England will be placed under a four week lockdown in an attempt to slow down the current spread of Covid-19 cases. From Thursday 5th November until Wednesday 2nd December everyone must stay at home, with a limited set of exemptions.
With the NHS weeks from being overwhelmed, and a higher death toll than the first wave predicted without new restrictions, the Prime Minister, Chief Medical Officer, Chief Scientific Advisor, and Cabinet agreed there was no alternative to tougher national measures.
The Prime Minister is due to update Parliament this week and MPs are set to vote on the measures on Wednesday.
He also said that, whilst Christmas will inevitably be different this year, tough action now could mean families may be able to be together.
Belgium, France, Germany and other countries have already put in place national restrictions, following earlier local measures.
Stay at home message returns
You should try to stay at home as much as possible. This means you must not leave or be outside of your home except for specific purposes. These include:
- For education or childcare.
- Meeting indoors or in private gardens will not be allowed.
- You should try and work from home where possible, but where people cannot do so (for instance people who work in critical national infrastructure, construction or manufacturing) they should continue to travel to work/attend their workplace.
- Only exercise outdoors or visit an outdoor public place – with the people you live with, with your support bubble or, when on your own, with 1 person from another household.
- Rule of six will no longer apply – indoors or outdoors.
- For all medical reasons, doctor or hospital appointments and to escape injury or harm.
- Shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which should be as infrequent as possible.
- You can leave home to provide care for vulnerable people, or as a volunteer, or to visit your support bubble.
- Children can move between homes if their parents are separated.
- Clinically vulnerable people are asked to be “especially careful” but people are not being asked to resume shielding.
- Outbound international travel is banned except for work and travel within the UK is also discouraged.
- Schools, universities and colleges to remain open.
Which businesses will have to close?
In an attempt to reduce social contact, the Government has ordered certain businesses and venues to close. Supermarkets will be able to remain open as usual throughout the duration of the lockdown.
- Restaurants, bars and pubs – but they will be allowed to offer takeaways and deliveries.
- All non-essential retail, including, but not limited to clothing and electronics stores, vehicle showrooms, travel agents, betting shops, auction houses, tailors, car washes, tobacco and vape shops.
- Entertainment venues such as museums, galleries, cinemas, zoos and theatres.
- Indoor and outdoor leisure facilities such as leisure centres and gyms, sports facilities including swimming pools, golf courses and driving ranges, dance studios, soft play facilities, climbing walls and climbing centres, archery and shooting ranges.
- Hair, beauty and nail salons, tattoo parlours and spas.
- Hotels, hostels and other accommodation should only open for those who have to travel for work purposes and for a limited number of other exemptions which will be set out in law.
A number of public services will also stay open and you will be able to leave home to visit them. These include:
- The NHS and medical services like GPs. We are supporting the NHS to safely carry out urgent and non-urgent services and it is vital anyone who thinks they need any kind of medical care comes forward and seeks help.
- Jobcentre Plus sites
- Civil Registrations Offices
Food shops, supermarkets, garden centres and certain other retailers providing essential goods and services can remain open. Essential retail should follow Covid-secure guidelines to protect customers, visitors and workers.
Non-essential retail can remain open for delivery to customers and click-and-collect
Playgrounds can remain open.
Furlough scheme extended
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, known as the furlough scheme, will remain open until December, with employees receiving 80% of their current salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500. The cost for employers of retaining workers will be reduced compared to the current scheme, which ends today.
What about those who were shielding previously?
Shielding as practised in the spring will not currently be reintroduced. The clinically vulnerable, or those over the age of 60, should be especially careful though to follow the rules and minimise contacts with others. Those who are clinically extremely vulnerable should not only minimise their contacts with others, but also not go to work if they are unable to work from home.
For more information go to gov.uk/guidance/new-national-restrictions-from-5-november. Full guidance and further details will be published by the UK Government in the coming days.