The UK Government is regularly releasing updated guidance for people in England to help deal with the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. 

On this page are some of the key points that you should be aware of.

What are the latest changes?

The government has lifted most of the legal restrictions they imposed during the national lockdown.

From 19 July:

  • there are no restrictions on meeting other people
  • you no longer have to keep to the 1m distance rule, except in certain places, such as hospitals and at borders
  • all businesses can now open, with no limit on numbers
  • there are no limits on the number of people who can attend weddings and funerals
  • you can now choose whether to wear a face mask. However, the government still recommends you wear one in crowded places, such as public transport and in supermarkets (and Transport for London still requires passengers to wear one, for example)
  • you can travel abroad to countries on the government’s green or amber list - if you've had both of your vaccinations, you will not need to quarantine when you return to England unless the government advises otherwise. 

The government website has a more detailed summary of the latest guidance. There is separate guidance for people who are considered clinically extremely vulnerable.

If you’re meeting friends and family, you can decide for yourself whether to keep your distance, but the government advises people to be cautious. There is more guidance on the government website.

If you live elsewhere in Britain, please check the guidance for Wales and Scotland.

If you’re in the clinically extremely vulnerable group

The government has updated its guidance for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19. This is the group of people who were advised to shield earlier in the pandemic.

People in the clinically extremely vulnerable group should follow the guidance that is in place for everyone. However, it’s for you to decide what you feel comfortable doing.

You can protect yourself by limiting the number of people you meet, and by asking by friends and family to test themselves at home (called a rapid lateral flow test) before you meet with them, for example. You should meet people outside where possible or open doors and windows if you meet inside. Wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your face. There is some general advice for people in this group on the government guidance page.

If you need help to access food or essentials, you can call your local council. You can also ask for some support from the NHS Volunteer Responder scheme if you need it.

Reducing the spread of the virus

You are still expected to self-isolate if you test positive for COVID-19, or if you are contacted by NHS Test and Trace because you have come into contact with someone with the virus.

From 16 August, people who have had both of their COVID-19 vaccinations will not need to self-isolate if they come into contact with someone with the virus. They will instead need to have a PCR test and will need to self-isolate if it is positive.

Protecting people in care homes

Visiting care homes

The government guidance about visiting people in care homes has been updated. As of 19 July, each care home resident can have 'named visitors', who can visit as long as they take a rapid lateral flow covid test on the day of each visit and the test is negative. The number of named visitors each resident can have is no longer limited in law - this can be agreed with the care home. Care homes may need to restrict how often and for how long people can visit - they should make any limitations on visits clear to the named visitors of their residents.

Every care home resident should also be able to nominate an 'essential care giver', who should be allowed to visit more often. There will continue to be other infection control measures in place, such as the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). The government have published a summary of the key points for care home visitors.

Testing and isolating in care homes

There is also detailed guidance for care home managers about how to keep their staff and residents safe, and deal with any outbreaks of coronavirus. The latest government guidance recommends that all new care home (or nursing home) residents should be isolated for 14 days when they arrive, unless they have already carried out part or all of this isolation in another setting. People who are moving from their own home into a care home may not need to carry out this isolation period if they are fully vaccinated and they have a negative PCR test 3 days before moving in to the care home, and again on the day they move. There are other things that the care home will also need to consider, such as whether the person has been in contact with someone with COVID-19 symptoms within two weeks before moving to the care home. 

If you’re moving (or returning) to a care home from hospital, you must be tested for COVID-19 48 hours before moving and have the results confirmed. If the results are positive, you can only be discharged to a setting that has certain infection prevention control standards in place. This could be a care home or an NHS community hospital for example. You should also be tested when coming from any other location.

If you have suspected COVID-19 symptoms and are living in a care home, you must be tested and isolated quickly. Residents who have been in contact with someone with possible or confirmed COVID-19 should also be isolated for 14 days.

As some care home residents may not be able to report COVID-19 related symptoms, these residents should be checked twice daily for possible symptoms, such as a high temperature.

Care homes must make sure that appropriate infection control measures are in place, such as the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) by staff. Care home providers should restrict the movement of staff between their different care homes wherever possible, to help reduce the spread of coronavirus.

Government guidance says that care home staff should now be tested for coronavirus with a weekly PCR test and a twice weekly lateral flow test, and residents should have a PCR test every 28 days. 

Help during coronavirus (COVID-19)

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. 

If you are worried about how to cope as life returns to the pre-lockdown ‘normal’, see our page about managing anxiety as restrictions are lifted.