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How long will it take for the Covid vaccine to come to the rescue and get Britain out of lockdown?

Boris Johnson last night vowed to give one dose of a coronavirus vaccine to 13.2 million care home residents, over-70s, frontline health workers and Britons classified as ‘vulnerable’ by mid-February.

It is the first time that the government has outlined a target number of vaccinations, amid fears the government is delivering doses too slowly to lift restrictions by Easter as the Prime Minister has suggested will be possible. 

But the PM included a number of caveats in his target and said it would be dependent on everything going in the government’s favour.  

Tweeting afterwards, vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi said the NHS ‘family will come together’ to get 13.9 million doses prepared for the most vulnerable by the middle of next month.

A source told the PA news agency that those near the top of the list will be contacted by mid-February, but the final figure could be lower – closer to 13 million – because of some crossover between groups, such as those over 80 who live in care homes. 

Last night the PM said: ‘By the middle of February, if things go well and with a fair wind in our sails, we expect to have offered the first vaccine dose to everyone in the four top priority groups identified by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.   

‘That means vaccinating all residents in a care home for older adults and their carers, everyone over the age of 70, all frontline health and social care workers, and everyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable.

‘If we succeed in vaccinating all those groups, we will have removed huge numbers of people from the path of the virus. And of course, that will eventually enable us to lift many of the restrictions we have endured for so long. ‘   

‘And of course, that will eventually enable us to lift many of the restrictions we have endured for so long.

‘I must stress that even if we achieve this goal, there remains a time lag of two to three weeks from getting a jab to receiving immunity.

‘And there will be a further time lag before the pressure on the NHS is lifted. So we should remain cautious about the timetable ahead.

‘But if our understanding of the virus doesn’t change dramatically once again…

‘If the rollout of the vaccine programme continues to be successful…

‘If deaths start to fall as the vaccine takes effect…

‘And, critically, if everyone plays their part by following the rules…

‘Then I hope we can steadily move out of lockdown, reopening schools after the February half-term and starting, cautiously, to move regions down the tiers.

It comes after experts today warned that Britain may not be free of coronavirus restrictions until next winter unless the NHS hits its ambitious target of vaccinating 2million people every week. 

Who are the 13.2million people who shouldbe vaccinated by mid-February?

People who are defined as clinically extremely vulnerable are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus.

Group 1, one million people: Elderly care home residents and care home workers

Group 2, 5.5million people: All those 80 years of age and over and frontline health and social care workers

Group 3, 2.3million people: Those 75 years of age and over

Group 4, 4.4million people – Those 70 years of age and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals

The clinically extremely vulnerable include solid organ transplant recipients, people with specific cancers, people with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy  and those with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis

People on immunosuppression therapies, people who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, adults with Down’s syndrome and adults on dialysis or with chronic kidney disease (stage 5) 

Once these groups are vaccinated the government hoped to be able to start lifting restrictions. Ministers are aiming to have this done by mid-February. 

The next people in line for the vaccine are:  

Group 5- Those 65 years of age and over

Group 6- All individuals aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality

Group 7: Over 60s

Group 7- Over 55s

Group 8-Over 50s

Source: Department of Health and Social Care 

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In his televised address, the Prime Minister said there was ‘one huge difference’ compared to last year: ‘We’re now rolling out the biggest vaccination programme in our history.’    

‘So far we in the UK have vaccinated more people than in the rest of Europe combined,’ he added.

He said the pace of vaccination was ‘accelerating’ with the arrival of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

Speaking from Downing Street, Mr Johnson outlined the NHS’s ‘realistic expectations’ for the vaccination programme in the coming weeks. 

This means that all people over the age of 70 should expect to have an inoculation soon, as well as healthcare staff and others who are vulnerable.

Top of the priority list are people who live and work in care homes, followed by people over the age of 80 and frontline health and social care workers – including NHS staff. 

Next on the list are people over the age 75, and the fourth group are people aged 70 and those classed as clinically extremely vulnerable.

This last group – who are the same as those who have been advised to shield – includes people such as organ transplant recipients and cancer patients.

Mr Johnson said of the top four priority groups: ‘If we succeed in vaccinating all those groups, we will have removed huge numbers of people from the path of the virus’.

‘And of course that will eventually enable us to lift many of the restrictions we’ve endured for so long.’     

He added: ‘I must stress that even if we achieve this goal, there remains a time lag of two to three weeks from getting a jab to receiving immunity.

‘And there will be a further time lag before the pressure on the NHS is lifted. So we should remain cautious about the timetable ahead.

