work, or if you must make an essential journey, you should cycle or walk wherever possible. Before you travel on public transport, consider if your journey is necessary and if you can, stay local. Try to reduce your travel. This will help keep the transport network running and allows people who need to make essential journeys to travel.

We have set out further advice on how to stay safe during your journey.

5.2 Should people wear face coverings on public transport?

If you can, wear a face covering in an enclosed space where social distancing isn’t possible and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet. This is most relevant for short periods indoors in crowded areas, for example on public transport or in some shops. The evidence suggests that face coverings can help us protect each other and reduce the spread of the disease if you are suffering from coronavirus, but not showing symptoms. You should be prepared to remove your face covering if asked to do so by police officers and staff for the purposes of identification.

If people choose to wear them, we are asking people to make their own face coverings at home, using scarves or other textile items. We are publishing guidance to help illustrate the process.

We urge the public not to purchase medical or surgical masks as these should be reserved for health and social care workers.

5.3 Can I use public transport to get to green spaces?

You should avoid using public transport wherever possible. Consider all other forms of transport before using public transport. If you need to use public transport, you should follow the safer travel guidance for passengers.

6. Schools and Childcare

6.1 Can children go back to early years settings, schools or university?

We continue to urge those who are currently eligible to use school provision (children of critical workers and vulnerable children) to attend. We said that we would bring more year groups back to school in a phased way when it is safe to have larger numbers of children within schools.

From Monday 1 June, therefore, all early years settings can reopen, and schools will start welcoming back pupils in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 in smaller class sizes.

From Monday 15 June, secondary schools and further education colleges will also prepare to begin some face to face support with Year 10 and 12 pupils who have key exams next year, in support of their continued remote, home learning.

6.2 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 group and class sizes of no more than 15 pupils. We have asked schools to consider staggering drop-off and arrival times, break times and assemblies, and make use of outdoor space.

7. Borders / international visitors

Please note – these measures are NOT yet in force. We will set out further detail, including from when these will be in force, in due course. You can find more information on border control here.

7.1 Are you isolating people at the border now?

The scientific advice shows that when domestic transmission is high, cases from abroad represent a small amount of the overall total and make no significant difference to the epidemic. Now that domestic transmission within the UK is coming under control, and other countries begin to lift lockdown measures, it is the right time to prepare new measures at the border.

7.2 What is self-isolation and which countries will it apply to?

We will be asking people travelling to the UK to make some sacrifices to stop coronavirus cases from being imported. In the same way as people in the UK have made large sacrifices to control the spread of coronavirus.

So what we will be requiring people to do on entering the UK is supply their contact details and details of their accommodation, and to self-isolate in their accommodation for 14 days, other than those on a short list of exemptions.

We will set out further details shortly.

7.3 Is this for foreign travellers only or British people returning home from holiday or living overseas?

All arrivals including British nationals will be required to provide their contact information and self-isolate upon arrival, other than those on a short list of exemptions.

8. Enforcement

8.1 How will police enforce the new rules?

The police and local authorities have the powers to enforce the requirements set out in law if people do not comply with them. The police will act with discretion and common sense in applying these measures, but if you breach the regulations, they may instruct you to disperse, leave an area, issue you with a fixed penalty notice or arrest you where they believe it necessary. They may also instruct you to take steps to stop your children breaking these legal requirements again if they have already done so.

The government has introduced higher penalties for those who do not comply, to reflect the increased risk to others of breaking the rules as we begin to ease the restrictions.If the police believe that you have broken these laws – or if you refuse to follow their instructions enforcing the law – a police officer may issue you with a fixed penalty notice of £100 (reduced to £50 if paid within 14 days). If you have already received a fixed penalty notice, the amount for further offences will increase in line with the table below.

First offence £100
Second offence £200
Third offence £400
Fourth offence £800
Fifth offence £1600
Maximum penalty £3200

For both individuals and companies, if you do not pay your fine you could be taken to court, with magistrates able to impose unlimited fines.

Categories: Parish Council

Prime Minister hails resilience of shielders as restrictions set to ease

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Extremely vulnerable people who have been “shielding” in England to be able to spend time outdoors.

  • 2.2 million people shielding in England to be able to spend time outdoors from tomorrow (Monday 1 June)
  • Guidance to be updated to allow interaction outside with their household from tomorrow
  • Unprecedented package of support for those shielding from coronavirus is also set to continue

Extremely vulnerable people who have been “shielding” in England can now safely spend time outdoors, the Communities Secretary will confirm today (Sunday 31 May).

The 2.2 million clinically extremely vulnerable people will be able to go outside with members of their household, while continuing to follow social distancing guidelines.

Those who live alone can meet outside with one other person from another household.

The updated guidance provides a much-needed boost to those most at risk who have been staying inside their homes to protect themselves and the NHS.

