COVID-19 advice England

Last updated on: 7 July 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. 

Social distancing should still be observed, although the rules are changing from two metre to one metre plus. These depend on where you are. For example, in shops where there are screens or on public transport and people are wearing face masks.

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

More businesses are opening, including restaurants, pubs, libraries, hairdressers and campsites. All will be expected to follow COVID-19 secure guidelines.

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.

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

Meeting other people

You can:

  • meet in groups of up two households indoors or outdoors. You should still socially distance from anyone not in your household or bubble
  • stay overnight away from your home with your own household or support bubble, or members of one other household
  • meet in groups of up to six people from different households, if you are outside

Support bubbles

If you live by yourself or are a single parent with children under 18 living with you, you can expand your household to include one other household of any size. These are being called support bubbles. Read the latest Gov UK guidance.

From the 6 July, if you are shielding, you can form a support bubble with one other household as long as you meet the criteria above.

Updates for people who are shielding

If you’re in the shielding group, you are now able to meet in a group of up to six people outside your home, and you no longer have to socially distance from people within your own household. 

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.

Please note - if you live in Leicester and are on the Shielding Patient List, you should continue to shield. Everyone on the list should receive a text and a letter from Monday 6 July. You can show the letter to employers to act as evidence that you can't work outside your home until 31 July, including for SSP purposes.

If you are shielding now, what will change from 1 August?

From 1 August, you’ll no longer have to shield if you’re in this group, but will be advised to minimise your contact with people from other households.

You’ll be able to travel to work if your workplace is COVID-19-safe and you cannot work from home. For more 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.

Some additional support provided through the shielding programme, for example, food boxes and medicines deliveries will end on 31 July. Final registrations for food support will close on the 17 July, to allow for support to reach individuals ahead of the scheme end date of 31 July.

You're advised to contact your local council if you need additional support after 1 August.

Letters will be sent out to inform people who are shielding of the changes with the advice that will follow in the next month.

What will stay the same?

Those currently shielding will still be able to book priority delivery slots from supermarkets and get support from the NHS volunteer responders scheme after 1 August.

The list of those currently shielding will be maintained and kept under review after the end of July in case there is a second peak of infections and you may be asked to shield again.

Further information

Read more about the updates on the Gov UK website. This includes further information on schools and the workplace for those living in households where people are shielding. This guidance remains advisory.

Further details are expected from Government to give clarity on employment and additional support provided through the shielding programme. We’ll update our coronavirus advice when we have this information.

Support if shielding 

If you’re in the highest risk group for coronavirus you may decide to continue to stay at home and avoid face-to-face contact, except from carers and healthcare workers you must see as part of your medical care.

People who live with you and/or provide care for you should help you to stay safe by closely following guidance on physical distancing, reducing their contact inside and outside the home.

If you’re shielding because you are in the highest risk group for coronavirus, then you’ll probably need support in order to get food and other essential supplies and services.

This support can be from family, friends or neighbours as long as they carefully follow physical distancing guidance. Note, that the final registrations for food support will close on the 17 July, to allow for support to reach individuals ahead of the scheme end date of 31 July.

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.

For a full list of reasons you can leave the house for, read the 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 such as some shops. However, this is optional, not a requirement. Face masks are mandatory on public transport.

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 or have been identified as needing to shield yourself against 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.

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. 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.

Check out our useful list of support services

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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