‘But if our understanding of the virus doesn’t change dramatically once again…

‘If the rollout of the vaccine programme continues to be successful…

‘If deaths start to fall as the vaccine takes effect…

‘And, critically, if everyone plays their part by following the rules…

‘Then I hope we can steadily move out of lockdown, reopening schools after the February half-term and starting, cautiously, to move regions down the tiers.’

But Mr Johnson’s tentative pledge may fall flat, as the vaccine roll-out has not been free from hiccups so far.

Ramping up the inoculation drive to reach the target means it would still take until April for everyone over the age of 50, adults with serious illnesses, and millions of NHS and social care workers to get their first dose. 

But it would take another 15 weeks for the same Britons to get the second dose they need to offer them as much protection against the disease as possible, meaning the deadline won’t be hit until August at the earliest.

Number 10 could, however, ease restrictions before then, if they believe they have protected enough of the population to prevent hospitals being overwhelmed. 

But there are still huge questions about whether the NHS will be able to hit 2million jabs a week target, which scientists say Britain needs to get to ‘very quickly’ to have any hope of a normal summer.

AstraZeneca bosses have pledged to deliver the milestone figure of doses a week by mid-January. And the NHS has promised it will be able to dish them out as quickly as it gets them.

But there already appears to be cracks forming in the supply chain. Only 530,000 doses of the Oxford coronavirus vaccine will be available for vulnerable people this week, despite officials promising at least 4million just weeks ago. 

Last week scientists blamed the vaccine’s slow roll-out on the government’s lack of investment and neglect of manufacturing.

Sir John Bell, a regius professor of medicine at Oxford University and member of SAGE (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies), said that insufficient investment in the capacity to make vaccines has left Britain unprepared.

He accused successive governments of failing to build onshore manufacturing capacity for medical products, with Oxford/AstraZeneca counting on outsourced companies to help create doses, such as Halix in the Netherlands, Cobra Biologics in Staffordshire and Oxford Biomedica. 

After the vaccine is produced by those companies, it is transported to a plant based in Wrexham that is operated by an Indian company, Wockhardt, where it is either sent to another plant in Germany or transferred to vials.

England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty has warned that vaccine availability issues will ‘remain the case for several months’ as firms struggle to keep up with global demand.

In a bid to ration supplies, the Government pledged to give single doses of the Pfizer vaccine to as many people as they can – rather than give a second dose to those already vaccinated.

Manufacturers of both the Pfizer and Oxford/AstraZeneca jabs have rubbished concerns, saying there is no problem with supply. 

Brian Pinker, 82, became the first person ever to receive the Oxford University vaccine yesterday

Brian Pinker, 82, became the first person ever to receive the Oxford University vaccine yesterday

Brian Pinker, 82, became the first person ever to receive the Oxford University vaccine yesterday

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has laid out his best-case timetable to vaccinate all over-70s, frontline workers and vulnerable people by February but has urged caution over the timetable

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has laid out his best-case timetable to vaccinate all over-70s, frontline workers and vulnerable people by February but has urged caution over the timetable

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has laid out his best-case timetable to vaccinate all over-70s, frontline workers and vulnerable people by February but has urged caution over the timetable

Trevor Cowlett, 88, receives the Oxford University/AstraZeneca Covid vaccine from nurse Sam Foster at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford as the NHS ramps up its vaccination programme

Trevor Cowlett, 88, receives the Oxford University/AstraZeneca Covid vaccine from nurse Sam Foster at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford as the NHS ramps up its vaccination programme

Trevor Cowlett, 88, receives the Oxford University/AstraZeneca Covid vaccine from nurse Sam Foster at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford as the NHS ramps up its vaccination programme

Sir Richard Sykes, who led a review of the Government’s Vaccines Taskforce in December, added that he is ‘not aware’ of a shortage in supply. 

Meanwhile, the Government appeared to be trying to pass the buck for the vaccination programme before it has even had a chance to fail, with the Prime Minister saying the scheme was being stalled because officials were waiting for batches of the jab to be approved by the regulator. 

The UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) was the first in the world to approve both the Pfizer and the Oxford jabs — but it has stipulated that every batch of vaccine has to be individually inspected and quality controlled when it reaches the UK before being injected into Brits’ arms.

Wading into the row today, Dr June Raine, chief of the MHRA, dismissed the PM’s claim that the batch approval process was stalling the roll out and suggested it was issues further back in the supply chain.

Dr Raine said her team was ‘nimble and quick’ and could approve a batch in under 24 hours. 

