What do the new lockdown rules mean for me?

By PA Reporters
·9-min read

Boris Johnson has ordered the country to stay at home in a bid to reverse the spread of coronavirus.

A new national lockdown across England means people should not leave home unless for specific reasons, such as attending school or college, or going to the supermarket.

– When do the new rules come into force?

The new national lockdown will run from November 5 until December 2.

The lockdown will then be eased on a regional basis according to the latest coronavirus case data at that time.

– 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 will close?

Non-essential shops, leisure and entertainment venues will all be closed.

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, bowling alleys, concert 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 outlined in the regulations. These include 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 to follow the rules and minimise their contact with others.

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

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 guidance was due to be published on Monday but is yet to appear.

– 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.

– 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 1-1 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.

– 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, which had been due to end on Saturday but have been extended.

– Can I go to church?

Churches will remain open for private prayer.

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.

Peterborough Cathedral
Churches will remain open for private prayer (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.

– 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.”

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.

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.

The big question now remains on whether the reinstated 80% furlough scheme will be available in Scotland and elsewhere after the English lockdown ends after mixed messages from Westminster.

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 November 13, while Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said they would be “reviewed” at the end of the period.