Government Guidance on Staying Alert & Safe issued 9th September 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 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.
On 9 September, the government announced further measures including new social contact rules which are simpler and will help us to control the virus as we move into winter.
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 meeting with others safely.
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.
It is critical that everybody observes the following key behaviours:
- 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).
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.
2. Meeting family and friends
The rules on social contact will change from Monday 14 September: you must not meet in groups of more than 6 when meeting with people outside of your household.
This will be the law from Monday 14 September.
There is further guidance, including on what exemptions are permitted to the limit of 6 people, which provides further information on social distancing and social contact laws.
3. Returning to school and university
The government has prioritised ensuring all children can attend school safely, to support their wellbeing and education and help working parents.
You can find out more about the government’s approach to education and how schools have prepared.
Universities are preparing to welcome students back safely. We have published guidance advising universities on reopening to ensure they can adequately prepare new safety measures to operate safely and minimise the spread of the virus. Students will be expected to follow the latest guidance on social contact.
4. Businesses and venues
All businesses and venues should follow COVID-19 Secure guidelines to protect customers, visitors and workers.
From 18 September, it will be mandatory for certain businesses, including the hospitality and tourism and leisure sectors, close contact services, local authority run services and places of worship, to have a system to collect NHS Track and Trace data, and to ask customers to provide these details. Businesses will be required to retain these details for 21 days, and will need to ensure that the gatherings limit of 6 is not exceeded. We know the majority of businesses are responsible and are taking the necessary steps to be COVID-19 Secure – but for those businesses who won’t take those steps, egregious breaches will be enforced.
In the hospitality sector, pubs, bars and restaurants will be required to refuse entry or service to customers who refuse to provide NHS Test and Trace data.
For the time being, certain businesses and venues will be required to stay closed to the public. These include:
- sexual entertainment venues and hostess bars
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 meeting safely with others.
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 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. Further guidance on car sharing is available.
If you need to use public transport, you should follow the safer travel guidance for passengers.
Face coverings must be worn on public transport and in many indoor spaces, including shops, shopping centres, indoor transport hubs, museums, galleries, cinemas and public libraries. If necessary, the police and Transport for London (TfL) officers have enforcement powers including issuing fines of £100 (halving to £50 if paid within 14 days). As announced, we will bring forward changes to mean that for repeat offenders these fines would double at each offence up to a maximum value of £3,200. 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.
Source: UK Government guidelines issued 9th September 2020