The coronavirus outbreak is the biggest public health emergency in a generation. These are unprecedented times for everyone, so to help, I will update this page with the latest advice from the Government and NHS.
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.
Should you have any questions, or if I can help then please do get in touch. My office continues to support and assist constituents with all enquiries and casework, and I am carrying out daily phone surgeries for the most urgent cases.
If you have any questions please contact me on email@example.com , or by calling us on 020 7219 4964.
WHAT IS THE CURRENT GUIDANCE?
The UK Government is continuing to ease restrictions in a manner that is safe, cautious and consistent with our plan.
This means that from 11 July:
- you can participate in team and other grassroots sports where the sport’s governing body has issued guidance on how to do so safely
- outdoor swimming pools and outdoor water parks can open
- outdoor performances in front of a live audience and indoor rehearsals can take place in COVID-19 secure venues. Indoor rehearsals and indoor performances for broadcast should only happen where no audience is present
- smaller-scale indoor performances can be piloted in COVID-19 Secure venues once approved by the government
From 13 July:
- close contact services, such as nail bars, salons, tanning booths, spas, massage parlours, tattoo parlours and body piercing studios, can open. Only services that do not involve work in the highest risk zone – directly in front of the face – should be made available to clients, in line with government guidance.
From 25 July:
- sports facilities and venues, including such as indoor gyms, fitness and dance studios, indoor swimming pools and indoor water parks, will open – subject to evidence closer to the time
From 1 August:
- Remaining leisure settings, namely bowling, skating rinks and casinos can open
- Any outstanding close contact services can resume, including any treatments on the face such as eyebrow threading or make-up application,
- Indoor performances to a live audience, subject to the success of pilots can reopen
- Small wedding receptions to be allowed - this includes a sit-down meals for no more than 30 people, subject to COVID-19 Secure guidelines;
- The shielding programme to be paused (though we will not hesitate to restart it if needed).
And from October:
- Subject to prevalence remaining around or below current levels, the Government intends to bring back audiences in stadia, and allow conferences and other business events to recommence. This must however be in a COVID Secure way, and will be subject to the successful outcome of pilots.
As was already the case, in terms of seeing friends and family, you can:
- meet in groups of up to two households (anyone in your support bubble counts as one household) in any location - public or private, indoors or outdoors. You do not always have to meet with the same household - you can meet with different households at different times. However, it remains the case - even inside someone’s home - that you should socially distance from anyone not in your household or bubble. This change also does not affect the support you receive from your carers
- continue to meet outdoors in groups of up to six people from different households, following social distancing guidelines
- stay overnight away from your home with your own household or support bubble, or with members of one other household
- People 70 and over, those with certain underlying conditions and pregnant women may be more clinically vulnerable, so we have advised them to take particular care to avoid contact with others. Although such individuals can meet people both outdoors and indoors, you and they should be especially careful and be diligent about social distancing and hand hygiene. Never take a chance on visiting a clinically vulnerable person if you think you have COVID-19 symptoms, however mild.
It remains the case that you should not:
- socialise indoors in groups of more than two households (anyone in your support bubble counts as one household) – this includes when dining out or going to the pub
- socialise outdoors in a group of more than six people from different households; gatherings larger than six should only take place if everyone is from exclusively from two households or support bubbles
- interact socially with anyone outside the group you are attending a place with, even if you see other people you know, for example, in a restaurant, community centre or place of worship
- hold or attend celebrations (such as parties) where it is difficult to maintain social distancing
- stay overnight away from your home with members of more than one other household (your support bubble counts as one household)
You should only be socialising in groups of up to two households indoors and outdoors or or up to six people from different households outdoors.
It is against the law for gatherings of more than 30 people to take place in private homes (including gardens and other outdoor spaces). Businesses and venues following COVID-19 Secure guidelines can host larger groups provided they comply with the law. This can include weddings and funerals (which we advise should be limited to no more than 30 people), religious ceremonies and services, community activities and support groups. If attending a place or event that is following COVID-19 Secure guidelines, you should take care to limit your interactions with anyone outside of your group and you should continue to maintain social distancing from those that you do not live with. It is critical that you follow these guidelines to keep both yourself and others safe.
Face coverings mandatory on public transport and in NHS settings, and from 24th July they will also be mandatory in shops and supermarkets.
Children under 11 and those with certain disabilities will be exempt.
The liability for wearing a face covering lies with the individual.
Should an individual without an exemption refuse to wear a face covering, a shop can refuse them entry and can call the police if people refuse to comply, the police have the formal enforcement powers and can issue a fine of up to £100.
Guidance for those making face coverings at home can be viewed here.
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; these should continue to be reserved for those who need them to protect against risks in their workplace such as health and care workers and those in industrial settings like those exposed to dust hazards.
WHAT BUSINESS ARE ABLE TO REOPEN?
