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Information about coronavirus (COVID-19)

What is the current advice from the Government?

The Government have announced their plan for easing lockdown, what this involves can be found on our coronavirus roadmap page. The current guidance (step 2) can be found below and will be updated at each stage.

How long will the restrictions be in place?

These restrictions will be in place until at least 17 May (step 3), where some further changes may be introduced. Between now and then it will be reviewed whether the changes outlined in the next step of the roadmap can go ahead.

Leaving the house

The legal requirement to stay at home is no longer in place, however there are still restrictions on many businesses and meeting with others. It’s advised to minimise travel wherever possible.

If you are extremely clinically vulnerable or have been previously advised to shield

The advice to shield is no longer in place from 1 April.

You should follow the restrictions that are in place for everyone, but there are extra precautions advised for those who are clinically extremely vulnerable, you can find out more on our information for shielders webpage.

Meeting with others

You can only spend time indoors with those in your household or support bubble.

Outdoors you can meet in the rule of 6, where all 6 can be from different households or 2 households can meet even if the total number is greater than 6. This can be done in public and private outdoor spaces such as private gardens. You should maintain social distancing from all those not in your household or support bubble. Children of all ages are included in the numbers for the rule of 6 and if you are in a support bubble this counts as 1 household.

You can also continue providing care for a vulnerable person or for someone under 14 years old as part of a childcare bubble.

Rules apply on who can form a support or childcare bubble. Check whether you are eligible.

You can also visit people for compassionate reasons, such as visiting someone in hospital, in a care home or if they are dying.

Staying away from home

You should not stay away from home unless you have a reasonable excuse, including:

  • to visit your support bubble
  • to attend a funeral or commemorative event
  • to work or volunteer
  • to move house or if you cannot return home.

You cannot go on holiday either in the UK or abroad, this includes staying in a second home or caravan. If you are away from home you should return to your main residence as soon as reasonably possible.  

Travel and transport

Travel should be minimised where possible.

School and education

Schools and colleges for all ages and pupils will begin opening from 8 March, for some age groups and also their support and childcare bubbles there will be regularly testing, for more information see our Test and Trace webpage.

Going to work

You should work from home wherever possible.

You can go to work if you cannot reasonably do your job from home – eg if you work in childcare, construction or manufacturing.

You can also provide services in people’s homes where necessary – eg cleaners, nannies or tradespeople.


All retail can be open. Face coverings will be needed unless you're exempt. 

NHS and care services

All NHS services remain open including GPs and dentists. If you need urgent help or advice call 111 or 999 in an emergency.

You can access social care services including home care, respite care and support groups (of up to 15 people).

Public services

Public buildings like libraries and community centres are able to open, there will be restrictions in place to enable social distancing.

Hospitality, entertainment and personal care

Hospitality venues with outdoor options are able to open for table service only. You can visit these in line with the guidance on meeting others so only in groups of 6 or with 2 households.

Delivery and takeaway services will remain open.

Personal care facilities such as hairdressers and nail salons are able to open.

Most outdoor attractions will be able to open, e.g. zoos and theme parks.

Indoor entertainment venues such as theatres and cinemas will remain closed. Self-contained accommodation will be able to open for overnight stays in England but only with your household or support bubble.

Hotels and similar accommodation can only open for specific guests such as people traveling for work.  

All hospitality, entertainment and personal care services will have restrictions in place to keep you safe, it’s important to follow the guidance. If you’re unsure you should contact the venue or business to find out more.

Exercise and leisure activity

You can exercise outdoors on your own, with people you live with (or in your support or childcare bubble) or with up to 5 other people from different households (rule of 6).

Outdoor leisure and sports facilities can be open, for example tennis courts, golf courses and swimming pools, there will be restrictions in place to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

Indoor leisure and sports facilities such as gyms and swimming pools will be able to open for individual use or with your household or support bubble.

Formally organised outdoor sports can restart but will be subject to amended rules issues by national governing bodies.

Places of worship

You can attend places of worship for services or individual prayer. However you can’t mix with anyone outside of your household or support bubble.

Weddings and civil partnerships

Weddings and civil partnerships can take place but are limited to 15 people. Wedding receptions can also take place for up to 15 people but must take place outdoors which doesn’t include private gardens.


Up to 30 people can attend someone’s funeral and those in attendance must maintain social distancing measures with those not in their household or support bubble.

Linked ceremonies or events can take place with up to 15 people (excluding anyone working at a venue), these cannot take placr in private homes. 

