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Coronavirus outbreak FAQs: what you can and can't do after 4 July
Updated 24 June 2020
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 government has published guidance on staying alert and staying safe outside your home. This page sets out key FAQs to cover the next set of changes planned for 4 July. FAQs on the rules before 4 July are available: Read more about what you can and can’t do before 4 July.
1. Gatherings, public spaces, and activities
1.1 What can I do that I couldn’t do before?
From 4 July:
you can meet in groups of up to two households (your support bubble counts as one household) in any location - public or private, indoors or outdoors. You do not always have to meet with the same household - you can meet with different households at different times. However, it remains the case - even inside someone’s home - that you should socially distance from anyone not in your household or bubble. This change also does not affect the support you receive from your carers
when you are outside you can continue to meet in groups of up to six people from different households, following social distancing guidelines
additional businesses and venues, including restaurants, pubs, cinemas, visitor attractions, hotels, and campsites will be able to open - but we will continue to keep closed certain premises where the risks of transmission may be higher
other public places, such as libraries, community centres, places of worship, outdoor playgrounds and outdoor gyms will be able to open
stay overnight away from your home with your own household or support bubble, or with members of one other household
It will be against the law to gather in groups larger than 30 people, except for a limited set of circumstances to be set out in law
Moving forward, from 4 July, people will be trusted to continue acting responsibly by following this and related guidance, subject to an upper legal limit on gatherings (as described above). The overwhelming majority of the British public have complied with the regulations, and the wider guidance on how to keep them and their friends and family as safe as possible. Taking this into account, we trust people to continue acting responsibly, and to follow the guidance on what they should and should not do.
You should not:
gather indoors in groups of more than two households (your support bubble counts as one household) - this includes when dining out or going to the pub
gather outdoors in a group of more than six people from different households; gatherings larger than 6 should only take place if everyone is from just two households
interact socially with anyone outside the group you are attending a place with, even if you see other people you know, for example, in a restaurant, community centre or place of worship
hold or attend celebrations (such as parties) where it is difficult to maintain social distancing
stay overnight away from your home with members of more than one other household (your support bubble counts as one household)
Gatherings of more than 30 people will be prohibited, apart from some limited circumstances to be set out in law.
1.2 I don’t have to stay at home anymore?
On 19 June, the UK CMOs changed the COVID-19 alert level from level four to level three following recommendation by the Joint Biosecurity Centre. This means that the virus is considered to be in general circulation but transmission is no longer high or rising exponentially. As a result, you are less likely to encounter the virus when you leave your home.
However, when you leave your home, you should follow the guidelines on staying safe outside your home. As businesses reopen and people begin to socialise more regularly, everyone should continue to socially distance from people they do not live with or are not in their support bubble, and should wash their hands regularly. This will help to protect you and anyone you come into contact with and is critical to keeping everyone as safe as possible.
The more people you have interactions with, the more chance the virus has to spread. Therefore, try to limit the number of people you see - especially over short periods of time.
If you or someone in your household or your support bubble is showing coronavirus symptoms, everyone in your 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 that individual becomes symptomatic, everyone in the support bubble must then isolate. This is critical to staying safe and saving lives.
1.3 What businesses are reopening?
From 4 July, many businesses and venues will be permitted to reopen and will be expected to follow COVID-19 Secure guidelines. These include:
hotels, hostels, bed and breakfast accommodation, holiday apartments or homes, cottages or bungalows, campsites, caravan parks or boarding houses
places of worship
restaurants, cafes, workplace canteens, bars, pubs that are self-contained and can be accessed from the outside
hair salons and barbers, including mobile businesses
theatres and concert halls
funfairs, theme parks, adventure parks and activities
outdoor gyms and playgrounds
museums and galleries
outdoor skating rinks
amusement arcades and other entertainment centres
indoor attractions at aquariums, zoos, safari parks, farms, wildlife centres and any place where animals are exhibited to the public as an attraction
indoor and outdoor areas of visitor attractions including, gardens, heritage sites, film studios and landmarks
1.4 What will need to remain closed by law?
The following businesses will need to remain closed, as we have assessed that they cannot yet be made sufficiently COVID-19 Secure:
bowling alleys and indoor skating rinks
indoor play areas including soft-play
nail bars, beauty salons and tanning salons
massage, tattoo and piercing parlours
indoor fitness and dance studios, and indoor gyms and sports venues/facilities
swimming pools and water parks
exhibition or conference centres - where they are to be used for exhibitions or conferences, other than for those who work for that venue.