This includes many who have not had any face-to-face contact since they were first advised to shield.

The government’s unprecedented package of support for those shielding from coronavirus is also set to continue, including the delivery of food or medicines, phone calls and support from volunteers.

Speaking at the government’s daily press conference later today, the Communities Secretary is expected to set out a plan to review shielding guidance at regular points in the coming weeks.

At each review point for the social distancing measures, we will also assess whether it is possible for the shielding guidance to be eased further, based on the latest scientific advice. The next review will take place later this month.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:

I want to thank everyone who has followed the shielding guidance – it is because of your patience and sacrifice that thousands of lives have been saved.

I do not underestimate just how difficult it has been for you, staying at home for the last 10 weeks, and I want to pay tribute to your resilience.

I also want to recognise the hundreds of thousands of extraordinary volunteers who have supported you in shielding.

Whether through delivering medicines and shopping, or simply by checking in on those isolating, they should feel deeply proud of the part they have played in this collective effort.

We have been looking at how we can make life easier for our most vulnerable, so today I am happy to confirm that those who are shielding will be able to spend time outside with someone else, observing social distance guidelines.

I will do what I can, in line with the scientific advice, to continue making life easier for you over the coming weeks and months.

Communities Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said:

Those shielding from coronavirus have made huge sacrifices over recent months to protect both themselves and the NHS – they deserve our thanks and our support for their efforts.

Incidence rates of coronavirus are now significantly lower than before these measures were put in place. That’s why we are focused on finding the right balance between continuing to protect those at the greatest clinical risk, whilst easing restrictions on their daily lives to make the difficult situation more bearable – particularly enabling the contact with loved ones they and we all seek.

We will now be providing regular updates to the shielded to guide them through the next phase and we hope, to better and less restrictive times. In the meantime we will continue to provide the support that the shielded in our communities need.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said:

The resilience and commitment people have shown throughout this unprecedented period has been nothing short of phenomenal, and none more so than those who have shielded in their homes.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the NHS, GPs, all those who volunteered, community pharmacists and all those involved in providing much-needed support and guidance for patients required to shield over the past 10 weeks.

Thanks to the sacrifices made across the country, which have protected the NHS and saved lives, it’s now time to begin lifting restrictions, step by step, and while we must all stay alert, we can now start to resume a sense of normality.

To date support for those being shielded includes:

  • Over 2.25 million boxes of essential food have now been delivered by wholesalers to those at highest risk across England, with more than 300,000 boxes being distributed every week.
  • Up to 200,000 calls a day have been made to the shielded to confirm their support needs, and councils are helping to support them in other ways – including organising regular calls from volunteers to those isolated.
  • In addition to those delivered by volunteers, there have been over 400,000 free medicine deliveries provided by community pharmacies in April to those who have been advised to shield.
  • Support from an army of over 500,000 NHS volunteers have helped support those shielding as well as others with telephone calls to individuals who are at risk of loneliness as a consequence of self-isolation.

As the government moves to the next phase of its response to the coronavirus crisis, the latest clinical advice shows a much lower incidence rate in the general population.

This means the average chance of catching the virus is now down from 1/40 to 1/1000, delivering greater reassurance that it is safe to cautiously reflect this in the guidance for those who have been advised to shield.

The importance of following social distancing guidelines for anyone shielding is still paramount, and therefore while outside people who are shielding should remain at a 2-metre distance from others.

Those being shielded still remain at risk and are advised to only leave the house once a day. They should not go to work or the shops and should avoid crowded places where they can’t social distance.

Further information

The updated guidance for those who are shielding will be published on Sunday afternoon in advance of the measures coming into force from Monday.

There are around 2.2 million people in England with underlying severe health conditions who must be protected and have been asked to stay at home. These are people of all ages – with specific medical conditions identified by the NHS – who are less able to fight off the virus. (See the full list of conditions.)

There are a number of ways that those who are shielding can access food and other essentials:

  • Make use of the supermarket priority delivery slots that are available for this group. When a clinically extremely vulnerable person registers online as needing support with food, their data is shared with supermarkets. This means if they make an online order with a supermarket (as both a new or existing customer), they will be eligible for a priority slot.
  • If a person meets the criteria to get support from the NHS Volunteer Responders programme, they can call 0808 196 3646 to be linked with a volunteer who can do a food shop for them. A carer or family member can also do this on their behalf.
  • If you need urgent help and have no other means of support, contact your local authority to find out what support services are available in their area.
  • Use the many commercial options now available for accessing food, including telephone ordering, food box delivery, prepared meal delivery and other non-supermarket food delivery providers. A list has been shared with local authorities and charities.

