If you think you have symptoms of coronavirus, or want to know about testing and tracing programmes, see this article.

This article gives an overview of official guidance and rules on lockdown, categories of vulnerable patients, and how to get help. There are links to the full documents at the bottom of this page.

There are five sections to the advice below:

Requirements for everyone – England
Requirements for everyone – Scotland
Requirements for everyone – Wales
Requirements for everyone – Northern Ireland
If you need support.

While the rules and guidance are broadly similar throughout the United Kingdom, there are detailed differences between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Links to rules and guidance in the devolved nations are included below.

General resources

NHS advice on what to do if you are unwell - UK
Working safely during coronavirus (contains links to equivalent advice for each devolved nation).

Guidance on hand-washing and hygiene remains in place:

  • Wash your hands more often, with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use a hand sanitiser when you get home or into work, blow your nose, sneeze, cough, eat, or handle food
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who have symptoms
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in a bin and wash your hands
  • If you can, wear a cloth face mask when you are indoors with people outside your household, and it is not possible to maintain social distancing (eg in some shops)
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces in the home.

Requirements for everyone - England

In order to slow and reduce the spread of coronavirus, the Government has placed restrictions on when and how people can move around outside their homes and meet others. 

It remains a general rule that you should remain two metres (six and a half feet) or more away from anyone who does not live in your household. However, there are exceptions to this. If you cannot maintain a two metre distance, but can take an extra precaution such as wearing a face mask or avoiding face-to-face contact, it is acceptable to keep a one metre distance.

There are limits on when and how you may meet with people you do not live with. See this guidance on social gatherings (which is legally enforceable) and this guidance on forming a support 'bubble'.

There may be localised variations on these rules in particular areas, including stricter lockdown measures. This page contains an up-to-date list of areas with local restrictions.

Resources for England

Staying alert and safe (social distancing)
Meeting people from outside your household (including forming 'bubbles')Staying safe outside your home 
Guidance on staying at home for households with possible coronavirus – Public Health England
Coronavirus outbreak FAQs: what you can and can't do
Guidance for people receiving direct payments

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Requirements for everyone - Scotland

In order to slow and reduce the spread of coronavirus, the Scottish Government is advising everyone to plan for keeping safe and minimising risk whenever they leave home. There are some legal requirements, such as wearing face masks in shops or on public transport, and some items of nationwide advice, such as to work from home when this is possible.

There are restrictions on when and how you can meet other people, and social distancing must be observed between members of different households at all times.

People who live alone (that is, with no other adults, and with or without children) may form an 'extended household group' with one other household of any size. 

There may be localised variations on these rules in particular areas, including stricter lockdown measures. This page contains an up-to-date list of areas with local restrictions.

Resources for Scotland

Information for individuals and businesses in Scotland
Staying at home and away from others.

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Requirements for everyone - Wales

In order to slow and reduce the spread of coronavirus, the Welsh Government is advising everyone to plan for keeping safe and minimising risk whenever they leave home. Working from home is advised where this is possible.

There are restrictions on when you may meet people you do not live with, but you may form an 'extended household' with a limited number of people.  

Resources for Wales

Coronavirus regulations FAQs
Staying at home and away from others
Guidance on extended households.

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Requirements for everyone – Northern Ireland

In order to slow and reduce the spread of coronavirus, the Northern Ireland Executive is advising everyone to stay at home as much as possible, including working from home when this is feasible.

Even when doing these things, you should remain two metres (six and a half feet) or more away from anyone who does not live in your household.

There are restrictions on when and how you may meet people you do not live with, but you can form a 'bubble' with another household

Resources for Northern Ireland

Coronavirus rules and guidance 
Coronavirus (COVID-19): regulations, guidance and what they mean for you
Staying home and self-isolation.

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If you need support

Many local voluntary groups have been formed to help people who need support due to coronavirus. To find out if there is one in your area, visit covidmutualaid.org. The service On Hand can also match people who need help with vetted volunteers. In Scotland, Ready Scotland offered a portal for both volunteering and seeking assistance locally. In Wales, see Volunteering Wales

There is also support available for all patients and members of the public. The NHS has created a new service via the messaging app WhatsApp. Enter the number 07860 064422 into your contacts, then message it the word 'hi' to get started. This is a 'chatbot' service that can provide you with information.  

See this article for information on what to do if you have symptoms of COVID-19, and how to get a test.

If online information is not sufficient and you need to speak to someone, you can call NHS 111

You can of course also call the Patients Association helpline on 0800 3457115 for free information, advice and signposting, between 9:30am and 5pm, Monday to Friday, or email at any time.

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Last updated: 14th September 09:00.