1.5 So when do these changes apply?
These changes will apply from 4 July. Until then, you should observe existing social distancing guidelines and must only gather indoors with people outside of your household if you have formed a support bubble with them.
This is to ensure that businesses and venues are ready to open in a way that is COVID-19 Secure and the limits on social gatherings will change at the same time. You may want to use this time to ensure your home is COVID-19 Secure for when you invite others over, so that you can maintain social distancing okay with people you do not live with.
1.6 Can I start visiting people indoors now?
From 4 July, you will be able to meet indoors in groups of up to two households (your support bubble counts as one household). This includes inviting people from one household into your home or visiting the home of someone else with members of your own household. You should continue to maintain social distancing with anyone you do not live with or who is not in your support bubble when doing so.
If you are in a support bubble you can continue to see each other without needing to maintain social distancing.
The more people you have interactions with, the more chance the virus has to spread. Therefore, try to limit the number of people you see - especially over short periods of time. The risk of transmission is also higher indoors, so you should take extra care to stay as safe as possible.
1.7 How many people am I allowed to meet with outdoors?
At present, you are allowed to meet in groups of up to six people who you do not live with or who are not in your support bubble. You are only allowed to meet in groups of more than six people if everyone is a member of the same household or support bubble.
From 4 July, you can continue to meet in a group of up to six people from multiple households, or in a group made up of two households ( your support bubble counts as one household), even if this is more than six people.
There is more information about the guidelines you should follow when meeting people you do not live with here.
1.8 Can I visit a clinically vulnerable person?
We know that people 70 and over, those with certain underlying conditions and pregnant women may be more clinically vulnerable, so we have advised them to take particular care to avoid contact with others.
Although such individuals can meet people outdoors and, from 4 July, indoors, you and they should be especially careful and be diligent about social distancing and hand hygiene. Never take a chance on visiting a clinically vulnerable person if you think you have COVID-19 symptoms, however mild.
Never visit a clinically vulnerable person if you have been advised to isolate by NHS Test and Trace because you have been in contact with a case.
You can also visit a clinically vulnerable person inside if you are providing care or assistance to them. You should not do so if you have coronavirus symptoms, however mild.
Wherever possible, you should stay socially distant from others, use a tissue when sneezing and dispose of it safely, cough into the crook of your elbow and wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser if washing facilities are not easily available.
If someone is defined as clinically extremely vulnerable and being asked to shield, you should follow the guidance for a shielded person.
1.9 Are there restrictions on how far I can travel?
No. You can travel irrespective of distance, but you should take hygiene and safety precautions if using services on the way. You should continue to avoid using public transport and should cycle, walk or drive wherever possible.
If visiting other parts of the UK – Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – you must adhere to the laws and guidance of the devolved administrations at all times. If you wish to travel internationally, you should follow the laws of other countries and FCO international travel guidance. Upon return to the UK, you must by law self-isolate for 14 days. This is crucial to help to ensure the virus does not spread across borders.
It is not possible to social distance during car journeys and transmission of COVID-19 can definitely occur during car journeys, so avoid travelling with someone from outside your household (or your support bubble), unless you can practise social distancing - for example by cycling.
1.10 Can I use public transport if I’m seeing friends in a park or going to my parents’ garden?
You should avoid using public transport if you can. You should cycle, walk or drive wherever possible. If you need to use public transport, you should follow the safer travel guidance for passengers.
1.11 Can I share a private vehicle with someone from another household?
You should avoid sharing a private vehicle with anyone outside of your household or support bubble as you will not be able to keep to strict social distancing guidelines. The Department for Transport has provided specific guidance on using private vehicles. Please see their guidance on Private cars and other vehicles for more information on car sharing and traveling with people outside your household group.
