Information on the new national restrictions, including what they mean for working from home and business closures, why they are being introduced and the financial support available.
Published 31st October 2020. Last updated 14th November 2020.
From: Cabinet Office
Remember - ‘Hands. Face. Space.’:
- hands - wash your hands regularly and for 20 seconds
- face - wear a face covering in indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult, and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet
- space - stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place (such as wearing face coverings or increasing ventilation indoors)
National restrictions from 5 November
COVID-19 case numbers are rising rapidly across the whole of the UK and in other countries. We must act now to control the spread of the virus. The single most important action we can all take to fight coronavirus is to stay at home, to protect the NHS and save lives.
When we reduce our day-to-day contact with other people, we reduce the spread of the infection. That is why, from Thursday, 5th November until Wednesday, 2nd December, you must:
- Stay at home, except for specific purposes.
- Avoid meeting people you do not live with, except for specific purposes.
- Close certain businesses and venues.
These new measures will reduce the growth rate of the virus, which will:
- prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed
- ensure schools, colleges and universities can stay open
- ensure that as many people as possible can continue to work
On Thursday, 5th November, these national restrictions replaced the Local Covid Alert Level measures.
The new measures will apply nationally for four weeks up to and including Wednesday, 2nd December. At the end of the period, we will return to a regional approach, based on the latest data.
These measures will be underpinned by law. Police and other authorities will have powers to give fines and break up gatherings.
You can help to protect your friends and family by downloading the NHS COVID-19 App to keep updated on the latest guidance from Thursday, 5th November.
There is separate guidance for households with a possible or confirmed coronavirus infection.
1. STAY AT HOME
You must not leave or be outside of your home except where permitted by law. This may include:
Work and volunteering
You can leave home for work purposes, or to provide voluntary or charitable services, where you cannot do this from home.
You can leave home to buy things at shops which are permitted to open. For instance to buy food or medicine, or to collect any items - including food or drink - ordered through click-and-collect or as a takeaway, to obtain or deposit money (e.g. from a bank or post office), or to access critical public services (see section below).
Fulfilling legal obligations
You may also leave home to fulfil legal obligations.
You may leave home to carry out activities related to buying, selling, letting or renting a residential property.
Education and childcare
You can leave home for education (formal provision, rather than extracurricular classes such as music or drama tuition, or driving lessons), or training. You can also leave home for the purposes of registered childcare and supervised activities for children that are necessary to allow parents/carers to work, seek work, or undertake education or training. Parents can still take their children to school, and people can continue existing arrangements for contact between parents and children where they live apart.
Meeting others and care
You can leave home to visit people in your support bubble, or to provide informal childcare for children aged 13 and under as part of a childcare bubble, to provide care for vulnerable people, to provide emergency assistance, attend a support group (of up to 15 people), or for respite care where that care is being provided to a vulnerable person or a person with a disability, or is a short break in respect of a looked after child. People can also exercise outdoors or visit an outdoor public place (see section 3).
Medical reasons, harm and compassionate visits
You can leave home for any medical reason, including to get a COVID-19 test, for medical appointments and emergencies, to be with someone who is giving birth, to avoid injury or illness or to escape risk of harm (such as domestic abuse), or for animal welfare reasons - e.g. to attend veterinary services for advice or treatment.
You can also leave home to visit someone who is dying or someone in a care home (if permitted under care home guidance), hospice, or hospital, or to accompany them to a medical appointment.
You can leave home to attend a place of worship for individual prayer, a funeral or a related event for someone who has died, to visit a burial ground or a remembrance garden, or to attend a deathbed wedding. A list of what constitutes a 'reasonable excuse' for leaving home can be found in the regulations.
2. MEETING OTHERS SAFELY
In general, you must not meet people socially or undertake any activities with another person. However, you can exercise or meet in a public, outdoors space with people you live with, your support bubble (or as part of a childcare bubble), or with one other person.