She told the BBC: ‘It’s a supply chain that goes right back from the manufacturer, right through to MHRA, and then on to the clinical bedside or where the vaccines are delivered, so we are a step on the road but our capacity is there, I’m very clear about that…

Boris Johnson speaks to NHS staff waiting to be vaccinated against coronavirus during a visit to Chase Farm Hospital earlier today ast he NHS is ramping up its vaccination programme

Boris Johnson speaks to NHS staff waiting to be vaccinated against coronavirus during a visit to Chase Farm Hospital earlier today ast he NHS is ramping up its vaccination programme

Boris Johnson speaks to NHS staff waiting to be vaccinated against coronavirus during a visit to Chase Farm Hospital earlier today ast he NHS is ramping up its vaccination programme

‘I was really proud last Wednesday when we approved the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, that we had approved the first batch the night before. We are that nimble and that quick.’ 

Matt Hancock also appeared to point the finger at AstraZeneca, the British drug firm responsible for making and distributing the Oxford jab, for the slow scale-up.

The Health Secretary insisted the NHS was ready to administer doses of the Oxford University vaccine as quickly as it received them, but he added: ‘The supply isn’t there yet’.

And Professor Stephen Powis, director of NHS England, added: ‘If we get two million per week, our aim is to get two million into people’s arms a week.’

The NHS today started to dish out Oxford/AstraZeneca’s game-changing Covid vaccine in what has been called a ‘pivotal moment’ in the fight against the pandemic, with an 82-year-old dialysis patient becoming the first person to receive the jab.

Brian Pinker, a retired maintenance manager who describes himself as Oxford born and bred, revealed he was ‘so pleased’ to get the vaccine and was ‘really proud’ it was developed in his city.

Mr Pinker is now looking forward to celebrating his 48th wedding anniversary next month with wife Shirley.

The UK’s vaccination programme has only managed to inoculate 1million people in the four weeks it has been operational.

But officials have promised the scheme will drastically speed up when clinics start using the game-changing Oxford University/AstraZeneca jab, which was rolled-out for the first time today. 

Professor Paul Hunter, an infectious disease expert at the University of East Anglia, told MailOnline he would be ‘very surprised’ if ministers hadn’t eased some curbs by April, when millions will hopefully have been vaccinated.

He added: ‘I can see us having some sort of restrictions even this time next year.’ 

Professor Hunter said curbs would likely be a lot less severe and may depend on how many of the most vulnerable residents come forward for a vaccine.

If uptake is high, the virus has less room to spread and cause severe illness.

However, he said the only safe way to drop all restrictions would be to ensure enough of the population has become immune so that the virus fizzles out. 

Scientists believe this can only achieved when 70 per cent of people are protected and the US’ top coronavirus doctor Anthony Fauci has warned the figure could even be as high as 90 per cent.

Government scientists have set the goal of 2million vaccinations per week because that will mean the most vulnerable third of the UK population will have some protection by Easter and can get their full two doses before autumn, before winter pressures will start affecting the NHS again.  

At a pace of just 1million a week, it would take Britain 30 weeks to vaccinate all the vulnerable residents in phase one of the inoculation drive.

It means that they would not all get their second dose until next February and the health service could be faced with another winter crisis.

But Number 10 will not necessarily wait for the full cohort to be vaccinated before easing the cycle of restrictions.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock last month said that measures can be eased ‘when enough people who are vulnerable to Covid have been vaccinated then’. However, he never committed to an actual figure.

Experts say the number of vaccines Britain gives out before lockdown rules can start to be loosened will depend on the ‘risk appetite’ of Downing St and how well the jabs work in real life.

If measures are lifted too soon, then there could be a surge in severe cases, hospital admissions and deaths in groups at moderate risk but not priority for a vaccine, such as the middle-aged.

The NHS says that people over 70 and those with the most serious long-term health conditions are at ‘high risk’ from Covid. 

Vaccines may not work against mutated South African Covid variant

Coronavirus vaccines could be ineffective against the highly-infectious South African mutation, a scientist who helped develop the Oxford jab has warned.

Sir John Bell, regius professor of medicine at Oxford University, said the African strain is more concerning than the Kent one.

Vaccines are believed to be effective against the highly-infectious UK variant VUI-202012/01 currently causing a massive spike in cases across the country.

But he said the South African variant 501.V2 – detected in two locations in Britain – has ‘really pretty substantial changes in the structure of the protein’ meaning vaccines could fail to work.

The Covid vaccine protects against the disease by teaching the immune system how to fight off the pathogen.

It creates antibodies – disease-fighting proteins made and stored to fight off invaders in the future by latching onto their spike proteins. 

But if they are unable to recognise proteins because they have mutated, it means the body may struggle to attack a virus the second time and lead to a second infection.  

