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Government Guidance on COVID-19 Variant

18 May 2021

Be careful: a new COVID-19 variant is spreading in some parts of England

The areas in which the new COVID-19 variant is spreading fastest are:

Given the increased risk of transmitting COVID-19, you should take particular caution when meeting anyone outside your household or support bubble. This will keep you and others safe. In particular, wherever possible, you should try to:

  • Meet outside rather than inside where possible
  • Try to keep 2 metres apart from people that you don’t live with (unless you have formed a support bubble with them), this includes friends and family you don’t live with
  • Get tested twice a week for free and isolate if you are positive
  • Continue to work from home if you can
  • Get vaccinated when you are offered it, and encourage others to do so as well

You should get tested for COVID-19, this includes:

You should self-isolate immediately if you have symptoms or a positive test result for COVID-19. There is financial support if you’re off work because of Coronavirus.

In addition, you should try to avoid travelling in and out of your local area unless it is essential, for example for work or education. 

Keeping yourself and others safe

Restrictions have been eased following the move to step 3. However we must continue to exercise caution. You should follow this guidance on what you can and cannot do. It is underpinned by law.

You should also follow the guidance on how to stop the spread of coronavirus at all times, including if you have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Changes to guidelines and legal restrictions from 17 May

You should continue to work from home if you can. When travelling within the UK, you should aim to do so safely and plan your journey in advance.

You should get a test and follow the stay at home guidance if you have COVID-19 symptoms.

  • Gathering limits have been eased. Outdoor gatherings are limited to 30 people and indoor gatherings are limited to 6 people or 2 households (each household can include a support bubble, if eligible).
  • New guidance on meeting friends and family emphasises personal responsibility rather than government rules. Instead of instructing you to stay 2m apart from anyone you don’t live with, you are encouraged to exercise caution and consider the guidance on risks associated with COVID-19 and actions you can take to help keep you and your loved ones safe. Remember that the risks of close contact may be greater for some people than others and in some settings and circumstances, there will be specific guidance that you will need to follow even when you are with friends and family.
  • Indoor entertainment and attractions such as cinemas, theatres, concert halls, bowling alleys, casinos, amusement arcades, museums and children’s indoor play areas are permitted to open with COVID-secure measures in place.
  • People can attend indoor and outdoor events, including live performances, sporting events and business events. Attendance at these events is capped according to venue type, and attendees should follow the COVID-secure measures set out by those venues.
  • Indoor hospitality venues such as restaurants, pubs, bars and cafes can reopen.
  • Organised indoor sport can take place for all. This includes gym classes. It must be organised by a business, charity or public body and the organiser must take reasonable measures to reduce the risk of transmission.
  • All holiday accommodation can open, including hotels and B&Bs. This can be used by groups of up to 6 or 2 households (each household can include a support bubble, if eligible).
  • Funeral attendance is no longer be limited to 30 people, but will be determined by how many people the COVID-secure venue can safely accommodate with social distancing. Limits at weddings, wakes and other commemorative events have been increased to 30 people. Other significant life events, such as bar/bat mitzvahs and christenings, will also be able to take place with 30 people.
  • The rules for care home residents visiting out and receiving visitors have changed, allowing up to five named visitors (two at any one time), provided visitors test negative for COVID-19.
  • All higher education students are able to access in-person teaching.
  • Support groups and parent and child group gathering limits have been increased to 30 people (not including under 5s)
  • There is no longer a legal restriction or permitted reason required to travel internationally. A traffic light system for international travel has been introduced, and you must follow the rules when returning to England depending on whether you return from a red, amber or green list country.

Please find more information on the restrictions and relaxations and Variant of Concern B1.617.2 on Gov.Uk.

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