Strict rules have been placed on people’s personal movement to limit the spread of coronavirus.
Under the restrictions, people must stay at home and only leave for the following reasons:
- to exercise once a day – either alone, or with members of your household
- shopping for basic necessities, although this should be done as little as possible
- medical need or to provide care for a vulnerable person
- travel to or from work but only where this is absolutely necessary
The government has also said that key workers may take their children to school and that children may move between the homes of separated parents.
Shops selling non-essential items are closed, along with cafes, pubs, restaurants, nightclubs, theatres, cinemas, libraries, places of worship, gyms and leisure centres.
Some outdoor spaces, including playgrounds, outdoor gyms and some parks are also closed.
Cars should be used only for essential journeys, according to advice from the RAC, and people should not use them to drive somewhere to exercise.
Gatherings of more than two people not from the same household are banned. Weddings and baptisms are banned but funerals are still allowed.
The restrictions were introduced on 23 March, initially for three weeks, but it’s thought they’re likely to be extended.
What should I be doing?
If you have to go outside – to buy food for example – you must stay more than 2m (6.5ft) apart from others.
This is what’s known as social distancing. Its purpose is to cut down non-essential contact and stop the spread of the virus.
Why is social distancing necessary?
Social distancing is important because coronavirus spreads when an infected person coughs small droplets – packed with the virus – into the air.
These can be breathed in, or can cause an infection if you touch a surface they have landed on, and then touch your face with unwashed hands.
The less time people spend together, the less chance there is of this happening.
What is self-isolation?
If you show symptoms of coronavirus – such as a dry cough and high temperature – you must take extra precautions.
You should stay at home and if possible, not leave it for any reason, other than to exercise (staying a safe distance from others).
This is known as self-isolation.
If possible, you should not go out even to buy food or other essentials. If you are unable to get supplies delivered, you should do what you can to limit social contact when you do leave the house.
Who should self-isolate?
Everyone who shows coronavirus symptoms – a fever of above 37.8C, a persistent cough or breathing problems – and everyone who lives in the same house or flat as someone with symptoms.
- If you live alone, you must stay at home for seven days from the day symptoms start
- If you, or someone you live with, develop symptoms, the entire household needs to isolate for 14 days to monitor for signs of Covid-19
- If someone else does become ill during that period, their seven-day isolation starts that day. For example, it might run from day three to day 10 – when that person’s isolation would then end. It would not restart if another member of the household fell ill
- But anyone who fell ill on day 13 would have to start a separate seven-day isolation from that day (meaning they would spend a total of 20 days at home)
The person with the symptoms should stay in a well-ventilated room with a window that can be opened, and keep away from other people in the home.
People are being advised not to ring NHS 111 or their GP to report their symptoms unless they are worried.
Who shouldn’t go out at all?
About 1.5 million people with very serious health conditions are being contacted by the NHS and urged not go out at all for at least 12 weeks.
This is what’s known as shielding.
Others in the same household, and carers, can go out as long they observe proper social distancing.
The most vulnerable group includes:
- Certain types of cancer patients
- Organ transplant patients
- People with certain genetic diseases
- People with serious respiratory conditions such as cystic fibrosis and severe chronic bronchitis
- People receiving certain drug treatments which suppress the immune system
- Pregnant women with heart disease
The government says it will work with local authorities, supermarkets and the armed forces to ensure they get supplies of essential food and medicines.
What happens if you have a vulnerable person living with you during self-isolation?
You should keep at least 2m away from a vulnerable person (such as pregnant women, the elderly or those with an underlying health condition) during any period of isolation, according to Public Health England.
Limit time spent together in shared spaces such as kitchens, and keep all rooms well-ventilated. If they can, the vulnerable person should take their meals back to their room to eat.
A vulnerable person should use separate towels from the rest of the household. If possible, they should use a separate bathroom. If that is not possible, the bathroom should be cleaned every time it’s used (for example, wiping surfaces with which you have come into contact).
People living with someone in isolation should wash their hands often, using soap and water for at least 20 seconds – especially after coming into contact with them.
Personal waste (such as tissues) should be double-bagged and put aside for 72 hours before being put in your outside bin.