You should minimise time spent outside your home. When around other people, stay 2 metres apart from anyone not in your household - meaning the people you live with - or your support bubble. Where this is not possible, stay 1 metre apart with extra precautions (e.g. wearing a face covering).
You must not meet socially indoors with family or friends unless they are part of your household or support bubble.
A support bubble is where a household with one adult joins with another household. Households in that support bubble can still visit each other, stay overnight in each other’s households, and visit outdoor public places together.
You can exercise or visit a public outdoor space:
- by yourself
- with the people you live with
- with your support bubble
- or, when on your own, 1 person from another household.
Children under 5, and up to two carers for a person with a disability who needs continuous care, are not counted towards the outdoors gathering limit.
There is further guidance on what exercise and other physical activity can continue during the period of national restrictions.
Public outdoor places include:
- neighbourhood streets, parks, beaches, and the countryside
- public gardens and grounds (whether or not you pay to enter them)
- outdoor playgrounds
You cannot meet people in a private garden, unless you live with them or have formed a support bubble with them.
Face coverings are required by law to be worn in many indoor settings, such as shops or places of worship where these remain open, and on public transport.
3. WHERE & WHEN YOU CAN MEET IN LARGER GROUPS
There are still circumstances in which you are allowed to meet others from outside your household or support bubble in larger groups, but this should not be for socialising and only for permitted purposes. A full list of these circumstances can be found in the regulations and includes:
- The main reasons are for work purposes or providing voluntary or charitable services, for formal education or training (not extracurricular classes), to provide emergency assistance and to facilitate a house move.
- Where you are fulfilling legal obligations or participating in legal proceedings.
- It can also include work in other people’s homes where necessary - for example, for nannies, cleaners or tradespeople. Where a work meeting does not need to take place in a private home or garden, it should not - for example, although you can meet a personal trainer, you should do so in an outdoor public place.
- Support groups that have to be delivered in person can continue with up to 15 participants where formally organised to provide mutual aid, therapy or any other form of support - but they must take place at a premises other than a private home. This includes, but is not limited to, support to victims of crime, people in drug and alcohol recovery, new parents and guardians, people caring for those with long-term illnesses or terminal illnesses, or who are vulnerable, people facing issues relating to their sexuality or gender, those who have suffered bereavement, and vulnerable young people, including for them to meet youth workers.
- Parent and child groups can continue where they provide support to parent and/or child, and children under 5 will not be counted within the 15 person limit - meaning parents and carers can attend such groups in larger numbers.
- Funerals of up to 30 people and some weddings can continue, as set out below
4. BUSINESSES & VENUES
Businesses and venues which must close.
To reduce social contact, the regulations require some businesses to close and impose restrictions on how some businesses provide goods and services. These include:
- Non-essential retail, such as clothing and homeware stores, vehicle showrooms (other than for rental), betting shops, tailors, tobacco and vape shops, electronic goods and mobile phone shops, and market stalls selling non-essential goods. These venues can continue to be able to operate click-and-collect (where goods are pre-ordered and collected off the premises) and delivery services
- Hospitality venues such as cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars and social clubs; with the exception of providing food and drink for takeaway (before 10pm; and not including alcohol), click-and-collect, drive-through or delivery
- Accommodation such as hotels, hostels, guest houses and campsites. Except for specific circumstances, such as where these act as someone’s main residence, where they cannot return home, for homeless people, or where it is essential to stay there for work purposes
- Leisure and sports facilities such as leisure centres and gyms, swimming pools, tennis and basketball courts, golf courses, fitness and dance studios, climbing walls, archery, driving, and shooting ranges
- Entertainment venues such as theatres, concert halls, cinemas, museums and galleries, casinos, amusement arcades, bingo halls, bowling alleys, skating rinks, go-karting venues, soft play centres and areas, circuses, fairgrounds, funfairs, zoos and other animal attractions, water parks and theme parks. Indoor attractions at botanical gardens, heritage homes and landmarks must also close, though outdoor grounds of these premises can stay open
- Personal care facilities such as hair, beauty, tanning and nail salons. Tattoo parlours, spas, massage parlours, body and skin piercing services must also close. It is also prohibited to provide these services in other peoples’ homes
- Community centres and halls must close except for a limited number of exempt activities as set out below. Libraries can also remain open to provide access to IT and digital services - for example, for people who do not have it at home - and for click-and-collect
- Places of worship, apart from for the purposes of independent prayer, for funerals or funeral commemorative events, to broadcast an act of worship, to provide essential voluntary services or urgent public support services, for registered childcare, and to host permitted gatherings.
