Staying alert and safe

The most important thing we can do is to stay alert, control the virus, and in doing so, save lives. On the 11 May 2020 the Government has released new guidance in the next phase in our fight against coronavirus.
stay alert poster

Everyone’s actions have helped to reduce the transmission of coronavirus in our communities. The UK is now moving to the next phase in our fight against coronavirus.

This guidance applies in England – people in ScotlandWales and Northern Ireland should follow the specific rules in those parts of the UK.

The government has set out the plan to return life to as near normal as we can, for as many people as we can, as quickly and fairly as possible in order to safeguard livelihoods, but in a way that is safe and continues to protect our NHS.

The government has set out a roadmap for lifting further restrictions and opening more businesses and venues, but this plan is dependent on successfully controlling the spread of the virus. If the evidence shows sufficient progress is not being made in controlling the virus, then the lifting of restrictions may have to be delayed. If, after lifting restrictions, the government sees a concerning rise in the infection rate, then it may have to re-impose some restrictions in as targeted a way as possible.

The measures set out will be kept under constant review, and formally revisited at the end of May. 

Can I (or the person I care for) be tested for coronavirus?

Testing is a key pillar of the Government's strategy to protect the NHS and save lives. The testing capacity has been expanded to include anyone with symptoms (in England).

Find out if you are eligible

Who is this guidance for?

This guidance is for the general public who are fit and well. If you or your household has a possible coronavirus infection you need to follow self-isolation advice

Clinically vulnerable

Clinically vulnerable people are those who are:

  • aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions)
  • under 70 with an underlying health condition listed below (that is, anyone instructed to get a flu jab as an adult each year on medical grounds):
  • chronic (long-term) mild to moderate respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis
  • chronic heart, kidney or liver disease
  • chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), or cerebral palsy
  • diabetes
  • a weakened immune system as the result of certain conditions, treatments like chemotherapy, or medicines such as steroid tablets
  • being seriously overweight (a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above)
  • pregnant women

This group should continue to stay at home as much as possible and, if you do go out, take particular care to minimise contact with others outside your household.

Clinically extremely vulnerable

There is a further group of people who are defined, also on medical grounds, as clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus – that is, people with specific serious health conditions.

They are advised to continue shielding measures to keep themselves safe by staying at home and avoiding all contact with others, except for essential medical treatment or support.

Staying at home

It is still very important that people stay home unless necessary to go out for specific reasons set out in law. These include:

  • for work, where you cannot work from home
  • going to shops that are permitted to be open – to get things like food and medicine, and to collect goods ordered online or on the phone
  • to exercise or spend time outdoors for recreation
  • any medical need, to donate blood, avoid injury or illness, escape risk of harm, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person

Where parents or someone with parental responsibility do not live in the same household, children under 18 can be moved between their parents’ homes to continue existing arrangements for access and contact.

The government has also identified a number of critical workers whose children can still go to school or their childcare provider. This critical worker definition does not affect whether or not you can travel to work - if you are not a critical worker, you may still travel to work if you cannot work from home. However, if you, or a member of your household are unwell with symptoms of coronavirus, you should isolate and should not travel to or attend the workplace.

Critical workers and parents or guardians of vulnerable children may leave their home to take children to and from school or their childcare provider.

You can also attend the funeral of a close family member or member of your household (or, of a friend, if no one from their close family or household is attending). Religious ministers or leaders can leave their homes to go to their place of worship, but these should remain closed to the public

You may also leave or be outside of your home in order to access other critical public services, such as social services, support provided to victims, services provided by the Department for Work and Pensions, to fulfill a legal obligation, or to move home in line with the government’s guidance.

A fuller list of the reasons you can leave home is set out in the regulations.

When you do need to go out, you should follow the guidelines on staying safe outside your home. Most importantly, this includes the key advice that you should stay two metres apart from anyone outside of your household. Face coverings can help us protect each other and reduce the spread of the disease if you are in an enclosed space where social distancing isn’t possible and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet. This is most relevant for short periods indoors in crowded areas, for example on public transport or in some shops.

It is still not permitted to leave your house to visit friends and family in their home. The government is looking at how to facilitate greater contact with close family or friends, and will explain how this can be done safely in the coming weeks.

By following this guidance, you are helping to protect yourself, your family, the NHS and your community.

