What you can and can’t do

Stay Alert, Control the Virus, Save Lives

Sweeping new rules have bee brought in. Everyone is being asked to Stay Alert, Control the Virus, Save Lives. The full rules are here.

Here is a summary of the new rules.

We all have vital role to play in controlling the virus, to save lives and to protect our communities and country.

The virus outbreak is now past the peak and the Prime Minister has presented a roadmap to recovery. Yet we must stay alert to control the virus, observe social distancing and carry on washing your hands.

Can I visit people indoors?


From 14 September there will be a legal limit on the number of people you don’t live with you are able to meet. When meeting with people you don’t live with you can socialise in groups of up to 6.

You should continue to maintain social distancing with anyone you do not live with.

How many people am I allowed to meet with outdoors?

From 14 September, there will be a new legal gatherings limit. When meeting with people you don’t live with you can socialise in groups of up to 6. You should continue to maintain social distancing with anyone you do not live with.

Can I use public transport if I’m seeing friends in a park or going to my parents’ garden?

You can help control coronavirus and travel safely by walking and cycling, if you can. However where this is not possible, you can use public transport or drive. If you do use public transport, you must wear a face covering and you should follow the safer travel guidance for passengers.

Are children counted in the group of 6?


Can I share a private vehicle with someone from another household?

You should try not to share a vehicle with those outside your household or social bubble. If you need to, try to:

  • share the transport with the same people each time
  • keep to small groups of people of up to 6 people at any one time (this limit of 6 people will apply and have legal force from 14 September).
  • open windows for ventilation
  • travel side by side or behind other people, rather than facing them, where seating arrangements allow
  • face away from each other
  • consider seating arrangements to maximise distance between people in the vehicle
  • clean your car between journeys using standard cleaning products – make sure you clean door handles and other areas that people may touch
  • make sure the driver and passengers wear a face covering

Can I stay overnight in someone else’s home?

Yes, you can stay overnight in someone else’s home. From 14 September there will be a new legal limit on the gathering sizes. This will mean that you may only stay overnight in someone else’s home if you do not form a group of more than 6 people. This limit does not apply if you are in a support bubble with the person whose home you are staying in.

You should ensure you maintain social distancing with anyone you do not live with or who is not in your support bubble. Take particular care to maintain excellent hygiene – washing hands and surfaces – especially when using shared facilities like bathrooms wherever possible.

People in the same support bubble can stay overnight with each other in larger groups as they count as one household.

Can I look after my grandchildren?

Yes. People in groups of up to 6 can meet indoors or outdoors, which enables you to spend time with your grandchildren. Although you should try to maintain social distance from people you do not live with wherever possible, it may not always be practicable to do so when providing care to a young child or infant. If this is this case – and where young children may struggle to keep social distance – you should still limit close contact as much as possible, and take other precautions such as washing hands and clothes regularly.

If you have formed a support bubble with your grandchildren’s household, which is allowed if either you or they live in a ‘single adult household’, then there can be close contact and social distancing is not necessary.

When can I gather in groups of more than 6?

If you live in a household with more than 6 people, you can continue to gather in and attend all settings together. This same applies for your support bubbles. All venues should continue to accomodate groups larger than 6 who live together or are in the same support bubble to gather in and use their services and venues.

There will be exceptions where groups can be larger than 6 people, including:

  • where everyone lives together or is in the same support bubble, or to continue existing arrangements where children do not live in the same household as both their parents
  • for work, and voluntary or charitable services
  • for education, training, or registered childcare (including wraparound care)
  • fulfilling legal obligations such as attending court or jury service
  • providing emergency assistance, or providing support to a vulnerable person
  • for you or someone else to avoid illness, injury or harm
  • participate in children’s playgroups
  • wedding and civil partnership ceremonies and receptions, or for other religious life-cycle ceremonies – where up to 30 people will be able to attend
  • funerals – where up to 30 people will be able to attend
  • organised indoor and outdoor sports, physical activity and exercise classes (see the list of recreational team sports, outdoor sport and exercise allowed under the gyms and leisure centre guidance)
  • youth groups or activities
  • elite sporting competition or training
  • protests and political activities organised in compliance with COVID-19 secure guidance and subject to strict risk assessments

Does this mean that no more than six people can be in a pub or restaurant at once?

Venues following COVID-19 Secure guidelines can host more than 6 people in total, but no one should visit in a group of greater than 6. When you visit one of these places, such as a pub, shop, leisure venue, restaurant or place of worship you should:

  • follow the limits on the number of other people you should meet with as a group (it will be illegal to be in group of more than six from outside of your household)
  • avoid social interaction with anyone outside the group you are with, even if you see other people you know
  • provide your contact details to the organiser so that you can be contacted if needed by the NHS Test and Trace programme
  • wear a face covering (except for when eating and drinking)

Please note that businesses selling food or drink (including cafes, bars, pubs and restaurants), social clubs, casinos, bowling alleys, amusement arcades (and other indoor leisure centres or facilities), funfairs, theme parks, adventure parks and activities, and bingo halls, must be closed between 10pm and 5am. This will include takeaways but delivery services can continue after 10pm.

