© Crown copyright 2020
This publication is licensed under the terms of the Open Government Licence v3.0 except where otherwise stated. To view this licence, visit nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/3 or write to the Information Policy Team, The National Archives, Kew, London TW9 4DU, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where we have identified any third party copyright information you will need to obtain permission from the copyright holders concerned.
This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/staying-alert-and-safe-social-distancing/staying-alert-and-safe-social-distancing-after-4-july
If you live in an area that is experiencing a local COVID-19 outbreak and where local restrictions have been imposed, different guidance and legislation will apply. Please consult the local restrictions guidance to see if any restrictions are in place in your area.
Everyone’s actions have helped to reduce the transmission of coronavirus in our communities. Fatalities and infection rates continue to fall.
The government has set out its plan to return life to as near normal as we can, for as many people as we can, as quickly and fairly as possible in order to safeguard livelihoods, but in a way that continues to protect our communities and our NHS. The Prime Minister updated on progress on 17 July, setting out the next stages of our roadmap. The most important thing we can continue to do is to stay alert, control the virus, and, in doing so, save lives. This guidance explains the measures that will help you to stay alert and stay as safe as possible as we continue to respond to the challenges of coronavirus.
Since 19 June, the UK’s COVID-19 alert level has been at level three. This means that the virus is considered to be in general circulation but transmission is no longer high or rising exponentially. As a result, the UK Government has eased restrictions in a manner that is safe, cautious and consistent with our plan.
In recent weeks, a wide range of sectors and activities have been able to restart, in line with COVID-19 Secure guidelines, and we have eased the restrictions on social contact – enabling people to meet in groups of two households in any location (or in a group of any six people outdoors). At this stage, when travelling, you should walk or cycle if you can, but where that is not possible drive or use public transport.
Changes announced on 31 July are set out here.
The overwhelming majority of the British public have complied with the regulations and guidance on how to keep themselves, and their friends and family, as safe as possible. It is essential that everyone in the country goes about their lives in a manner which reduces the risk of transmission, whether they are at work, leisure, or using public services. When you leave your home, you should follow the guidelines on staying safe outside your home.
You should continue to avoid close contact and remain socially distant from anyone you do not live with or who is not in your support bubble – even inside other people’s homes.
You should wash your hands regularly and wear a face covering in enclosed public spaces where social distancing is difficult and there are people you do not normally meet. You are required by law to wear face coverings on public transport, and in shops, supermarkets, indoor shopping centres, banks, building societies, post offices, and indoor transport hubs. This will help to protect you and anyone you come into contact with and is critical to keeping everyone safe.
From 8 August, you will be required to wear face coverings in a greater number of public indoor settings such as museums, galleries, cinemas and public libraries. Relevant guidance on face coverings is available here.
You can find answers to the most frequently asked questions about what you should and should not do during the coronavirus outbreak on our FAQs page.
1. Protecting different groups of people
This guidance is for the general public who are fit and well. There is separate, specific guidance on isolation for households with a possible coronavirus infection.
There is separate guidance for the general public who are fit and well. There is separate, specific guidance on isolation for households with a possible coronavirus infection.
2. Meeting family and friends
We know that it has been difficult for people to be cut off from their family and friends in recent months. That is why we have enabled people to see them more as we start to open up more of society and the economy. Guidance on how to see your friends and family safely can be found here. If you live in an area where local restrictions are in place you should follow the specific guidance for these areas.
To avoid risks of transmission and stay as safe as possible, you should always maintain social distancing with people you do not live with – indoors and outdoors, including in the settings below. You should only have close social contact with others in your household and support bubble. You should:
- only socialise indoors with members of up to two households (anyone in your support bubble counts as one household) – this includes when dining out or going to the pub
- only socialise outdoors in a group of up to six people from different households, or in larger groups if everyone is exclusively from one or two households
- only visit businesses and venues in groups of up to two households (anyone in your support bubble counts as one household) or with a group of six people from different households if outdoors
- limit your interaction with anyone outside the group you are attending these places with even if you see other people you know, for example, in a restaurant, community centre or place of worship
- limit the number of people you see socially, especially over short periods of time, to keep you and them safe, and save lives – the more people you have interactions with, the more chances we give the virus to spread
- not hold or attend celebrations (such as parties) where it is difficult to maintain social distancing and avoid close social interaction – even if they are organised by businesses and venues that are taking steps to follow COVID-19 Secure guidelines
- only stay overnight away from your home in groups of up to two households (anyone in your support bubble counts as one household)
- when asked, provide your contact details to a business so that you can be contacted as needed by the NHS Test and Trace programme
It is critical that you follow these guidelines to keep both yourself and others safe.
It is against the law for gatherings of more than 30 people to take place in private homes (including gardens and other outdoor spaces) or in a public outdoors space, unless planned by an organisation in compliance with COVID-19 Secure guidance. Businesses, and venues following COVID-19 Secure guidelines can host larger groups provided they comply with the law. This can include weddings and funerals (which we advise should be limited to no more than 30 people), religious ceremonies and services, sporting activity (where appropriate safety guidance has been published), community activities and support groups.
If you or someone in your household or support bubble are showing coronavirus symptoms or if you have had a positive COVID-19 test result, everyone in your household or support bubble should stay home. If you or a member of your support bubble is contacted as part of the test and trace programme, the individual contacted should stay at home. If the individual becomes symptomatic, everyone in the support bubble should then isolate.
