Wash HANDS, Cover FACE, Make SPACE
It is critical that everybody 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 will come into contact with people you do not normally meet.
- SPACE - Stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place (such as wearing face coverings or increasing ventilation indoors).
The Rule of 6:
When seeing friends and family you do not live with you should:
- meet in groups of 6 or less
- follow social distancing rules
- limit how many different people you see socially over a short period of time
- meet people outdoors where practical: meeting people outdoors is safer than meeting people indoors because fresh air provides better ventilation
When meeting friends and family you do not live with (or have formed a support bubble with) you must not meet in a group of more than 6, indoors or outdoors. This is against the law and the police will have the powers to enforce these legal limits, including to issue fines (fixed penalty notices) of £100, doubling for further breaches up to a maximum of £3,200.
There are exceptions where groups can be larger than 6 people. These include:
- for work, or the provision of voluntary or charitable services
- registered childcare, education or training
- supervised activities provided for children, including wraparound care, youth groups and activities, and children’s playgroups
- providing support to a vulnerable person
- providing emergency assistance, and to avoid injury or illness or to escape risk of harm
- for arrangements where children do not live in the same household as both their parents
- fulfilling a legal obligation, such as attending court or jury service
- wedding and civil partnership ceremonies and receptions - up to 15 people, in a public place
- funerals - up to 30 people. This does not include wakes, other than for religious ceremonial purposes
- Further exemptions and information can be found on the Government's Frequently Asked Questions page.
Where a group includes someone covered by such an exception (for example, someone who is working), they are not counted as part of the gatherings limit. This means - for example - a tradesperson can go into a household of six without breaching the limit, if they are there for work.
If you show symptoms:
Common symptoms (95%) for coronavirus are a high temperature or a new, continuous cough or a change in your sense of smell or taste.
- Stay at home. Even if you can continue to work or not, if you have symptoms, stay at home for 10 days. If you live with other people, they should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms. If you live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days. If you have to stay at home together, try to keep away from each other as much as possible. See stay at home guidance.
Get a test. If you have symptoms of coronavirus you should ask for a test to check if you have the virus. This is called an antigen swab test. This tests if you have the virus, not if you have previously had the virus (antibody test), which will become more available in the UK as capacity increases. You can apply for a test for yourself, a household member or a child. The test involves taking a swab of the inside of your nose and the back of your throat, using a long cotton bud. These either take place at a test centre or at home with a home kit. You can apply for a test online. If you don’t have access to the internet, you can order a test by phoning 119.
For medical guidance on symptoms call NHS 111. Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you're staying at home.
As more people return to work, there will be more movement outside people's immediate household. The Government is now requiring by law that people must wear a face-covering in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not always possible such as in shops, museums and public transport. Click here for a full list of public spaces where face-coverings are required. Those caught not wearing a face-covering when required can be fined £100 by the police.
It is important that those who have an age, health or disability reason for not wearing a face covering should not be routinely asked to give any written evidence of this, this includes exemption cards. No person needs to seek advice or request a letter from a medical professional about their reason for not wearing a face covering.
Some people may feel more comfortable showing something that says they do not have to wear a face covering. This could be in the form of an exemption card, badge or even a home-made sign. This is a personal choice and is not necessary in law. You can download an exemption badge for your phone here.
Homemade cloth face-coverings can protect against inadvertent transmission of the disease to others if you have it asymptomatically. You can make them at home from old clothing. See how to wear and make a cloth face covering.
People who are ‘clinically vulnerable’, meaning you are at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus, are advised to stay at home as much as possible and, if you do go out, take particular care to stay alert and minimise contact with others outside your household. See staying alert guidance.
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 disease, such as heart failure
- chronic kidney disease
- chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
- chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), or cerebral palsy
- 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
Extremely vulnerable ('shielded') people:
There is a further category of people with serious underlying health conditions who are ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’, meaning they are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus. As the circulation of COVID-19 in the community continues to decrease, the chance of catching the virus reduces, and therefore extremely vulnerable people can enjoy greater freedoms in a safe way. However, the risk of developing severe illness from coronavirus for these individuals remains very high.
From 1 August the government advised that shielding is paused. From this date, the government is advising you to adopt strict social distancing rather than full shielding measures. Strict social distancing means you may wish to go out to more places and see more people but you should take particular care to minimise contact with others outside your household or support bubble.
In practice this means that from 1 August:
- you can go to work, if you cannot work from home, as long as the business is COVID-secure
- children who are clinically extremely vulnerable can return to their education settings if they are eligible and in line with their peers. Where possible children should practise frequent hand washing and social distancing
- you can go outside to buy food, to places of worship and for exercise but you should maintain strict social distancing
- you should remain cautious as you are still at risk of severe illness if you catch coronavirus, so the advice is to stay at home where possible and, if you do go out, follow strict social distancing.
The guidance for the clinically extremely vulnerable group remains advisory. More detailed advice will be updated in this guidance as the changes in advice come into effect on 6 July and 1 August.
People who are clinically extremely vulnerable should have received a letter telling them they are in this group or been told by their GP. You, your family and carers should be aware of the further specific advice on how to protect yourself and shielding. If you are unsure see NHS guidance or contact your GP. The Secretary of State for Health will be writing further to these individuals.