Social distancing / Self-isolation

HM Government COVID-19 guidance on social distancing

Detailed government guidance on social distancing is available here.

Detailed government guidance on shielding the clinically extremely vulnerable can be found here.

Detailed government guidance about self isolation for households with possible infection can be read here.

***Please find below a summary of the key points from government guidance. However, be aware this information was last updated on Friday 12th June. While it will be updated as and when there is new information, please bear in mind that it may be out of date by the time of reading and you should always check the government's live guidance.***

If everyone takes the steps that have been outlined by the Prime Minister, the government are confident that we can turn the tide, save thousands of lives, and start getting back to some normality, BUT ONLY IF WE ALL DO WE HAVE BEEN ASKED TO DO.

So, please, follow the social distancing measures that have been outlined by the NHS: self-isolate and get tested if you or someone in your family has any symptoms; self-isolate if you are asked to by NHS Test and Trace; self-isolate if you are over 70, are pregnant or have any of the underlying health conditions that have been specified; keep your distance if you  go out; and WASH YOUR HANDS!



    Who should stay at home?

    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.

    The government has now set out its plan to return life to as near normal as we can, but it is still very important that people stay home unless necessary to go out for specific reasons set out in law. These include:

    • for unlimited outdoor exercise or spend time outdoors for recreation
    • any medical need, to donate blood, avoid injury or illness, escape risk of harm, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
    • You can spend time outdoors, including private gardens and other outdoor spaces, in groups of up to six people from different households, following social distancing guidelines
    • You should go to work if you cannot work from home and your business has not been required to close by law
    • More shops are beginning to reopen, with a plan for more to do so later in the month
    • Children in early years (age 0-5), reception, year 1 and year 6 can return to childcare or school in line with the arrangements made by their school
    • You can be tested as part of the test and trace programme, which will enable us to return to normal life as soon as possible, by helping to control transmission risks.
    • It is a criminal offence to meet indoors with anyone who is not a member of your household or, from 13 June, your support bubble, except for specific exceptions set out in law
    • It is a criminal offence to meet outdoors in a group of more than six with people who are not in your household or support bubble, except for specific exceptions set out in law

    From 13 June, you will be able to:

    • Form a ‘support bubble’ with one other household if you live alone or are a single parent with dependent children - in other words, you are in a household where there is only one adult. All those in a support bubble will be able to act as if they live in the same household - meaning they can spend time together inside each other’s homes and do not need to stay 2 metres apart. Support bubbles should be exclusive - meaning you should not switch the household you are in a bubble with or connect with multiple households
    • Attend your place of worship for the purposes of individual prayer

    From 15 June:

    • You will be able to visit any type of shop and some additional outdoor attractions - drive-in cinemas, and animal attractions like zoos, farms and safari parks
    • Year 10 and 12 pupils in secondary schools and further education colleges will begin to receive some face to face support
    • You will have to wear a face covering on public transport

    You should stay alert when you leave home: washing your hands regularly, maintaining social distancing, and ensuring you do not gather in groups of more than six.

    A fuller list of the reasons you can leave home is set out in the regulations.

    Separate advice is available for individuals or households who are isolating, and for the most vulnerable who need to be shielded.


    What is the guidance for vulnerable people?

    The government are advising those who are at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus to stay at home as much as possible  and to be particularly stringent in following measures, particularly if you:

    • are aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions)
    • are under 70 with an underlying health condition
    • are pregnant

    As we begin to ease restrictions, this group who are clinically vulnerable should continue to take particular care to minimise contact with others outside their household.


    What is the guidance on shielding the clinically extremely vulnerable?

    Detailed government guidance on shielding the clinically extremely vulnerable can be found here.

    Government registration for support as an extremely vulnerable person is available here.

    This guidance is for people, including children, who are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus because of an underlying health condition. If you have an underlying health condition listed by the NHS, you are at very high risk of severe illness as a result of coronavirus requiring admission to hospital. People who are clinically extremely vulnerable should have received a letter telling them they’re in this group or been told by their GP.

    If you’re clinically extremely vulnerable, you’re strongly advised to stay at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact to protect yourself. You should also register online for support, even if you do not need additional support now.

    This is called ‘shielding’ and the advice is:

    1. Do not leave your house.
    2. Do not attend any gatherings, including gatherings of friends and families in private spaces, for example, family homes, weddings and religious services.
    3. Strictly avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19).

