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 set out a plan for autumn and winter. This includes the rollout of booster vaccines for those who are most at risk.
Most of the legal restrictions imposed during the national lockdown (such as restrictions on meeting people) have been lifted, but the government may introduce more restrictions if they are needed (Plan B). You can read more on the government website.
If you’re meeting friends and family, you can decide for yourself whether to keep your distance, but the government still advises people to be cautious. You can also 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). There is more guidance on the government website.
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. From 4 October, there will be a single red list of countries and the travel rules will be simplified.
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. The shielding programme has now ended in England.
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.
Reducing the spread of the virus
You are still expected to self-isolate and get a PCR test straightaway if you have any of the following symptoms:
- a high temperature
- a new, continuous cough
- a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste.
You should also self-isolate if you test positive for COVID-19, even if you don’t have any symptoms.
If you've had both of your COVID-19 vaccinations and it has been more than 14 days since your second dose, you do not have to self-isolate if you come into contact with someone who has the virus. However, you should get a PCR test as soon as possible. You'll need to self-isolate if it's positive.
Protecting people in care homes
Visiting care homes
The government guidance about visiting people in care homes says that each care home resident can have 'named visitors', who can visit as long as they follow the care home’s policies and guidelines for testing and infection control measures, such as the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). Every care home resident should also be able to nominate an 'essential care giver', who should be allowed to visit more often.
Care homes should be talking to residents about who they want as their named visitors and essential care givers.
The government have published a summary of the key points for care home visitors.
Residents may also spend time outside the care home – for example, to visit family or friends, or attend medical appointments. There is separate guidance for visits outside of care homes.
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. People who are moving from their own home into a care home no longer need to be isolated for 14 days when they arrive, as long as they satisfy certain requirements. These are set out in the government guidance.
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’re returning to a care home after emergency care in a hospital, you will need to self-isolate in your own room for 14 days.
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 do not need to self-isolate, as long as they have had a negative PCR test and have daily lateral flow tests for up to 10 days. They should avoid contact with extremely vulnerable residents during this period.
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 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.