September 22, 2020

Coronavirus: What are social distancing and self-isolation?

Members of the public should stay at home and not be tempted out by good weather expected over the weekend, the government says.

In a video posted on Twitter, Boris Johnson urged people not to “start to break the regulations” introduced to beat coronavirus.

Restrictions state that everybody must stay at home where possible, and only leave if they have a “reasonable excuse”. This includes;

Exercise – alone, or with members of your household
Shopping for basic necessities
Any medical need, or providing care for a vulnerable person
Travel to or from work, but only when you cannot work from home
What are the rules on exercise?
Warnings to stay away from beaches, national parks and other destinations were made as forecasters predicted warm weather in some areas and temperatures of up to 20C.

If you have to go outside you should stay more than 2m (6ft) apart from anyone other than members of your own household. This is what’s known as social distancing.

Government guidance urges people to “stay local”, use open spaces near their home and avoid unnecessary travel
Guidance to police says that the public shouldn’t be sanctioned for “travelling a reasonable distance to exercise” – although no definition has been given
People should only exercise once a day, although in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland there is no legal ban on exercising more than that. In Wales, which sets its own health regulations, exercising more than once a day is now illegal – and potentially a criminal offence
You can exercise alone or with members of your own household
Gatherings of more than two in parks and public spaces have been banned (ruling out most team sports)
Dogs can be walked as part of a person’s daily exercise
No mention is given to how long you can exercise for. But Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove has said: “I would have thought for most people a walk of up to an hour, a run of 30 minutes or a cycle ride of between that, depending on their level of fitness, is appropriate.”

Police have wide-ranging powers to help fight coronavirus by enforcing social distancing measures. But there is an enormous gap between what the government would like people to do and the limits of the law restricting movements, says BBC home affairs correspondent Dominic Casciani.

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