what you can and can’t do from Thursday

For now, the Government insists it has no plans to close schools. Unlike the previous lockdown,

For now, the Government insists it has no plans to close schools.

Unlike the previous lockdown, nurseries, schools, colleges and universities will remain open, although the Prime Minister is now facing a fresh battle with unions as a result.

Senior clinicians still advise that school is the best place for children to be.

Every school has to draw up plans to ensure children continue to receive an education even if they have to stay at home.

According to the highest tier restrictions so-called ‘bubbles’ will be created so youngsters learn and mix with fellow pupils. Large assemblies or collective worship should not include more than one group. Break and lunch times can be staggered to keep bubbles apart. Ensuring these “distinct groups do not mix” makes it quicker and easier to identify contacts if a positive coronavirus case emerges or someone has symptoms.

The use of the staff room by teachers is also meant to be “minimised”. 

If a teacher or pupil has symptoms or a positive diagnosis, schools must contact local health protection teams immediately so those in close contact with the child can be traced. Pupils in a bubble, year group and very rarely the entire school could be asked to self-isolate. A mobile testing unit could be sent to a campus. 

Although guidelines do not recommend the universal use of face coverings, each school can decide whether pupils above Year 7, teachers and visitors should wear them when in corridors and communal areas, where passing briefly is deemed a “low risk”. They will not be worn in class. 

The guidance insists a “robust hand and respiratory hygiene” regime is in place, with children encouraged to clean their hands when they arrive at school, return from breaks, use bathrooms, change classrooms and before eating. Hand sanitiser “stations” should be commonplace, with possible supervision “given risks around ingestion”.

Mr Johnson has stressed the importance of schools and insists that exams will go ahead.  Most AS, A levels and GCSEs will be held 3 weeks later in order to address the disruption caused by the pandemic.

What about universities?

Universities are working to ensure they have safety measures in place to minimise the spread of the virus. This includes online teaching, one-way systems on campus and social distancing in classrooms at some universities. 

The government have advised that students who live at university must not move back and forward between their permanent home and student home during term time and should only return home at the end of term for Christmas.

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. Golf courses and stables and riding centres are also closed, along with indoor spaces like leisure centres and gyms.

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?

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.

Similar rules are expected to apply under the new lockdown, although the Government says it will publish full guidance before the new rules take effect on Thursday.

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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