1.12 Are day trips ok?
Yes, day trips to outdoor open space are allowed. You should take hygiene and safety precautions if using services on the way. You should practise social distancing from other people outside your household or support bubble. You should continue to avoid using public transport if you can. Consider all other forms of transport before using public transport. If you need to use public transport, you should follow the safer travel guidance for passengers.
1.13 Can I go on holiday? Can I stay in my second home?
From 4 July, you will also be able to stay overnight away from the place where you are living. This includes staying overnight in a second home or a holiday home. From 4 July, premises such as hotels and bed and breakfasts will also be allowed to open.
You should only stay overnight in groups of up to two households (your support bubble counts as one household) and should ensure you maintain social distancing with anyone you do not live with or is not in your support bubble.Take particular care to maintain excellent hygiene - washing hands and surfaces - and avoid using shared facilities like bathrooms wherever possible.
1.14 Will public toilets and playgrounds reopen?
Councils are responsible for public toilets and this decision is up to them. If you need to use any of these facilities, you should practise social distancing and good hygiene (i.e. washing your hands thoroughly).
We will also enable outdoor playgrounds to reopen but the people responsible for them - for example, the local authority - should ensure they comply with COVID-19 Secure guidelines to help avoid risks of transmission. Anyone using playgrounds should take particular care to wash their hands after use and avoid touching their face. Children should be supervised carefully to maintain good hygiene and should not use playgrounds if they have any signs or symptoms of coronavirus
1.15 Can I visit outdoor tourist sites? What about indoor ones?
Yes, you can still travel to outdoor areas, such as National Parks or beaches. Some venues are not allowed to be open so it is advisable to check ahead to ensure the venue is open to visitors.
From 4 July, you will also be able to visit most indoor sites and attractions. It is strongly advised that you only attend these places in groups of up to two households (your support bubble counts as one household).
1.16 Is there a limit on the number of people attending funerals?
1.17 Can weddings go ahead?
Yes, from 4 July, weddings and civil partnerships will be allowed to take place. You should only invite close friends and family, up to a maximum of 30 people. The wedding exception is for wedding ceremonies only. Large wedding receptions or parties should of course not be taking place. Wedding celebrations can only happen when people follow the guidance of six people outdoors, support bubbles, or two households indoors or outdoors. It is critical for these guidelines to be observed to keep you and your family and friends as safe as possible.
1.18 Can I pray in a place of worship?
Yes, from 4 July, places of worship can open for services and group prayer and strongly advised to follow COVID-19 Secure guidelines. You will be able to independently pray or hold a religious ceremony in a church, mosque, synagogue, temple or other place of worship.
We advise that you limit your close social interaction in these venues to your own household and up to one other, wherever possible. When attending a place of worship, for ceremonies or services, it is important to observe the social distancing guidelines.
1.19 Can I attend an activity club or support group?
Yes, you can. Premises such as activity clubs, community centres and youth clubs can reopen, and will need to follow COVID-19 Secure guidelines. You should only attend these in groups of up to two households (your support bubble counts as one household). We recognise that you may know other people in these venues but you should try to limit your social interaction to your own household or one other, to help to control the virus.
1.20 Can I send my teenagers to their youth club?
Yes, you can. However, you should advise your children to maintain social distancing and limit contact with anyone they do not live with.They should only be attending these groups with members from one other household. The club should also follow COVID-19 Secure guidance.
1.21 Can I go to a pub or restaurant with people I don’t live with?
When eating or drinking out with people you do not live with (and who are not in your support bubble), you should keep to the wider guidance on group sizes: up to two households indoors, and up to either two households or six people from more than two households outdoors.
In all cases, people from different households should ensure they socially distance as much as possible. You should think about where to sit at a table with this in mind - the premises should also take reasonable steps to help you do so in line with COVID secure guidelines. It remains the case that you do not need to maintain social distancing with those in your support bubble. This change also does not affect the support you receive from your carers.
