Find out what restrictions are in place if you live in an area where the local COVID alert level is medium.
Local COVID alert levels are sometimes called ‘tiers’ or known as a ‘local lockdown’.
In all areas of England, you should remember ‘Hands. Face. Space’:
- hands – wash your hands regularly and for 20 seconds
- face – wear a face covering in indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult, and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet
- space – stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place (such as wearing face coverings or increasing ventilation indoors)
This guidance is for people who are fit and well. There is separate guidance for:
- households with a possible or confirmed coronavirus infection
- people who are clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus
Meeting family and friends
When seeing friends and family you do not live with (or who are not part of your support bubble), you must not meet in a group of more than 6, indoors or outdoors. In England, this limit of 6 includes children of any age.
A support bubble is where a household with one adult joins with another household. Households in that support bubble can still visit each other, stay overnight and visit public places together.
Meeting in larger groups is against the law apart from specific exceptions where people from different households can gather in groups larger than 6 people. The police can take action against you if you meet in larger groups. This includes breaking up illegal gatherings and issuing fines (fixed penalty notices).
You can be fined £200 for the first offence, doubling for each further offence up to a maximum of £6,400. If you hold, or are involved in holding, an illegal gathering of over 30 people, the police can issue fines of £10,000.
When meeting friends and family you should also:
- follow social distancing rules when you meet up
- limit how many different people in total you see socially over any short period of time
- meet people outdoors where practical: this is safer because fresh air provides better ventilation
Exceptions where people from different households can gather in groups larger than 6 people
- in a legally permitted support bubble
- for work, volunteering to provide voluntary or charitable services (see guidance on working safely in other people’s homes)
- for registered childcare, education or training
- to allow contact between birth parents and children in care
- for arrangements where children do not live in the same household as both their parents or guardians
- for prospective adopting parents to meet a child or children who may be placed with them
- for supervised activities provided for children, including wraparound care (before and after school childcare), youth groups and activities, and children’s playgroups
- for birth partners
- to see someone who is dying
- to provide emergency assistance, and to avoid injury or illness, or to escape a risk of harm
- to fulfil a legal obligation, such as attending court or jury service
- to provide care or assistance to someone vulnerable
- to facilitate a house move
- for a wedding or equivalent ceremony and wedding receptions, where the organiser has carried out a risk assessment and taken all reasonable measures to limit the risk of transmission of the virus – up to a maximum of 15 people
- for a funeral, up to a maximum of 30 people; wakes and other commemorative events are permitted with up to 15 people present
- for elite sportspeople and their coaches if necessary for competition and training, as well as parents or guardians if they are a child
- for outdoor exercise and dance classes, organised outdoor sport and licensed outdoor physical activity
- for indoor organised sport for disabled people, sport for educational purposes and supervised sport and physical activity for under-18s
- support groups of up to 15 participants – formally organised groups to provide mutual aid, therapy or any other form of support
- protests, if organised in compliance with COVID-secure guidance
Other activities, such as organised indoor sport, including indoor exercise classes and other activity groups, can happen in larger numbers, provided that participants are in separate groups of up to 6 people, which do not mix. Where it is likely that groups will mix, these activities must not go ahead.
Where a group includes someone covered by such an exception (for example, someone who is working), 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.
Visiting other venues, including restaurants, pubs and places of worship
Venues following COVID-secure guidance can host more people in total, but no one must mix indoors in groups larger than 6, unless you all live together, or are in the same support bubble. This includes in:
- pubs and restaurants
- leisure and entertainment venues
- places of worship
At least one person in your group should give their contact details to the venue or check in using the official NHS COVID-19 app so NHS Test and Trace can contact you if needed.
Protecting people more at risk from coronavirus
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 should 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 maintain thorough cleaning of frequently touched areas in your home 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. At each local COVID alert level, there is additional advice that clinically extremely vulnerable people must follow.
Businesses and venues
All businesses and venues should follow COVID-secure guidelines to protect customers, visitors and workers.
Restrictions on businesses and venues in medium alert level areas include:
- certain businesses selling food or drink on their premises are required to close between 10pm and 5am
- businesses and venues selling food for consumption off the premises can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-through; orders must be made via phone, online or by post
- hospitality venues in ports, on transport services and in motorway service areas do not need to close at 10pm, but must not serve alcohol after that time (see the full guidance on what businesses are permitted to remain open)
- businesses must ensure that they operate in a COVID-secure manner, including restrictions on table service and group bookings
- certain businesses and venues are required to collect customer, visitor and staff data to support NHS Test and Trace
- the wearing of face coverings for customers and staff in certain indoor settings
- businesses must ensure that if their workers are required to self-isolate, they do not work outside their designated place of self-isolation
- businesses and venues that fail to comply with these restrictions may face fines of up to £10,000, prosecution, or in some cases closure
See full guidance on which businesses and venues are permitted to be open where the local COVID alert level is medium.
