what the latest restrictions mean for you

Eufemia Didonato

In a separate letter to vice-chancellors, the minister said she wants all students to have “some form of face-to-face learning” where possible, as they had not seen evidence of increased transmission within teaching environments on university campuses. It comes after guidance from the Cabinet Office said universities and adult education […]

In a separate letter to vice-chancellors, the minister said she wants all students to have “some form of face-to-face learning” where possible, as they had not seen evidence of increased transmission within teaching environments on university campuses.

It comes after guidance from the Cabinet Office said universities and adult education settings “should consider moving to increased levels of online learning where possible” during the four-week lockdown.

The University and College Union (UCU) is calling on vice-chancellors to move all non-essential activities online now to keep students and staff safe and to minimise the spread of Covid-19.

But new Department for Education (DfE) guidance on what universities and students in England should do during the second lockdown says face-to-face teaching should continue where it can be done safely.

The guidance says “commuter students” – those who live at their family home and travel to the university campus for lessons – will still be allowed to attend the university for educational purposes during the lockdown.

It also advises that face coverings should be worn in all university learning environments, providing that they do “not impact teaching and learning.”

The new guidelines say libraries and study spaces on campus should remain open during the new national restrictions, but students must not gather in these spaces unless it is part of a scheduled in-person seminar or tutorial.

Once the national lockdown eases on December 2nd, the country will adopt an exit strategy, and will continue to follow the restrictions from the existing tier system, depending on the severity of infection in the local area.

Are gyms closing?

All gyms in England will close on 5 November in accordance to the new lockdown restrictions.

Gyms will only reopen under the rules of the previous tier system, with some gyms only opening under the approval of the local authority. 

If the tier system resumes in early December, it is expected that gyms will follow the same strict regulations as before the lockdown. This included the debate of whether gym goers need to wear a mask. 

Can I play sport outdoors? What about golf, tennis and fishing? 

All organised sport is banned under the new rules, including community events like Sunday league football.

Sports facilities including swimming pools, golf courses and driving ranges, stables and riding centres, soft play facilities, climbing walls, archery and shooting ranges are all closed.

As in the first lockdown, two people from different households are allowed to meet outdoors to exercise together, such as by going for a run or playing with a football in a park.

The Lawn Tennis Association has said indoor tennis will cease, but it is “making the case to Government for outdoor tennis activity for two individuals from different households to continue”.

More guidance on outdoor tennis courts is expected this week.  

Angling, on your own, with members of your own household or with one other individual is allowed. 

People may exercise more than once per day, providing their exercise is within the rules and does not involve household mixing beyond the limited exceptions.

Officially there is no advice requiring people who are exercising in a wide open space to wear a mask. As long as you are practising social distancing, it shouldn’t be necessary to wear a face covering while exercising.

Can I visit a relative in a care home?

Close family and friends of care home residents will be allowed to continue visiting them during England’s second national lockdown the government has announced.

Families of elderly care home residents had called for visits to be permitted, describing them as “essential” for mental health, while more than 60 organisations and experts had also called on the Government to enable visits to continue.

The regulations, published on November 3, state that the exception comes under medical need, and that it is reasonably necessary for someone to leave their home to visit a person staying in a care home where they are a member of that person’s household, a close family member, or a friend

Visits to care homes were banned during the first lockdown in March, as it became clear they had become hotspots for the spread of the disease. Visits to homes were only allowed in exceptional circumstances.

Under the Tier system, in Tiers 2 and 3 visits are only allowed in circumstances such as end-of-life care, and care home staff should facilitate visits over video call instead.

Can I still use a childminder, and can children travel between parents’ houses?

Parents can continue to use childcare services where “reasonably necessary to enable parents to work”.

That includes childcare centres and in-home childminders.

There is also additional flexibility in the rules allowing parents and children to travel for childcare purposes, and childcare bubbles can be used to allow one other friend or relative to help, even if they are in a different household.

As under the original lockdown in March, children under the age of 18 are allowed to travel between their parents’ homes if they are separated, enabling both parents to see their children and split childcare duties.

The Government’s guidance says “most youth clubs and groups will need to cease for this period”, so informal childcare through clubs will not be allowed.

Who can come into my house?

The latest rules ban households from mixing, except in specific circumstances.

People in the same household can see each other indoors, plus anyone in the same support bubble. Support bubbles are formed of one household of any number of people, plus one other person who lives alone.

The rules permit people who work in other people’s homes to enter – including cleaners, carers and tradespeople. Most food delivery services are offering socially-distanced drop-offs, so drivers do not have to enter other households.

Overnight stays in another household are not allowed except for support bubbles, and nor is visiting second homes elsewhere in the UK.

Can I go to the optician, dentist or vet?

The Government has said opticians and dentists will remain open when the next lockdown begins.

A spokesman said “medically necessary care and treatment may continue,” including from mental health services.

In the first lockdown, routine procedures and check ups for optical and dental care were delayed, while emergency treatment was still allowed.

Dentists initially avoided conducting procedures that generated aerosols, although that restriction has since been lifted.

The Government has confirmed vets will be allowed to stay open after the new rules come into force, providing they follow Covid-secure guidelines.

Do I have to shield again?

People who were told to formally shield during the first lockdown will be advised again that they should not leave their homes unnecessarily, as they are vulnerable to more serious effects from Covid-19.

But they will not be told to shield in the same way as they were in March – when vulnerable people were told not to leave their homes for any reason.

In addition, Boris Johnson has said people who are over 60 or who are clinically vulnerable should be especially careful mixing with other people in public spaces or in the workplace.

Professor Chris Whitty said there were “downsides” to the first shielding programme, including “significant problems with loneliness and feeling completely cut off from society”.

People who are most at risk will instead be told to minimise their contact with others as much as possible.

Can I meet relatives outside for a dog walk?

Yes, under the rules you may meet one other person from another household for exercise outdoors, including a dog walk.

People from the same household cannot go together to meet someone in another household, meaning the maximum number of people who can meet is always two, apart from people in the same support bubble.

Can I take my child with me to meet one other person outside? 

Nadine Dorries, a health minister, said children under school age who are with their parents will not count towards the limit on two people meeting outside – so “a parent can see a friend or family member with their baby or young children”.

The exemption also applies to children and adults who are dependent on round-the-clock care, such as those with severe disabilities, she said.

However, households cannot mix in private gardens – they must meet in a public space such as a park.

Can I still go on holiday?

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