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The first stage in the government’s step-by-step route out of lockdown starts in England from Monday.
Children will now be allowed back to school and wraparound childcare will also be re-opened.
Care-home residents will also have extended rights to receive visits from loved-ones, which will give them some much-needed respite.
People will also be allowed to meet one friend in the park for coffee and a picnic, whereas before only exercise was permitted.
But despite the tentative opening, experts have still warned that if virus rates go up then dates for further reopening may have to be pushed back.
So, what is not allowed under the relaxed rules, and what is staying the same?
Here’s the essential dos and don’ts from Monday in England, reports MirrorOnline.
You can and should send your child to school
As of March 8 schools in England will reopen. Primary schools are expected to open all at once.
However secondary schools will have a staggered reopening throughout the week as their students will be required to take a rapid test before being allowed back for in-person lessons.
They will also be required to wear masks and given lateral flow test kits to test themselves for Covid twice a week.
School sports can also resume, but only if they are for education or a part of wraparound care, like after school clubs.
University students will also be able to return for practical work or specialist facilities that they need for their studies. Nonetheless, other students should still remain at home. Their status is due to be reviewed over easter.
Unions have called for a phased reopening of schools, and there are concerns about the reliability of the rapid tests which are known to miss positive cases, as well as producing false positives.
But Boris Johnson said: “The reopening of schools marks a truly national effort to beat this virus. It is because of the determination of every person in this country that we can start moving closer to a sense of normality.”
You can take your child to wraparound childcare
Wraparound childcare including babysitters will be able to restart from March 8 for all children in certain circumstances.
The accepted reasons for sending your child to childcare are working, seeking work, attending education, seeking medical care or attending a support group.
Vulnerable children can attend childcare regardless of the reason.
You can have a coffee or picnic with one friend in the park
This is perhaps the most wide-reaching new measure.
From Monday ‘recreation’ will be added to the list of reasons for leaving your home. This means that you can sit in any open public space without having to be doing exercise, so activities like picnics or coffee are now allowed.
You can participate in this recreation with your own household, support or childcare bubble, or with one person from another household.
However, if there is someone from another household then there can only be two of you in total.
Children under 5 and up to two carers for a person with a disability are not counted in this limit on gatherings, but children older than 5 are not exempt.
Social distancing rules will still apply when you meet someone from another household, so you should not hug them. The government says: “Social distancing and other safe behaviours should be followed.”
You can visit a loved one in a care home
Care home visiting rules are also being relaxed to allow each resident to nominate one consistent visitor.
The visitor must take a rapid covid test before each trip, and wear PPE during the visit. They will be able to hold hands with their loved one.
Care home visits were previously allowed, but only under limited circumstances such as with screens or in outdoor settings.
People not nominated as the ‘named visitor’ will still be able to visit but must continue to follow these guidelines.
Residents with the highest needs will be able to nominate an ‘essential care giver’ who will be able to have the same access and PPE arrangements as care home staff.
This is where “close contact personal care from a loved one is critical for the resident’s immediate health and wellbeing.”
You can campaign for the local elections
Campaigners are allowed to start delivering leaflets and knocking on doors from March 8 for the May local elections.
Only individual campaigners can go door-to-door and while they are able to speak with voters on the doorstep, this should always be socially distanced.
Campaigners should not go inside people’s homes.
You can’t leave home except for limited reasons
The national ‘stay at home’ order is still in place until March 29 in England.
You can only leave your home for limited exemptions like work, education, food or medicine shopping, exercise or helping a vulnerable person.
The only real difference is that outdoor ‘recreation’, such as having a coffee with one friend, has been added to the list of exemptions for leaving your home.
You can’t go on holiday or stay overnight
Self-contained holidays in England with your own household will not be permitted until April 12 at the earliest as part of Step 2.
Holidays with more than one household and holidays abroad will not be allowed until May 17 at the earliest, which is Step 3.
Until May 17 at the earliest, you also cannot travel to stay overnight with friends and family who aren’t in your bubble.
Even if someone is in your support bubble, you are advised to ‘stay local’ and not travel long distances. However, this is guidance not the law. You can’t be fined for travelling within England as long as you have a reasonable excuse.
You can’t leave the country without a ‘valid reason’
Ministers first announced in January that you would need a ‘valid reason’ to leave the country.
This was already true, given you need a reasonable excuse to leave your home, but was not well-policed.
The roadmap said that this will finally become a legal requirement from March 8.
You will need to download and sign three-page form from the Government's website before travelling.
Travellers must then present a paper or digital copy airport staff at check in or at the departure gate.
Passengers who do not have a valid form can be denied access to their flight or risk a £200 fine.
The details emerged 40 days after Home Secretary Priti Patel announced a crackdown on people travelling abroad without a valid reason.
You can’t have a picnic with five friends at once
The so-called ‘rule of six’ will not come into effect until March 29. Until then, gatherings of multiple households are limited to just two people in total and must take place in a public space.
So, you can have a picnic with your friend, but can’t invite anyone else to join you.
From March 29 you will be able to gather outdoors in groups of up to six people from two households.
You can’t go to the pub
Beer gardens and non-essential shops will reopen from April 12 at the earliest.
Indoor areas of pubs, restaurants, and cafes will only reopen from May 17 at the earliest.
You will be able to get a takeaway pint from April 12, but by then beer gardens will be allowed to reopen anyway.
Groups of up to two households or six people will be allowed in beer gardens from April 12 at the earliest.
- Boris Johnson
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