1.22 Can I register the birth of my child?
You are permitted to register the birth of your child. You should check whether your local register office is open. The office will also be able to advise you on appointment availability.
1.23 Can I go to the theatre or a concert?
At this stage, it is not yet safe for live performances, including dramatic, musical or comedy performances, to take place in front of a live audience. This is because of the increased risk of transmission associated with these types of activities or as a result of patrons needing to raise their voices to be heard over background music.
There may be an additional risk of infection in environments where you or others are singing, chanting, shouting or conversing loudly. This applies even if others are at a distance to you. You should therefore avoid environments that require you to raise your voice to communicate with anyone outside your household.
Some venues may re-purpose themselves. In these situations, you should only be seated with members of one other household - and, wherever possible, socially distance from those you do not live with (or who are not in your support bubble). Of course, other people you know may also attend the same performance or screening as you. To keep you, and your family and friends as safe as possible, you should only gather in groups of two households, as this reduces the risk of chains of transmission.
1.24 When will I be able to go to the theatre or watch a football match?
It is against the law for large gatherings or mass events to take place except for in a limited set of circumstances to be set out in law. This is due to the substantial transmission risk with crowd behaviour. Through our close work with the sectors and public health experts, we will look into ways to safely re-open these large venues to the public and will be piloting new approaches over the course of the next few months.
1.25 Can I gather in larger groups for any reason?
You should only be gathering in groups of up to two households (including your support bubble). It is against the law to gather in groups of more than 30 people, except for the limited circumstances to be set out in law. You should observe the guidelines for meeting people wherever possible, and limit your social interaction to your own household or one other (or, outdoors, also a group of up to six people), to help to control the virus.
2. Vulnerable groups, shielding, 70 year olds and over, and care homes
2.1 Does easing restrictions apply to 70 year olds and over?
Yes. However, the advice for those aged 70 and over continues to be that they should take particular care to minimise contact with others outside their household.
If they do go out, they should be careful to maintain distance from others. They and everyone should continue to comply with any general social distancing restrictions.
We know that those aged 70 and over can be absolutely fit and healthy and it’s not the case that everybody over 70 has an underlying disease.
But unfortunately, we also know that as you get older, there is a higher risk of coronavirus infection resulting in more serious disease. Complications and deaths are more common in the elderly, even those without pre-existing conditions.
2.2 How is guidance to those shielding (clinically extremely vulnerable) being relaxed?
From 6 July, the government will be advising that the clinically extremely vulnerable:
may, if they wish, meet in a group of up to 6 people outdoors, including people from different households, while maintaining strict social distancing
no longer need to observe social distancing with other members of your household
in line with the wider guidance for single adult households (either an adult living alone or with dependent children under 18) in the general population, may from this date, if you wish, also form a ‘support bubble’ with one other household. All those in a support bubble will be able to spend time together inside each other’s homes, including overnight, without needing to socially distance
This is a small advisory change that brings those affected a step nearer others in their communities. However, all the other current shielding advice will remain unchanged at this time.
From 1 August, the government will be advising that shielding will be paused. From this date, the government is advising you to adopt strict social distancing rather than full shielding measures. Strict social distancing means you may wish to go out to more places and see more people but you should take particular care to minimise contact with others outside your household or support bubble.
In practice, this means from 1 August you are advised that you no longer need to shield. This means that from 1 August, the government will be advising:
you can go to work, if you cannot work from home, as long as the business is COVID-19 Secure
children who are clinically extremely vulnerable can return to their education settings if they are eligible and in line with their peers. Where possible children should practise frequent hand washing and social distancing
you can go outside to buy food, to places of worship and for exercise but you should maintain strict social distancing
you should remain cautious as you are still at risk of severe illness if you catch coronavirus, so the advice is to stay at home where possible and, if you do go out, follow strict social distancing
The guidance for the clinically extremely vulnerable group remains advisory. More detailed advice will be updated into this guidance as the changes in advice come into effect on 6 July and 1 August.