However, experts told MailOnline today there was no publicly-available data to suggest the strain possesses the ability to escape the current iteration of jabs, even though it is more transmissible.

Professor Ian Jones, a virologist at the University of Reading, claimed he was ‘almost certain’ the vaccines will still be effective at some level.

He added that, in the unlikely event any new strain does makes vaccines redundant, it would take ‘a few days or less’ to tweak the jabs to target them.

The South African variant emerged in Nelson Mandela Bay in the Eastern Cape, which was the first major urban area to be hit by the country’s second wave. 

It was discovered in mid-December and caused Covid cases to soar from fewer than 3,000 a day at the start of the month to more than 9,500 per day by Christmas, accounting for up to 90 percent of those new infections.

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These, combined with health and social care workers could be given a single dose each within seven weeks at the ambitious rate of 2million per week, so by mid-February.

But lifting lockdown rules by then would involve putting younger groups, such as those in their 60s, 50s and 40s, at risk from a then-uncontrollable virus.

And it would mean the people already vaccinated wouldn’t have the full protection of two doses, which both vaccines require.

This is why experts believe it is more likely that the UK’s restrictions will be phased out over a longer period to stop the virus spiralling among younger people, who still have a small risk of hospitalisation, death or long-term complications. 

Dr Simon Clarke, a microbiologist at the University of Reading, told MailOnline last week: ‘It’s all very well vaccinating everybody over 65 and other people with long term health conditions, but the average of admission to intensive care is 60 and there are more men in their 40s in ICU with Covid than there are over-85s.’

High street pharmacists ‘baffled’ not to be called up by No10 for vaccine roll out

High street pharmacists said today they are ‘baffled’ not to have been called up to help deliver the UK’s ambitious Covid vaccine roll out.

Number 10 wants to immunise two million Britons against the disease every week to get rid of the most draconian lockdown restrictions by Easter.

But the Government faces a series of logistical hurdles in order to achieve the target, including trying to recruit enough people to administer the record number of doses.

The Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies said the 11,500 pharmacies it represents in England were on standby to start delivering the jabs immediately.  

Leyla Hannbeck, CEO of AIMP, told MailOnline: ‘We are baffled by how the accessibility, skills and affordability that community pharmacies offer has not yet been utilised in accelerating this programme and help get the country out of the grip of this virus sooner.

‘Pharmacies are very conveniently placed within every community to help deliver the Covid vaccination service at scale and support the NHS, particularly the AstraZeneca vaccine because it does not present the same logistical challenges as the Pfizer vaccine.’

An army of tens of thousands of medics and volunteer support staff have been recruited to help deliver the Oxford vaccine, according to NHS England, which has refused to give specific numbers.

But just last week, GPs warned of a need for a bigger recruitment drive and called for retired medics, the army, midwives and other non-frontline health staff all to be signed up.

The AIMP said its tens of thousands of staff could start administering the jabs immediately, which would spare the NHS from having to train-up new recruits.

Ms Hannbeck added: ‘Pharmacists are already trained to do vaccinations and the vast majority have the facilities to do this conveniently, so why aren’t their skills and expertise being deployed as an urgent priority right now ?

‘Because community pharmacy is currently involved in the national NHS flu vaccination it would be logical and save tax payers resource to utilise existing structures and resources within one of the few areas of retail which have remained open continuously throughout the pandemic and lockdowns.

‘It is likely if done through pharmacy then more patients wound comply with booster recalls and uptake of covid-19 in general. Pharmacy staff are very comfortable with managing patients’ concerns and are trusted to take their advice.

‘Public feedback around community pharmacy continues to rate its accessibility, professionalism and efficiency veryhighly – a recent survey of the public highlighted that over 70 per cent of the people were very happy to receive vaccination through their local community pharmacy.’ 

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What you can and cannot do during the national lockdown: The government guidelines in full

You must stay at home. The single most important action we can all take is to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives.

You should follow this guidance immediately. The law will be updated to reflect these new rules.

Leaving home

You must not leave, or be outside of your home except where necessary. You may leave the home to:

  • shop for basic necessities, for you or a vulnerable person
  • go to work, or provide voluntary or charitable services, if you cannot reasonably do so 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

Colleges, primary and secondary schools will remain open only for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers. All other children will learn remotely until February half term. Early Years settings remain open.

Higher Education provision will remain online until mid February for all except future critical worker courses.

If you do leave home for a permitted reason, you should always stay local in the village, town, or part of the city where you live. You may leave your local area for a legally permitted reason, such as for work.

If you are clinically extremely vulnerable you should only go out for medical appointments, exercise or if it is essential. You should not attend work

Meeting others

You cannot leave your home to meet socially with anyone you do not live with or are not in a support bubble with (if you are legally permitted to form one).