If someone who is shielding doesn’t need the free government food box anymore, including because they have started to get online supermarket deliveries, they should re-register through the gov.uk website as no longer needing a food delivery. Alternatively, they can inform their delivery driver at the door that you no longer require these food parcels.

People in the shielding group should continue to access the NHS services they need during this time. This may be delivered in a different way or in a different place than they are used to, for example via an online consultation, but if they do need to go to hospital or attend another health facility for planned care, extra planning and protection will be put in place.

An NHS Medicine Delivery Service is available from community pharmacies and dispensing doctors. It ensures the delivery of medicines to shielded patients where family, friends or volunteers cannot collect them.

If a person meets the criteria to get support from the NHS Volunteer Responders programme, they can call 0808 196 3646 to be linked with a volunteer who can help them is a range of different ways. A carer or family member can also call the programme on their behalf.

Mental health support

Follow the advice that works for you in the guidance on how to look after your mental health and wellbeing during coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Every Mind Matters page on anxiety and NHS mental wellbeing audio guides provide further information on how to manage anxiety.

Six people can meet outside under new measures to ease lockdown

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PM Boris Johnson announced groups of up to six people will be able to meet outdoors in England from Monday 1 June, provided strict social distancing guidelines are followed.

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Read the PM’s press conference statement here.

Groups of up to six people will be able to meet outdoors in England from Monday 1 June, including in gardens and other private outdoor spaces, provided strict social distancing guidelines are followed.

The Prime Minister announced the change as he set out a carefully-designed package to ease the burdens of lockdown in a way that is expected to keep the R rate down.

Thanks to the public’s continued patience and hard work in helping to protect the NHS and contain the virus, the Prime Minister confirmed that the government’s five tests are being met. This means we can now move forward to the next phase of adjusting the lockdown.

In line with the Prime Minister’s announcements earlier this week, a series of measures will be put in place in England from Monday 1 June in three core areas – schools, retail, and social contact.

Primary schools will welcome back children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 on 1 June, and nurseries and other early years settings will be reopened. On 15 June, secondary schools, sixth forms and colleges will begin to provide some face-to-face contact time for Year 10 and 12 and the equivalent groups in further education. This will help students prepare for exams next year, and we expect there to be around a quarter of these secondary students in at any point.

The Prime Minister has also acknowledged that some schools may not be able to reopen immediately, and has committed the government to continuing to work with the sector to ensure any schools experiencing difficulties are able to open as soon as possible.

Thousands of high street shops, department stores and shopping centres will also begin to reopen in June as we restart the economy.

Outdoor markets and car showrooms will be able to reopen from 1 June, provided they meet COVID-19 secure guidelines to protect shoppers and workers. We intend to open all other non-essential retail from 15 June, as long as the government’s five tests are still being met and COVID-19 secure guidelines are followed.

Recognising the impact that lockdown is having on family and friends who have been unable to see each other, the Prime Minister announced today that from 1 June up to six people from different households will be allowed to meet outside, including in gardens and other private outdoor spaces.

The evidence shows that the risk of transmission is significantly lower outdoors and this step will mean that people can see more of their friends, family and loved ones.

However, as we take this small step forward, it is critical that those from different households continue to stay 2 metres apart. And it remains the case that people should not spend time inside the homes of their friends and families, other than to access the garden or use the toilet.

Minimising contact with others is still the best way to prevent transmission. The Prime Minister was clear today that people should try to avoid seeing people from too many households in quick succession – so that we can avoid the risk of quick transmission between lots of different families and continue to control the virus. Those who are shielding should continue to do so. The Government recognises the toll this is taking on groups that have been asked to shield and hopes to say more soon on what further support we can provide.

Speaking at today’s Downing Street press conference, the Prime Minister said –

Thanks to the caution we have shown so far, all five tests are being met. That is not my achievement or the government’s achievement – it is your achievement, only possible thanks to your resolve and dedication to our national purpose to overcome this virus.

So the result is we can move forward with adjusting the lockdown in England on Monday.

I want to reaffirm that fundamental commitment to the British people that all the steps we have taken, and will take, are conditional.

They are conditional on all the data, and all the scientific advice, and it is that scientific advice which will help us to judge what we are doing is safe.

And as before, we will see how these new changes are working, and look at the R value and the number of new infections before taking any further steps, so we can ensure anything we do does not risk a second peak that could overwhelm the NHS.

The new NHS Test and Trace programme will ensure we keep making progress in easing the lockdown while continuing to keep the virus under control.

The government will closely monitor the impact of the changes set out today and continue to follow the scientific advice to ensure the five tests continue to be met before we take any further steps.

So far, the public have shown high levels of compliance and we are confident that this will continue as restrictions are relaxed, and that people will do the right thing to control the virus and save lives.

The police will continue to take the approach of engaging, explaining and encouraging individuals to follow the law. Where people do not follow the rules, the police will have the power to enforce these requirements as a last resort.

