Herefordshire is now under Tier 1 COVID-19 restrictions. The decision to move Herefordshire down a tier was announced by Health Secretary Matt Hancock in Parliament on Thursday and it is as a result of infection rates showing a steady fall in the county over recent weeks.
OFFICIAL ADVICE FROM THE UK GOVERNMENT.
During the Christmas period (23 to 27 December) different rules on social contact will apply.
This guidance is for people who are fit and well. There is additional advice for:
- households with a possible or confirmed coronavirus infection
- people who are clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus
You can also read alternative formats of this guidance.
Hands. Face. Space
Remember – ‘Hands. Face. Space’:
- hands: wash your hands regularly and for 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)
When meeting people you do not live with, it is important to do so outdoors where possible, or to make sure that any indoor venue has good ventilation (for example by opening windows so that fresh air can enter).
Meeting family and friends
You can meet with friends and family you do not live with in a group of up to 6, indoors or outdoors. This is the ‘rule of 6’. This limit of 6 includes children of any age.
You can continue to meet in a group larger than 6 if you are all from the same household or support bubble or another legal exemption applies.
Support and childcare bubbles
There is separate guidance for support bubbles and childcare bubbles across all tiers. Support bubbles have been expanded. From 2 December you can form a support bubble with another household if any of the following apply to you:
- you are the only adult in your household (any other members of the household having been under 18 on 12 June 2020), or are an under-18-year-old living alone
- you live with someone with a disability who requires continuous care and there is no other adult living in the household
- you live with a child under 1, or who was under 1 on 2 December 2020
- you live with a child under 5, or who was under 5 on 2 December 2020, with a disability
Meeting in larger groups
There are exceptions where people can continue to gather in groups larger than 6:
- as part of a single household or support bubble
- in a childcare bubble (for the purposes of childcare only)
- for work, or providing voluntary or charitable services, including in other people’s homes (see guidance on working safely in other people’s homes)
- for registered childcare, education or training – meaning education related to a formal curriculum or training that relates to work or obtaining work
- for supervised activities provided for children and those who were under 18 on 31 August 2020, including wraparound care (before and after school childcare), children’s groups, activities for under-18s and children’s playgroups
- for parent and toddler groups – up to a maximum of 15 people (under-5s do not count towards this limit). These cannot take place in private dwellings.
- 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 or guardians to meet a child or children who may be placed with them
- support groups of up to 15 participants – formally organised groups to provide mutual aid, therapy or any other form of support, where it is necessary for these to take place in person. These cannot take place in private dwellings. Under-5s do not count towards the 15-person limit for support groups
- for birth partners
- to provide emergency assistance, and to avoid injury or illness, or to escape a risk of harm
- 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 vulnerableor to provide respite for a carer
- for a wedding or equivalent ceremony, and wedding receptions, where the organiser has carried out a risk assessment and taken all reasonable measures to limit the risk of transmission of the virus – up to a maximum of 15 people. These cannot take place in private dwellings, except for weddings that take place in exceptional circumstances where one party is seriously ill and not expected to recover
- for funerals – up to a maximum of 30 people and for linked commemorative events, such as wakes or stonesettings – up to 15 people. These cannot take place in private dwellings
- 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 support team if necessary, or parents/guardians if they are under 18) to compete and train
- for organised outdoor sport and physical activity, and organised sports for disabled people
- to facilitate a house move
Other activities, such as hobby groups, organised indoor sport, physical activity and exercise classes can continue to take place, in line with social gatherings limits (the rule of 6). Where it is likely that groups will mix, these activities should not go ahead. There are exceptions for indoor disability sport, sport as part of formal education, and supervised sport and physical activity for under-18s, which can take place with larger groups mixing.
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 each further offence up to £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.
Keeping you and your friends and family safe
When meeting friends and family you should also:
- follow guidance on social distancing and letting in fresh air
- limit how many people you see socially over any period of time
- meet people outdoors if possible: this is safer because fresh air provides better ventilation
Protecting people more at risk from coronavirus
If you have any of the following health conditions, you may be clinically vulnerable, meaning you could be at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus. If you are clinically vulnerable you:
- can go outside as much as you like but you should still try to keep your overall social interactions low
- can go to school
- should still access the social care and medical services you need
- can visit businesses, such as supermarkets, pubs and shops, whilst keeping 2 metres away from others wherever possible or 1 metre plus other precautions, but consider doing so at quieter times of the day
- should continue to wash your hands carefully and more frequently than usual and maintain thorough cleaning of frequently touched areas in your home and/or workspace
Clinically vulnerable people are those who are:
- aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions)
- under 70 with an underlying health condition listed below (that is, anyone instructed to get a flu jab each year on medical grounds):
- chronic (long-term) mild to moderate respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis
- chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
- chronic kidney disease
- chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
- chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), or cerebral palsy
- a weakened immune system as the result of certain conditions or medicines they are taking (such as steroid tablets)
- being seriously overweight (a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above)
There is a further group of people who are defined, also on medical grounds, as clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus – that is, people with specific serious health conditions. At each tier, there is additional advice that clinically extremely vulnerable people must follow.
