Coronavirus lockdown rules: What has changed?

Lockdown rules have been changed in England to allow households to join another if an adult lives alone or with a child.

They also now permit people to be present at births and to visit people who are seriously unwell.

We take a look at the new laws:

– What is new?

Changes to the lockdown rules, called The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (Amendment) (No. 4) Regulations 2020, came into force on Saturday and Monday.

This updates the existing version of the law already in place.

Two men in face masks sit in front of Sherlock Holmes artwork in Baker Street Tube station (Victoria Jones/PA)
Two men in face masks sit in front of Sherlock Holmes artwork in Baker Street Tube station (Victoria Jones/PA)

Separate laws have also been introduced which makes wearing face coverings mandatory on public transport in England.

– What does it mean?

More restrictions have been relaxed to allow people to visit others who are in hospital when necessary.

Single adult households are also now allowed to spend time with people they do not live with, inside, without the need for social distancing.

– My partner is expecting a baby, can I attend the birth?

Yes, the latest laws suggest this would be a permitted public gathering.

The document says it is seen as “reasonably necessary” to allow a person to attend a birth at the mother’s request or to visit, subject to restrictions.

A new born baby’s feet (Andrew Matthews/PA)
A new born baby’s feet (Andrew Matthews/PA)

It does not specify who can be allowed to attend the birth, indicating that this could apply to partners, other relatives or friends, or how many people.

If the birth is taking place in hospital, staff may have particular restrictions in place on numbers.

– What about other hospital visits?

Another exception is for visiting someone who is believed to be dying and is a member of the same household, a close relative or a friend.

If there are no other visitors, then any other acquaintance is allowed to go.

This applies to hospital patients and someone staying in a hospice or care home.

Patients can also now be accompanied to medical appointments by a member of their household, a close relative or a friend.

– I live alone, can I go to someone else’s house?

Yes, adults who live alone or with a child under the age of 18 can chose to be “linked” with another household.

This is providing all the adults in the second household agree and it is not linked with any other households.

There is no limit on the number of adults or children who can live in the second household.

If they choose to cut ties, neither household can become “linked” to another, different group of people living in a separate house.

– What else does the law say?

The rules appears to relax restrictions on libraries and places of worship, saying they are not prevented from carrying out business which offers goods for sale or hire on separate premises, from making deliveries or operating a takeaway cafe.

Worshippers sit on seats arranged for social distancing at Westminster Cathedra (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
Worshippers sit on seats arranged for social distancing at Westminster Cathedra (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The legislation also makes clear restrictions have been lifted on some businesses opening, including shops, drive-in cinemas, retail galleries where most of the art on display is for sale and outdoor attractions at zoos, safari parks, aquariums and other farms or parks where animals are exhibited to the public.

– How much longer will the laws be in place? 

They now need to be reviewed at least once every 28 days and ultimately expire after six months of originally being brought into force.

The original Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 were enacted on March 26, indicating the rules would be lifted before the end of September unless they had already been scrapped by the Government.

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