Coronavirus outbreak FAQs: what you can and can't do

Businesses and venues

For the time being, certain businesses and venues are required by law to stay closed to the public. These include:

  • restaurants and cafes, other than for takeaway
  • pubs, cinemas, theatres and nightclubs
  • clothing and electronics stores; hair, beauty and nail salons; and outdoor and indoor markets (not selling food)
  • libraries, community centres, and youth centres
  • indoor and outdoor leisure facilities such as bowling alleys, gyms, arcades and soft play facilities
  • some communal places within parks, such as playgrounds and outdoor gyms
  • places of worship (except for funerals)
  • hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, campsites, caravan parks, and boarding houses for commercial/leisure use, excluding use by those who live in them permanently, those who are unable to return home and critical workers where they need to for work

Food retailers and food markets, hardware stores, garden centres and certain other retailers can remain open. Other businesses can remain open and their employees can travel to work, where they cannot work from home. The government will also allow outdoor sports facilities – such as tennis and basketball courts, golf courses and bowling greens – to open, but you should only use these alone, with members of your household, or with one other person from outside your household, while keeping two metres apart at all times.

Visiting public places

You can exercise outside as often as you wish and you can also sit and rest outside – exercise or recreation can be alone, with members of your household, or with one other person from outside your household, while keeping two metres apart at all times.

You may drive to outdoor publicly accessible open spaces irrespective of distance, but should follow social distancing guidance whilst you are there. You should plan ahead to ensure that, where you are visiting places like National Parks, you have checked that they are open and appropriately prepared for visitors. You should not go to ticketed outdoor leisure venues, where there is a higher risk of close contact and touching surfaces.

When travelling to outdoor spaces, it is important that people respect the rules in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and do not travel to different parts of the UK where their intended activities there would be prohibited by legislation passed by the relevant devolved administration.

Public gatherings

To ensure people are social distancing, the government has prohibited by law all public gatherings of more than two people, except for reasons set out in the regulations. These include:

  • where the gathering is of a group of people who live together in the same household – this means that a parent can, for example, take their children to the shops, although you are advised to do so only if there is no option to leave them at home
  • where the gathering is essential for work purposes – but workers should try to minimise all meetings and other gatherings in the workplace

It is important that everyone continues to act responsibly in public places, as the large majority have done to date. The infection rate will increase if people begin to break the rules.

Going to work

You should travel to work, including to provide voluntary or charitable services, where you cannot work from home and your workplace is open.

With the exception of the organisations covered above in the section on closing businesses and venues, the government has not required any other businesses to close to the public – it is important for business to carry on.

All workers who cannot work from home should travel to work if their workplace is open. Sectors of the economy that are allowed to be open should be open – such as food production, construction, manufacturing, logistics, distribution and scientific research. As soon as practicable, workplaces should be set up to meet the new Covid-19 secure guidelines. These will keep you as safe as possible, whilst allowing as many people as possible to resume their livelihoods. In particular, workplaces should, where possible, ensure employees can maintain a two-metre distance from others, and wash their hands regularly.

At all times, workers should follow the guidance on self-isolation if they or anyone in their household shows coronavirus symptoms. You should not go into work if you are showing symptoms, or if you or any of your household are self-isolating. This is consistent with advice from the Chief Medical Officer.

There is specific guidance in relation to work carried out in people’s homes – for example by tradespeople carrying out repairs and maintenance, cleaners, or those providing paid-for childcare in a child’s home.

Enforcing the law

The police and local authorities have the powers to enforce the requirements set out in law if people do not comply with them. The police will act with discretion and common sense in applying these measures, but if you breach the law, they may instruct you to go home or leave an area, or arrest you where they believe it necessary. They may also instruct you to take steps to stop your children breaking these legal requirements if they have already done so.

The government has introduced higher fines for those who do not comply, to reflect the increased risk to others of breaking the rules as we begin to ease the restrictions, and people return to work. Once these new limits are in place, if the police believe that you have broken the law – or if you refuse to follow their instructions enforcing the law – a police officer may issue you with a fixed penalty notice for £100 (reduced to £50 if paid within 14 days). If you have already received a fixed penalty notice, the amount will increase to £200 and double on each further repeat offence, up to a maximum of £3200. 

Similarly, a business or venue operating in contravention of the law will be committing an offence. Local authorities (for example, Environmental Health and Trading Standards officers) will monitor compliance, with support from the police if appropriate. Businesses and venues that breach the law will be subject to prohibition notices and fixed penalty notices. Businesses that continue to contravene the law will be forced to close down.

For both individuals and companies, if you do not pay, you may also be taken to court, with magistrates able to impose potentially unlimited fines.

Sources of information

If you have any  questions or concerns contact us by the details below and we will work to find you an answer.

020 8099 5335

info@healthwatchrichmond.co.uk

Looking for further information about coronavirus?

We have brought together the latest information about coronavirus including how you can get involved and help your community, and how to help your wellbeing during these uncertain times. 

Find out more