Boris Johnson announced more stringent measures to tackle coronavirus last night, putting the UK on new “lockdown” regulations.
The new regulations require the British public to stay indoors as much as possible, avoid contact with others, and only leave the house if absolutely essential – with the rules being enforced by police, too. But what exactly are these rules? We’ve answered all of your burning questions to help you follow the new guidelines without getting yourself in a Coronavirus-covered pickle.
Do I have to stay indoors?
Yes. Under the government’s new regulations, you are required to stay indoors as much as possible. The exceptions are for exercise, getting necessary items or essential work.
How long will these rules be in place?
The “lockdown” will last for at least three weeks, at which point the government will review the situation to determine if it is safe to loosen the rules.
Who are “essential” workers?
Essential workers during the pandemic are:
- Health and social carers, which includes all NHS workers (including cleaners and administrative workers), support staff and those who work in the supply chains for medicine and protective equipment.
- Workers in the food sector, including supermarket workers, those involved with production and distribution and those who deliver.
- Postal workers.
- Workers in the justice system.
- Local and national government.
- Journalists and those who work in public service broadcasting.
- Workers responsible for managing the deceased (funeral workers, morgue workers).
- Teachers and childcarers, including teaching assistants and social workers.
- Those who work in the utility sector, for example, people in the gas and electric industry.
- Emergency workers such as police, firemen and armed forces (including support staff).
- Transport workers.
If you are unsure about whether your role falls into this category, you should speak to your employer.
Can I see my family?
If you do not live with your family, it is asked that you do not see them. You may only see those who you live with during the “lockdown”. Non-essential travel is also not permitted.
Can I see my friends?
No. The public has been asked to not see friends during the lockdown. You should only see those who you live with during this time to limit the spread.
Should I stock up on supplies?
No. You do not need to stockpile any necessities. Supermarket workers are working extremely hard to restock following a number of shoppers stockpiling essential items, and further stockpiling will increase these waiting times. Boris Johnson confirmed in one of his daily updates that there was “more than enough” food to go around, and the supermarkets will remain open during this time.
The government has requested, however, that people do visit the shops as little as possible to reduce the spread of the virus, encouraging people to order deliveries where possible. While many grocery stores have few delivery slots available, Morrisons is currently selling food boxes that are delivered via DPD.
Can I exercise?
Yes. Daily exercise is permitted, however, you should only undertake one per day, such as running, cycling or walking. Golfing and other sports are not permitted. Gyms are also closed for an unknown length of time. Dog walking is included in this daily exercise allowance.
Can my children go to school if it is open?
No. If you are not an “essential worker”, your children should stay home and avoid public places such as schools for their own safety.
My child’s parents do not live together, can they see the other parent?
Yes. The government has said that children with parents who do not live together are able to move between the two households.
Can I go to the shop?
Yes, you may go to the shop, however, the government has advised that you minimise the need as much as possible during the week. This does not, however, mean to buy more than you need for the week. What it does mean, is if you’re popping to the shop and know you’ll fancy a few snacks over the coming days or are due to run out of butter, to pick it up while you are there so you don’t need to go out twice over a short time frame.
Do I need to wear a mask?
No. There has been no scientific evidence to suggest that wearing a mask will keep you safe from the virus – unless you feel more comfortable wearing one, of course. If you do have symptoms, you should self-isolate immediately and avoid leaving the house to limit the spread of the virus.
What businesses have closed?
Many businesses have been forced to close their doors over the past week to encourage social distancing. These include:
- Restaurants and cafes (with the exception of takeaway/delivery and cafes at hospitals, prisons, schools and military bases)
- Pubs, bars, hotel bars and nightclubs
- Members clubs
- Hair and beauty salons, as well as spas
- Gyms and other leisure centres such as swimming baths, ice rinks, football pitches and tennis courts
- “Non-essential” retail shops such as clothing stores, electronic stores and gift shops
- Cinemas, theatres and museums
- Churches and other places of worship
What businesses remain open?
A number of businesses are classed as “essential” during this period, such as:
- Supermarkets and other food shops such as delis, newsagents and corner shops
- Health shops and pharmacies
- Home and hardware shops
- Dry cleaners
- Petrol stations and garages
- Car rental shops
- Pet shops
How do I get my groceries?
You are permitted to visit the stores to collect essential items such as food and toiletries. The need for this should not be excessive, however, so you are advised to make sure you collect everything you need to avoid making multiple trips in a short time period. Collecting groceries once a week is fine, so only pick up what you need, rather than purchasing too much. Where able, the public is advised to book grocery deliveries.
Are outdoor spaces safe?
While outdoor spaces aren’t “dangerous”, it is essential that you stay indoors as much as possible to avoid contact with others. You are permitted to go outside for either exercise, picking up essentials from the shop or for medical visits. If you have a garden or a balcony, you may get fresh air by using your own private spaces.
Can I attend a wedding?
No. Occasions and events such as weddings, baptisms, sporting events, concerts and other large gatherings have been banned under the new regulations. Events will need to be rescheduled following the “lockdown”. The exception to this is funerals, which are still permitted.
What exactly can I leave the house for?
There are few exceptions for leaving the house, outlined below:
- Medical visits (should you require to see your GP or visit the hospital), although you should only do this if you really need to. Mild illnesses should be treated at home and you should only contact 111 if you absolutely have to, to reduce strain on NHS services.
- Shopping for “basic necessities”, for example, food, medication and essential toiletries.
- To undertake one form of daily exercise, which includes dog walking.
- To look after or provide care or medicine to an elderly or vulnerable person in need.
- To travel to and from work if absolutely essential (in particular, for “essential workers” outlined above).
- To donate blood.
- If you are under 18 and need to travel between your separated parent’s houses.
- Emergency callouts, for example, if you are a plumber and there is an urgent need.