Can I see my partner / boyfriend / girlfriend if I do not live with them? Do we have to socially distance?

Yes. People in an established relationship do not need to socially distance. If in the early stages of a relationship, you should take particular care to follow the guidance on social distancing. If you intend to have close contact with someone, you should discuss how you can help to prevent risks of transmission as a couple, for example, by ensuring you are both avoiding close contact with people you do not live with.

How will the rules on gatherings be enforced?

The police will be able to enforce these legal limits, and if you break them you could face a fine (fixed penalty notice) of £200, doubling for further breaches up to a maximum of £6,400.

Hospitality businesses are also required to ensure there are no unlawful gatherings in their premises. We know the majority of businesses are responsible and are taking the necessary steps to be COVID-19 Secure, but for those businesses who won’t take those steps, egregious breaches will be enforced. Any breaches are liable of a fine of up to £10,000. We will be extending these legal requirements to extra businesses in the leisure and entertainment sectors from 28 September.

Anyone holding a gathering of more than 30 (such as a rave or house party) could face a £10,000 fine.

Are there restrictions on how far I can travel?

No. You can travel irrespective of distance, but you should take hygiene and safety precautions if using services on the way.

You can use public transport but it is better to travel in other ways if possible. It is difficult to socially distance during car journeys and transmission of coronavirus can occur in this context. So avoid travelling with someone from outside your household or your support bubble unless you can practise social distancing.

Do I have to wear a face covering in public?

You are required to wear a face covering in the following settings:

  • on public transport
  • indoor transport hubs
  • taxis and private hire vehicles (PHVs) (from 23 September)
  • shops and supermarkets
  • hospitality venues, such as pubs and restaurants, except when eating or drinking (from 24 September)
  • indoor shopping centres
  • banks and building societies
  • post offices
  • museums
  • galleries
  • cinemas and theatres
  • places of worship
  • public libraries

People are also strongly encouraged to wear face coverings in any other enclosed public spaces where there are people they do not normally meet.

You do not need to wear a face covering if you have a legitimate reason not to. This includes (but is not limited to):

  • children under 11
  • because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability
  • to communicate with someone who relies on lip reading
  • to avoid harm or injury; to identify yourself
  • to eat or drink if necessary

You can carry something that says you do not have to wear a face covering for medical reasons. This is a personal choice, and is not necessary in law – you should not routinely be required to produce any written evidence to justify the fact you are not wearing a face covering.

Who is allowed to go to work?

With the exception of the organisations listed within guidance 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.

It is at the discretion of employers as to how staff can continue working safely. Working from home is one way to do this, but workplaces can also be made safe by following COVID-19 Secure guidelines. Your employer should consult with you on how you can work safely, and must ensure workplaces are safe if they are asking you to return, as above.

If you are clinically extremely vulnerable, you can go to work as long as the workplace is Covid-19 Secure but should carry on working from home wherever possible.

Do I need to stay 2 metres apart – or 1 metre?

People should either stay 2 metres apart or ‘1 metre plus’ – which is one metre plus mitigations that will help to prevent transmission. These mitigations will depend on the workplace or setting. For example, on public transport (and from July 24, in shops and supermarkets), people must wear a face covering, as it is not always possible to stay 2m apart. People should also wash or sanitise their hands regularly and avoid the busiest routes and times (like the rush hour).

In other spaces, mitigation could include installing screens, making sure people face away from each other, putting up hand washing facilities, minimising the amount of time you spend with people outside your household or bubble, and being outdoors.

What can you do to help?

The single most important thing you can do is follow NHS advice. Wash hands, and self-isolate when you get symptoms – this is vital.

Good hygiene, social distancing and self-isolation are critical in the fight to slow infections – for yourself and for others – particularly those over 70, those with underlying health conditions and those who are pregnant.

When and for how long should you self-isolate?

  • you have any symptoms of coronavirus (a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste)
  • you’ve tested positive for coronavirus – this means you have coronavirus
  • you live with someone who has symptoms or tested positive
  • someone in your support bubble has symptoms or tested positive
  • you’re told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace
  • you arrive in the UK from a country with a high coronavirus risk

If you have symptoms or have tested positive for coronavirus, you’ll usually need to self-isolate for at least 10 days.

You’ll usually need to self-isolate for 14 days if:

  • someone you live with has symptoms or tested positive
  • someone in your support bubble has symptoms or tested positive
  • you’ve been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace

Self-isolation will save lives – it’s important you follow the guidance if you’re affected.

If your symptoms worsen during isolation or are no better after 7 days contact the NHS online coronavirus service . If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999.

Why should you self-isolate?

Self-isolation will save lives – and while the vast majority of people will recover from this virus – some will get seriously ill and it is these people we need to protect.

How should I look after myself when I self-isolate?

  • Get plenty of rest
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Eat as healthily as you can
  • To reduce pain and fever take paracetamol (if you use other mediation get in touch with your care provider)
  • Keep in contact with friends and family by phone, video and online

Can I get up-to-date news about coronavirus (COVID-19)?

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