Home Coronavirus: News and Advice UK National Lockdown – FAQ

UK National Lockdown – FAQ

by Guy Murphy

The UK Government has brought in new national restrictions to help combat the spread of COVID-19. The restrictions should be followed immediately and the law will be updated to reflect them.

This means:

  • People are required to stay at home, except for specific purposes
  • You are not allowed to gather with people you do not live with, unless the gathering is covered within a list of specific exceptions.
  • The closure of certain businesses.
  • A number of businesses and sectors will also change the way in which they operate. For example, restaurants and bars must close but can provide a takeaway or delivery service

How long will the new restrictions last?

There is no firm date for the end of restrictions.  The restrictions will be reviewed alongside COVID infection / death rates.

Restrictions and penalties

You must not leave or be outside of your home except for some specific purposes. This will become law from Wednesday 6 January 2021 but you should follow this guidance immediately.

The police can take action against you if you leave home without a ‘reasonable excuse’, and issue you with a fine (Fixed Penalty Notice).

You can be given a Fixed Penalty Notice of £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400.

There is also an additional £800 fine for any attending a house party – defined as a gathering of over 15 people in a private house – which will rise to £6,400 for repeated offences.

People should only come inside your home for specific purposes:

  • Where everyone in the gathering lives together or is in the same support bubble
  • To attend a birth at the mother’s request
  • To visit a person who is dying – the visitor can be someone the dying person lives with, a close family member, friend or, if none of those is visiting, anyone else
  • To fulfil a legal obligation
  • For work purposes, or the provision of voluntary or charitable services
  • For the purposes of childcare for children under the age of 14 or vulnerable adults, when it is necessary for caring purposes
  • To provide emergency assistance
  • To enable one or more persons in the gathering to avoid injury or illness or to escape a risk of harm
  • To facilitate a house move
  • To provide care or assistance to a vulnerable person
  • To continue existing arrangements for access to, and contact between, parents and children where the children do not live in the same household as their parents, or one of their parents.

Visits to care homes can take place with arrangements such as substantial screens, visiting pods, or behind windows. Close-contact indoor visits are not allowed. No visits will be permitted in the event of an outbreak.

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.

Follow the national guidance on moving home safely, which includes advice on social distancing and wearing a face covering.

The guidance, which those who are defined on medical grounds as clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus are strongly urged to follow, includes:

  • Stay at home as much as possible, except to exercise or to attend essential health appointments
  • Do not go to shops or pharmacies – encourage others to collect and deliver food and medication. Travel only where essential
  • Work from home, and if you can’t do your job from home, you are advised not to work during this period. You may be eligible for Furlough, Statutory Sick Pay, Employment Support Allowance or Universal Credit.

Support is available for residents who need help with shopping, picking up medication, dog walking or just having someone to talk to through the Knowsley Volunteer Support Line – call 0800 0730 0043.

More information is available here.

You must not leave your home unless for one of the specific permitted reasons e.g. work or education. Therefore, you should keep all travel to a minimum and stay local.

Where travel is necessary, people are encouraged to walk or cycle rather than use public transport. More guidance on safe travel is available here.

You can travel and leave your local area for the following reasons:

  • work, where you cannot reasonably work from home
  • accessing education and for caring responsibilities
  • visiting those in your support bubble – or your childcare bubble for childcare
  • visiting hospital, GP and other medical appointments or visits where you have had an accident or are concerned about your health
  • buying goods or services that you need, but this should be within your local area wherever possible
  • outdoor exercise. This should be done locally wherever possible, but you can travel a short distance within your area to do so if necessary (for example, to access an open space)
  • attending the care and exercise of an animal, or veterinary services

You should follow all relevant transport guidance when making a journey on public transport. Try to plan your journey to avoid peak times wherever possible.

You must wear a face covering on public transport, taxis and private hire vehicles and in substantially enclosed areas of transport hubs in England (as well as other indoor premises).

You will be breaking the law if you fail to do so and could be fined. Some people do not have to wear a face covering including for age, health or disability reasons.

You can only travel internationally – or within the UK – where you first have a legally permitted reason to leave home. In addition, you should consider the public health advice in the country you are visiting. More information is available here.

