Coronavirus: latest news and government advice
Coronavirus advice and restrictions are changing quickly. This page outlines the latest government advice, how it might affect you and how to keep yourself and others safe.
Do I need to wear a face covering?
It's no longer a legal requirement to wear a face covering. However, it's still recommended you wear one in busy or enclosed spaces.
Some businesses or settings, such as healthcare settings, may require or encourage you to wear a face covering when entering their premises or using their service.
Do I need to take a coronavirus test?
You might wish to purchase a COVID-19 test if you have any of the following symptoms:
- a new and persistent cough
- a temperature
- a change in or a loss of your sense of taste or smell
If your test is positive, you're advised to stay at home and avoid contact with others, particularly vulnerable people. After 5 days, you might choose to take a lateral flow test followed by another the next day. If both are negative and you don't have a temperature, you can safely return to your normal routine.
You'll no longer be asked to take daily tests if you've been in contact with someone with coronavirus as the government's Test and Trace scheme has now ended.
If you want to do a coronavirus test you'll now have to pay for it. If you fall into one of the following groups, you can still get free tests.
During a coronavirus outbreak
- Care home staff and residents (also upon admission), whether you have symptoms or not
If you have coronavirus symptoms
- People who are eligible for community coronavirus treatments as they're at a higher risk of getting seriously ill - these people will be contacted directly and sent lateral flows at home to use if they have symptoms
- Certain patients in hospital where a PCR test is required for their care and to provide access to treatments and support ongoing clinical surveillance for new variants
- People being discharged from hospital into care homes, hospices or homelessness settings and domestic abuse refuges
Those who work in the following settings
- Patient-facing NHS staff and NHS-commissioned independent healthcare providers
- Staff in hospices and adult social care services, such as care homes and home care
- A small number of care home visitors who provide personal care
- Staff in high-risk domestic abuse refuges and homelessness settings
- Staff in some prisons and places of detention
Do I need to self-isolate?
You no longer have to self-isolate if you test positive for coronavirus or are in contact with someone who has.
However, we strongly advise that if you do test positive for coronavirus you stay at home and avoid contact with others, particularly anyone who is vulnerable – even if you live in the same household.
After 5 days, you might choose to take a lateral flow test followed by another the next day. If both are negative and you don't have a temperature, you're safe to return to your normal routine.
Have you had your booster?
The best way to protect yourself and others, as well as following the latest guidance, is to get your coronavirus booster jab.
How do I get an NHS COVID pass?
You can get an NHS COVID pass via:
- the NHS app (this is different from the NHS COVID-19 app)
- the NHS website
- or by calling 119 to request a letter be posted to you.
Your pass gives information about your vaccination status. Passes are available in different formats, including braille and audio.
From 1 April, the government has announced that certain venues no longer need to request an NHS COVID pass. You'll still be able to access your pass for a limited period to support use in other parts of the UK.
You can continue to use the NHS app to access your vaccination status for international travel.
What are the latest travel restrictions?
There are specific rules for travel that differ depending on whether you're vaccinated or not. You're considered fully vaccinated if you've had two vaccine doses and your second dose was at least 14 days ago.
These rules outline what to do when returning to England from another country. You should order any tests you'll need on your return before leaving England. When travelling abroad, the rules may vary and you must follow the rules in the country you're visiting.
When travelling within the UK, Ireland and the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man you don't need to take a coronavirus test, but there may be different rules in these places that you must follow.
If you're fully vaccinated
You no longer have to take a coronavirus test either before or after you arrive back in the UK from abroad. However, you do still need to create a passenger locator form.
If you're not fully vaccinated
You will need to take a pre-departure test and a PCR test on or before day 2 after you arrive back in the UK from abroad. You won't need to quarantine unless you test positive. You need to complete a passenger locator form.
All tests required for travel purposes will need to be paid for and can be found on the government website.
If you're travelling from a country on the red list
If you're travelling to England from a country on the red list, or you've been in one of these countries in the 10 days before your return to England, you will have to isolate in a mandated hotel at your own cost. You must do this regardless of your vaccination status.
There are currently no countries on the red list, but if any are added you can find them on the government website.
Can I meet up with friends and family?
You can still socialise. There are no limits on the number of people you can meet up with or when and where you can do this. However, the more people you have contact with, the greater your risk of catching or passing on the virus.
There are still things you can do to reduce the risk of spreading or catching coronavirus, such as:
- prioritise the people and events that matter to you most and reduce other social contact
- minimise contact with others where possible – particularly those who may be more vulnerable
- meet up outside or in well-ventilated spaces
- take a lateral flow test before meeting others
- wear a face covering.
Want to know more?
This page outlines the latest guidance. But if you want to know more about these topics, we have more information for you.