COVID-19 advice England

Last updated on: 30 September 2020

Each of the devolved nations has its own approach to handling the COVID-19 crisis. Here you’ll find the specific details for people living in England. 

You should follow the guidance on safe social distancing and meeting people who you do not live with

While things are changing, we still need to follow the guidance on staying home as much as possible and limiting contact with others, social distancing and hygiene. Read the Gov UK information about what you can and can't do.

Local lockdowns

For more information on local lockdown areas, check the latest guidance on Gov UK website and for details on the specific restrictions check the local council websites.

We’re regularly updating coronavirus information to ensure you have the most up-to-date and relevant content available.

Meeting other people

You must not meet with people from other households socially in groups of more than 6. This will apply indoors and outdoors, including in private homes.  There will be a limited number of exemptions.

Read the GOV UK guidance for more information on the exceptions, visiting venues and meeting friends and family and FAQs about what you can and can't do.


From 1 August, the government paused shielding in England, this will only resume if the transmission of COVID-19 in the community starts to rise significantly. 

This means:

  • the government will no longer be advising you to shield
  • the support from the National Shielding Service of free food parcels, medicine deliveries and care will stop. You're advised to contact your local council if you need additional support.
  • NHS volunteer responders scheme will carry on delivering the food you buy, prescriptions and essential items to you if you need it
  • you will still be eligible for priority supermarket slots (if you registered by 17 July)
  • if you are returning to work read GOV UK website guidance for advice on employment and benefits.
  • In addition, you’ll be able to visit food shops, pharmacies and places of worship. And you’ll be able to exercise outdoors.

If you do go out, you should take extra care to minimise contact with others by maintaining social distancing and you should continue to follow this guidance if you're extremely vulnerable.

Note, shielding may continue if you live in one of the local areas with restrictions or lockdown. If you’re advised to shield again, the support you receive may vary slightly depending on where you live. Find out more about shielding in a local lockdown and what support you can get on the Gov UK website.

Taking extra care and strict social distancing

If you are in the extremely vulnerable group and do go out, you should take extra care to minimise contact with others by maintaining strict social distancing. This includes:

  • Keeping two metres away from people not in your household or support bubble and avoid face to face contact
  • Avoiding crowded spaces
  • Wearing face coverings on public transport, in shops, for hospital appointments and in enclosed public places
  • Washing your hands regularly and use hand sanitiser outside your home if you’ve touched other surfaces
  • Working from home if you can and if you have to travel to work by public transport avoid peak times

Read more information about staying safe outside your home.

Further information

Read more about the updates on the Gov UK website. This includes further information on schools and keeping safe in the workplace. This guidance remains advisory.

Social distancing

Social distancing means staying at home except for a few specific purposes. These include work (if you can’t work at home), exercise, collecting food or medical supplies, receiving essential healthcare or providing care for someone vulnerable.

When you do need to leave your home try, wherever possible, to keep at least two metres from anyone who is not a member of your own household.

Hygiene is also important. Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds using soap and water; when these aren’t readily available, use a hand sanitiser gel instead.

Read the latest guidance on the Gov UK website.

What about face masks?

The Government recommends that you consider some form of facial covering for short periods when entering confined spaces. Wearing a face mask or face covering is mandatory in shops, stations, post offices, banks and supermarkets. Face masks are also mandatory on public transport. Read more about when to wear face coverings and how to make your own.

Face coverings should not be used in place of physical distancing and good hygiene.

Rules about exercise and outdoor activity

You can leave your home to exercise, unless you have symptoms of coronavirus.

Outdoor spaces and public sport amenities can open to allow walking, running, cycling, some water activities, golf and tennis, while maintaining social distancing. 


You should self-isolate if you or somebody else in your household develops symptoms of coronavirus. This means not leaving your home for any reason and not having visitors, unless it’s for essential medical care. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 however mild, you must self-isolate for at least 10 days from when your symptoms started. You should arrange to have a test to see if you have COVID-19 – go to the testing website to arrange. Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.

You’ll need to arrange for food and essential supplies to be delivered and these should be left at your door to minimise contact with the delivery person.

Read the Gov UK guidance on self-isolating.

Staying safe at work

Read the latest guidance for employers and employees to keep safe in the workplace during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and information for staff who've been shielding and are returning to work in the NHS.

Check out our dedicated resources about COVID-19 - employment and work.

Support resources

If you are struggling because of coronavirus and need help with finances, work or your wellbeing, find our what help you can get on Gov UK.

We're here for you

If you’re feeling isolated from family and friends during these uncertain times, we’re here for you.

  • You can call our free Helpline on 0800 5200 520, or email (Mon-Fri 9am – 8pm).
  • COVA, our COVID-19 virtual assistant also provides fast, easy access to our trusted information, 24/7. 
  • Connect with other people with arthritis to share experiences on our online community.

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