2.3 What safety standards will need to be put in place in care homes?
We have issued detailed guidance about infection control and staff safety in care homes to help admit and care for residents safely and protect care home staff.
This includes isolation procedures, PPE and infection control training for all staff, cleaning and how to provide personal care safely.
As with all of our advice, this guidance is kept under constant review and updated frequently, in line with the latest scientific evidence.
3. Going to work / Closed businesses / Safer spaces
3.1 Who is allowed to go to work?
With the exception of the organisations listed in this guidance on closing businesses and venues, the government has not required any other businesses to close to the public – it is important for business to carry on.
People who can work from home should continue to do so. Employers should decide, in consultation with their employees, whether it is viable for them to continue working from home. Where it is decided that workers should come into their place of work then this will need to be reflected in the business’s risk assessment and actions taken to manage the risks of transmission in line with this guidance.
Where work can only be done in the workplace, we have set out tailored guidelines for employers to help protect their workforce and customers from coronavirus while still continuing to trade or getting their business back up and running. We have published detailed COVID-19 Secure guidelines, which have been developed in consultation with businesses and trades unions.
There are specific guidelines for those who are vulnerable, guidance for those who are shielding, and guidance for those showing symptoms that should be observed when considering adjustments to enable people to go back to work.
3.2 What does it mean to be a critical worker?
Critical workers are those working in health and care and other essential services, who can take their children to school or childcare, regardless of year group. 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 if you cannot reasonably work from home.
3.3 What are the ‘COVID-19 Secure’ safety guidelines workplaces have to put in place?
We have set out clear, practical steps that businesses should take to ensure their workplaces are COVID-19 Secure and give their staff the confidence to return back to work.
These include how to keep as many people as possible safely apart from those they do not live with in various workplace settings. This guidance is being updated to ensure it covers all the premises able to reopen from 4 July.
3.4 What does the review of 2m mean in practice?
From 4 July, people should either stay 2m apart or ‘1m plus’ – which is one metre plus mitigations. These mitigations will depend on the workplace or setting. For example, on public transport, people must wear a face covering, as it is not always possible to stay 2m apart.
In other spaces, mitigations could include installing screens, making sure people face away from each other, putting up handwashing facilities, minimising the amount of time you spend with people outside your household or bubble, and being outdoors.
We have set out COVID-19 Secure guidance to help businesses take the measures that are right for them.
3.5 How will health and safety regulations be enforced?
Where the enforcing authority, such as the Health and Safety Executive or your local authority, identifies employers who are not taking action to comply with the relevant public health legislation and guidance to control public health risks (for example, not completing a new risk assessment taking account the risk of COVID-19, or taking insufficient measures in response), they will consider a range of actions to improve control of workplace risks. This includes giving specific advice to a business, or issuing an improvement notice, which a business must respond to in a fixed time, or a prohibition notice. Failure to comply is a criminal offence, which can lead to fines or imprisonment for up to two years, giving the COVID-secure guidelines indirect legal enforceability
4. Workers’ rights
4.1 My employer is asking me to come to work but I’m scared.
Employers and staff should discuss and agree working arrangements.
People who can work from home should continue to do so. Employers should decide, in consultation with their employees, whether it is viable for them to continue working from home. Where it is decided that workers should come into their place of work then this will need to be reflected in the risk assessment and actions taken to manage the risks of transmission in line with this guidance.
If you remain concerned that your employer is not taking all practical steps to promote social distancing then you can report this to your local authority or the Health and Safety Executive who can take a range of action, including where appropriate requiring your employer to take additional steps.
4.2 What if they try to fire me because I won’t go to work but cannot work at home?
We urge employers to take socially responsible decisions and listen to the concerns of their staff. Employers and employees should come to a pragmatic agreement about their working arrangements.
If individuals need advice, they should approach ACAS where they can get impartial advice about work disputes.
5. Public Transport
5.1 Who is allowed to travel on public transport?
If you need to travel to work or make an essential journey, you should cycle or walk if you can, but you can use public transport if this is not possible. Before you travel on public transport, consider if your journey is necessary and if you can, stay local. Try to reduce your travel. This will help keep the transport network running and allows people who need to make essential journeys to travel safely.
