Coronavirus: What are social distancing and self-isolation rules?

Coronavirus: What are social distancing and self-isolation rules?

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Individuals in England are now allowed to meet with one other person from outside their household if they stay outdoors. They can also take part in more outdoor activities and exercise as much as they want.

However, people still need to follow social distancing guidance by keeping more than 2m (6ft) apart from anyone they don’t live with.

It’s part of the government’s ”careful steps” to ease lockdown measures for England.

Who am I allowed to meet?

The guidelines in England allow for one person to meet someone from outside their household outdoors, if they stay more than 2m apart.

It means, for example, they could have a picnic in the park, or play a non-contact sport, provided they observe social distancing.

This only applies to two individuals from separate households, so, for example, someone wouldn’t be allowed to meet both their parents together.

It also means that having a barbecue in your garden for friends would not be allowed, even if you all stayed 2m apart. And you are not able to invite people inside your home.

However, anyone who is shielding and has been asked to stay at home should continue to do so.

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Can I exercise with other people?

People can now take unlimited exercise and play certain non contact sports like tennis, golf or basketball with one person from outside their household, if social distancing is maintained.

However, they are still unable to use areas like playgrounds and outdoor gyms where there is a higher risk of close contact and touching surfaces.

People in England are free to drive as far as they like to outdoor open spaces. But they should not travel to Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, or stay anywhere else overnight, including at a second home.

  • In Scotland and Wales, people are now allowed to exercise more than once a day
  • In Wales people should start and finish exercise from home
  • In Northern Ireland you can drive to a safe space for exercise
  • Dogs can be walked as part of a person’s daily exercise

What could the next steps be?

The government is considering whether to allow two households to socialise with each other, provided neither side mixes with other groups.

Known as a ”social bubble”, this would allow more social contact, and an opportunity to share childcare, while hopefully limiting transmission.

It is also looking at ways small weddings could be allowed to take place.

This coronavirus appears to thrive in crowded, indoor spaces which is why pubs, restaurants and many workplaces remain closed and the public has been advised against using public transport.

But transmission of viruses is less likely when ”fresh” air is involved – and that’s usually when people are outside.

Why is social distancing necessary?

Social distancing is important because coronavirus spreads when an infected person coughs small droplets – packed with the virus – into the air.

These can be breathed in, or can cause an infection if you touch a surface they have landed on, and then touch your face with unwashed hands.

What is self-isolation?

If you show symptoms of coronavirus – such as a dry cough and high temperature – you must take extra precautions.

You should stay at home and not leave it for any reason. This is known as self-isolation.

You should not go out even to buy food or medicine, and instead order these online, or ask someone to drop them off at your home.

You can use your garden, if you have one.

What about those who are clinically vulnerable?

The advice is different for those who have certain underlying health conditions, are pregnant or are over 70, making them clinically vulnerable.

They are more likely to be seriously affected by coronavirus and should stay at home as much as possible, minimising contact with others if they go outside.

Those who have serious underling health conditions, are thought to be ”clinically extremely vulnerable” and should remain ”shielding” at home.

Food and medicine should be dropped off at the door, or ordered online. GP appointments should be over the phone, or online.

Others in the same household, and carers, can go out as long they observe proper social distancing.

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