Going to work
To help contain the virus, office workers who can work effectively from home should do so over the winter. Where an employer, in consultation with their employee, judges an employee can carry out their normal duties from home they should do so.
Public-sector employees working in essential services, including education settings, should continue to go into work where necessary.
Anyone else who cannot work from home should go to their place of work.
The risk of transmission can be substantially reduced if COVID-secure guidelines are followed closely. Extra consideration should be given to those people at higher risk.
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.
There is no limit to group size when you are meeting or gathering for work purposes, but workplaces should be set up to meet the COVID-secure guidelines.
For more information, follow the guidance on how to return to work safely.
Going to school, college and university
The government has prioritised ensuring all children can attend school safely, to support their wellbeing and education and help working parents and guardians.
You can find out more about the government’s approach to education and how schools have prepared. This is applicable in all the local COVID alert levels.
Universities have welcomed students back and we have published guidance advising universities on reopening to ensure they have safety measures in place to minimise the spread of the virus.
Students should expect to follow the guidance and restrictions. However, you can meet in groups of more than 6 as part of formal education or training. You should socially distance from anyone you do not live with wherever possible.
There are exceptions from legal gatherings limits for registered childcare, education or training, and supervised activities provided for children – including wraparound care, youth groups and activities, and children’s playgroups. This means you can continue to use early years and childcare settings, including childminders, after-school clubs and nannies. See guidance on working safely in other people’s homes.
Family and friends can continue to provide informal childcare as long as groups from different households don’t exceed 6 people. You should, wherever possible, keep your distance from people you do not live with (unless you have formed a support bubble with them).
The tiers of restriction for education and childcare, summarised in annex 3 of the contain framework and in guidance on higher education, are separate to the local COVID alert level framework. Decisions on any restrictions necessary in education or childcare settings are taken separately on a case-by-case basis in light of local circumstances, including information about the incidence and transmission of COVID-19.
Visiting relatives in care homes
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 socially distance during car journeys and transmission of coronavirus can occur in this context. So you should avoid travelling with someone from outside your household or your support bubble unless you can practise social distancing. See the guidance on car sharing.
If you need to use public transport, you should follow the safer travel guidance for passengers.
When travelling, it is important that you respect the rules in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and do not travel to different parts of the UK where your 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 very high local COVID alert levels.
Weddings, civil partnerships, religious services and funerals
You can attend places of worship for a service if you’re in a medium alert level area. However, you must not mingle with anyone in a group of more than 6 people, other than with people you live with or have formed a support bubble with. You should follow the national guidance on the safe use of places of worship.
Wedding and civil partnership ceremonies and receptions must only take place in COVID-19-secure venues or in public outdoor spaces unless in exceptional circumstances. Weddings, civil partnership ceremonies and wedding receptions are restricted to 15 people. Receptions should be sit down meals to ensure people can keep their distance from each other and mustn’t take place in private dwellings
Funerals must only take place in COVID-secure venues or in public outdoor spaces with up to 30 people in attendance. Wakes or linked ceremonial events (such as stone-settings) before or after the funeral are limited to 15 people and must not take place in private homes. Where food or drink is consumed, this should be in the form of a sit down meal.
Anyone working at a wedding, civil partnership ceremony, reception, wake or funeral is not generally counted as part of the limit. Within these larger gatherings, people do not need to limit their interaction to groups of 6 or their own household, but social distancing should still be followed between people who do not live together or share a support bubble.
Read the guidance on small marriages and civil partnerships and managing a funeral during the coronavirus pandemic.
Sport and physical activity
You can take part in organised outdoor sport and physical activity, including exercise classes, in any number, provided this follows the relevant guidance (for team sports, or for other outdoor licensed physical activity and exercise classes).
Organised sport, exercise classes and other activity groups can continue indoors with larger numbers present (subject to venue requirements), provided that participants are in separate groups of up to 6 people (or larger groups from the same household or support bubble), which do not mix.
Where it is likely that groups will mix, these activities must not go ahead. Social interaction before and after any sport or exercise should only take place in separate and distinct groups of up to 6 people (or larger discrete groups from the same household or support bubble).
There are exceptions for disability sport, sport for educational purposes and supervised sport and physical activity for under-18s, which can happen in any number.
You should follow the guidance on:
- the return of recreational team sport
- the return of outdoor sport and recreation in England
- providers of grassroots sports and gym/leisure facilities
You can still move home. Estate and letting agents and removals firms can continue to work and people looking to move home can continue to undertake viewings.
Wherever you live, you may be able to get financial help through the: