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National lockdown: Stay at home

FAQs - National Lockdown: Stay at Home


FAQs - National Lockdown: Stay at Home

You can find full details of new National Lockdown restrictions at www.gov.uk/coronavirus

Key Points

What does ‘Stay at Home’ mean?

Stay at home means that you must not leave or be outside of your home except where necessary. You may leave the home to:

  • shop for necessities for you or a vulnerable person
  • go to work – but only if you can’t work from home
  • exercise with your household (or support bubble) or one other person, this should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.
  • meet your support bubble or childcare bubble where necessary, but only if you are legally permitted to form one
  • seek medical assistance or avoid injury, illness or risk of harm (including domestic abuse)
  • attend education or childcare - for those eligible


What it means for families

What it means for the most vulnerable

What it means for places of worship and ceremonies

What it means for businesses

What it means for education

What it means for work

What it means for travel

Covid-19 testing


Why have we been placed into a third National Lockdown?

Coronavirus cases have risen rapidly across the country in recent weeks following the spread of a new and more contagious strain of the virus.

The number of Covid patients in English hospitals is 40% higher than the first peak and the Government has decided that a third national lockdown is the only way to ease the pressure on the NHS this winter.

The new restrictions aim to protect vulnerable people and avoid the NHS becoming overwhelmed.

What if I don’t follow the new rules?

You can be given a Fixed Penalty Notice of £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400. If you hold, or are involved in holding, an illegal gathering of over 30 people, the police can issue fines of £10,000. 

How long will we be in a National Lockdown?

The lockdown will run until at least February 15 and possibly longer. 

What it means for families 

Can I visit other members of my family that I don’t live with?

You must not meet socially indoors with anybody you don’t live with unless they are part of your support bubble. This includes meeting in a private garden.

There are some exceptions, such as to provide care for vulnerable people or emergency assistance. A full list of these circumstances will be included in the regulations and can be found at National lockdown: Stay at Home - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) 

Can I still provide childcare for my grandchild so that her parents can work?

You can still form a childcare bubble or keep your existing childcare bubble arrangements, but this must be to provide childcare only and not used as a reason to mix socially indoors. 

Can I have more than one support bubble?

Sorry no. Support bubbles are to allow households with only one adult member (with or without children) to meet up with another household of any size. This is an exclusive arrangement, so you can’t have more than one.

What it means for the most vulnerable

Under the new lockdown people who are classed as clinically extremely vulnerable should not attend work, school, college or university, and limit the time they spend outside the home. You should only go out for medical appointments, exercise or if it is essential.

There is additional advice for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus

Can I visit my relatives in a care home?

Visits to care homes can take place with arrangements such as substantial screens, visiting pods, or behind windows. Close-contact indoor visits are not allowed. No visits will be permitted in the event of an outbreak.

You should check the guidance on visiting care homes during COVID-19 to find out how visits should be conducted. Residents cannot meet people indoors on a visit out (for example, to visit their relatives in the family home).

There is separate guidance for those in supported living

What it means for places of worship and ceremonies 

Can I go to a place of worship?

You can attend places of worship for a service. However, you must not mingle with anyone outside of your household or support bubble. You should maintain strict social distancing at all times.

You should follow the national guidance on the safe use of places of worship.

My wedding is booked for next week, can I still get married?

Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies must only take place in exceptional circumstances, for example, an urgent marriage where one of those getting married is seriously ill and not expected to recover or is to undergo debilitating treatment or life-changing surgery. In these circumstances they should be limited to six people, excluding anyone working at the venue.

What about funerals?

Funerals can be attended by a maximum of 30 people. Commemorative events, such as ash scatterings can also continue with up to six people in attendance. Anyone working at the venue is not counted in these limits. Social distancing should be maintained between people who do not live together or share a support bubble. 

What it means for businesses

Are shops allowed to stay open?

Shops deemed non-essential by the government will remain closed as they were in Tier 4. This includes clothes and homeware, electronic goods, bookmakers and vape shops.

Essential businesses and services can stay open to the public. These include:

  • Supermarkets, food shops, pharmacies and garden centres
  • Places of worship
  • Petrol stations and MOT services
  • Laundrettes and dry cleaners
  • Banks and post offices
  • Doctors and dentists' surgeries and vets
  • Car parks, public toilets and playgrounds

A full list of business that will need to close can be found on the Government’s website. 

What about gyms, exercise and outdoor sporting activities?

