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Government Updates 

Recent and upcoming changes

National lockdown: stay at home 05.01.2021

You must stay at home. This is the single most important action we can all take to protect the NHS and save lives.

You must not leave your home unless necessary.

Stay 2 metres apart from anyone not in your household or bubble.

29 March: What’s changed
Some of the rules on what you can and cannot do changed on 29 March. However, many restrictions remain in place. You must not socialise indoors with anyone you do not live with or have formed a support bubble with. You should continue to work from home if you can and minimise the number of journeys you make where possible. You should get a test and follow the stay at home guidance if you have COVID-19 symptoms.

You can read the ‘COVID-19 Response - Spring 2021 (roadmap)’ for more information on roadmap out of lockdown in England. It is underpinned by law.

From 29 March:

you can meet outdoors either in a group of 6 (from any number of households), or in a group of any size from up to 2 households (a household can include an existing support bubble, if eligible)
you can take part in formally organised outdoor sports with any number of people (outdoor sports venues and facilities will be able to reopen)
childcare and supervised activities are allowed outdoors for all children
formally organised parent and child groups can take place outdoors for up to 15 attendees. Children under 5 will not be counted in this number

Some of the rules on what you can and cannot do changed on 29 March. However, many restrictions remain in place. You must not socialise indoors with anyone you do not live with or have formed a support bubble with. You should continue to work from home if you can and minimise the number of journeys you make where possible. You should get a test and follow the stay at home guidance if you have COVID-19 symptoms.

You can read the ‘COVID-19 Response - Spring 2021 (roadmap)’ for more information on roadmap out of lockdown in England. It is underpinned by law.

From 29 March:

  • you can meet outdoors either in a group of 6 (from any number of households), or in a group of any size from up to 2 households (a household can include an existing support bubble, if eligible)
  • you can take part in formally organised outdoor sports with any number of people (outdoor sports venues and facilities will be able to reopen)
  • childcare and supervised activities are allowed outdoors for all children
  • formally organised parent and child groups can take place outdoors for up to 15 attendees. Children under 5 will not be counted in this number

You can meet up outdoors with friends and family you do not live with, either:

  • in a group of up to 6 from any number of households (children of all ages count towards the limit of 6)
  • in a group of any size from up to two households (each household can include an existing support bubble, if eligible)

If you’re in a support bubble

If you are eligible to form a support bubble, you and your support bubble count as one household towards the limit of 2 households when meeting others outdoors. This means, for example, that you and your support bubble can meet with another household, even if the group is more than 6 people.

Where you can meet

You can meet in a group of 6 or a larger group of any size from up to 2 households (including their support bubbles) outdoors. This includes private outdoor spaces, such as gardens, and other outdoor public places and venues that remain open. These include the following:

  • parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, forests
  • public and botanical gardens
  • the grounds of a heritage site
  • outdoor sculpture parks
  • allotments
  • public playgrounds
  • outdoor sports venues and facilities

If you need to enter through a house to get to a garden or other outside space and there is no alternative access, you should wear a face covering, wash or sanitise your hands when entering, and then go straight to the outside space. If you need to use the bathroom, wash your hands thoroughly and go back outside immediately. You should maintain social distancing from anyone who is not in your household or support bubble.

When you can meet with more people or meet indoors

Gatherings above the limit of 6 people or 2 households, or gatherings indoors, can only take place if they are permitted by an exception. These exceptions are listed on this page.

Where a group includes someone covered by an exception (for example, someone who is working or volunteering), they are not generally counted as part of the gatherings limit. This means, for example, a tradesperson can go into a household without breaking the limit if they are there for work, and the officiant at a wedding would not count towards the limit.

Going to work

You should continue to work from home where you can.

If you cannot work from home you should continue to travel to your workplace. This includes, but is not limited to, people who work in:

  • critical national infrastructure
  • construction
  • manufacturing
  • childcare or education
  • essential public services
  • essential retail, such as supermarkets and pharmacies

You do not need to be classed as a critical worker to go to work if you cannot work from home.

