The UK Government is regularly releasing updated guidance for people in England about how to deal with the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The guidance affects many areas of daily life; from going outside and meeting friends, to taking a bus, or the health or social care services you may receive. Gov.uk have published FAQs on what we can and can’t do based on their latest guidance.
On this page are some of the key points that you should be aware of.
Current guidance applies to anyone living in England. However, your area may need to remain locked down for longer. Restrictions may be eased or re-introduced differently in different parts of the country, depending on where outbreaks of coronavirus occur. It’s best to check with your local council for guidance about where you live.
If you’re in the clinically extremely vulnerable group
From 1 August, shielding has been paused. The government will regularly review this as the situation changes.
This means you can go out to buy food if you want to, for example. You can now follow the guidance for the general public about safely spending time outside of your home and with others. However, it’s important that you continue to keep a strict distance from anyone not in your household or bubble, because you're still at risk of getting severely ill if you catch coronavirus.
If you’re receiving a food box or medicine delivery, this will stop from 1 August. You can call your local council if you need help to access food or essentials and have no other means of support. You can also ask for some support from the NHS Volunteer Responder scheme if you need it.
Exercise and enjoying time outside
It's now possible to go outside as much as you like - to exercise or enjoy the park, for example - even if you’re in the clinically extremely vulnerable group.
However, if you’re over 70 or have existing health conditions, you are being asked to take particular care to maintain a distance from others when outside your home.
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 and ask for a test immediately.
If you decide to travel somewhere to spend time outdoors, you should only travel with someone in your household or bubble, unless you can keep a distance from others during the journey.
You can meet in groups of up to 6 people, as long as you stay outdoors and maintain a distance of 2m (or three steps) from those who are not in your household. This includes being able to meet in a private garden.
You can also meet in groups of two households (of any size) at a time, both indoors or outdoors. This can be different households at different times, but you should still keep a distance from anyone not in your household or support bubble wherever possible. This is particularly important for those in the clinically extremely vulnerable group.
You can continue to have visitors inside your home for essential purposes, such as visits from carers, cleaners and trades people.
If you live alone
If you live alone, you can form a ‘support bubble’ with another household, even if you’re in the clinically extremely vulnerable group.
A support bubble lets you choose one other household to connect with, so that you effectively become one household and can go into each other’s homes as normal, without having to stay 2 metres apart. It doesn’t matter how many people are in the other household. You cannot be in a ‘bubble’ with more than one household, or switch between households.
If anyone in your bubble has symptoms of coronavirus, then everyone in your bubble will need to self-isolate for 14 days.
Reducing the spread of coronavirus
It's now compulsory to wear a face covering when using any public transport in England, and when visiting someone in hospital, or going to hospital yourself for an outpatient appointment. It is also compulsory to wear a face covering when going in to a shop, supermarket or shopping centre in England.
From 8 August, the Government is adding museums, galleries, theatres and cinemas, libraries, places of worship, and indoor tourist sites to the places where you must now wear a face covering. For the full list, see the government guidance on face coverings.
The Government is also asking people to consider wearing a face-covering when going into other enclosed spaces where keeping a 2m distance may not be possible.
People should not use medical-grade face masks, 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.
Some people do not need to wear a face covering. See the government guidance for disabled people who are exempt from wearing face coverings.
NHS Test and Trace
A 'test and trace' system has been introduced. Anyone who has symptoms of coronavirus should start to self-isolate for 10 days and arrange to be tested as soon as possible. If the test is positive, the NHS will ask you for details of people that you have recently been in close contact with, so that the NHS can contact them and they can begin to self-isolate for 14 days. There have been reports of test and trace scams, so remember that the official NHS Test and Trace service will never ask for your financial information. See Which’s guide on how to spot a ‘Test and Trace’ scam or contact Action Fraud if you think you’ve come across a scam.
Protecting people in care homes
If you’re moving (or returning) to a care home from hospital, you will be tested for COVID-19 before moving. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and are living in a care home, you will be tested quickly. Everyone living or working in a care home should now be tested regularly, whether you show symptoms of coronavirus or not. You'll be tested every 28 days if you're over 65 or have dementia. Anyone working in a care home will be tested weekly.
All care homes should have been allocated a named health professional to support residents with their health needs.
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 coronavirus.
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. You can also check our coronavirus hub for regular updates.