Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Guide to the latest coronavirus restrictions and the roadmap out of lockdown

Guide to the latest coronavirus restrictions and the roadmap out of lockdown

PRIME Minister Boris Johnson has revealed a “roadmap” for easing coronavirus restrictions in England.

After the first stage at the end of the month, further lifting of the rules will happen if certain conditions are met, such as the continuing successful rollout of the covid-19 vaccines.

The aim is for all restrictions to be lifted by June 21 at the earliest.

Mr Johnson said that lockdown easing would be “cautious and irreversible”.

Stage one — March 8:

All schools and colleges will
re-open.

University students can return for practical courses. There will be a review by the end of the Easter holidays for all other students.

Face coverings are recommended in class for secondary school students and also for parents and staff in primary schools.

Wraparound childcare can also return for vulnerable pupils and where it is needed for parents or carers to go to work, support groups or to seek medical care.

Two people from different households can meet outside for recreation, which can include “a coffee on a bench”.

One nominated person can visit care homes but they will need personal protective equipment (PPE), a lateral flow test and to keep physical contact to a “minimum”.

People should continue to stay at home and only leave for work, essential shopping, exercise or medical appointments.

Exercise is allowed outdoors once a day, in your local area. You can exercise with your household, support bubble, or one other person.

All schools open, with outdoor after-school sports and activities allowed.

Two people can meet outdoors to socialise — to sit down for a coffee, drink or picnic.

Care home residents are allowed one regular visitor, with whom they can hold hands.

There should be no household mixing indoors or outdoors, unless in your support or childcare bubble.

Non-essential shops, leisure and entertainment venues are closed.

Pubs and restaurants closed, but takeaway food is permitted.

From March 29

People will be allowed to meet outside, either with one other household or within the “rule of six”, including in private gardens.

The stay-at-home rule will end but the Government will urge people to stay local as much as possible.

Outdoor sports facilities will re-open, including golf courses and tennis and basketball courts.

Formally organised outdoor sports can also restart.

Parents and children’s groups can return but will be capped at 15 and must be outdoors. Indoor groups can take place for vulnerable children and where parents need the groups to go to work.

Weddings attended by up to six people can take place in any circumstances.

Stage two — no earlier than April 12

All shops allowed to open.

Restaurants and pubs with gardens will be allowed to serve customers sitting outdoors, including alcohol.

Gyms and spas can re-open for individuals and households.

Hairdressers, beauty salons and other “close contact services” can re-open.

UK domestic holidays away from home permitted, with self-contained accommodation able to re-open for use by members of the same household.

Children allowed to attend indoor play activities, with up to 15 parents or guardians allowed to join them.

Zoos, theme parks and drive-in cinemas can re-open.

Libraries and community centres can re-open.

Weddings attended by up to 15 people can take place.

Stage three — no earlier than May 17

People can meet in groups of up to 30 outdoors.

Six people or two households can meet indoors.

Pubs, restaurants and other hospitality venues can seat customers indoors.

Up to 30 people can meet to celebrate weddings or other life events such as christenings.

Remaining outdoor entertainment, such as outdoor theatres and cinemas, can open.

Indoor entertainment, such as museums, theatres, cinemas and children’s play areas, can open.

Performances and large events will be subject to limits. For indoor events they can be at half capacity or 4,000 people, whichever is lower. For large venues (at least 40,000 capacity) up to 10,000 will be allowed to attend.

Hotels, hostels and B&Bs can re-open.

International leisure travel will resume no earlier than May 17.

Adult indoor group sports and exercise classes can start up again.

Stage four — no earlier than June 21.

All legal limits on social contact will be removed.

No legal limits on the number of people who can attend weddings, funerals and other life events. From April, the Government will run pilots for events such as large weddings, festivals and work conferences. This will help to determine how measures such as enhanced testing might allow large groups to attend without social distancing.

Nightclubs will be allowed to re-open.

What are the four tests for easing restrictions?

Each stage will be a minimum of five weeks apart. Four conditions must be met at each stage before proceeding to the next one. They are as follows:

• The coronavirus vaccine programme continues to go to plan.

• Vaccines are sufficiently reducing the number of people dying with the virus or needing hospital treatment.

• Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospital admissions.

• New coronavirus variants do not fundamentally change the risk of lifting restrictions.

Current national lockdown restrictions

Until March 8 the current national lockdown restrictions remain in place which are designed to try to prevent the NHS from becoming overwhelmed by a surge in coronavirus cases.

Primary and secondary schools have closed to almost all pupils as the Prime Minister instructed the public to stay at home.

People are only allowed to go out for essential reasons.

Primary and secondary schools have moved teaching online for all pupils apart from vulnerable and keyworker children.

Reasons to leave home include:

• Work or volunteering where it is “unreasonable” to work from home. This includes work in someone else’s home, such as that carried out tradespeople.

