What is the latest with lockdown?

Boris Johnson has ordered the country to stay at home in a bid to reverse the spread of coronavirus.

A new national lockdown across England means people must stay at home unless for specific reasons, such as attending school or college, or going to the supermarket.

There has, however, been some confusion over the length of the lockdown, with Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove saying the measure could be extended if coronavirus infection rates do not significantly fall.

– When do the new rules come into force?

The new national lockdown will run from November 5 until December 2.

The lockdown will then be eased on a regional basis according to the latest coronavirus case data at that time.

– What did Mr Gove say?

The minister said he believed the restrictions announced by Boris Johnson would bring down the R value, but warned it would be “foolish” to predict what would happen with the pandemic over the next four weeks and conceded the lockdown may have to be extended.

Asked during an interview on Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday whether the national lockdown could be extended, he replied: “Yes.”

Mr Gove said: “We want to be in a position where we can – and I believe that this is likely to be the case – have an approach where if we bring down the rate of infection sufficiently we can reduce measures nationally and also reduce measures regionally.

The Andrew Marr Show
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove has seemingly contradicted the guidance given by the Prime Minister(Jeff Overs/BBC)

“Because the regional approach is one that, wherever possible, we want to take because again we recognise it may be the case in the future that having reduced R below 1, having reduced national restrictions, we may see a specific upsurge in specific areas which will require specific regional measures.”

– Can I leave my home?

Yes, but only for specific reasons such as education, if it is not provided online and work, if you cannot work from home (including if your job involves working in other people’s homes) as well as for exercise, which you can take as many times a day as you wish.

People can also leave for recreational purposes with their own household, or on their own with one person from another household (a “one plus one” rule).

Examples of recreation include meeting up with a friend in the park for a walk or to sit on a bench and eat a sandwich. People will not be allowed to meet in homes and gardens, and golf clubs will remain shut.

People can also leave home to shop for food and essentials, and to provide care for vulnerable people or as a volunteer.

Attending medical appointments is also allowed or to escape injury or harm (such as for people suffering domestic abuse).

– What will close?

Non-essential shops, leisure and entertainment venues will all be closed.

Non-essential retail includes clothing and electronics stores, car showrooms, travel agents, betting shops, auction houses, tailors, car washes, tobacco and vape shops.

Leisure includes bowling alleys, leisure centres and gyms, sports facilities including swimming pools, golf courses and driving ranges, dance studios, stables and riding centres, soft play facilities, climbing walls and climbing centres, archery and shooting ranges, water and theme parks.

– What else stays open?

The NHS and medical services such as GPs, along with Jobcentre Plus sites and courts.

– What if I shielded last time?

People over 60 and those who are clinically vulnerable are being told to be especially careful to follow the rules and minimise their contact with others.

Anyone who was formally notified that they should shield last time and not go out to work will be advised not to go out to work this time.

However, formal shielding as happened during the March and April lockdown – where people were told not to leave home for any reason – will not be brought in.

People classed as clinically extremely vulnerable are being advised to work from home. If that is not possible people may be eligible for may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay or Employment Support Allowance.

More guidance will be published on Monday.

– Should my children go to school or to the childminder? Can they go to a playground?

Yes, schools, colleges and universities will all remain open. Students should not return home during term time, but can return home for the Christmas holiday.

Childminders and nurseries will stay open and childcare bubbles, where for example a grandparent provides childcare while a parent works, will be able to continue.

Health minister Nadine Dorries has said children under school age who are with their parents will not count towards the limit on two people meeting outside.

After-school clubs and sports clubs will be suspended until December 2.

Playgrounds and parks will remain open.

– Can I go on holiday, have an overnight stay or go to my second home?

No, you are advised not to travel unless for essential reasons.

People can travel for work and there are exemptions for overnights and second homes for work purposes.

Those who are already on holiday will be able to return to the UK.

– Is there a furlough scheme?

Yes, furlough will be payable at 80% up to a maximum of £2,500 for the duration of the package of tougher national measures. The support will be available across the UK.

Business premises forced to close in England will also receive grants worth up to £3,000 per month under a Local Restrictions Support Grant.

A further £1.1 billion will be given to local authorities – distributed on the basis of £20 per head – for one-off payments to support businesses.

– Is there support for mortgages?

Yes. Homeowners will be able to take the option of mortgage payment holidays, which had been due to end on Saturday but have been extended.

– Can I move house?

Yes. Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick tweeted to say members of the public will still be able to move.

“Removal firms and estate agents can operate, construction sites can and should continue, tradespeople will be able to enter homes. But all must follow the Covid safety guidance,” he added.

– Can I go to church?

Churches will remain open for private prayer.

– Will Premier League football matches continue?

Yes. Boris Johnson said games would continue despite the restrictions.

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The changes mean people should WFH where possible

But where this is not possible, travel to a place of work will be permitted – e.g. this includes (but not exhaustive) elite sport played behind closed doors, film & tv production, telecoms workers

— Oliver Dowden (@OliverDowden) October 31, 2020

– What if I live in an area with lower cases?

You must still observe the rules as they apply across England. Professor Chris Whitty said that many of the areas with lower case numbers have the highest rates of increase.

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