Employers and employees should discuss their working arrangements, and employers should take every possible step to facilitate their employees working from home, including providing suitable IT and equipment to enable remote working. Where people cannot work from home, employers should take steps to make their workplaces COVID-19 secure and help employees avoid busy times and routes on public transport. Extra consideration should be given to those people at higher risk.

COVID-secure guidelines are available for sectors across the economy to substantially reduce the risk of transmission.

See guidance for reopening businesses and venues

Recent and upcoming changes

Restrictions are easing across the UK.

In England

Step 1 of the roadmap out of lockdown has begun. From 29 March, the ‘stay at home’ rule ends - and up to 6 people or 2 households can meet outside. Shielding ends on 31 March.

In Scotland

People will be asked to ‘Stay Local’ from 2 April. A timetable for further lockdown easing from 5 April is on GOV.SCOT.

In Wales

The stay local restriction was lifted on 27 March. You need a reasonable excuse, such as work, to travel in or out of Wales. Holiday accommodation opened for people living in Wales only. Read about the rules on GOV.WALES.

In Northern Ireland

The next review will happen on or before 15 April. You can read the guidance on current restrictions on nidirect.

Prime Minister announces national lockdown

The Prime Minister has announced a national lockdown and instructed people to stay at home to control the virus, protect the NHS and save lives.

The Prime Minister has announced a national lockdown and instructed people to stay at home to control the virus, protect the NHS and save lives.

The decision follows a rapid rise in infections, hospital admissions and case rates across the country, and our hospitals are now under more pressure than they have been at any other point throughout the pandemic.

This drastic jump in cases has been attributed to the new variant of COVID-19, which our scientists have now confirmed is between 50 and 70 per cent more transmissible.

On 4 January, there were 26,626 Covid patients in hospital in England, an increase of over 30% in one week, and the April 2020 hospital admissions peak has now been surpassed by 40%.

The case rate in England up to 29 December was 478.5 per 100k, three times higher than on 1 December when the case rate was 151.3.

On 3 Jan, 454 deaths were reported, with 4,228 over the last 7 days – a 24% increase on the previous 7 days.

This afternoon, the four UK Chief Medical Officers have advised that the COVID threat level should move from level four to level five, indicating that if action is not taken NHS capacity may be overwhelmed within 21 days.

The Prime Minister praised everyone’s collective efforts to get this virus under control, emphasising the great national effort to fight Covid. Despite this, the pressure on our NHS, rapidly rising infection rates and hospital admissions due to the new variant mean that another national lockdown is sadly necessary.

From tomorrow, people will only be allowed to leave their homes for the following reasons:

  • shop for basic necessities, for you or a vulnerable person.
  • go to work, or provide voluntary or charitable services, if you cannot reasonably do so from home.
  • exercise with your household (or support bubble) or one other person, this should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.
  • meet your support bubble or childcare bubble where necessary, but only if you are legally permitted to form one.
  • seek medical assistance or avoid injury, illness or risk of harm (including domestic abuse).
  • attend education or childcare - for those eligible.

From tomorrow, all primary schools, secondary schools and colleges will move to remote learning, except for the children of key workers and vulnerable children. While children are still very unlikely to be severely affected by COVID-19, the government recognises that schools must be included in the restrictions in order to have the best chance of getting the virus under control as schools can act as vectors of transmission, causing the virus to spread between households when rates are high.

Schools will be required to provide remote education for those learning at home.

Early years settings such as nurseries, alternative provision and special schools will remain open and vulnerable children and children of critical workers can continue to use registered childcare, childminders and other childcare activities.

The government is also advising the clinically extremely vulnerable to begin shielding again, and letters will be sent to individuals with advice on what this means for them.

All non-essential retail, hospitality and personal care services must close, or remain closed. Restaurants can continue delivery, takeaway or click-and-collect of food and non-alcoholic drinks, but venues will no longer be able to serve takeaway or click-and-collect alcohol.

Essential shops and garden centres can remain open. Entertainment venues and animal attractions such as zoos must close, but the outdoor areas of venues such as heritage homes and botanical gardens can remain open, to be used for exercise. Playgrounds may also remain open.

Places of worship can also remain open, but you may only visit with your household.