These businesses and places will also be permitted to be open for a small number of exempt activities, including:
- education and training (including for schools to use sports and leisure facilities where that is part of their normal provision)
- childcare purposes and supervised activities for children (in community centres and halls, and places of worship; and supervised activities for children in indoor sports and leisure facilities)
- hosting blood donation sessions and food banks (in community centres and halls, places of worship, and libraries)
- to provide medical treatment
- for elite sports persons to train and compete (in indoor and outdoor sports facilities), and professional dancers and choreographers to work (in fitness and dance studios)
- for training and rehearsal without an audience (in theatres and concert halls)
- for the purposes of professional film and TV filming (in retail, entertainment and leisure venues, as well as visitor attractions)
Businesses and venues which can remain open.
Other businesses are permitted to stay open, following COVID-19 Secure guidelines. This includes those providing essential goods, including:
- Essential retail such as food shops, supermarkets, pharmacies, garden centres, hardware stores, building merchants and off-licences.
- Petrol Stations, car repair and MOT services, bicycle shops, and taxi and vehicle hire businesses.
- Banks, building societies, post offices, short-term loan providers and money transfer businesses
- Funeral directors
- Laundrettes and dry cleaners
- Medical and dental services
- Vets and pet shops
- Agricultural supplies shops
- Storage and distribution facilities
- Car parks, public toilets and motorway service areas
- Outdoor playgrounds
The majority of public services will continue and you will be able to leave home to visit them. These include:
- the NHS and medical services like GPs and dentists. We are supporting the NHS to safely carry out urgent and non-urgent services safely, and it is vital anyone who thinks they need any kind of medical care comes forward and seeks help
- Jobcentre Plus sites
- Courts and probation services
- Civil Registrations Offices
- Passport and Visa Services
- Services provided to victims
- Waste or Recycling Centres
5. WEDDINGS, CIVIL PARTNERSHIPS & FUNERALS
Funerals can be attended by a maximum of 30 people. Linked funeral ceremonial events such as stone settings and ash scatterings can also continue with up to 15 people in attendance. Anyone working is not counted in the 15 or 30 person limit. Social distancing should be maintained between people who do not live together or share a support bubble.
Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies will not be permitted to take place except where one of those getting married is seriously ill and not expected to recover (‘deathbed wedding’). These weddings are limited to 6 people.
6. GOING TO WORK
To help contain the virus, everyone who can work effectively from home should do so. Where people cannot do so - including, but not limited to, people who work in critical national infrastructure, construction, or manufacturing - they should continue to travel to their workplace. This is essential to keeping the country operating and supporting sectors and employers.
Public sector employees working in essential services, including childcare or education, should continue to go into work.
Where it is necessary to work in other people’s homes - for example, for nannies, cleaners or tradespeople - you can do so. Otherwise, you should avoid meeting for work in a private home or garden, where COVID-19 Secure measures may not be in place.
The risk of transmission can be substantially reduced if COVID-19 secure guidelines are followed closely. Extra consideration should be given to those people at higher risk.
7. EDUCATION, SCHOOL, COLLEGE & UNIVERSITY
Schools, colleges and universities remain open. The Government will continue to prioritise the wellbeing and long-term futures of our young people and will not be closing core educational facilities, like early years settings, schools, colleges, universities and vocational training centres. It remains very important for children and young people to attend, to support their wellbeing and education and help working parents and guardians. Senior clinicians still advise that school is the best place for children to be, and so they should continue to go to school. Schools have implemented a range of protective measures to make them safe. For those who are home-schooled, pupils can still access education and training in community settings where needed to receive a suitable full-time education.