Many businesses and venues are now permitted to reopen and are expected to follow COVID-19 Secure guidelines, including:
- hotels, hostels, bed and breakfast accommodation, holiday apartments or homes, cottages or bungalows, campsites, caravan parks or boarding houses
- places of worship
- community centres
- restaurants, cafes, workplace canteens, bars, pubs that are self-contained and can be accessed from the outside
- hair salons and barbers, including mobile businesses
- theatres and concert halls
- funfairs, theme parks, adventure parks and activities such as go-karting, laser tag and paintballing
- outdoor gyms and playgrounds
- museums and galleries
- bingo halls
- outdoor skating rinks
- amusement arcades and other entertainment centres, such as snooker halls
- model villages
- social clubs
- indoor attractions at aquariums, zoos, safari parks, farms, wildlife centres and any place where animals are exhibited to the public as an attraction
- indoor and outdoor areas of visitor attractions including, gardens, heritage sites, film studios and landmarks
- outdoor swimming pools
- outdoor water parks
- nail bars and salons
- tanning booths and salons
- spas, and beauty salons
- massage parlours
- tattoo parlours
- body piercing services
From 1 August the following businesses will also be able to resume:
- Remaining leisure settings, namely bowling, skating rinks and casinos will be
- Close contact services to resume, including any treatments on the face such as eyebrow threading or make-up application,
- Indoor performances to a live audience, subject to the success of pilots;
- Small wedding receptions - sit-down meals for no more than 30 people, subject to COVID-19 Secure guidelines;
High risk activities and settings such as nightclubs and soft play areas, are to remain shut, as Government have assessed that they cannot yet be made sufficiently COVID-19 Secure. See a full list of businesses that will need to remain closed.
The government is committed to doing everything possible to allow all children to go back to school safely, to support their wellbeing and education and help working parents. The government’s plan is for all students in England to return to education settings in September.
Primary schools should now be open for Reception, Year 1, and Year 6 pupils and if schools have capacity they can welcome more children back, in group sizes of no more than 15, before the summer holidays. Schools and colleges should provide some face-to-face support for Year 10 and Year 12 pupils. Early years (aged 0-5) childcare should also be open to children.
School places of all age groups remain available to the children of critical workers and for vulnerable children and young people.
You can find out more about the government’s approach to education and how schools are preparing.
Anybody may use public transport, however please remember to follow the social distancing guidelines, and use alternatives (such as walking and cycling) where possible.
You should not travel at all if you are experiencing any coronavirus symptoms, are self-isolating as a result of coronavirus symptoms or sharing a household or support bubble with somebody with symptoms, are clinically extremely vulnerable and cannot shield during your journey or have been advised by the NHS test and trace service that you should self-isolate.
It is a legal requirement to wear a face covering on public transport. This is helping to ensure that transport is as safe as possible as more people begin to return to work and go shopping. Transport operators will enforce this requirement, and the police can also do so. This will mean you can be refused travel if you don’t comply and could be fined. You should also be prepared to remove your face covering if asked to do so by police officers and staff for the purposes of identification.
From 10 July, unless you have visited or stopped in any other country or territory in the preceding 14 days, passengers arriving from the following countries and territories will not be required to self-isolate on arrival into England:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- The Bahamas
- Bonaire St Eustatius and Saba
- Czech Republic
- Faroe Islands
- French Polynesia
- Hong Kong
- New Caledonia
- The Netherlands
- New Zealand
- St Barthélemy
- St Kitts & Nevis
- St Lucia
- St Pierre and Miquelon
- San Marino
- South Korea
- Trinidad & Tobago
- Vatican City State
Ireland is already exempt as part of the Common Travel Area, as are the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. In addition, we have exempted the 14 British Overseas Territories.
Travellers should always check the latest FCO travel advice. Travel advice includes information on any health measures in place for visitors to the country or territory. These can include a requirement to self-isolate, quarantine, or undergo testing for COVID-19, or even restrictions on entry.
Information on self-isolation in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be published in due course by the Devolved Administrations.
If the country you are visiting is not on the above list, when you arrive in the UK, you will not be allowed to leave the place you’re staying for the first 14 days you’re in the UK (known as ‘self-isolating’). This is because it can take up to 14 days for coronavirus symptoms to appear. You should follow separate advice if you will self-isolate in:
Before you travel, you should provide your journey, contact details and the address where you will self-isolate. You will be able to complete the public health passenger locator form 48 hours before you arrive. You must present these details on your arrival in England.
You may be refused permission to enter the UK (if you are not a British citizen), or fined if you do not to provide your contact details or do not self-isolate when you arrive in the UK.
In England, if you do not self-isolate, you can be fined £1,000. If you do not provide an accurate contact detail declaration – or do not update your contact detail form in the limited circumstances where you need to move to another place to self-isolate – you can be fined up to £3,200.
Latest Government guidance on the COVID-19 response can be found in in full here: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
Please visit the below link for a helpful Q&A: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do
For the latest NHS guidance visit: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/check-if-you-have-coronavirus-symptoms/
There is a Government Business Support Helpline for any queries: 0300 456 3565
Sevenoaks District Council, Kent County Council, Kent & Medway Growth Hub and other local authorities have also launched a dedicated business support line for Coronavirus-related issues, which is available Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 6pm. If you have any questions please call 03333 602 300.