You may exercise on your own, with one other person, or with your household or support bubble.

You should not meet other people you do not live with, or have formed a support bubble with, unless for a permitted reason.

Stay 2 metres apart from anyone not in your household.

Detailed guidance on the national lockdown

Who this guidance is for

This guidance is for people who are fit and well. There is additional advice for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus and households with a possible or confirmed coronavirus infection. If you are clinically extremely vulnerable you should not attend work, school, college or university, and limit the time you spend outside the home. You should only go out for medical appointments, exercise or if it is essential.

Hands. Face. Space.

Approximately 1 in 3 people who have coronavirus have no symptoms and could be spreading it without realising it.

Remember – ‘Hands. Face. Space.’

  • hands – wash your hands regularly and for at least 20 seconds
  • face – wear a face covering in indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult, and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet
  • space – stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place (such as wearing face coverings)

In all circumstances, you should follow the guidance on meeting others safely.

When you can leave home

You must not leave or be outside of your home except where you have a ‘reasonable excuse’. This will be put in law. The police can take action against you if you leave home without a ‘reasonable excuse’, and issue you with a fine (Fixed Penalty Notice).

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.

A ‘reasonable excuse’ includes:

  • Work – you can only leave home for work purposes where it is unreasonable for you to do your job from home, including but not limited to people who work within critical national infrastructure, construction or manufacturing that require in-person attendance
  • Volunteering – you can also leave home to provide voluntary or charitable services.
  • Essential activities – you can leave home to buy things at shops or obtain services. You may also leave your home to do these things on behalf of a disabled or vulnerable person or someone self-isolating.
  • Education and childcare – You can only leave home for education, registered childcare, and supervised activities for children where they are eligible to attend. Access to education and children’s activities for school-aged pupils is restricted. See further information on education and childcare. People can continue existing arrangements for contact between parents and children where they live apart. This includes childcare bubbles.
  • Meeting others and care – You can leave home to visit people in your support bubble ( if you are legally permitted to form one), to provide informal childcare for children under 14 as part of a childcare bubble (for example, to enable parents to work, and not to enable social contact between adults), to provide care for disabled or vulnerable people, to provide emergency assistance, to attend a support group (of up to 15 people), or for respite care where that care is being provided to a vulnerable person or a person with a disability, or is a short break in respect of a looked-after child.
  • Exercise – You can continue to exercise alone, with one other person or with your household or support bubble. This should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.You should maintain social distancing. See exercising and meeting other people.
  • Medical reasons – You can leave home for a medical reason, including to get a COVID-19 test, for medical appointments and emergencies.
  • Harm and compassionate visits – you can leave home to be with someone who is giving birth, to avoid injury or illness or to escape risk of harm (such as domestic abuse). You can also leave home 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.
  • Animal welfare reasons – you can leave home for animal welfare reasons, such as to attend veterinary services for advice or treatment.
  • Communal worship and life events – You can leave home to attend or visit a place of worship for communal worship, a funeral or event related to a death, a burial ground or a remembrance garden, or to attend a wedding ceremony. You should follow the guidance on the safe use of places of worship and must not mingle with anyone outside of your household or support bubble when attending a place of worship.Weddings, funerals and religious, belief-based or commemorative events linked to someone’s death are all subject to limits on the numbers that can attend, and weddings and civil ceremonies may only take place in exceptional circumstances.

There are further reasonable excuses. For example, you may leave home to fulfil legal obligations or to carry out activities related to buying, selling, letting or renting a residential property, or where it is reasonably necessary for voting in an election or referendum.

Exercising and meeting other people

You should minimise time spent outside your home.

It is against the law to meet socially with family or friends unless they are part of your household or support bubble. You can only leave your home to exercise, and not for the purpose of recreation or leisure (e.g. a picnic or a social meeting). This should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.

You can exercise in a public outdoor place:

  • by yourself
  • with the people you live with
  • with your support bubble (if you are legally permitted to form one)
  • in a childcare bubble where providing childcare
  • or, when on your own, with 1 person from another household
  • Public outdoor places 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
  • playgrounds

Outdoor sports venues, including tennis courts, golf courses and swimming pools, must close.

When around other people, stay 2 metres apart from anyone not in your household – meaning the people you live with – or your support bubble. Where this is not possible, stay 1 metre apart with extra precautions (e.g. wearing a face covering).

You must wear a face covering in many indoor settings, such as shops or places of worship where these remain open, and on public transport, unless you are exempt. This is the law. Read guidance on face coverings.