Visiting venues, such as restaurants, pubs, cinemas and museums
Venues can host multiple groups and should follow COVID-19-secure guidance, but you must not mix in groups larger than 6, unless you all live together, are in the same support bubble, or another exemption applies. This includes in:
- pubs and restaurants
- leisure and entertainment venues
- personal care/close contact services
- public buildings, such as libraries, community centres and halls
At least one person in your group should give their contact details to the venue, or each individual should check in using the official NHS COVID-19 app so NHS Test and Trace can contact you if needed.
Businesses and venues
All businesses and venues should follow COVID-secure guidelines to protect customers, visitors and workers.
Restrictions on businesses and venues in Tier 1 areas include:
- nightclubs and adult entertainment venues must remain closed
- hospitality businesses – including cafes, restaurants, bars and social clubs – selling food or drink for consumption on their premises where this includes alcohol are required to provide table service only. In cinemas, theatres, concert halls and sports stadia, alcohol can be ordered at a bar to be consumed when seated in the auditorium or area where the screening/performance is taking place. This should be limited to only those with tickets. When it is to be consumed in the bar area itself, full table service must be provided.
- hospitality venues that do not serve alcohol may allow someone to order from the counter, but they must still consume their meal from a seat if eating in
- hospitality venues must stop taking orders after 10pm and must close between 11pm and 5am (except in airports, ports, the Folkestone international rail terminal, on public transport services and in motorway service areas, although these places cannot sell alcohol after 11pm)
- hospitality businesses and venues selling food and drink for consumption off the premises can continue to do so after 10pm, such as by take-away. After 11pm, this must only be through delivery service or click-and-collect or drive-through
- businesses must not provide shared smoking equipment for use on the premises
- visitor attractions, entertainment businesses and venues may open, but early closure (11pm) applies to the following:
- bowling alleys
- adult gaming centres and amusement arcades
- funfairs, theme parks and adventure parks and activities
- bingo halls
- cinemas, theatres,concert halls and sports stadia
- cinemas, theatres, concert halls and sports stadia can stay open beyond 11pm in order to conclude performances and events that start before 10pm
- tour groups must operate in line with social contact rules. This means that larger tours where groups of more than 6 interact will not be feasible
- accommodation, such as hotels, holiday lets and guesthouses, may open but businesses must take reasonable steps to ensure that social contact rules are followed within their venues
- retail businesses and premises may open but must ensure that they operate in a COVID-19-secure manner
- theatres, concert halls, music venues and sports stadia are open, but capacity should be restricted to whichever is lower: 50% capacity or 4,000 people outdoors or 1,000 people indoors
- conference centres and exhibition halls are open. Business events are permitted, but capacity should be restricted to whichever is lower: 50% capacity or 4,000 people outdoors or 1,000 people indoors
- certain businesses and venues are required to collect customer, visitor, and staff data to support NHS Test and Trace
- the wearing of face coverings for customers and staff (other than those with exemptions) is mandatory in certain indoor settings
- businesses must ensure that if their workers are required to self-isolate, they do not work outside their designated place of self-isolation
- businesses and venues that fail to comply with these restrictions may face fines of up to £10,000, prosecution, or in some cases closure
See full guidance on which businesses and venues are permitted to be open under each local restriction tier.
Going to work
Everyone who can work from home should do so.
Where people cannot do so – including, but not limited to, people who work in critical national infrastructure, construction, or manufacturing – they should continue to travel to their workplace.
Public-sector employees working in essential services, including education settings, should continue to go into work where necessary
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.
If you are clinically extremely vulnerable you can go to work as long as your workplace is COVID-secure, but you should carry on working from home wherever possible.
Gatherings for work purposes are only allowed where they are reasonably necessary. If meetings take place in the workplace, workplaces should be set up to meet the COVID-19-secure guidelines. Meals to socialise with work colleagues, in a group of more than 6, are not permitted.
For more information, follow the guidance on how to return to work safely.
Going to school, college and university
The government has prioritised ensuring all children and young people can attend school and college safely, to support their wellbeing and education and help working parents and guardians. All pupils should continue to attend school and college, unless required to self-isolate, when their school and college should provide them with high quality remote education.
Universities should follow guidance on reopeningbuildings to ensure they have safety measures in place to minimise the spread of the virus.
If you’re a student, you can meet in groups of more than 6 as part of your formal education or training. Students should expect to follow the guidance and restrictions. You should maintain social distancing from anyone you do not live with wherever possible.