• Education, training, childcare and medical appointments and emergencies.

• Exercise outdoors (limited to once a day). This includes meeting one other person from another household in an open public space to exercise.

• Shopping for essentials such as food and medicine.

• Communal religious worship.

• Meeting your support or childcare bubble. Children can move between separated parents.

• Activities related to moving house.

The police can take action against you if you leave home without a “reasonable excuse”, and issue you with a fine (fixed penalty notice).

You can be given a fixed penalty notice of £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400.

Those who are clinically extremely vulnerable will be advised to limit the time they spend outside the home. The Government says they should only go out if it is essential — not for work or education purposes.

International travel, or travel around the UK is only permitted for essential reasons.

Hospitality businesses, such as pubs and restaurants and non-essential shops must close.

Indoor and outdoor sports facilities, including gyms and tennis courts, must close.

Essential businesses and services that can stay open to the public include:

• Supermarkets, food shops, pharmacies and garden centres.

• Places of worship.

• Petrol stations and MOT services.

• Banks and post offices.

• Doctors and dentists’ surgeries and vets.

• Car parks, public toilets and playgrounds.

Meeting with others safely

It is critical that everyone observes the following key behaviours:

Hands — wash your hands regularly and for 20 seconds.

Face — wear a face covering in indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult, and where you come into contact with people you do not normally meet.

Space — stay 2m apart from the people you do not live with, where possible, or 1m with extra precautions.

It is important to meet people you do not live with outdoors, where possible. If you meet people you do not live with indoors, such as someone working in your home, you should make sure you let as much fresh air in as you can.

Social distancing

To reduce the risk of catching or spreading coronavirus, you should minimise time spent with people you do not live with, and when around other people not in your household or support bubble.

Social distancing is essential to stop the spread of the virus. When with people you do not live with, you should avoid physical contact, being close and face-to-face and shouting or singing close to them. You should also avoid crowded areas.

Wear a face covering while on public transport and in many indoor spaces. You must wear a face covering by law — unless you are exempt.

Support and childcare bubbles

You have to meet certain eligibility rules to form a support or childcare bubble. This means not everyone will be able to form a bubble.

A support bubble is a support network which links two households. You can form a support bubble with another household of any size only if you meet the eligibility rules, which are available at www.gov.uk

If you live in a household with anyone aged under 14, you can form a childcare bubble. This allows friends or family from one other household to provide informal childcare.

You must not meet socially with your childcare bubble and must avoid seeing members of your childcare and support bubbles at the same time.

Where and when can we meet in larger groups?

There are still circumstances in which you are allowed to meet others from outside your household, childcare or support bubble in larger groups, but this should not be for socialising and only for permitted purposes.

Circumstances include:

• For work, or providing voluntary or charitable services.

• In a childcare bubble — for the purposes of childcare only.

• For arrangements where children do not live in the same household as both their parents or guardians.

• To allow contact between birth parents and children in care.

• For birth partners.

• To provide emergency assistance, to avoid injury or illness, or to escape risk of harm (including domestic abuse).

• To see someone who is dying.

• To fulfil a legal obligation, such as attending court of jury service.

• For elite sportspeople and their coaches, or parents/guardians if they are aged under 18.

Support groups that have to be delivered in person can continue with up to 15 participants where formally organised to provide mutual aid, therapy or any other form of support — but they must take place at a premises other than a private home.

Where a group includes someone covered by an exception, such as someone who is working, they are not generally counted as part of the gatherings limit. For example, tradespeople can go into a household without breaching the limit.

If you break the rules, the police can take action against you. You can be given a fixed penalty notice of £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400. If you hold, or are involved in holding, an illegal gathering of more than 30 people, the police can issue fines of £10,000.

Protecting people more at risk

If you are clinically vulnerable, you could be at a higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus.

There is additional advice for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable to covid-19 at www.gov.uk

Those who are in this category should not attend work, school, college or university, and limit the time you spend outside the home. You should only go out for medical appointments, exercise or if it is essential.

Staying away from home overnight

You cannot leave your home or the place where you are living for holidays or overnight stays unless you have a reasonable excuse for doing so. This means holidays in the UK and abroad are not allowed. This includes staying in a second home or caravan, if this is not your primary residence. This also includes staying with anyone who you don’t live with unless they’re in your support bubble.

You can stay overnight away from your home if you:

• Are visiting your support bubble.

• Are unable to return to your main residence.

• Need accommodation while moving house.

• Need accommodation to attend a funeral or related commemorative event.

• Require accommodation for work purposes.

• Are a child requiring accommodation for school or care.

• Are homeless, seeking asylum, a vulnerable person seeking refuge, or escaping harm.

• Are an elite athlete or their support staff or parent, if the athlete is under the age of 18 and it is necessary to be outside of the home for training or competition.

