A list of ways to keep safe when leaving the house amid the coronavirus pandemic has been issued.
New guidance published by the government includes avoiding face to face contact with people you don’t live with, regular clothes washing and wearing face coverings in enclosed spaces.
The government’s document has been released after a slight easing on the coronavirus lockdown was announced by Boris Johnson on Sunday.
From Wednesday, it will be possible to meet with someone from outside your household provided they keep two metres from you, and households will be allowed to head out to enjoy open spaces without exercising.
There has been criticism that the government’s new messaging – which includes dropping the “stay at home” mantra for England – is confusing, leading to clarifications on Monday.
The new COVID-19 strategy, called “Our Plan to Rebuild”, includes eleven points for staying safe when you leave the house.
Keep your distance from people outside your household
The government says that while this may not always be possible, “the risk of infection increases the closer you are to another person with the virus and the amount of time you spend in close contact”.
It clearly states, however, that the risk of getting it from someone you walk past in the street is “very unlikely”.
Public Health England recommends keeping two metres away from someone, but the strategy document states this is “not a rule and the science is complex”.
“The key thing is to not be too close to people for more than a short amount of time, as much as you can.”
Keep your hands and face as clean as possible
Among the first COVID-19 messages the government put out was the importance of regular hand washing.
Everyone should continue to wash their hands with soap and water and dry them thoroughly, using sanitiser where possible when out of the house, especially when entering a building and after touching a surface.
“Avoid touching your face,” the document reiterates.
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Work from home if you can
Many people can do most or all of their work from home, with the proper equipment and adjustments,” the government has said.
“Your employer should support you to find reasonable adjustments to do this.
“However, not all jobs can be done from home. If your workplace is open and you cannot work from home, you can travel to work.”
Boris Johnson said on Sunday that travel to work should ideally be done by walking, cycling or by car, avoiding public transport if possible.
Avoid being face to face with people if they are outside your household
From Wednesday, it will become possible to meet with someone from outside your household, outdoors, provided you can maintain a distance of at least two metres.
The government says you are at a “higher risk” of being exposed to droplets, potentially carrying the coronavirus, from someone who is talking or coughing if you are within two metres and having face-to-face contact.
“You can lower the risk of infection if you stay side-to-side rather than facing people,” the advice states.
Reduce the number of people you spend time with in a work setting where you can
The prime minister has encouraged workers unable to perform their jobs from home to go back to work if it is safe to do so.
The advice says you should try and reduce how many people you come into contract with regularly at the workplace.
Employers should change shift patterns to ensure the same teams work together and employees should be split into smaller units “where practical”.
Staying away from big groups of people can be achieved by avoiding peak travel times on public transport, the government has said.
“Businesses should take reasonable steps to avoid people being gathered together, for example by allowing the use of more entrances and exits and staggering entry and exit where possible,” the advice also states.
If you have to travel (to work or school, for example) think about how and when you travel
The advice reiterates Johnson’s speech on Sunday, when he advised that anyone who needs to go to work should try and walk or cycle.
With the government recommending commuters avoid peak times on public transport, it recommends that your employer should think about staggering work hours, so staff don’t have to arrive and leave around the same time.
Expanded bicycle storage, changing facilities and car parking will also help, the advice adds.
Wash your clothes regularly
“There is some evidence that the virus can stay on fabrics for a few days, although usually it is shorter, so if you are working with people outside your household wash your clothes regularly,” the government advice says.
“Changing clothes in workplaces should only normally be considered where there is a high risk of infection or there are highly vulnerable people, such as in a care home.
“If you need to change your clothes avoid crowding into a changing room.”
Keep indoor places well ventilated
The virus is less likely to be transmitted in buildings with good ventilation, the government has said.
Leave windows and doors open during good weather in places where people from different households come into contact, the advice says.
External extractor fans will help keep rooms ventilated, and ventilation systems should be set to “maximise the fresh air flow rate”.
“Heating and cooling systems can be used at their normal temperature settings,” the advice adds.
If you can, wear a face covering in an enclosed space where social distancing isn’t possible
Face coverings are “most relevant” for when you spend short amounts of time indoors in crowded areas, such as buses, trains or some shops.
“The evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect you, but it may protect others if you are infected but have not developed symptoms,” the strategy document says.
It reiterates that if you display symptoms of COVID-19 – a cough or a high temperature – that you should isolate at home with everyone in your household, and wearing a face covering does not stop that instruction.
The government says that personal protective equipment should be reserved for NHS staff and others who need it the most, such as people who work in industries that expose them to dust.
“Face coverings should not be used by children under the age of 2 or those who may find it difficult to manage them correctly, for example primary school age children unassisted, or those with respiratory conditions,” the document says.
“It is important to use face coverings properly and wash your hands before putting them on and taking them off.”
Follow the advice given to you by your employer when at work
“Employers have a duty to assess and manage risks to your safety in the workplace,” the advice says.
“This includes how to make adjustments to your workplace to help you maintain social distance.
“It also includes guidance on hygiene as evidence suggests that the virus can exist for up to 72 hours on surfaces.
“Frequent cleaning is therefore particularly important for communal surfaces like door handles or lift buttons and communal areas like bathrooms, kitchens and tea points.”
Visit gov.uk to view the guidance.