University students are allowed to change their household temporarily once after 2 December to return home for Christmas. After that point they should comply with the social contact limits above as if their family home is their household. This will not affect any support bubble arrangements their family home is part of. Where available, students should take advantage of a free test from their University before departing.
Schools and colleges
In schools and colleges where year 7 and above are educated, face coverings should be worn by adults (staff and visitors) and pupils when moving around indoors, such as in corridors and communal areas where social distancing is difficult to maintain.
There are several ways that parents and carers can continue to access childcare in Tier 1. You can get childcare support from:
- registered childcare providers
- professional childcare providers in the home such as nannies (see guidance on working safely in other people’s homes)
- other supervised activities provided for young people (including anyone who was under 18 on 31 August 2020) – including wraparound care, youth groups and activities, and children’s playgroups
- people in their childcare bubble – parents are able to form a childcare bubble with one other household for the purposes of informal childcare, where the child is 13 or under
- people in their support bubble – some households will also be able to benefit from being in a support bubble
Family and friends can continue to provide informal childcare as long as groups from different households don’t exceed 6 people, or as part of a childcare bubble. Childcare bubbles are to be used to provide childcare only, and not for the purposes of different households mixing where they are otherwise not allowed to do so. Read guidance on making and using a childcare bubble.
Visiting relatives in care homes
Visits to care homes can take place with arrangements such as substantial screens, visiting pods, and window visits. Regular testing will be offered to up to two family members or friends per resident by Christmas, which – when combined with other infection-control measures such as PPE – will support indoor visits with physical contact. Detailed guidance will be published shortly.
You should walk or cycle if you can. Where that is not possible, use public transport or drive.
You should plan ahead and avoid the busiest routes, as well as busy times as much as possible.
If you need to travel, you should follow the safer travel guidance.
You must not travel if you are experiencing any coronavirus symptoms, are self-isolating as a result of coronavirus symptoms, are sharing a household or support bubble with somebody with symptoms, or have been told to self-isolate after being contacted by NHS Test and Trace.
Travelling out of a Tier 1 area
If you live in a Tier 1 area and travel to an area in a higher tier you should follow the rules for that area while you are there.
Avoid travel to or overnight stays in Tier 3 areas other than where necessary, such as:
- for work
- for education
- to access voluntary, charitable or youth services
- to visit your support bubble
- to receive medical treatment
- for moving house
- because of caring responsibilities.
You can travel through a Tier 3 area as part of a longer journey.
For international travel see the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office Travel Advice for your destination and the travel corridors list.
When travelling, it is also important that you respect the rules in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and do not travel to different parts of the UK where your intended activities there would be prohibited by legislation passed by the relevant devolved administration.
Weddings, civil partnerships, religious services and funerals
Weddings, funerals and wakes
Wedding and civil partnership ceremonies, receptions and funerals should only take place in COVID secure venues or in public outdoor spaces, unless in exceptional circumstances.
Receptions and wakes should be sit down meals to ensure people can keep their distance from each other and must not take place in private dwellings.
You can have up to:
- 15 people for weddings, civil partnership ceremonies and receptions
- 30 people for funerals
- 15 people for wakes or linked ceremonial events (such as stone-settings) before or after the funeral
The limits above are the maximum number for all attendees at the event, for example at a wedding or civil partnership ceremony to include the couple and guests. Anyone working at a wedding, civil partnership ceremony, reception, wake or funeral is not included in the limit. Within these larger gatherings, people do not need to limit their interaction to groups of 6 or their own household, but social distancing should still be followed between people who do not live together or share a support bubble.
Read the guidance on:
Places of worship
You can attend places of worship for a service. However, you must not mingle with anyone in a group of more than 6 people, other than with people you live with or have formed a support bubble with.
Sport and physical activity
In line with guidelines from sporting national governing bodies, you can take part in organised sport and physical activity outdoors in any number.
Organised indoor sport and indoor exercise classes are only permitted if it is possible for people to avoid mixing in a group of more than 6 (or with people they live with or share a support bubble with).
There are exceptions for the following, which can take place in any number:
- disability sport
- sports as part of the curriculum in education
- supervised sport and physical activity for under-18s (including those who were under 18 on 31 August 2020)
You can do unlimited individual exercise outdoors or in gyms and other sports facilities. If it is not a formally organised activity you can only exercise outdoors in groups of up to six (or your household or support bubble), or indoors with your own households or support bubble.
You should follow the guidance on:
- recreational team sport
- outdoor sport and recreation in England
- for providers of grassroots sports and gym/leisure facilities
You can still move home.
Estate and letting agents and removals firms can continue to work. If you are looking to move, you can go to property viewings.
Wherever you live, you may be able to get financial help:
- financial support packages for businesses
- financial support for closed businesses as a result of tiering restrictions
- claim for employee wages through Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
- check if you can claim a grant through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme
- financial support if you’re off work because of coronavirus