On Monday 11 May, the Government released new guidance for people in England about how to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. The guidance covers many areas, including going back to work safely, maintaining social distancing, and supporting social care staff. The Government have also updated their FAQS on what we can and can’t do in line with the new guidance.
Some of the key points for individuals are:
Exercise and enjoying time outside
It is now possible to go outside to exercise (or to enjoy the park, for example) as much as you like, unless you are in the shielding group of the clinically extremely vulnerable group of people who are being asked to stay at home to protect themselves from COVID-19. You can travel somewhere to spend time outside (but you cannot travel with someone outside of your household).
People over 70 or with existing health conditions (but who are not in the clinically extremely vulnerable group) are being asked to take particular care to maintain their social distance from others when outside their home.
However, as before, if you have symptoms of COVID-19 (a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of taste or smell), or someone in your household does, you should follow the government’s stay at home guidance.
You can meet with one person from outside your household, but only if you are outdoors and maintain a distance of 2m (or three steps) from each other. You could meet different people on different days.
It is still not possible to have people outside of your household visit you in your home (unless for essential purposes, such as carers, cleaners and trades people). This may change in the coming weeks, but the government is still looking at the scientific evidence to decide on the best way to do this.
Reducing the spread of coronavirus
The Government is now asking people to consider wearing a face-covering when going into enclosed spaces where social distancing (staying at least 2m apart from others) may not be possible. This could include places like supermarkets, and when using public transport.
People should not use medical-grade facemasks, as these are needed by health and social care professionals. Homemade cloth face-coverings may help stop the spread of the virus, if the wearer has the virus but does not have any symptoms.
Protecting people in care homes
Anyone who is moving (or returning) to a care home from hospital will be tested for COVID-19 before they move, and anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 living in a care home will be tested quickly. By 6 June, everyone living or working in a care home should have been offered a test, whether they are showing symptoms of the virus or not.
If you live in a care home, you should be allocated a named health professional to support your health needs by 15 May.
The Government is aiming to support care homes to ensure they have the personal protective equipment (PPE) that they need for their staff, and that they have adequate training to prevent and control outbreaks of the virus.
The new Government guidance says that in the months to come, we may see restrictions being eased or re-introduced differently in different regions of the country, depending on where any outbreaks of the virus occur.
Visit our FAQs page for more practical advice on things like getting help with shopping, access to cash if you need to stay at home, and seeing your GP.