Prime Minister sets out timeline for retail to reopen in June

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Thousands of high street shops, department stores and shopping centres across England are set to reopen next month once they are COVID-19 secure and can show customers will be kept safe, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed today.

The Prime Minister has set out:

  • Outdoor markets and car showrooms will be able to reopen from 1 June, as soon as they are able to meet the COVID-19 secure guidelines to protect shoppers and workers. As with garden centres, the risk of transmission of the virus is lower in these outdoor and more open spaces. Car showrooms often have significant outdoor space and it is generally easier to apply social distancing.
  • All other non-essential retail including shops selling clothes, shoes, toys, furniture, books, and electronics, plus tailors, auction houses, photography studios, and indoor markets, will be expected to be able to reopen from 15 June if the Government’s five tests are met and they follow the COVID-19 secure guidelines, giving them three weeks to prepare.

Shops like supermarkets and pharmacies have been trading responsibly throughout the pandemic. Building on this and in line with the Government’s roadmap, reopening non-essential retail is the next step towards restoring people’s livelihoods, restarting the UK’s economy, and ensuring vital public services like the NHS continue to be funded.

Businesses will only be able to open from these dates once they have completed a risk assessment, in consultation with trade union representatives or workers, and are confident they are managing the risks. They must have taken the necessary steps to become COVID-19 secure in line with the current Health and Safety legislation.

The government is taking action to help businesses re-open and protect their staff and customers, including:

Publishing updated COVID-secure guidelines for people who work in or run shops, branches, and stores, after consultation with businesses, union leaders, Public Health England and the Health and Safety Executive.

Working with local authorities to continue to carry out spot checks and follow up on concerns by members of the public.

The updated guidance takes into account the best practice demonstrated by the many retailers which have been allowed to remain open and have applied social distancing measures in store. Measures that shops should consider include placing a poster in their windows to demonstrate awareness of the guidance and commitment to safety measures, storing returned items for 72 hours before putting them back out on the shop floor, placing protective coverings on large items touched by the public such as beds or sofas, and frequent cleaning of objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, including self-checkouts, trolleys, coffee machines and betting terminals, for example.

The vast majority of businesses will want to do everything possible to protect their staff and customers, but tough powers are in place to enforce action if they don’t, including fines and jail sentences of up to two years.

As per the roadmap, hairdressers, nail bars and beauty salons, and the hospitality sector, remain closed, because the risk of transmission in these environments is higher where long periods of person to person contact is required.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said:

The high street sits at the heart of every community in the country. Enabling these businesses to open will be a critical step on the road to rebuilding our economy, and will support millions of jobs across the UK.

The guidance we have set out today provides a vital framework to get shops open in a way that is safe for everyone. It explains how retail workers who are not currently working can go back to work as safely as possible and feel confident in their workplace. And it reassures customers that shops are properly assessing the risks and putting in place measures to protect them.

Josh Hardie, CBI Deputy Director General, said:

As our high streets slowly reawaken, this new guidance is important for businesses on the ground. Our shops are doing all they can to keep the public and their staff safe, and we’ve seen many retailers leading from the front with innovative solutions to do just that. As more and more businesses turn their attention to reopening, this guidance will help them plan to do so safely and securely.

Andrew Goodacre, CEO, British Independent Retailers Association, said:

Bira is pleased with the guidance being given to retail outlets.

It provides a broad framework for the basic measures and still allows the retailer to be flexible according to the size, layout and location of the shop.

This guidance will ensure that independent retailers provide safe environments for employees and customers.

Prime Ministers Press conference statement 25th May 2020

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s statement at the daily coronavirus press conference on 25 May 2020.

The Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP

Good evening and welcome to the Number Ten Coronavirus Press Conference

Before I turn to this evening’s announcements, I want to update you on the latest data

  • 3,532,634 tests for coronavirus have now been carried out in the UK, including 73,726 tests carried out yesterday;
  • 261,184 people have tested positive, that’s an increase of 1,625 cases since yesterday;
  • 8,834 people are in hospital with COVID-19 in the UK, down (12%) from 10,092 this time last week;

And sadly, of those who tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 36,914 have now died. That’s an increase of 121 fatalities since yesterday. This new figure includes deaths in all settings not just in hospitals.

And once again my deepest condolences go out to all those who have lost their loved ones before their time. We must not, and will not, forget them.

Two weeks ago, I set out our road map for the next phase of our fight against Covid 19

It is a cautious plan, informed by the evidence about what is safe, and conditional upon our continued progress against the virus.

And we are making progress. Thanks to this country’s collective efforts, the key indicators are heading in the right direction. The daily number of deaths is down, the number of new cases is down, our survey evidence suggests the infection rate is falling, and the R has not risen above one.