Indoor and outdoor sports facilities including sports courts, gyms, golf courses, swimming pools, and riding arenas must also close. Elite sport and disabled sport can continue, as can PE lessons for those children attending school.

The restrictions will come into effect tomorrow, and are expected to last until the middle of February if the situation in hospitals improve. By this point, the NHS hopes to have vaccinated everyone in the top four priority groups identified by the JCVI – including older care home residents and staff, everyone over 70, all frontline NHS and care staff and all those who are clinically extremely vulnerable.

Vaccinating the most vulnerable will protect those at highest risk from COVID-19 and this will remove a significant amount of the pressure currently facing the NHS.

Based on the latest available data, the UK has vaccinated more people than the rest of Europe combined and we will continue to accelerate our vaccination programme at pace.

Everyone should follow the new rules from now, and they will become law from 00.01 on Wednesday. Parliament will sit, largely remotely, on Wednesday to debate and vote on the measures.

The full details on what you can and cannot do are available here.

UK COVID-19 vaccines delivery planHow the UK government was able to build up a supply of vaccines and how it is planning to deploy them.

  • Easy read resourcesThese resources are aimed at people who have, or care for someone with a learning disability.

In general, you must not meet with another person socially or undertake any activities with another person. However, you can exercise or meet in a public, outdoors space with people you live with, your support bubble (or as part of a childcare bubble), or with one other person.

You should minimise time spent outside your home. When around other people, stay 2 metres apart from anyone not in your household - meaning the people you live with - or your support bubble. Where this is not possible, stay 1 metre apart with extra precautions (e.g. wearing a face covering).

You must not meet socially indoors with family or friends unless they are part of your household or support bubble.

support bubble is where a household with one adult joins with another household. Households in that support bubble can still visit each other, stay overnight in each other’s households, and visit outdoor public places together.

You can exercise or visit a public outdoor space:

  • by yourself
  • with the people you live with
  • with your support bubble
  • or, when on your own, 1 person from another household

Children under 5, and up to two carers for a person with a disability who needs continuous care, are not counted towards the gatherings limit on two or more people meeting outside.

There is further guidance on what exercise and other physical activity can continue during the period of national restrictions.

Public outdoor places include:

  • neighbourhood streets, parks, beaches, and the countryside
  • public gardens and grounds (whether or not you pay to enter them)
  • allotments
  • outdoor playgrounds

You cannot meet people in a private garden, unless you live with them or have formed a support bubble with them.

Face coverings are required by law to be worn in many indoor settings, such as shops or places of worship where these remain open, and on public transport.

Businesses and venues which must close

To reduce social contact, the regulations require some businesses to close and impose restrictions on how some businesses provide goods and services. These include:

  • Non-essential retail, such as clothing and homeware stores, vehicle showrooms (other than for rental), betting shops, tailors, tobacco and vape shops, electronic goods and mobile phone shops, and market stalls selling non-essential goods. These venues can continue to be able to operate click-and-collect (where goods are pre-ordered and collected off the premises) and delivery services
  • Hospitality venues such as cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars and social clubs; with the exception of providing food and drink for takeaway (before 10pm; and not including alcohol), click-and-collect, drive-through or delivery
  • Accommodation such as hotels, hostels, guest houses and campsites. Except for specific circumstances, such as where these act as someone’s main residence, where the person cannot return home, for homeless people, or where it is essential to stay there for work purposes
  • Leisure and sports facilities such as leisure centres and gyms, swimming pools, tennis and basketball courts, golf courses, fitness and dance studios, climbing walls, archery, driving, and shooting ranges
  • Entertainment venues such as theatres, concert halls, cinemas, museums and galleries, casinos, amusement arcades, bingo halls, bowling alleys, skating rinks, go-karting venues, soft play centres and areas, circuses, fairgrounds, funfairs, zoos and other animal attractions, water parks and theme parks. Indoor attractions at botanical gardens, heritage homes and landmarks must also close, though outdoor grounds of these premises can stay open
  • Personal care facilities such as hair, beauty, tanning and nail salons. Tattoo parlours, spas, massage parlours, body and skin piercing services must also close. It is also prohibited to provide these services in other peoples’ homes
  • Community centres and halls must close except for a limited number of exempt activities as set out below Libraries can also remain open to provide access to IT and digital services - for example for people who do not have it at home - and for click-and-collect
  • Places of worship, apart from for the purposes of independent prayer, for funerals or funeral commemorative events, to broadcast an act of worship, to provide essential voluntary services or urgent public support services, for registered childcare, and to host permitted gatherings.

