What do the new lockdown rules mean for me?

The Canary

People in England have been ordered to stay at home for the next month in a bid to reverse the spread of coronavirus.

But the nation’s second national lockdown, beginning on Thursday, comes with a number of exceptions, including pupils continuing to go to school, limitless outdoor exercise and “safe visiting” for care home residents and their families.

– When do the new rules come into force?

The lockdown will run from 5 November until 2 December, after MPs voted overwhelmingly in favour of the new restrictions.

Boris Johnson has sought to reassure people the measures will be eased on 2 December as planned, and should enable shops and businesses to reopen in time for the run-up to Christmas.

But the Prime Minister acknowledged that it would depend on getting the R number – the reproduction rate of the virus – back down below 1.

– Can I leave my home?

The Government has published 32 pages of regulations including exceptions to the general stay-at-home message.

Specific reasons include education if it is not provided online, work if you cannot work from home (including if your job involves working in other people’s homes) and for exercise, which you can take as many times a day as you wish.

People can also leave for recreational purposes with their own household or on their own with one person from another household (a “one plus one” rule).

Examples of recreation include meeting up with a friend in the park for a walk or to sit on a bench and eat a sandwich. People will not be allowed to meet in homes and gardens, and golf clubs will remain shut.

People shopping in Winchester, Hampshire
From Thursday, people will only be able to leave their houses with members of their own household or with one person from another household (Andrew Matthews/PA)

People can also leave home to shop for food and essentials, and to provide care for vulnerable people or as a volunteer.

Attending medical appointments is also allowed or to escape injury or harm (such as for people suffering domestic abuse).

Support bubbles will remain in place and people can still meet up in their bubble.

Children can move between the homes of their parents if their parents are separated.

– What must close?

Non-essential shops, leisure and entertainment venues must all close.

Non-essential retail includes clothing and electronics stores, car showrooms, travel agents, betting shops, auction houses, tailors, car washes, tobacco and vape shops.

Leisure includes bowling alleys, leisure centres and gyms, sports facilities including swimming pools, golf courses and driving ranges, dance studios, stables and riding centres, soft play facilities, climbing walls and climbing centres, archery and shooting ranges, water and theme parks.

Theatres, concert halls, cinemas, museums and galleries, casinos, adult gaming centres and arcades, bingo halls, zoos and other animal attractions will close.

Hair, beauty and nail salons, tattoo parlours, spas, massage parlours, body and skin piercing services, non-medical acupuncture and tanning salons will also close.

Hair dressers in Birmingham
Hair salons, along with other non-essential retail, leisure and entertainment venues, will have to close (Jacob King/PA)

Click and collect can continue, and essential shops such as supermarkets, garden centres and shops “providing essential goods and services” will remain open.

Bars, pubs and restaurants must stay closed except for delivery or takeaway services.

They will be permitted to sell takeaway alcohol so long as it is pre-ordered online, or via phone or post.

Pre-ordered drinks can be sold to and collected by a customer “provided the purchaser does not enter inside the premises to do so”, regulations state.

Hotels, hostels and other accommodation should only open for those who have to travel for work and for a limited number of other reasons including people who need accommodation while moving house, to attend a funeral or if they are isolating themselves from others as required by law.

– What else stays open?

The NHS and medical services such as GPs, along with Jobcentre Plus sites and courts.

– What if I shielded last time?

People over 60 and those who are clinically vulnerable are being told to be especially careful about following the rules and minimising their contact with others.

Anyone who was formally notified that they should shield last time and not go out to work will be advised to limit their movements again.

However, formal shielding as happened during the March and April lockdown – where people were told not to leave home for any reason – will not be brought in.

People classed as clinically extremely vulnerable are being advised to work from home. If that is not possible, people may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay or Employment Support Allowance.

More specific guidance was released on Wednesday, two days after the Government said it would be published. As expected it advises those classed as clinically extremely vulnerable to avoid all non-essential travel, including visits to any shops or to pharmacies. They should continue to attend hospital and GP appointments unless told otherwise by their doctor.

It also states that children who live with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable, but are not clinically extremely vulnerable themselves, should still attend school.

– What about visiting care homes?

Regulations state that it is reasonably necessary for someone to leave their home to visit a person staying in a care home if they are a member of that person’s household, a close family member or a friend.

Guidance issued by the Department of Health and Social Care lists a number of ways care homes could allow visitors, including having designated visitor pods with floor-to-ceiling screens and separate entrances.

Outdoor visits with one other person are permitted, provided the area can be accessed by the loved one without going into the main building.

Visits at windows, “where the visitor doesn’t need to come inside the care home or where the visitor remains in their car, and the resident is socially distanced” are also allowed.

Video calls between residents and family members, supported by a multimillion-pound distribution of 11,000 iPad devices to care homes, are also encouraged.

The department said plans are currently being developed to allow specific family and friends to visit care homes supported by a testing programme, although trials will not begin until later in November.

– Should my children go to school or to the childminder? Can they go to a playground?