You cannot leave your home or the place where you are living for holidays or overnight stays unless you have a reasonable excuse for doing so. This means that holidays in the UK and abroad are not allowed.

This includes staying in a second home or caravan if that is not your primary residence. This also includes staying with anyone who you don’t live with unless they’re in your support bubble.

There are some exceptions. Further information is available here.

To reduce social contact and the spread of infection, there will be a number of restrictions on businesses. This means some businesses will need to close, while others will be able to operate a reduced or alternative service.

  • All non-essential retail must close. However, they can operate click-and-collect services (where goods are pre-ordered and collected off premises) and delivery. Non-essential retail includes:
    • Clothing and homeware stores
    • vehicle showrooms (other than for rental)
    • betting shops
    • tailors
    • tobacco and vape shops
    • electronic goods and mobile phone shops
    • auction houses (except for livestock or agricultural equipment)
    • market stalls selling non-essential goods.
  • Hospitality venues such as cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars and social clubs; with the exception of providing food and non-alcoholic drinks for takeaway (until 11pm), click-and-collect and drive-through. All food and drink (including alcohol) can continue to be provided by 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 the person cannot return home, for providing accommodation or support to the homeless, or where it is essential to stay there for work purposes
  • Leisure and sports facilities such as leisure centres and gyms, swimming pools, sports courts, fitness and dance studios, riding arenas at riding centres, climbing walls, and golf courses.
  • Entertainment venues such as theatres, concert halls, cinemas, museums and galleries, casinos, amusement arcades, bingo halls, bowling alleys, skating rinks, go-karting venues, indoor play and soft play centres and areas (including inflatable parks and trampolining centres), circuses, fairgrounds, funfairs, water parks and theme parks
  • Animal attractions (such as zoos, safari parks, aquariums, and wildlife reserves)
  • Indoor attractions at venues such as botanical gardens, heritage homes and landmarks must also close, though outdoor grounds of these premises can stay open for outdoor exercise.
  • Personal care facilities such as hair, beauty, tanning and nail salons. Tattoo parlours, spas, massage parlours, body and skin piercing services must also close. These services should not be provided in other people’s homes
  • Community centres and halls must close except for a limited number of exempt activities, as set out below.

Some of these businesses and places will also be permitted to be open for a small number of exempt activities. A full list of exemptions can be found in the guidance on closing certain businesses and venues in England.

Other businesses and venues are permitted to stay open, following COVID-19 secure guidelines. Businesses providing essential goods and services can stay open. The full list of these businesses can be found in the guidance on closing certain businesses and venues in England, but includes:

  • Essential retail such as food shops, supermarkets, pharmacies, garden centres, building merchants and suppliers of building products and off-licences
  • Market stalls selling essential retail
  • Businesses providing repair services may also stay open, where they primarily offer repair services
  • Petrol stations, automatic (but not manual) car washes, vehicle 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 retailers of products and food for the upkeep and welfare of animals
  • Animal rescue centres, boarding facilities and animal groomers (may continue to be used for animal welfare, rather than aesthetic purposes)
  • Agricultural supplies shops
  • Mobility and disability support shops
  • Storage and distribution facilities
  • Car parks, public toilets and motorway service areas
  • Outdoor playgrounds
  • Outdoor parts of botanical gardens and heritage sites for exercise
  • Places of worship
  • Crematoriums and burial grounds

Public services

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 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
  • Getting an MOT, if you need to drive when lawfully leaving home

There are still some limited circumstances in which you are allowed to meet others from outside your household, childcare or support bubble in larger groups. These should be not be for socialising but only specific purposes.

  • For a wedding or equivalent ceremony in exceptional circumstances and only for up to 6 people
  • For funerals - up to a maximum of 30 people. Wakes and other linked ceremonial events can continue in a group of up to 6 people.
  • 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.
  • Where a group includes someone covered by an exception (for example, someone who is working or volunteering), they are not generally counted as part of the gatherings limit. This means, for example, a tradesperson can go into a household without breaching the limit, if they are there for work, and the officiant at a wedding would not count towards the limit.

Further information is available here.