Support and childcare bubbles

You have to meet certain eligibility rules to form a support or childcare bubble. This means not everyone will be able to form a bubble.

A support 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 eligibility rules.

It is against the law to form a support bubble if you do not follow these rules.

You are permitted to leave your home to visit your support bubble (and to stay overnight with them). However, if you form a support bubble, it is best if this is with a household who live locally. This will help prevent the virus spreading from an area where more people are infected.

If you live in a household with anyone aged under 14, you can form a childcare bubble. This allows friends or family from one other household to provide informal childcare.

You must not meet socially with your childcare bubble, and must avoid seeing members of your childcare and support bubbles at the same time.

There is separate guidance for support bubbles and childcare bubbles.

Where and when you can meet in larger groups

There are still circumstances in which you are allowed to meet others from outside your household, childcare or support bubble in larger groups, but this should not be for socialising and only for permitted purposes. A full list of these circumstances will be included in the regulations, and includes:

  • for work, or providing voluntary or charitable services, where it is unreasonable to do so from home. This can include work in other people’s homes where necessary – for example, for nannies, cleaners, social care workers providing support to children and families, or tradespeople. See guidance on working safely in other people’s homes). Where a work meeting does not need to take place in a private home or garden, it should not – for example, although you can meet a personal trainer, you should do so in a public outdoor place.
  • in a childcare bubble (for the purposes of childcare only)
  • Where eligible to use these services, for education, registered childcare, and supervised activities for children. Access to education and childcare facilities is restricted. See further information on education and childcare.
  • for arrangements where children do not live in the same household as both their parents or guardians
  • to allow contact between birth parents and children in care, as well as between siblings in care
  • for prospective adopting parents to meet a child or children who may be placed with them
  • to place or facilitate the placing of a child or children in the care of another by social services
  • for birth partners
  • to provide emergency assistance, and to avoid injury or illness, or to escape a risk of harm (including domestic abuse)
  • to see someone who is dying
  • to fulfil a legal obligation, such as attending court or jury service
  • for gatherings within criminal justice accommodation or immigration detention centres
  • to provide care or assistance to someone vulnerable, or to provide respite for a carer
  • for a wedding or equivalent ceremony in exceptional circumstances and only for up to 6 people
  • for funerals – up to a maximum of 30 people. Wakes and other linked ceremonial events can continue in a group of up to 6 people.
  • to visit someone at home who is dying, or to visit someone receiving treatment in a hospital, hospice or care home, or to accompany a family member or friend to a medical appointment
  • for elite sportspeople (and their coaches if necessary, or parents/guardians if they are under 18) – or those on an official elite sports pathway – to compete and train
  • to facilitate a house move

Support groups that have to be delivered in person can continue with up to 15 participants where formally organised to provide mutual aid, therapy or any other form of support – but they must take place at a premises other than a private home.

Where a group includes someone covered by an exception (for example, someone who is working or volunteering), they are not generally counted as part of the gatherings limit. This means, for example, a tradesperson can go into a household without breaching the limit, if they are there for work, and the officiant at a wedding would not count towards the limit.

If you break the rules

The police can take action against you if you meet in larger groups. This includes breaking up illegal gatherings and issuing fines (fixed penalty notices).

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.

Protecting people more at risk from coronavirus

If you are clinically vulnerable, you could be at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus. There is additional advice for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus. Those who are clinically extremely vulnerable should not attend work, school, college or university, and limit the time you spend outside the home. You should only go out for medical appointments, exercise or if it is essential.

Travel

You must not leave your home unless you have a reasonable excuse (for example, for work or education purposes). If you need to travel you should stay local – meaning avoiding travelling outside of your village, town or the part of a city where you live – and look to reduce the number of journeys you make overall. 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

If you need to travel, walk or cycle where possible, and plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport. This will allow you to practice social distancing while you travel.

Avoid car sharing with anyone from outside your household or your support bubble. See the guidance on car sharing.

If you need to use public transport, you should follow the safer travel guidance.

International travel

You can only travel internationally – or within the UK – where you first have a legally permitted reason to leave home. In addition, you should consider the public health advice in the country you are visiting.

If you do need to travel overseas (and are legally permitted to do so, for example, because it is for work), even if you are returning to a place you’ve visited before, you should look at the rules in place at your destination and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) travel advice.

UK residents currently abroad do not need to return home immediately. However, you should check with your airline or travel operator on arrangements for returning.

Foreign nationals are subject to the ‘Stay at Home’ regulations. You should not travel abroad unless it is permitted. This means you must not go on holiday.

If you are visiting the UK, you may return home. You should check whether there are any restrictions in place at your destination.

