Social distancing means keeping apart from people to restrict the spread of coronavirus.
The rules and guidance are being relaxed across the country.
Rules are different in each UK nation – and they will not ease in Leicester, which is currently under a local lockdown.
What is social distancing?
The original rule across the UK was that you had to stay 2m (6ft) away from anybody who was not a member of your household.
Those rules have now been relaxed.
You should still ideally stay 2m (6ft) apart, but if that’s not possible, you can stay 1m (3ft) apart with extra precautions such as face coverings and not sitting face-to-face.
In Scotland the exemptions to the 2m rule are only in some premises such as pubs and restaurants, and face coverings are compulsory in shops.
And in Wales, while the 2m rule remains, the guidance is changing to reflect the fact that it is not realistic to stay that far apart in somewhere like a hairdresser’s shop.
The only people you do not have to distance yourself from are those you live with and those you have linked to in a support bubble.
In England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, single adults living alone – or single parents with children under 18 – can form a bubble with one other household of any size, and visit each other’s homes. In Wales, two households of any size can now join up in a similar “extended household”.
Also, in Scotland, children aged 11 or under no longer have to socially distance with others outside.
Who can I meet outside?
Outdoors in England, up to 30 people from two households can meet, or a maximum of six people can meet from multiple households.
People from different households must maintain social distancing throughout.
People who are clinically vulnerable and are “shielding” can now gather in groups of up to six people outdoors, including individuals outside of their household.
In Scotland, up to 15 people from five different households can meet outdoors.
In Northern Ireland, up to 30 people who are not in the same household can meet outdoors.
In Wales,any number of people from two different households can now meet outdoors.
How do I safely host guests in my home?
In England, two households up to a maximum of 30 people can meet indoors and overnight stays are allowed.
In Wales, indoor meetings are still not allowed, but with indoor bars and restaurants due to reopen in August that will presumably be relaxed.
The guidance encourages people to keep windows and doors open for ventilation.
If you have guests coming for a meal, put crockery and cutlery in a dishwasher or hot soapy water (and then rinse in cold water) immediately after use.
Experts recommend the following:
- Wash hands before and after preparing food, eating and washing up
- Put food straight on plates and don’t use large serving bowls
- Avoid serving cold food which needs “handling” before and during meals, like cold meats or salads
- Use detergent or soapy water to regularly wipe down tables and chairs where people put hands, fingers and elbows – then wash the cloth.
What about a socially-distanced meal out?
Pubs, restaurants and cafes have been able to reopen indoors in England and Northern Ireland, as long as they follow safety guidelines.
You should expect to:
- Book ahead
- Give contact details
- Follow a one-way system
- Be offered table service only
Staff should practise good hand hygiene and social distancing, but they don’t have to wear face coverings.
The government advice to employers includes:
- avoiding face-to-face seating
- monitoring crowd density, and reducing the number of people in enclosed spaces
- improving ventilation
- changing shift patterns so staff work in set teams
Indoor parts of pubs and restaurants will reopen in Scotland on 15 July, while in Wales they can open outdoors from 13 July and indoors from 3 August.
What is self-isolation and who should do it?
Self-isolating means staying at home and not leaving it.
People who have symptoms of coronavirus should isolate themselves for seven days and arrange to get tested. Symptoms include:
- a new continuous cough
- a high temperature
- a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell
Other members of their household should isolate for 14 days and not leave their homes.
If you test positive you will be contacted by contact tracers, who will establish who else you might have passed on the infection to.
Anybody they deem to be at risk will have to isolate themselves for 14 days from the point of contact.
In England, until recently, those categorised as “clinically extremely vulnerable”, or “shielders” have also been self-isolating, but they can now go outside for exercise and meet up to five other people outdoors while social distancing if they want to. They can also form a support bubble.