Since the announcement this week about the extension of the lockdown period while we get a grip on the Coronavirus, there appear to be a huge range of opinions based on what the rules say we can and cannot do during this time. So, to help clarify these a little, we thought we’d highlight some of the FAQs raised by the Cabinet Office which aims to clarify many questions that people have around movement, exercise, working and more.
These are constantly being updated, so please ensure that you access the original source here.
1. When am I allowed to leave the house?
You should only leave the house for very limited purposes:
- shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible
- one form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household
- any medical need, including to donate blood, avoid or escape risk of injury or harm, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
- travelling for work purposes, but only where you cannot work from home
2. Can I go to the dentist, my GP or another medical appointment?
You can leave home for medical appointments. GP practices may postpone non-urgent health checks or routine appointments. You should go to the doctor if there is an essential medical need.
3. Can I walk my dog / look after my horse?
Yes – provided it is alone or with members of your household.
People must stay at home as much as possible to reduce the spread of the virus. But you can also still go outside once a day for a walk, run, cycle. When doing this you must minimise the time you are out of your home and stay at least two metres away from anyone else that isn’t from your household.
4. Should I stay at home or go to work?
You may travel for work purposes, but only where you cannot work from home.
Certain jobs require people to travel to their place of work – for instance if they operate machinery, work in construction or manufacturing, or are delivering front line services such as train and bus drivers.
Employers and employees should discuss their working arrangements, and employers should take every possible step to facilitate their employees working from home, including providing suitable IT and equipment to enable remote working.
5. I’m not a critical worker and I can’t work from home. What should I do?
If you cannot work from home then you can still travel to work. This is consistent with the Chief Medical Officer’s advice.
Critical workers are those who can still take their children to school or childcare. This critical worker definition does not affect whether or not you can travel to work – if you are not a critical worker, you may still travel to work provided you cannot work from home.
Anyone who has symptoms or is in a household where someone has symptoms should not go to work and should self-isolate.
6. How can I find out if my work is essential or not?
The government is not saying only people doing “essential” work can go to work. Anyone who cannot work from home can still go to work.
Separately, there is a list of critical workers who can still take their children to school or childcare. Provision has been prioritised for these workers.
Every worker – whether critical or not – should work from home if they can but may otherwise travel to work.
We have also asked certain businesses where people gather, such as pubs and most shops, to close. Separate guidance has been published on this.
7. Can I see my friends?
We must all stay away from each other to stop spreading the virus, and that means you should not be meeting friends unless you live in the same household.
Instead, you could keep in touch with your friends using phone or video calls.
8. Can I visit elderly relatives?
No, you should not be visiting family members who do not live in your home.
You should keep in touch with them using phone or video calls.
Where your relatives are elderly or vulnerable, you may leave your house to help them, for example by dropping shopping or medication at their door. You can also help them to order online.
9. Can I go out to help a vulnerable person?
You can only provide support to vulnerable people if you fulfil all of the conditions below:
- you are well and have no symptoms like a cough or high temperature and nobody in your household does
- you are under 70
- you are not pregnant
- you do not have any long-term health conditions that make you vulnerable to coronavirus
If the answer is yes to everything above, you may leave your house to provide care or to help a vulnerable person, following the advice set out here.
When outside the home, you should stay at least two metres away from others wherever possible.
We have seen an incredible effort across the country already, and we’re hugely grateful to those who support the vulnerable in their communities by volunteering day-to-day.
10. My boss is forcing me to go to work but I’m scared of coronavirus. What should I do?
Employers must make all efforts to help people to work from home where possible, as this will help limit the spread of the virus by reducing the amount of contact between people.
In some circumstances this may be impossible – this would apply to those working for a business or organisation that we have not asked to close and requires them to travel and be at work, such as train or bus drivers, construction workers, restaurant workers handling deliveries or those on the frontline like NHS workers.
For these workers who need to be at work, do not have symptoms or live with anyone who has symptoms, and are not vulnerable people, we have outlined clear guidance for employers to help protect workers.
11. I can’t go to work because I need to look after my child, but my boss is threatening to sack me if I don’t. What should I do?
We would urge employers to take socially responsible decisions and listen to the concerns of their workforce – particularly when they have childcare responsibilities.
Employers and employees should come to an agreement about these arrangements.
If individuals need advice they should approach ACAS where they can get impartial advice about in-work disputes.
12. Can I move house?
Homebuyers and renters should, where possible, delay moving to a new house while measures are in place to fight coronavirus.
If moving is unavoidable for contractual reasons and the parties are unable to reach an agreement to delay, people must follow advice on staying away from others to minimise the spread of the virus.
13. Can I go to the park?
You can still go to the park for outdoor exercise once a day but only alone or with members of your household, not in groups.
Communal places within parks such as sports courts, playgrounds and outdoor gyms have been closed to protect everyone’s health.
We ask that households use parks responsibly and keep 2 metres apart from others at all times.
Unless you are with members of your household, gatherings of more than two people in parks and other public spaces have been banned. The police have the powers to disperse gatherings and issue fines if necessary.
14. Can I drive to a national park or other green space to walk?
We advise you to stay local and use open spaces near to your home where possible – do not travel unnecessarily.
You can still go to the park for outdoor exercise once a day but only by yourself or within your household, not in groups.
We ask you to keep 2 metres apart from others outside your household at all times when outdoors.
15. Can I exercise more than once a day if I need to due to a significant health condition?
You can leave your home for medical need. If you (or a person in your care) have a specific health condition that requires you to leave the home to maintain your health – including if that involves travel beyond your local area – then you can do so. This could, for example, include where individuals with learning disabilities or autism require specific exercise in an open space two or three times each day – ideally in line with a care plan agreed with a medical professional.
Even in such cases, in order to reduce the spread of infection and protect those exercising, travel outside of the home should be limited, as close to your local area as possible, and you should remain at least 2 metres apart from anyone who is not a member of your household or a carer at all times.
16. What will happen to me if I break the rules?
We appreciate all the effort people are putting into containing the spread of coronavirus which will help protect our NHS and save lives.
However, if you leave your home or gather in public for any reason other than those specified, the police may:
- instruct you to go home, leave an area or disperse
- instruct you to take steps to stop your children breaking these rules if they have already done so
- take you home – or arrest you – if you do not follow their instructions or where they deem it necessary
- issue a fine (fixed penalty notice) of £60, which will be lowered to £30 if paid within 14 days.
- issue a fine (fixed penalty notice) of £120 for second time offenders, doubling on each further repeat offence
- Individuals who do not pay their fine could be taken to court, with magistrates able to impose unlimited fines.
Remember, that if you are isolating or vulnerable, and you need extra support, the Beaminster Community Resilience Team have a support structure in place to help you with whatever it is that you need. Contact them on:
Phone: 01308 863634 / 07377 435 186 (A/H)