Staying away from home overnight

You cannot leave your home or the place where you are living for holidays or overnight stays unless you have a reasonable excuse for doing so. This means that holidays in the UK and abroad are not allowed.

This includes staying in a second home or caravan, if that is not your primary residence. This also includes staying with anyone who you don’t live with unless they’re in your support bubble.

You are allowed to stay overnight away from your home if you:

  • are visiting your support bubble
  • are unable to return to your main residence
  • need accommodation while moving house
  • need accommodation to attend a funeral or related commemorative event
  • require accommodation for work purposes or to provide voluntary services
  • are a child requiring accommodation for school or care
  • are homeless, seeking asylum, a vulnerable person seeking refuge, or if escaping harm (including domestic abuse)
  • are an elite athlete or their support staff or parent, if the athlete is under 18 and it is necessary to be outside of the home for training or competition

If you are already on holiday, you should return to your home as soon as practical.

Guest accommodation providers such as hotels, B&Bs and caravan parks may remain open for the specific reasons set out in law, including where guests are unable to return to their main residence, use that guest accommodation as their main residence, need accommodation while moving house, are self-isolating as required by law, or would otherwise be made homeless as a result of the accommodation closing. A full list of reasons can be found in the guidance on closing certain businesses and venues in England.

Accommodation providers are also encouraged to work cooperatively with local authorities to provide accommodation to vulnerable groups, including the homeless.

Going to work

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

Where people cannot work from home – including, but not limited to, people who work in critical national infrastructure, construction, or manufacturing – they should continue to travel to their workplace. This is essential to keeping the country operating and supporting sectors and employers.

Public sector employees working in essential services, including childcare or education, should continue to go into work.

Where it is necessary for you to work in other people’s homes – for example, for nannies, cleaners or tradespeople – you can do so. Otherwise, you should avoid meeting for work in a private home or garden, where COVID-19 Secure measures may not be in place.

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.

The risk of transmission can be substantially reduced if COVID-19 secure guidelines are followed closely. Extra consideration should be given to those people at higher risk.

Going to school, college and university

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

In the circumstances, we do not think it is possible for all exams in the summer to go ahead as planned. We will accordingly be working with Ofqual to consult rapidly to put in place alternative arrangements that will allow students to progress fairly.

Public exams and vocational assessments scheduled to take place in January will go ahead as planned.

Universities

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).

Students who do not study these courses should remain where they are wherever possible, and start their term online, as facilitated by their university until at least Mid-February. This includes students on other practical courses not on the list above.

We have previously published guidance to universities and students on how students can return safely to higher education in the spring term. This guidance sets out how we will support higher education providers to enable students that need to return to do so as safely as possible following the winter break.

If you live at university, you should not move back and forward between your permanent home and student home during term time.

For those students who are eligible for face to face teaching, you can meet in groups of more than your household as part of your formal education or training, where necessary. Students should expect to follow the guidance and restrictions. You should socially distance from anyone you do not live with wherever possible.

Childcare

There are several ways that parents and carers can continue to access childcare:

  • Early Years settings (including nurseries and childminders) remain open
  • Vulnerable children and children of critical workers can continue to use registered childcare, childminders and other childcare activities (including wraparound care)
  • parents are able to form a childcare bubble with one other household for the purposes of informal childcare, where the child is under 14. This is mainly to enable parents to work, and must not be used to enable social contact between adults
  • some households will also be able to benefit from being in a support bubble
  • nannies will be able to continue to provide services, including in the home

Care home visits

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.

Weddings, civil partnerships, religious services and funerals

Weddings, civil partnership ceremonies and funerals are allowed with strict limits on attendance, and must only take place in COVID-19 secure venues or in public outdoor spaces unless in exceptional circumstances.

Funerals can be attended by a maximum of 30 people. Linked religious, belief-based or commemorative events, such as stone settings and ash scatterings can also continue with up to 6 people in attendance. Anyone working is not counted in these limits. Social distancing should be maintained between people who do not live together or share a support bubble.

Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies must only take place with up to 6 people. Anyone working is not included. These should 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.

Places 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.

Sports and physical activity

Indoor gyms and sports facilities will remain closed. Outdoor sports courts, outdoor gyms, golf courses, outdoor swimming pools, archery/driving/shooting ranges and riding arenas must also close. Organised outdoor sport for disabled people is allowed to continue.

Moving home

You can still move home. People outside your household or support bubble should not help with moving house unless absolutely necessary.

Estate and letting agents and removals firms can continue to work. If you are looking to move, you can go to property viewings.

Follow the national guidance on moving home safely, which includes advice on social distancing, letting fresh air in, and wearing a face covering.