Care home visits

There is a clear expectation in guidance that care homes will enable a variety of different types of visits between residents and their loved ones. While each care home is responsible for setting the exact details of the visiting policy in that home, they should all be facilitating:

  • regular indoor visiting for two named visitors per resident
  • in addition, regular indoor and close contact visits from an essential care giver following an assessment of an individual's needs
  • outdoor visiting for those not deemed as the named visitor or an essential care giver
  • visiting at a window for those not deemed as the named visitor or an essential care giver
  • visiting in a specially designated visiting room or pod for those not deemed as the named visitor or an essential care giver.

The guidance states clearly that you can visit a loved one in a care home, whether or not they have had the coronavirus vaccine. However, some care homes are making this a condition of visiting

If there's an outbreak of coronavirus in a care home, there will still be some visiting allowed. This includes the regular visiting of an essential care giver and regular visiting from loved ones if an individual is at the end of their life. If you’re a resident’s single named visitor, you will not be able to visit during an outbreak.


This page outlines the main guidance we all have to follow. However, if you want more information then we have specific pages that go into more detail.

The rest of this page answers some questions about the new guidance, explains what coronavirus is, how it spreads and what you can do to reduce the risk to yourself and others. 

What is coronavirus?

Novel Coronavirus, formally called COVID-19, is part of a family of viruses that include the common cold and respiratory illnesses such as SARS. 

It affects your lungs and airways. For many people, it causes mild symptoms while for others it can be much more serious and require hospital treatment.

Cases of coronavirus first emerged in Wuhan City in China in December last year and have quickly spread. 

How does coronavirus spread?

Coronavirus is very infectious, which means it spreads very easily.

It spreads in much the same way as the common cold or flu - through infected respiratory droplets like coughs and sneezes – and passes from person to person. This can happen when: 

  • an infectious person gets the virus on their hands (for example by coughing in their hand) and then touches a commonly used surface, such as a door handle, which someone else then touches. 
  • someone gets close to (less than 1-2 metres) someone who is infectious.

This is why we are being advised to avoid close contact with others, wash our hands thoroughly and frequently, and wipe down surfaces with disinfectant.

The average ‘incubation period’ – the time between coming into contact with the virus and experiencing symptoms – is 5 days, but it could be anything between 1 and 14 days. This is why the Government is asking everyone who has come into contact with the virus to self-isolate.

People are most likely to spread the virus to other people when they are experiencing symptoms, which is why it is important to follow guidance on staying at home if you have symptoms, have tested positive for coronavirus or have been advised by the test and trace service to self-isolate.

However, don’t forget people can be infectious before they know they are ill.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus and what should I do if I develop symptoms?

The most common symptoms include:

  • a persistent, dry cough - where you have been coughing a lot for more than an hour or have had 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • a high temperature, where you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
  • a loss or changed sense of taste or smell

Other symptoms people are reporting include:

  • shortness of breath
  • a sore throat
  • a blocked/runny nose
  • stomach discomfort and diarrhoea
  • confusion or delirium.

If you develop any coronavirus symptoms, you must self-isolate and book a test as soon as possible. You can get a test by visiting the NHS website or by calling 119. 

We have more information about getting a coronavirus test and what you should do if you develop symptoms here.

If your symptoms get worse, feel unmanageable or you feel breathless then you should call 111 or use NHS online.

Are some people more at risk from coronavirus?

While we're all at risk of catching coronavirus, for most people (around 4 in 5) the symptoms will only be mild to moderate.

However, we do know that some people are much more likely than others to become seriously unwell. This includes:

  • people aged over the 70, even if you're otherwise fit and well
  • people of any age living with long-term health conditions which mean you'd normally be offered the flu jab.

Government guidance also applies to these groups. However, you may also want to consider keeping your social interactions lower and visit busy places at quieter times. For example, some supermarkets have a designated hour of shopping for vulnerable customers.

At the start of the pandemic, some people were advised to shield because they were considered particularly high risk. There is new guidance for these people during the national lockdown, you can find more information here.  

Also, other charities that help people affected by specific conditions have put together their own helpful information that might be relevant for you:

Other medical conditions and upcoming appointments

The health service is still open for you. You might be worried about the strain the NHS is under or be avoiding the GP or hospital because of coronavirus. But your medical needs are just as important as before. We have information about accessing the health service at the moment.

How can I reduce my risk of catching or spreading coronavirus?

The best way to reduce the risk of catching or spreading coronavirus is by following the Government guidance outlined above. This includes:

  • Washing your hands regularly – particularly when you get home after being out, before handling or eating food and after sneezing or blowing your nose
  • Keeping your distance from others
  • Not meeting up in groups of more than six
  • Avoiding busy places where possible
  • Wearing a face covering when you're supposed to
  • Self-isolating in line with current guidance if you or someone you've been in contact with develops symptoms or tests positive for coronavirus.

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Last updated: Apr 20 2021

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