With the news that the UK is now under another national lockdown, we explore what these new rules mean for you and your family.
Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, spoke to the nation on January 4, putting the country into a national lockdown, asking that, like in March, we stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives. This was due to the spread of the new Covid strain - which is 50 per cent to 70 per cent more transmissible – spreading from the South East of England and the country moving to Covid Alert Level 5.
Level 5 means there is a significant risk that the healthcare services could become overwhelmed, and strict social distancing rules are needed. A new national lockdown has now replaced the Tier system across England. The lockdown means people will only be able to leave their homes for limited reasons, with measures expected to stay in place until mid-February at the earliest.
Pupils will not return to the classroom until after the February half-term at the earliest, with blanket school closures having been implemented. The Government’s scientific advisers said that the measures used during November’s lockdown could prove insufficient to stem the spread of the new covid variant.
As was the case during the first lockdown, pupils will now switch to remote learning. Children deemed vulnerable or whose parents are key workers will still be able to attend in person as will children who don’t have sufficient equipment at home, although some laptops and other support will also be distributed to aid remote learning.
It is the second time schools have been forced to shut since the pandemic reached the UK, with students missing almost six months of teaching in the last academic year during the first wave.
Providing that the measures work, it’s hoped that schools will reopen around mid-February time.
The reopening of campuses will be delayed until at least mid-February and students will be expected to study remotely from their current residence. Those who haven’t yet returned to their student accommodation should stay at home until the restrictions are relaxed.
However, a small number of courses, such as medical students who need to be present for face-to-face teaching, will still go ahead.
The Government has strengthened its “stay at home” message, allowing people to leave their residence only for five legally permitted reasons.
People in England will now only be allowed to leave the house for the following:
The reasons you can leave home include going to the supermarket or pharmacy, seeking medical assistance, fleeing danger or the threat of domestic violence, or providing care to a vulnerable person.
People should aim to stay local if they do need to travel, and walking or cycling should be chosen above public transport. People must also work from home unless they are a key worker, in a return to the restrictions brought in during the first lockdown.
People can still exercise outdoors with one other person outside of their household, or with people from their household, although this should be limited to once a day and performed locally. This means two people may go for a walk together, but may not sit on a bench for a drink, for example.
The police will have powers to issue fines or dispersal orders if people are caught flouting the rules.
Supermarkets, chemists, garden centres and builders’ merchants may remain open; all other shops and market stalls must close, but all non-essential shops, entertainment outlets and hotels must shut until further notice.
Hairdressers, beauticians, nail and tanning salons, spas, and tattoo and piercing parlours must shut as must theatres, concert halls, cinemas, museums, galleries, casinos, bowling alleys and funfairs can’t open.
Hotels, hostels, guest houses and campsites are banned from housing guests, unless it’s for someone who cannot go home, are enrolled in a homeless support scheme, or need accommodation for work purposes.
Like the first national lockdown, all restaurants, cafes, pubs, bars and social clubs are banned from opening. Alcohol may no longer be sold as a takeaway in a tightening of previous Tier 4 rules, however, food and soft drinks can still be provided via takeaway, click-and-collect, and delivery services until 11pm.
Pre-departure testing of travellers inbound to the UK is to be introduced and they will now be required to show they have tested negative for Covid-19 by taking a test up to 72 hours before they leave the country they are in.
Only essential journeys overseas are permitted, such as for work.
The measures would be on top of the current quarantine restrictions that require any arrival from a country without a travel corridor to quarantine for 10 days, an isolation period that can be halved if the passenger pays for a private test on the fifth day.
Support bubbles also remain under new lockdown regulations. A person is eligible to form a support bubble if they live alone, if their household includes a child under the age of one, or if they are a single adult living with one or more children under the age of 18. People may still form a childcare bubble, through which they can provide or receive childcare from one other household if they live with a child under 14.
All amateur sports are now banned, including outdoor games such as golf and tennis, as well as children’s sport, however, team sports for the few children still in school in coming weeks will be permitted as is organised outdoor sport for disabled people.
Unlike the first lockdown in March, outdoor playgrounds will remain open.
Elite sportspeople and their coaches, as well as parents of athletes aged under 18, are still permitted to gather in order to compete and train.
People who are considered “clinically extremely vulnerable”, which means they are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus, have been ordered to shield once again. They should avoid the workplace or school, and should aim to visit shops or the pharmacy only at quieter times of day, or else ask friends, family or volunteers to collect supplies on their behalf.
Places of worship are staying open for communal services and individual prayer in much of the UK, despite the latest lockdowns.
But there are changes to usual practices for worshippers of all religions and strict social distancing and non sharing of items and other regulations must be followed
For weddings and civil ceremonies, only six people will be permitted to attend. Funerals can be attended by up to 30 people, although both are subject to strict social distancing rules.
The Prime Minister has challenged the NHS to vaccinate all over-70s and vulnerable people by mid-February - a total of 13.2 million people - in order to protect the health service from becoming overwhelmed.
The lockdown will be reviewed at that point, with a possible easing of restrictions at the end of February, as the vaccines take around two weeks to give recipients immunity.
For more information on the Covid-19 vaccines, read our recent blog How was a Covid vaccine developed so quickly?
We hope you found this blog useful, please share it widely if you did and stay safe!
The Coda Team