Schools and colleges should be continuing to offer before and after school or college activities/clubs for their pupils, in order to enable parents to work, seek work, or to undertake education or training, and for the purposes of respite care (i.e. for vulnerable children). This includes activities/clubs related to PE/sport, music, dance and drama. See DfE guidance on education and childcare settings.
The Government have been clear that exams will go ahead next summer, as they are the fairest and most accurate way to measure a pupil’s attainment. We therefore need to keep schools and colleges open so that children are able to keep progressing towards exams and the next stage of education or employment. Students now have more time to prepare for their exams next year, as most AS, A levels and GCSEs will be held 3 weeks later to help address the disruption caused by the pandemic.
Universities have welcomed back students and we have published guidance advising universities on reopening to ensure they have safety measures in place to minimise the spread of the virus. Universities and adult education settings should consider moving to increased levels of online learning where possible.
There are further restrictions in place:
- If you live at university, you must not move back and forward between your permanent home and student home during term time. You should only return home at the end of term. We will publish further guidance soon on how students can travel home safely at the end of term.
8. CHILDCARE & CHILDREN'S ACTIVITIES
There are several ways that parents and carers can continue to access childcare during the national restrictions:
- Early years settings and childminders remain open, and you can continue to use these settings as normal
- You can access other childcare activities (including wraparound care) where reasonably necessary to enable parents to work, seek work, attend education or training
- Nannies will be able to continue to provide services, including in the home
- Parents are able to form a childcare bubble with one other household for the purposes of informal childcare, where the child is 13 or under
- Some households will also be able to benefit from being in a support bubble, which allows single adult households to join another household
- Some youth services are able to continue, such as 1-1 youth work and support groups, but most youth clubs and groups will need to cease for this period.
9. PROTECTING PEOPLE MORE AT RISK FROM CORONAVIRUS
If you are over 60 or clinically vulnerable, you could be at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus. You:
- should be especially careful to follow the rules and minimise your contacts with others
- should continue to wash your hands carefully and more frequently than usual and maintain thorough cleaning of frequently touched areas in your home and/or workspace
Clinically vulnerable people are those who are:
- aged 70 or over (regardless of medical conditions)
- under 70 with an underlying health condition listed below (that is, anyone instructed to get a flu jab each year on medical grounds):
- chronic (long-term) mild to moderate respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis
- chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
- chronic kidney disease
- chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
- chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS) or cerebral palsy
- problems with the spleen
- a weakened immune system as the result of certain conditions or medicines they are taking (such as steroid tablets)
- being seriously overweight (a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above)
There is a further group of people who are defined, also on medical grounds, as clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus - that is, people with specific serious health conditions. Over this period, we are advising the clinically extremely vulnerable to work from home. If you cannot work from home, you are advised not to go to work and may be eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), Employment Support Allowance (ESA) or Universal Credit. We are advising clinically extremely vulnerable people to stay at home as much as possible, except to go outdoors for exercise or to attend essential health appointments. You may wish to meet up with one other person from outside your household or support bubble, for example, to exercise in an outdoor public place, but we suggest that you always try to do so as safely as possible. The full guidance is available and the Government has written to everybody who is clinically extremely vulnerable to set out detailed advice while the new restrictions are in place.
10. VISITING RELATIVES IN CARE HOMES
Detailed guidance on care home visits during the period of national restrictions has been published.
If you live in England, you must stay at home and avoid travel in the UK or overseas, unless for work, education or other legally permitted reasons. If you need to travel you should look to reduce the number of journeys if possible.