Financial support

Wherever you live, you may be able to get financial help  

Businesses and venues

Businesses and venues which must close

To reduce social contact, the regulations require some businesses to close and impose restrictions on how some businesses provide goods and services. The full list of businesses required to close can be found in the guidance on closing certain businesses and venues in England, but includes:

  • non-essential retail, such as clothing and homeware stores, vehicle showrooms (other than for rental), betting shops, tailors, tobacco and vape shops, electronic goods and mobile phone shops, auction houses (except for auctions of livestock or agricultural equipment) and market stalls selling non-essential goods. These venues can continue to be able to operate click-and-collect (where goods are pre-ordered and collected off the premises) and delivery services.
  • hospitality venues such as cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars and social clubs; with the exception of providing food and non-alcoholic drinks for takeaway (until 11pm), click-and-collect and drive-through. All food and drink (including alcohol) can continue to be provided by delivery.
  • accommodation such as hotels, hostels, guest houses and campsites, except for specific circumstances, such as where these act as someone’s main residence, where the person cannot return home, for providing accommodation or support to the homeless, or where it is essential to stay there for work purposes
  • leisure and sports facilities such as leisure centres and gyms, swimming pools, sports courts,fitness and dance studios, riding arenas at riding centres, climbing walls, and golf courses.
  • entertainment venues such as theatres, concert halls, cinemas, museums and galleries, casinos, amusement arcades, bingo halls, bowling alleys, skating rinks, go-karting venues, indoor play and soft play centres and areas (including inflatable parks and trampolining centres), circuses, fairgrounds, funfairs, water parks and theme parks
  • animal attractions (such as zoos, safari parks, aquariums, and wildlife reserves)
  • indoor attractions at venues such as botanical gardens, heritage homes and landmarks must also close, though outdoor grounds of these premises can stay open for outdoor exercise.
  • personal care facilities such as hair, beauty, tanning and nail salons. Tattoo parlours, spas, massage parlours, body and skin piercing services must also close. These services should not be provided in other people’s homes
  • community centres and halls must close except for a limited number of exempt activities, as set out below. Libraries can also remain open to provide access to IT and digital services – for example for people who do not have it at home – and for click-and-collect services

Some of these businesses and places will also be permitted to be open for a small number of exempt activities. A full list of exemptions can be found in the guidance on closing certain businesses and venues in England, but includes:

  • education and training – for schools to use sports, leisure and community facilities where that is part of their normal provision
  • childcare purposes and supervised activities for those children eligible to attend
  • hosting blood donation sessions and food banks
  • to provide medical treatment
  • for elite sports persons to train and compete (in indoor and outdoor sports facilities), and professional dancers and choreographers to work (in fitness and dance studios)
  • for training and rehearsal without an audience (in theatres and concert halls)
  • for the purposes of film and TV filming

Businesses and venues which can remain open

Other businesses and venues are permitted to stay open, following COVID-19 secure guidelines. Businesses providing essential goods and services can stay open. The full list of these businesses can be found in the guidance on closing certain businesses and venues in England, but includes:

  • essential retail such as food shops, supermarkets, pharmacies, garden centres, building merchants and suppliers of building products and off-licences
  • market stalls selling essential retail may also stay open
  • businesses providing repair services may also stay open, where they primarily offer repair services
  • petrol stations, automatic (but not manual) car washes, vehicle repair and MOT services, bicycle shops, and taxi and vehicle hire businesses
  • banks, building societies, post offices, short-term loan providers and money transfer businesses
  • funeral directors
  • laundrettes and dry cleaners
  • medical and dental services
  • vets and retailers of products and food for the upkeep and welfare of animals
  • animal rescue centres, boarding facilities and animal groomers (may continue to be used for animal welfare, rather than aesthetic purposes)
  • agricultural supplies shops
  • mobility and disability support shops
  • storage and distribution facilities
  • car parks, public toilets and motorway service areas
  • outdoor playgrounds
  • outdoor parts of botanical gardens and heritage sites for exercise
  • places of worship
  • crematoriums and burial grounds

Public services

The majority of public services will continue and you will be able to leave home to visit them. These include:

  • the NHS and medical services like GPs and dentists. We are supporting the NHS to carry out urgent and non-urgent services safely, and it is vital anyone who thinks they need any kind of medical care comes forward and seeks help
  • Jobcentre Plus sites
  • courts and probation services
  • civil registrations offices
  • passport and visa services
  • services provided to victims
  • waste or recycling centres
  • getting an MOT, if you need to drive when lawfully leaving home

Source: Daily Mail | Health News

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