If you are already on holiday, you should return to your home as soon as it is practical to do so.

Going to work

You may only leave home for work if you cannot reasonably work from home.

Where people cannot work from home — including, but not limited to, people who work in critical national infrastructure, construction, or manufacturing — they should continue to travel to the workplace.

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

Where it is necessary for you to work in other people’s homes, you can do so. Otherwise, you should avoid meeting for work in a private home or garden, where covid measures might not be in place.

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.

Childcare

There are several ways that parents and carers can continue to access childcare:

• Early Years settings, including nurseries and childminders remain open.

• Vulnerable children and children of critical workers can continue to use registered childcare, childminders and other childcare activities.

• Parents are able to form a childcare bubble with one other household for the purposes of informal childcare, where the child is under 14. This is mainly to enable parents to work and must not be used to enable social contact between adults.

• Nannies will be able to continue to provide services, including in the home.

Weddings, civil partnerships, religious services and funerals

Weddings, civil partnership ceremonies and funerals are allowed with strict limits on attendance, and must only take place in covid-secure venues or in public outdoor spaces, unless in exceptional circumstances.

Funerals can be attended by a maximum of 30 people. Linked religious, belief-based or commemorative events, such as stone settings, can also continue with up to six people in attendance. Anyone working is not counted in these limits and social distancing should be maintained between people who do not live together or share a support bubble.

Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies must only take place with up to six people. These should only take place in exceptional circumstances.

Places of worship

You can attend places of worship for a service. However, you must not mingle with anyone outside of your household or support bubble. You should maintain strict social distancing at all times.

Sports and physical activity

Indoor gyms and sports facilities will remain closed. Outdoor sports courts, outdoor gyms, golf courses, outdoor swimming pools, archery/driving/shooting ranges and riding arenas must also close. Organised outdoor sport for disabled people is allowed to continue.

Moving home

You can still move home. People outside your household or support bubble should not help with moving house unless absolutely necessary. Estate and letting agents and removal firms can continue to work. You can go to property viewings.

Financial support

Businesses in retail, hospitality and leisure will receive new grants to help them keep afloat until the spring.

The help is in addition to business rates relief and the furlough scheme, which is available until the end of April.

Under the furlough scheme, workers in any part of the UK can retain their job, even if their employer cannot afford to pay them, and be paid at least 80 per cent of their salary up to £2,500 a month.

The flexibility of the current Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be retained to allow employees to continue to work where they can.

Businesses and venues

To reduce social contact, the regulations require some businesses to close and impose restrictions on how some businesses provide goods and services. The full list of businesses required to close can be found on www.gov.uk

Businesses and venues that must close include:

• Non-essential retail, such as clothing and homeware stores, vehicle showrooms (other than for rental), betting shops, electronic goods and mobile phone shops, auction houses (except for auctions of livestock or agricultural equipment) 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 non-alcoholic drinks for takeaway (until 11pm), click-and-collect and drive-through. All food and drink (including alcohol) can continue to be provided by delivery.

• Entertainment venues such as theatres, concert halls, cinemas, museums and galleries, indoor play and soft play centres and areas (including inflatable parks and trampolining centres), circuses, fairgrounds, funfairs, water parks and theme parks.

• Indoor attractions at venues such as botanical gardens, heritage homes and landmarks must also close, though outdoor grounds of these premises can stay open for outdoor exercise.

• Personal care facilities such as hair, beauty, tanning and nail salons. Tattoo parlours, spas, massage parlours, body and skin piercing services must also close. These services should not be provided in other people’s homes.

Some of these businesses and places will also be permitted to be open for a small number of exempt activities. A full list of exemptions can be found at www.gov.uk

Other businesses and venues are permitted to stay open, following covid-19 secure guidelines.

Businesses providing essential goods and services can stay open. They include essential retail such as food shops and supermarkets, market stalls selling essential retail and businesses providing repair services.

Petrol stations, vehicle repair and MOT services, banks, building societies, post offices, funeral directors, medical, dental and veterinary services can also continue. A full list of businesses is available at www.gov.uk

Car parks, public toilets, motorway service areas and outdoor playgrounds, places of worship, crematoriums and burial grounds can also remain open.

Vaccine rollout

Up to and including March 1, more than 20m people received a first dose of the coronavirus vaccine with almost 650,000 receiving their second dose.

Most frontline health and social care staff, elderly care home residents, clinically extremely vulnerable people and over-70s have now been vaccinated.

Many areas are now inviting over-60s, as well as anyone over 16 with a health condition which increases their risk.

From the end of February to April 15, the remaining priority groups will be offered a jab — ages 65-69; 16-69 with underlying health conditions and unpaid carers for elderly and disabled; 60-64; 55-59 and 50-54. By July 31 the programme will be expanded to all adults.

Three vaccines have been approved in the UK so far — Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford-AstraZeneca and Moderna.

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