We have set out further advice on how to stay safe during your journey.
5.2 Should people wear face coverings on public transport?
Yes. It is a legal requirement to wear a face covering on public transport. This is helping to ensure that transport is as safe as possible as more people begin to return to work and go shopping. Transport operators will enforce this requirement, and the police can also do so. This will mean you can be refused travel if you don’t comply and could be fined. You should also be prepared to remove your face covering if asked to do so by police officers and staff for the purposes of identification.
More generally, if you can, you are advised to wear face coverings in enclosed public spaces where social distancing is not possible and where you are more likely to come into contact with people you do not normally meet. For example, in some shops.
We have published guidance for those making face coverings at home, to help illustrate the process.
A face covering is not the same as the surgical masks or respirators used as part of personal protective equipment by healthcare and other workers; these should continue to be reserved for those who need them to protect against risks in their workplace such as health and care workers and those in industrial settings like those exposed to dust hazards.
5.3 Will a face covering stop me getting COVID-19?
The evidence suggests that face coverings can help us protect each other and reduce the spread of the disease from someone who is suffering from coronavirus, but not showing symptoms. That is why it is important to wear a face covering on public transport and this will be required by law from the 15 June.
To protect yourself, you should also continue to follow social distancing measures and isolation guidance and wash your hands regularly.
5.4 Can I use public transport to get to green spaces?
You should still avoid using public transport wherever possible. Consider all other forms of transport before using public transport. If you need to use public transport, you must wear a face covering and you should follow the safer travel guidance for passengers.
6. Schools and Childcare
6.1 Can children go back to early years settings and schools or university?
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 in England to return to education settings in September.
Primary schools should now be open for Reception, Year 1, and Year 6 pupils and if schools have capacity they can welcome more children back, in group sizes of no more than 15, before the summer holidays. Schools and colleges should provide some face-to-face support for Year 10 and Year 12 pupils. Early years (aged 0-5) childcare should also be open to children.
School places of all age groups remain available to the children of critical workers and for vulnerable children and young people.
You can find out more about the government’s approach to education and how schools are preparing.
6.2 How will you make sure it is safe?
Keeping children and staff safe is our utmost priority. As more children return to school, we require new safety standards to set out how schools and early years settings can be adapted to operate safely.
We have published guidance advising schools and early years on reopening to ensure schools can adequately prepare new safety measures to operate safely and minimise the spread of the virus.
Protective measures to reduce transmission include regular hand cleaning, hygiene and cleaning measures, and small consistent group and class sizes of no more than 15 pupils. We have asked schools to consider staggering drop-off and arrival times, break times and assemblies, and make use of outdoor space.
7. Borders / international visitors
7.1 Are you isolating people at the border now?
The scientific advice shows that when domestic transmission is high, cases from abroad represent a small amount of the overall total and make no significant difference to the epidemic. Now that domestic transmission within the UK is coming under control, and other countries begin to lift lockdown measures, it is the right time to prepare new measures at the border. Find out more about self-isolation when you travel to the UK.
7.2 What does this actually mean?
When you arrive in the UK, you will not be allowed to leave the place you’re staying for the first 14 days you’re in the UK (known as ‘self-isolating’). This is because it can take up to 14 days for coronavirus symptoms to appear. You should follow separate advice if you will self-isolate in:
Before you travel, you should provide your journey, contact details and the address where you will self-isolate. You will be able to complete the public health passenger locator form 48 hours before you arrive. You must present these details on your arrival in England.
You may be refused permission to enter the UK (if you are not a British citizen), or fined if you do not to provide your contact details or do not self-isolate when you arrive in the UK.
In England, if you do not self-isolate, you can be fined £1,000. If you do not provide an accurate contact detail declaration – or do not update your contact detail form in the limited circumstances where you need to move to another place to self-isolate – you can be fined up to £3,200.
8. Devolved administrations
8.1 Does this guidance apply across the UK?
This guidance applies in England – people in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should follow the specific rules in those parts of the UK.