However you can and should still travel for a number of reasons, including:
- travelling to work where you cannot work from home
- travelling to education and for caring responsibilities
- to visit those in your support bubble - or your childcare bubble for childcare
- hospital, GP and other medical appointments or visits where you have had an accident or are concerned about your health
- to buy goods or services from premises that are open, including essential retail
- to spend time or exercise outdoors - this should be done locally wherever possible, but you can travel to do so if necessary (for example, to access an open space)
- attending the care and exercise of a pet, or veterinary services
If you need to travel we encourage you to walk or cycle where possible, and to plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport. This will allow you to practise social distancing while you travel.
You must not travel if you are experiencing any coronavirus symptoms, are self-isolating as a result of coronavirus symptoms, are sharing a household or support bubble with somebody with symptoms, or have been told to self-isolate after being contacted by NHS Test and Trace. The fine for breaching self-isolation rules start at £1,000. This could increase to up to £10,000 for repeat offences and the most serious breaches, including for those preventing others from self-isolating
Guidance for operators of public transport.
For those planning to travel into England, you should check the current travel corridor list to see whether you need to isolate for 14 days. You will still be required to abide by the restrictions set out here even if you do not need to isolate. If you do need to travel overseas from England before 2 December (and are legally permitted to do so, for example, because it is for work), even if you are returning to a place you’ve visited before, you should look at the rules in place at your destination and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) travel advice.
UK residents currently abroad do not need to return home immediately. However, you should check with your airline or travel operator on arrangements for returning.
12. STAYING AWAY FROM HOME OVERNIGHT
You cannot leave home for holidays or stays overnight away from your main home unless permitted by law. This means that holidays in the UK and abroad are not allowed. This includes staying in a second home or caravan, if you own one, or staying with anyone you do not live with or are in a support bubble with.
You are allowed to stay overnight away from your home if you:
- are unable to return to your main residence
- need accommodation while moving house
- need accommodation to attend a funeral or related commemorative event
- require accommodation for work purposes or to provide voluntary services
- are a child requiring accommodation for school or care
- are homeless, seeking asylum or a vulnerable person seeking refuge
- are an elite athlete or their support staff or parent, if the athlete is under 18 and it is necessary to be outside of the home for training or competition
If you were already on holiday, you should return to your home as soon as practical and comply with the ‘stay at home’ requirements in your holiday accommodation in the meantime.
Guest accommodation providers such as hotels, B&Bs and caravan parks may remain open for the specific reasons set out in law, including where guests are unable to return to their main residence, use that guest accommodation as their main residence, need accommodation while moving house, are self-isolating as required by law, or would otherwise be made homeless as a result of the accommodation closing. Accommodation providers are also encouraged to work cooperatively with Local Authorities to provide accommodation to vulnerable groups including the homeless during this period of national restrictions.
13. MOVING HOME
You can still move home. People outside your household or support bubble should not help with moving house unless absolutely necessary.
Estate and letting agents and removals firms can continue to work and people looking to move home can continue to undertake viewings.
14. FINANCIAL SUPPORT
Workers in any part of the UK can retain their job, even if their employer cannot afford to pay them, and be paid at least 80% of their salary up to £2,500 a month.
The flexibility of the current CJRS will be retained to allow employees to continue to work where they can.
Employers small or large, charitable or non-profit are eligible and because more businesses will need to close, they will now be asked to pay just National Insurance and Pensions contributions for their staff during the month of November - making this more generous than support currently on offer.
The Job Support Scheme will not be introduced until after Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ends.
Wherever you live, you may be able to get financial help through the:
- Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
- Job Support Scheme (from 1st November)
- New Style Employment and Support Allowance
15. PARTICIPATING IN THE DEMOCRATIC PROCESS
If you are entitled to vote in an election or other democratic process in another country you are permitted to leave home if necessary to vote. Those organising the voting may provide alternatives to voting in person for people who want or need it, such as giving you the option of voting by proxy or post. Over the period of National Restrictions this applies to those entitled to vote in the Moldovan and Georgian elections.
Update on Saturday, 14th November: Added translated versions of guidance in Welsh, Urdu, Turkish, Somali, Romanian, Punjabi, Polish, Gujarati, Chinese, Bengali and Arabic, as well as large format and easy read versions.