By following this guidance, you are helping to protect yourself, your family, the NHS and your community.
Further guidance on the mental health and wellbeing aspects of coronavirus (COVID-19) has been issued.
3. Returning to school
The government is committed to doing everything possible to allow all children to go back to school safely, to support their wellbeing and education and help working parents. The government’s plan is for all students to return to school in September and further guidance has been published. Wrap-around care for school age children and formal childcare can restart over the summer.
You can find out more about the government’s approach to education and how schools are preparing.
4. Businesses and venues
All businesses and venues should follow COVID-19 Secure guidelines to protect customers, visitors and workers.
For the time being, certain businesses and venues will still be required by law to stay closed to the public. At present, these closed businesses and venues include:
- skating rinks
- bowling alleys
- sexual entertainment venues and hostess bars
- indoor play areas, including soft play areas
- conference and exhibition centres, except for limited exceptions
We are delaying the changes that had been proposed in the roadmap for 1 August until at least the 15 August. We set out in the roadmap that these changes would only take place if prevalence had not risen. Specifically:
- Remaining leisure settings, such as bowling, skating rinks and casinos, will remain closed.
- Indoor performances will not be permitted.
- Restrictions will remain on the highest risk close contact services, which are any treatments on the face including eyebrow threading or make-up application.
- Guidance on weddings and civil partnerships will be unchanged - ceremonies can be attended by up to 30 people, but larger receptions (i.e. those that exceed the guidance on gatherings) including sit-down meals should not take place.
5. Visiting public places
You can spend time outdoors, including for exercise, as often as you wish. At all times, you should follow the guidance on group sizes and the guidance on staying safe outside your home.
You should aim to walk or cycle if you can, but where that is not possible you can use public transport or drive. It is difficult to social distance during car journeys and transmission of coronavirus can definitely occur in this context. So avoid travelling with someone from outside your household or, your support bubble unless you can practise social distancing. Further guidance on car sharing is available.
If you need to use public transport, you should follow the safer travel guidance for passengers. When travelling on public transport you are legally required to wear a face covering.
From 24 July, face coverings also became mandatory in shops and in supermarkets, indoor shopping centres, banks, building societies, post offices, and indoor transport hubs. From 8 August, you will also be required to wear face coverings in a greater number of public indoor settings such as museums, galleries, cinemas and public libraries. Relevant guidance on face coverings is available here.
You should plan ahead to ensure that, where you are visiting places like National Parks, beaches or other visitor attractions, you have checked that they are open and appropriately prepared for visitors. It is important to avoid large crowds where it may not be possible to socially distance.
When travelling to outdoor spaces, it is important that people respect the rules in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and do not travel to different parts of the UK where their intended activities there would be prohibited by legislation passed by the relevant devolved administration. You should also avoid travelling to any part of the country subject to a local lockdown.
6. Going to work
In order to keep the virus under control, it is important that people work safely. It is at the discretion of employers as to how staff can continue working safely. Working from home is one way to do this, but workplaces can also be made safe by following COVID-19 Secure guidelines. Your employer should consult with you on how you can work safely, and must ensure workplaces are safe if they are asking you to return, as above. Those classed as Clinically Extremely Vulnerable can go to work as long as the workplace is COVID-19 Secure but should carry on working from home wherever possible.
All workers who cannot work from home should travel to work if their workplace is open. Workplaces should be set up to meet the COVID-19 Secure guidelines before operating. These will keep you as safe as possible, while allowing as many people as possible to resume their livelihoods. In particular, workplaces should ensure employees can socially distance from each other, or have implemented robust mitigation measures where distancing is not possible, and wash their hands regularly. Businesses should maintain 2m distancing wherever possible, or 1m with additional mitigations.
At all times, workers should follow the guidance on self-isolation if they or anyone in their household (or support bubble), shows coronavirus symptoms. You should not go into work if you are showing symptoms, or if you are self-isolating. This is consistent with advice from the Chief Medical Officer.
There is specific guidance in relation to work carried out in people’s homes – for example by tradespeople carrying out repairs and maintenance, cleaners, or those providing paid-for childcare in a child’s home.
7. Clinically vulnerable people
If you have any of the following health conditions, you may be clinically vulnerable, meaning you could be at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus. If you are clinically vulnerable you:
- can go outside as much as you like but you can still try to keep your overall social interactions low
- can visit businesses, such as supermarkets, pubs and shops, whilst keeping 2 metres away from others wherever possible or 1 metre plus other precautions
- should continue to wash your hands carefully and more frequently than usual and that you maintain thorough cleaning of frequently touched areas in your home and/or workspace
Clinically vulnerable people are those who are:
- aged 70 or older (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
- 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)
- pregnant women
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. Guidance for the clinically extremely vulnerable can be found here.
8. Communicating with the public
The government will continue to keep the public informed of the impacts of coronavirus on the UK, and the law and guidance that is in place to protect the public.
The measures set out will be kept under constant review and we will seek to open additional businesses once we can be assured these will be able to meet COVID-19 Secure guidelines. If people begin to act recklessly, which could impact on the transmission of coronavirus in our communities, further restrictions will have to be implemented again. The government has demonstrated that it will act to impose restrictions in local areas, where transmission rates are rising and it is necessary to protect citizens.