These businesses and places will also be permitted to be open for a small number of exempt activities, including:

  • education and training (for schools to use sports, leisure and community facilities where that is part of their normal provision)
  • childcare purposes and supervised activities for children
  • hosting blood donation sessions and food banks
  • to provide medical treatment
  • for elite sports persons to train and compete (in indoor and outdoor sports facilities), and professional dancers and choreographers to work (in fitness and dance studios)
  • for training and rehearsal without an audience (in theatres and concert halls)
  • for the purposes of professional film and TV filming

Businesses and venues which can remain open

Other businesses and venues are permitted to stay open, following COVID-19 Secure guidelines. This includes those providing essential goods, including:

  • Essential retail such as food shops, supermarkets, pharmacies, garden centres, hardware stores, building merchants and off-licences.
  • Petrol Stations, car repair and MOT services, bicycle shops, and taxi and vehicle hire businesses.
  • Banks, building societies, post offices, short-term loan providers and money transfer businesses
  • Funeral directors
  • Laundrettes and dry cleaners
  • Medical and dental services
  • Vets and pet shops
  • Agricultural supplies shops
  • Storage and distribution facilities
  • Car parks, public toilets and motorway service areas.
  • Outdoor playgrounds

Public Services

The majority of public services will continue and you will be able to leave home to visit them. These include:

  • the NHS and medical services like GPs and dentists. We are supporting the NHS to carry out urgent and non-urgent services safely, and it is vital anyone who thinks they need any kind of medical care comes forward and seeks help
  • Jobcentre Plus sites
  • Courts and probation services
  • Civil Registrations Offices
  • Passport and Visa Services
  • Services provided to victims
  • Waste or Recycling Centres

Funerals can be attended by a maximum of 30 people. Linked funeral ceremonial events such as stone settings and ash scatterings can also continue with up to 15 people in attendance. Anyone working is not counted in the 15 or 30 person limit. Social distancing should be maintained between people who do not live together or share a support bubble.

Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies will not be permitted to take place except where one of those getting married is seriously ill and not expected to recover (‘deathbed wedding’). These weddings are limited to 6 people.

 

To help contain the virus, everyone who can work effectively from home should do so. Where people cannot do so - including, but not limited to, people who work in critical national infrastructure, construction, or manufacturing - they should continue to travel to their workplace. This is essential to keeping the country operating and supporting sectors and employers.

Public sector employees working in essential services, including childcare or education, should continue to go into work.

Where it is necessary for you to work in other people’s homes - for example, for nannies, cleaners or tradespeople - you can do so. Otherwise, you should avoid meeting for work in a private home or garden, where COVID-19 Secure measures may not be in place.

The risk of transmission can be substantially reduced if COVID-19 secure guidelines are followed closely. Extra consideration should be given to those people at higher risk.

Advice for people who buy care and support through a direct payment, as well as local authorities, clinical commissioning groups and those who provide care and support.

Work and financial support

Via 10 Downing Street Press update:

We’re giving children and families extra support this winter with a £170 million package to support children, families and the most vulnerable over winter.
- The Holiday Activities and Food programme, which provides healthy food to disadvantaged children, will be expanded.
- We’re also pledging £16 million of additional funding for food distribution charities.
- And we’re raising Healthy Start scheme payments from £3.10 to £4.25 a week from next April.

Facts about COVID-19

These facts come from the World Health Organization. They correct common, untrue rumours about coronavirus (COVID-19).
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Vaccines are thoroughly tested for safety before they're approved
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Vaccine trials involve a diverse range of volunteers
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COVID-19 vaccine trials are following safety and ethical standards

UK COVID-19 vaccines delivery planHow the UK government was able to build up a supply of vaccines and how it is planning to deploy them.

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