So just over 2 weeks ago, we moved to step 1 of our plan, encouraging those who are unable to work from home to go back to work, with new guidelines setting out how workplaces can be made COVID-secure.

At the same time, we allowed people to spend more time outdoors and to meet one member of another household outside, provided they remain 2 metres apart.

I also said we would be able to move to step 2 of our plan no earlier than Monday 1 June – a week today.

We will set out our formal assessment of the 5 tests that we set for adjusting the lockdown later this week, as part of the 3 weekly-review we are legally required to undertake by Thursday.

But because of the progress we are making, I can, with confidence, put the British people on notice of the changes we intend to introduce as we move into step 2.

And I think it is important to give that notice, so that people have sufficient time to adjust and get ready before those changes come into effect.

Yesterday I set out our intention to begin reopening nurseries and particular years in primary schools, reception, year 1, year 6, from 1 June, followed by some contact for those secondary school pupils with exams next year from 15 June. Some contact for years 10 and 12 from 15 June with their teachers.

This announcement has given schools, teachers and parents clarity about our intentions, enabling them to prepare in earnest. The Department for Education is now engaging with teaching unions, councils and school leaders to help schools get ready.

Today, I want to give the retail sector notice of our intentions to reopen shops, so they too can get ready.

So I can announce that it is our intention to allow outdoor markets to reopen from June 1, subject to all premises being made COVID-secure, as well as car showrooms, which often have significant outdoor space and where it is generally easier to apply social distancing.

We know that the transmission of the virus is lower outdoors and that it is easier to follow Covid Secure guidelines in open spaces. That means we can also allow outdoor markets to reopen in a safe way that does not risk causing a second wave of the virus.

Then, from 15 June, we intend to allow all other non-essential retail, ranging from department stores to small, independent shops, to reopen. Again, this change will be contingent upon progress against the 5 tests and will only be permitted for those retail premises which are COVID-secure.

Today we are publishing new guidance for the retail sector detailing the measures they should take to meet the necessary social distancing and hygiene standards. Shops now have the time to implement this guidance before they reopen. This will ensure there can be no doubt about what steps they should take.

While the vast majority of businesses will want to do everything possible to protect their staff and customers, I should add that we will, of course, have the powers we need to enforce compliance where that is required.

I want people to be confident they can shop safely, provided they follow the social distancing rules for all premises.

The food retail sector has already responded fantastically well, enabling supermarkets to be kept open in a safe way – and we will learn lessons from that experience as we allow other retail to open.

These are careful but deliberate steps on the road to rebuilding our country.

And we can only take these steps thanks to what we have so far achieved together.

We will only be successful if we all remember the basics – so wash your hands, keep social distance, and isolate if you have symptoms – and get a test.

I will now hand over to Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director of Public Health England, to take us through today’s slides.

Published 25 May 2020

Home Security.

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The following has been forwarded to us by our Clerk in his daily Virus updates.

During these unprecedented times home security may be the least of our concerns – indeed crime rates are currently reduced – but often complacency leads to vulnerabilitie say Notts police.

As we enter the 8th week of the government lockdown and are enjoying warmer weather many of us are taking to the garden. It’s important to remain alert! Whilst in the garden make sure the door at the opposite side of the house is locked,

  • keep side and back gates locked and
  • always put away gardening equipment at the end of the day.
  • Ensure valuable items such as bikes and power tools are kept in a secure, locked garage or shed.

When you go out for your daily exercise, if the home is then unoccupied,

  • check all doors are locked and windows closed,
  • if you have a home alarm this should be activated.

While not at home check all motor vehicle doors are locked and items removed from view, where possible remove all valuables from the vehicle.

Remember if you have a keyless entry system fitted to your vehicle the key fob, it should be kept as far away as possible from doors and windows and stored in a signal blocking pouch or metal tin.   Stay safe, stay secure.  https://www.nottinghamshire.police.uk/document/advice-home

Rushcliffe – Car parks at open spaces, tennis courts and skate parks now open

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Rushcliffe Borough Council have now safely reopened some car parks at open spaces, tennis courts and skate parks in the Borough.

 

Risk assessments have been completed with its teams and third parties to ensure all can be accessed in line with government advice.

 

All visitors to the sites are asked to ensure social distancing of two metres is maintained at all times.

 

The authority’s play parks remain closed at all sites but the following facilities are now open:

 

  • The car park at Rushcliffe Country Park where parking is free and its refreshment kiosk and its picnic benches but with increased spacing between benches.
  • Tennis courts at Bridgford Park and West Park in West Bridgford.
  • Skate parks at both Rushcliffe Country Park and Lady Bay Skate Park in line with Skateboard GB’s and Skateboard England’s updated advice which can be viewed on the council’s Coronavirus advice page at rushcliffe.gov.uk/coronavirus

 

Rushcliffe Borough Council’s Deputy Leader Cllr Debbie Mason said: “We’re pleased these facilities can re-open but it’s crucial everyone plays their part in using them safely and ensuring they continue to follow social distancing.

 

“We know our open spaces and recreation facilities are popular and so important to give people opportunity to take part in activities that assist good physical and mental health.

 

“We’ll continue to review the sites to ensure they can be used safely. Please visit www.rushcliffe.gov.uk for the latest advice on our facilities and how you can access them in line with government guidelines.”

Dogs to the rescue???

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COVID-19 detection dogs trial launches

Trials for specially-trained ‘COVID dogs’ that may be able to detect coronavirus (COVID-19) in humans, even before symptoms appear, are set to begin as part of new research.

A sniffer dog sniffing a sample
  • ‘COVID dogs’ to be trialled as potential non-invasive detection approach for the virus in the future
  • The dogs, who successfully detect certain cancers, will undergo intensive training to see if they can spot coronavirus before symptoms appear
  • Clinical trial backed by half a million pounds of government funding for innovative schemes

Trials for specially-trained ‘COVID dogs’ that may be able to detect coronavirus in humans, even before symptoms appear, are set to begin as part of new research. This will establish whether they could be used as a potential new non-invasive, early warning measure to detect coronavirus in the future.

World-leading researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) will carry out the first phase of a trial in collaboration with the charity Medical Detection Dogs and Durham University, backed by £500,000 of government funding. This aims to determine whether dogs are able to detect coronavirus in humans from odour samples.

The trial brings together leading disease control experts from the universities with Medical Detection Dogs, who have already successfully trained dogs to detect the odour of many different diseases in humans, such as cancer, malaria and Parkinson’s disease.

This new trial will look at whether the dogs, a mixture of labradors and cocker spaniels, can be trained to detect coronavirus in people too, even if they are not showing symptoms.

Minister for Innovation Lord Bethell said:

“Bio-detection dogs already detect specific cancers and we believe this innovation might provide speedy results as part of our wider testing strategy.

“Accuracy is essential so this trial will tell us whether ‘COVID dogs’ can reliably detect the virus and stop it spreading.”

If successful, these dogs could provide a fast and non-invasive detection method alongside the government’s robust 5-pillar testing strategy. It is one of a number of testing measures being explored in order to ensure the government’s response to the virus is as extensive as possible.

The initial phase of the trial will see NHS staff in London hospitals collect odour samples from people who are infected with coronavirus and those who are uninfected. The 6 bio detection dogs will then undergo thorough training to identify the virus from the samples.

More than 10 years of research gathered by Medical Detection Dogs has shown that the dogs, which could each screen up to 250 people per hour, can be trained to detect the odour of disease at the equivalent dilution of one teaspoon of sugar in 2 Olympic-sized swimming pools of water.

Professor James Logan, lead researcher for the work and Head of the Department of Disease Control at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said:

Our previous work has shown that malaria has a distinctive odour, and with Medical Detection Dogs, we successfully trained dogs to accurately detect malaria. This, combined with the knowledge that respiratory disease can change body odour, makes us hopeful that the dogs can also detect COVID-19.

I would like to thank the UK government for their support of this pioneering research through this funding. We’re excited to do this trial, and confirm whether these bio detection dogs can be used to screen for COVID-19.

If successful, this approach could revolutionise how we detect the virus, with the potential to screen high numbers of people.

Medical Detection Dogs and the universities put forward a proposal for the clinical trial to the government, which has been accepted following strong evidence that the dogs can detect other diseases in humans with a high level of accuracy.

The dogs will only be deployed if backed by strong scientific evidence and is part of the government’s approach to explore all possible options to tackle coronavirus.

Dr Claire Guest, Co-founder and CEO of Medical Detection Dogs, said:

We are delighted that the government has given us the opportunity to demonstrate that dogs can play a role in the fight against COVID-19. They have the potential to help by quickly screening people, which could be vital in the future

We have already demonstrated our expertise in canine disease detection by successfully training dogs to detect diseases like cancer, Parkinson’s and malaria, and we apply that same science to train life-saving Medical Alert Assistance Dogs to detect odour changes in individuals caused by their health condition.

We are sure our dogs will be able to find the odour of COVID-19 and we will then move into a second phase to test them in live situations, following which we hope to work with other agencies to train more dogs for deployment. We are incredibly proud that a dog’s nose could once again save many lives.

Housing Secretary’s statement on coronavirus (COVID-19): 13 May 2020

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Housing Secretary’s statement on coronavirus (COVID-19): 13 May 2020

The Housing Secretary on the government’s response to COVID-19 and the plan to safely restart, reopen and renew the housing market.

The Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP

Good afternoon,

As Housing Secretary, I’m going to set out our comprehensive plan to safely restart, reopen and renew the housing market.

But first, I want to update you on the latest data on the coronavirus response.

  • 2,094,209 tests for coronavirus have now been carried out in the UK, including 87,063 tests carried out yesterday
  • 229,705 people have tested positive, that’s an increase of 3,242 cases since yesterday
  • 11,327 people are in hospital with COVID-19, down 15% from 13,273 last week
  • And sadly, of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 33,186 have now died. That’s an increase of 494 fatalities since yesterday

These figures includes deaths in all settings not just in hospitals.

Before turning to the housing market I want to remind people of how we will address this phase of our fight against COVID-19.

Firstly, in order to monitor our progress, we are establishing a new COVID Alert Level System, with 5 levels, each relating to the level of threat posed by the virus.

The alert level will be based primarily on the R value and the number of coronavirus cases.

And in turn that alert level will determine the level of social distancing measures in place.

The lower the level the fewer the measures; the higher the level the stricter the measures.

The social distancing measures remain critical in our efforts to control the virus.

Throughout the period of lockdown which started on 23 March we have been at Level 4 – meaning a COVID-19 epidemic is in general circulation, and transmission is high or rising exponentially.

Thanks to the hard work and the sacrifices of the British people in this lockdown, we have helped to bring the R level down, now that we are in a position to begin moving to Level 3, we will do so in time, in careful steps.

We have set out the first of 3 steps we will take to carefully modify the measures and gradually ease the lockdown, and begin to allow people to return to their way of life – but crucially doing so while avoiding what would be a disastrous second peak that could overwhelms the NHS.

After each step we will closely monitor the impact of that on the R and the number of infections, and all the available data will be used, and we will only take the next step when we are satisfied that it is completely safe to do so.

The first step – from this week:

  • Those who cannot work from home should now speak to their employer about going back to work.
  • You can now spend time outdoors and exercise as often as you like.
  • You can meet one person outside of your household in an outdoor, public place provided you stay 2 metres apart.

The second step – from 1 June , at the earliest, as long as the data allows, we will aim to do the following:

  • Primary schools to reopen for some pupils, in smaller class sizes.
  • Non-essential retail to start to reopen, when and where it is safe to do so.
  • Cultural and sporting events to take place behind closed doors, without crowds.

And then step 3 – no earlier than 4 July, and again, only if the data says it safe to do so, we aim to allow:

  • More businesses and premises to open, including potentially those offering personal care such as leisure facilities, public places, and places of worship.

And on that last point, I have been speaking to faith leaders and will convene later this week a taskforce to establish when and how places of worship can openly safely for some of the practices where social distancing can take place, such as private prayer, potentially private prayer being able to be carried out earlier than 4 July.

Many of these businesses and organisations will need to operate in new ways to ensure they are safe, and we will work with those sectors and individuals on how to do this.

Having taken the first step in carefully adjusting some of the measures and our advice to people on what to do, we have also updated what we are asking people to do, which is to Stay Alert, to Control the Virus and Save Lives.

For many people the appropriate course still means staying at home as much as possible.

But there are a range of other actions we’re advising people to take when they do go out to work or for other activities:

  • limiting contact with other people
  • keeping distance if you go out – 2 metres apart where possible
  • washing your hands regularly
  • wearing a face covering when you are in enclosed spaces where it’s difficult to be socially distant – for example in some shops or on public transport
  • and if you or anyone in your household has symptoms, you all need to self-isolate

If everyone stays alert and follows these rules, we can control coronavirus by keeping the R down and reducing the number of infections.

This is how we can continue to save lives, and livelihoods, as we begin as a nation to recover from coronavirus.

And as we begin to recover from coronavirus, it’s essential that we cautiously open essential parts of our economy, where it is safe to do so.

Earlier today in Parliament, I made a statement setting out our clear, coherent and comprehensive plan to restart, reopen and renew the housing market and our construction industry.

I’m sure that this will be of interest to many people at home who are hoping to move house, and I’d like to set out what this means in more detail.

From today anyone in England can move house if they follow new guidance we have published on GOV.UK.

When the lockdown was announced in March, we changed the rules so that people could only move home if they thought it was “reasonably necessary”.

That meant that more than 450,000 buyers had to put their plans on hold.

And each month 300,000 tenancies come up for renewal as well.

A significant proportion of these will result in people needing to or wanting to move home. The pressure to move for some was becoming acute, with serious legal, financial and health implications.

During an already very difficult time, these people have been stuck in limbo. Now they can carry on with their house moves and add some certainty to their lives.