    The Government is currently advising people to shield until at least 30th June 2020 and is regularly monitoring this position.

    How do these measures differ from the social distancing guidance for vulnerable people? People who are not clinically extremely vulnerable who have contracted coronavirus and recovered may be able to go about their normal business. If you clinically extremely vulnerable, we strongly advise that you should remain at home at all times.


    Can I go to the theatre, cinema, the pub, a restaurant, clubs... ?

    No. To save lives, the government has now told bars, restaurants and cafes to close and not to reopen – although they can still do takeaways and deliveries – and told nightclubs, theatres, cinemas, leisure centres and gyms to close too. The government has also said you should only leave the house for certain reasons set out in law - and that does not include these. This will help reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19). While most people will recover from this virus - some will get seriously ill and it is these people we need to protect.


    When should you self-isolate?

    Detailed government guidance about self isolation for households with possible infection can be read here.

    Get a test at:

    • If you have symptoms, you must get a test immediately - everyone is eligible for a test.

    • Stay at home if you or someone you live with have either a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell.

    • If you test positive, NHS Test and Trace will work with you to identify your recent close contacts.

    • Self-isolate if NHS Test and Trace contact you and instruct you to do so.

    • Self-isolation will save lives - it's important you follow the guidance if you're affected.

    • You must self-isolate for 7 days if you live alone - if you still have a high temperature, keep self-isolating until your temperature returns to normal

    • You must all self-isolate for 14 days if you live with others (if someone gets symptoms during isolation, they need to stay at home for at least 7 days from when the symptoms appeared, regardless of what day they are on in the original 14 day isolation period

    • After this time, if you feel better and no longer have a high temperature, the government guidance on leaving self isolation is here.

    • If your symptoms worsen during isolation or are no better after 7 days contact the NHS online coronavirus service. If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999. 


    Why should you self-isolate and get tested?

    Self-isolation and testing will save lives - it's important you follow the guidance if you're affected. It is very important that individuals with symptoms that may be due to coronavirus and their household members stay at home. Staying at home and getting tested will help control the spread of the virus to friends, the wider community, and particularly the most vulnerable. While 90% of people will recover from this virus - some will get seriously ill and it is these people we need to protect.


    How should I look after myself when I self-isolate?

    •    Get plenty of rest
    •    Drink plenty of water (fluids)
    •    Eat as healthily as you can
    •    To reduce pain and fever take paracetamol (if you use other mediation get in touch with your care provider)
    •    Keep in contact with friends and family by phone, video and online


    What is the handwashing and respiratory hygiene guidance?

    There are general principles you can follow to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:

    • washing your hands more often - with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitiser when you get home or into work, when you blow your nose, sneeze or cough, eat or handle food
    • avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
    • avoid close contact with people who have symptoms
    • cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in a bin and wash your hands
    • clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces in the home


    Do I need to wear a face mask?

    The best way to reduce any risk of infections is with good hygiene, like washing your hands, not touching your face and avoiding social contact (within 2 metres) with any potentially infected person.

    From 15th June, face coverings will be required while using public transport in England. Wherever possible people should continue to avoid public transport and walk, cycle or drive, but for some people this may not be an option.

    Face coverings are not the same as face masks. It is important that people do not use medical grade PPE masks to ensure these remain available for frontline staff. Last month, the government set out advice for people on how to make their own face coverings easily at home, using scarves or other textile items. These face coverings should cover the mouth and nose while allowing the wearer to breathe comfortably and can be as simple as a scarf or bandana that ties behind the head to give a snug fit.

    People who visit shops should consider covering their mouth and nose based on advice from SAGE. Face coverings are not a replacement for social distancing and regular handwashing which remain the most important actions, says the Chief Medical Officer. The public is being strongly urged not to purchase surgical masks or respirators. These are prioritised for healthcare workers working in more high-risk environments where the risk is greatest. Instead the public is encouraged to make face coverings at home, using scarves or other textile items that many will already own. Read the guidance on how to wear and make a cloth face covering.

    Healthcare professionals may wear special masks if they're spending hours each day looking after people who have tested positive for coronavirus, or may have been infected. If someone has been told they have coronavirus, they may be advised to wear a mask to protect others.


    Page last updated 12th June 2020.