New coronavirus lockdown measures: What you can and can’t do

A new set of coronavirus rules will come into force on Wednesday, May 13, which will begin the process of easing lockdown in England.

In an address to the nation on Sunday, May 10, Prime Minister Boris Johnson dropped his previous ‘stay at home’ message, instead opting for a slogan of ‘stay alert’.

New messages led to national front pages charting ‘confusion’ and ‘chaos’, while the PM rejected claims that people don’t understand.

On Monday, May 11, he produced a 50-page blueprint to escape lockdown and addressed the commons, aiming to clarify the FAQs. ‘People should apply their common sense’, he said.

Until Wednesday, people have been told to observe the existing guidance on social distancing. Anyone who shows coronavirus symptoms or has someone at home who is self-isolating should stay at home.

The salient changes and takeaways for England laid out today are as follows:

What can I do on May 13 that I can’t do now?

  • Leave the house as many times as you wish and spending time picnicking or sunbathing
  • You can meet one other person from a different household outdoors, following the 2m social distancing guideline
  • Use outdoor sporting facilities like tennis and golf courses – with members of the same household or one person outside of your household keeping 2m apart
  • Go to a garden centre
  • There is no limit to travelling distance and day trips to outdoor open spaces are permitted

What can’t I do?

  • Visit friends or family in their homes
  • Exercise in a gym, leisure centre or swimming pool
  • Use outdoor playgrounds
  • Gather in a group of more than two (excluding members of your own household), except for a few specific exceptions set out in law (for work, funerals, house moves, supporting the vulnerable, in emergencies and to fulfil legal obligations)
  • Stay in a second home or holiday accommodation
  • Weddings are still not permitted

Who is allowed to go to work?

Employers have been instructed to continue to support working from home if possible. Where work can only be done in the workplace, the government has said safety guidelines and phased reopening will be published in the coming days.

Back to work guidelines apply to essential retail like:

  • supermarkets
  • those in construction and manufacturing
  • those working in labs and research facilities
  • those administering takeaways and deliveries at restaurants and cafes
  • tradesmen, cleaners and others who work in people’s homes
  • those who are facilitating trade or transport goods

Those without childcare should have that impediment recognised by the employer when considering if they can go to work or not.

Spot inspections will take place on businesses to ensure they are keeping employees safe.

Non-essential retail, restaurants, pubs, bars, gyms, cinemas, hairdressers and leisure centres will remain closed.

When can I leave home?

You can leave home for work, where you can’t work from home, to shop for essentials at businesses permitted to be open, to exercise or for medical need. You can also leave home to help a vulnerable person at a 2m distance.

Vulnerable people who have been ‘shielded’, such as those with specific medical conditions, should continue to isolate until the end of June.

Can I see my friends and family?

You can meet one other person from outside your household if you are outdoors and 2m apart. Public gatherings of more than two people from different households are prohibited in law. There are no limits on gatherings in the park with members of your household.

Should I wear a face mask?

The government has advised people to wear face coverings in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not possible. 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.

What about transport?

People have been told to avoid public transport and to walk or cycle where possible. The government has told commuters to wear a face covering on transport when social distancing isn’t possible and has said further guidance will be issued later this week.

When will schools open?

Schools should prepare to open for more children from June 1, initially for Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 in smaller class sizes.

Secondary schools and further education colleges should also prepare to begin some face to face contact with Year 10 and 12 pupils who have key exams next year, in support of their continued remote, home learning.

The government’s ambition is for all primary school children to return to school before the summer for a month if feasible.

Will restrictions still be policed?

Police will still have powers to issue fines to those breaching the requirements set out in law.

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