So, from today:

  • estate agents’ offices can re-open
  • viewings – whether virtual or in person – are permitted
  • show homes can open
  • and removal companies and the other essential parts of the sales and letting process are re-started with immediate effect

For most people moving home is not a luxury. People decide to move home because their personal circumstances change.

The changes that I have announced today are happening safely in order to control the virus and to protect the public.

We have published very detailed guidance, informed by public health advice, to explain how this can be achieved, with all parties observing hygiene measures and social distancing guidelines.

People have asked why they would be able to look around a stranger’s house, but not visit their parents or loved ones at home.

Now I understand why that might seem confusing at first glance – especially when people have been separated from their loved ones for so long.

But our guidelines makes clear that in the first instance that viewings should happen virtually. When viewings do happen in person, we’ve set out a clear plan to ensure the safety of those already in the property itself, those considering moving in and the estate agents and lettings agents.

These requirements include:

  • Visits being by appointment only, open house viewings not taking place, and speculative viewings where buyers or tenants are not serious yet, are highly discouraged.
  • All parties following strict social distancing guidelines.
  • All internal doors should be opened where possible.
  • The current occupier vacating the property for the duration of the visit, going out for their daily exercise, going out to the shops or standing in the garden, if that is possible.
  • All involved in the process washing their hands upon entering the property. And, once the viewing has taken place, all surfaces in the property including the door handles, should be thoroughly cleaned.

There are of course exceptions. For those who are self-isolating or have coronavirus, they should not be moving or going back to work or allowing trades people or professionals into their home.

Where this is the case, all parties involved in house buying or selling should prioritise agreeing amicable sensible arrangements to change move dates for the individuals concerned. That has been happening across the country in recent weeks and it will need to continue.

We would also ask those who are clinically vulnerable and those who are shielding to consider very carefully their personal situation and to seek personal and specific medical advice before deciding whether to commit to or proceed with moving home.

If you are in this situation, and you decide that you must go ahead, all professionals involved must be made aware so that they can put in place any additional precautionary measures to provide further protection for your health and further legal protection to make sure the transaction goes as smoothly as can be expected.

A vibrant housing market means more than buying and selling homes. We need to get back to building again and Britain needs that.

It is something that this government has always been committed to. Something that our ambitious First Homes programme will do later this year, with a 30% discount on new homes for key workers including nurses and teachers and police officers as well as local first time buyers.

We want them to be ready as soon as possible and that’s just one of the reasons I am keen to get construction up and running.

To help with this today I am announcing further steps to support safe house building by allowing more flexible working hours on construction sites, where it’s appropriate and with local consent.

I am allowing sites to apply to extend their working hours, again with immediate effect, to 9pm Monday to Saturday in residential areas and beyond that in non-residential areas, and setting out a very clear government position that these applications should be approved by local councils unless there are very compelling reasons why this is not appropriate.

Varied start and finish times will make it easier for sites to observe social distancing, take the pressure off public transport like the tube in London, and keep Britain building.

There are countless examples of the industry behaving responsibly and proactively during this pandemic.

I’d like to thank today Taylor Wimpey, who now have now got construction safely underway on the majority of their sites and have started removing staff from the furlough scheme and getting back to work on full pay.

They are offering a discount of 5% for NHS staff and care workers on new homes – a great way to recognise the contribution that our front line heroes are making to the country.

So thank you to them.

It’s also time that the planning system makes more use of digital technology to operate remotely and efficiently during this pandemic.

I am determined that the planning inspectorate be at the forefront of this work – I welcome the inspectorate now undertaking its first ever virtual hearings.

I am asking them to make all hearings virtual within weeks so that the planning system can resume and be made more permanently more accessible and user-friendly.

This is the most comprehensive restarting of an industry in the first phase of our roadmap with few if any transactions there is no visibility and no precedent with which to accurately judge the state of the housing market, but history tells us that in each economic recovery in modern British economic life the housing market has been key to recovery and revival.

As Housing Secretary, I will do everything I can to support the millions of people employed in the construction and the housing industries, to help their sector bounce back, while always prioritising their safety and wellbeing.

Almost 100 separate organisations have already signed up to the Charter for Safe Working Practice, pledging that they will share the responsibility to ensure that their sites operate safely and in accordance with government advice.

I’d like to thank all of all of those who have signed and encourage the whole industry to join them.

Today we reopen, we restart and renew the housing market and construction industry to protect lives, to save jobs and to begin rebuilding our economy.

Thank you.

Blackberry Hill Right of Way (Whatton FP1) – Closure extended

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The closure of the Blackberry Hill right of way access via the footbridge over the Whipling has been extended to October 30th 2020.

Originally scheduled for the footbridge to be replaced or rebuilt by April 30th, the wet weather followed by the CORVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected the ability of VIA East Midlands to effect repairs. Hopefully they will be able to remedy the situation soon than October, but there are no guarantees.