Yes, schools, colleges and universities will all remain open. Students should not return home during term time but can return home for the Christmas holiday.

Childminders and nurseries will stay open and childcare bubbles, where for example a grandparent provides childcare while a parent works, will be able to continue.

Guidance states that while some youth services may be able to continue, such as one-to-one youth work and support groups, most youth clubs and groups will need to cease for the period of the lockdown.

Playgrounds and parks will remain open.

– What about when pupils and staff are in school?

All students and teachers in secondary schools and colleges in England are now expected to wear face coverings in communal spaces, outside of classrooms, where social distancing cannot be maintained.

The guidance says primary school children do not need to wear face coverings, and older children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities may be exempt from wearing them, depending on their need.

Clinically extremely vulnerable staff and pupils should not come into school or college, the advice says.

Extra-curricular activities can be held before and after school, but it has to be for childcare purposes rather than simply for sports clubs.

– Can I go on holiday, have an overnight stay or go to my second home?

No, you are advised not to travel unless for essential reasons.

People can travel for work and there are exemptions for overnights and second homes for work purposes.

Those who are already on holiday will be able to return to the UK.

– Is there a furlough scheme?

Yes, furlough will be payable at 80% up to a maximum of £2,500 for the duration of the package of tougher national measures. The support will be available across the UK.

Business premises forced to close in England will also receive grants worth up to £3,000 per month under a Local Restrictions Support Grant.

A further £1.1 billion will be given to local authorities – distributed on the basis of £20 per head – for one-off payments to support businesses.

– Is there support for mortgages?

Yes. Homeowners will be able to take the option of mortgage payment holidays.

– Can I go to church?

Churches will remain open for private prayer only, with Downing Street saying outlawing services inside places of worship is “vital in tackling the spread of the virus”.

Funerals will be limited to a maximum of 30 people, although it is advised that only close family members attend. Stone settings and scatterings should have no more than 15 people.

Remembrance Sunday services this year will only be permitted to take place online or outdoors.

Peterborough Cathedral
Churches will remain open for private prayer only (Joe Giddens/PA)

– What about weddings?

The Government had announced that weddings and civil partnership ceremonies are only allowed in “exceptional circumstances” but regulations published on Tuesday did not explicitly state what these are.

They say it is “reasonably necessary” for a person to leave or be outside their home to attend a marriage ceremony, a civil partnership ceremony or an alternative wedding ceremony.

Gatherings of no more than six people for these purposes at a private dwelling, premises which are operated by or part of premises used for a business, a charitable, benevolent or philanthropic institution or a public body, or in a public outdoor place would be permitted under the regulations.

– Will Premier League football matches continue?

Yes. Boris Johnson said games would continue despite the restrictions. Elite sport can still be played but must be behind closed doors.

– What if I live in an area with lower cases?

You must still observe the rules as they apply across England. Professor Chris Whitty said that many of the areas with lower case numbers have the highest rates of increase.

He also warned: “Some areas including the South West are likely to get pressure on beds really relatively early because of the way the NHS is constructed in those areas.”

– What if I want to protest against the lockdown?

Protests are not allowed but the Prime Minister’s spokesman said police and local authorities will first try to “engage, explain and encourage people to follow the rules before moving on to enforce the law”.

Will the Welsh firebreak now be extended?

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford said the English lockdown will mean the hardest border between England and Wales for “several centuries at least”, with travel between the two countries banned without reasonable excuse.

The controls are set to come into force just as Wales prepares to end its two-and-a-half week firebreak, with schools, shops, pubs and restaurants set to reopen from Monday November 9.

How do Scotland’s new measures differ?

In Scotland, new measures were brought in at 6am on Monday and affect Scots by local authority rather than health board area.

The levels have been graded from zero to four, with no local authorities placed under the toughest measures at the highest level for now. Levels 1, 2 and 3 are broadly comparable to the previous three tiers of restrictions in England, while Level 0 is similar to what was in place across Scotland in August when the virus was suppressed to very low levels.

The central belt – including Edinburgh, Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Stirling and Falkirk – has been joined by Dundee and Ayrshire in Level 3. That means no in-home socialising with some exceptions such as caring for a vulnerable person. Outdoor groups in public places are limited to six people from two households, and drive-in events, cinemas, arcades and bingo halls have all been closed. Hospitality businesses are now prohibited from selling alcohol and must close at 6pm with last entry at 5pm.

Covid-19 restrictions in Scotland
(PA Graphics)

First minister Nicola Sturgeon warned that the Scottish Government will not hesitate to increase the level of protection either locally or nationally if required.

And in Northern Ireland?

Pubs and restaurants were closed for four weeks starting on October 16 with the exception of takeaways and deliveries. Schools were closed for two weeks and reopened on Monday.

Retail outlets remain open along with gyms for individual training. People have been told they should work from home unless unable to do so and have been urged not to take unnecessary journeys.

First minister Arlene Foster indicated at the weekend that the four-week restrictions will be eased on 13 November, while deputy first minister Michelle O’Neill said they would be “reviewed” at the end of the period.

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