They say the third time is the charm, so here’s hoping the third lockdown for England is a successful one.

The UK has experienced multiple lockdowns so far, with some areas of the country spending months under severe restrictions.

The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announced the new lockdown at 8pm on Monday. His announcement came hours after Nicola Sturgeon confirmed another lockdown for Scotland.

According to the latest government guidance, the instruction to stay at home will be enforceable by law. This means police can issue Fixed Penalty Notices up to a maximum of £6,400, if someone leaves their home without a “reasonable excuse”.

So what can and can’t you do in this new lockdown?

Here are some of the guidelines.

How long will it last?

In the televised address, Johnson advised the new lockdown will remain in place until at least the middle of February. As in previous lockdowns, ministers will be keeping the measures under constant review.

When can I leave the house?

Unlike the recent tier 4 restrictions, this new lockdown is much more similar to the first back in March 2020. The PM urged everyone to stay at home to do “everything we possibly can to stop the spread of the disease”. You must only leave home for essentials such as food shopping or collecting medicine, to go to work if working from home is not possible, to exercise, to seek medical attention or to escape domestic abuse.

People who were shielding in March 2020 are being advised to do so again, says Boris: “If you are clinically extremely vulnerable, we are advising you to begin shielding again and you will shortly receive a letter about what this means for you”.

Can I go to work?

You should only leave home for work purposes where it is not possible to work from home. This includes work within critical national infrastructure, construction or manufacturing, which requires in-person attendance. You can also leave home to provide voluntary or charitable services.

What about child care?

If you live in a household with anyone under the age of 14 you can form a childcare bubble. This allows friends or family from one other household to provide informal childcare. This doesn’t mean you can meet socially with your childcare bubble, and must avoid seeing members of your childcare and support bubbles at the same time.

People can continue existing arrangements for contact between parents and children where they live apart.

What about support bubbles?

One of the main differences compared to the lockdown in March 2020 is the support bubble. There are strict rules about who can and cannot form a support bubble. A bubble is a support network which links two households. You can form a support bubble with another household of any size only if you meet the requirements.

You may leave home to visit your support bubble (and to stay overnight with them). It’s best if this is with a household who live locally, to help prevent the virus spreading from an area where more people are infected.

According to the Government website, you can form a support bubble only if:

  • you live by yourself – even if carers visit you to provide support
  • you are the only adult in your household who does not need continuous care as a result of a disability
  • your household includes a child who is under the age of one or was under that age on 2 December 2020
  • your household includes a child with a disability who requires continuous care and is under the age of 5, or was under that age on 2 December 2020
  • you are aged 16 or 17 living with others of the same age and without any adults
  • you are a single adult living with one or more children who are under the age of 18 or were under that age on 12 June 2020

What exercise can I do?

Gyms, swimming pools, golf courses and tennis courts are closed, as are group exercise classes. You can leave the house once a day for exercise in a public space, either by yourself, with the people you live with, or with your support bubble. If you are on your own you can exercise with 1 person from another household. Public outdoor spaces include parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, forests, public gardens (whether or not you pay to enter them), the grounds of a heritage site and playgrounds. You should not leave your local area or travel to access these.

What if I or someone else is in danger or at risk?

You can leave home to escape risk of harm, such as domestic abuse. You can also leave home to avoid injury or illness or to visit someone who is dying or someone in a care home (if permitted under care home guidance), hospice, or hospital, or to accompany them to a medical appointment.

Can I still go to a place of worship?

You can leave home to visit a place of worship for communal worship, funerals and weddings as long as you observe social distancing rules and do not mingle with anyone outside your household or support bubble. However, weddings, funerals and other events linked to a death are all subject to limits on the number of people who can attend. Weddings and civil ceremonies can only take place in “exceptional circumstances”.

Other questions?

There are many other guidelines and details available on the Government website. 

Image via Alamy