All indoor sports facilities will have to remain closed.

Outdoor facilities including outdoor gyms, golf courses, riding arenas and swimming pools will now have to close under National Lockdown rules.

Organised outdoor sport for disabled people is allowed to continue.

Outdoor exercise is still permitted but should be limited to once a day. You are permitted to exercise with one person from another household. 

Will pubs and restaurants still open for takeaway?

Pubs and restaurants will be able to sell food and soft drinks for delivery, click-and-collect, and takeaway. They will no longer be able to sell alcohol.

Can I still go to the supermarket?

Supermarkets and shops that provide essential items or services will still be open, but you should try and limit your visits as much as possible to stay safe.

Don’t forget you can order your food shopping online to help reduce your trips and minimise contact with others. 

What it means for education 

Are schools and colleges still open?

No, they are closed as from 5 January 2021.

Primary (reception onwards) and secondary schools, and colleges will remain open for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers. All other children will learn remotely until February half term. 

What about universities?

Most students should remain where they are wherever possible, and start their term online, as facilitated by their university until at least Mid-February. 

Those students who are undertaking training and study for the following courses should return to face to face learning as planned and be tested twice, upon arrival or self-isolate for ten days:

  • Medicine & dentistry
  • Subjects allied to medicine/health
  • Veterinary science
  • Education (initial teacher training)
  • Social work
  • Courses which require Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Body (PSRB) assessments and or mandatory activity which is scheduled for January and which cannot be rescheduled (your university will notify you if this applies to you).

Can I still visit home while at university?

You should not travel back and forth between your permanent home and term time address if you live at university. 

What it means for work 

Should I go to work?

You may only leave your home for work if you cannot reasonably work from home.

Employers and employees should discuss their working arrangements, and employers should take every possible step to facilitate their employees working from home, including providing suitable IT and equipment to enable remote working. 

I am in the clinically extremely vulnerable category and can’t work from home. Should I still go to work?

You are strongly advised not to go to work.

You may be eligible for support if you cannot work and can find more information on the Government’s website.

What it means for travel 

Can I still travel to other areas?

You must not leave your home unless you have a reasonable excuse. The list of reasons you can leave your home and area include, but are not limited to:

  • work, where you cannot reasonably work from home
  • accessing education and for caring responsibilities
  • visiting those in your support bubble – or your childcare bubble for childcare
  • visiting hospital, GP and other medical appointments or visits where you have had an accident or are concerned about your health
  • buying goods or services that you need, but this should be within your local area wherever possible
  • outdoor exercise. This should be done locally wherever possible, but you can travel a short distance within your area to do so if necessary (for example, to access an open space)
  • attending the care and exercise of an animal, or veterinary services

Can I still get the bus?

Public transport will still operate but you are advised to walk or cycle wherever possible and only make essential journeys

If you must take public transport, plan to avoid busy times and routes so it is easier for you to social distance.

Safer travel guidance is available on the Government’s website. 

I have a second home in another part of the country, can I still travel there?

You cannot stay in a second home or caravan if it’s not your primary residence. This also includes staying with anyone who you don’t live with unless they’re in your support bubble. 

Are you allowed to go on holiday?

Holidays in the UK and abroad are not allowed.

Covid-19 testing

If you have the main symptoms of Covid-19, which are fever, cough or loss of taste or smell, you must isolate immediately and book a test online or by ringing 119. You must isolate until you get the result.

If you have other symptoms that could be Covid-19, such as headache, aches and pains, feeling tired for no reason, sore throat, runny nose or sneezing then you may want to book a test if you are concerned. Visit the NHS website and use the option “My Council asked me to book a test”. You do not need to isolate unless you are positive. 

I’ve heard about rapid testing in Staffordshire, how does this work?

If you don’t have symptoms but live in a hotspot area of Staffordshire where coronavirus cases are high, you can book a rapid results test at a community site.

These allow you to get a test and results within an hour.

You can find out more about the programme on our Community Testing webpage.

What if my test is positive?

You must isolate for 10 days and tell the Test and Trace team who you have been in close contact with. They will need to isolate for 10 days. 

I have been told I have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive. I have tested negative so can I still go out?

If you have been asked to self-isolate you must do so for 10 days, even if you have a negative test or have no symptoms. This means you can’t leave your home and you should limit your contacts with others in your household.

I had a test and this has comeback negative?

A negative test does not mean you are immune. However, you only need to self-isolate if you test positive or have been told you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive. 

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