Here are the social distancing rules if you feel like you haven't got a clue


Prime Minister Boris Johnson wearing a face mask. (PA)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson wearing a face mask. (PA)

Since lockdown was announced in March, the government has taken slow steps to ease restrictions, from reopening shops and restaurants to encouraging more people to return to work. But with each change comes more rules and for most of us, it’s been hard to keep up.

While many have started getting their life back to normal, the virus is still with us.

The latest changes to the guidance were announced last week when Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden announced the reopening of gyms, nail salons and swimming pools.

Here’s everything you need to know about the current guidelines in England:

What are the rules on social distancing?

The original social distancing rule of keeping 2m apart for everyone was changed to “one metre plus” on 4 July.

A pub on the Thames at Greenwich, serve customers wearing required face shields, (Getty)
A pub on the Thames at Greenwich, serve customers wearing required face shields, (Getty)

This means when it is not possible to stay 2m apart from someone, people should keep a distance of at least 1m while observing precautions to reduce the risk of transmission.

The change was announced to make business easier for pubs and restaurants as they reopened.

What happens if I feel ill?

The rules on if you catch a fever remain the same. Once you come down with an illness you should self-isolate for 14 days.

Anyone you’ve been in contact with should also self-isolate for two weeks.

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If you think you have symptoms you should contact your GP and follow their advice.

You may also be contacted by the government’s test and trace system, which would mean you have recently been in contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus and will have to self-isolate.

How many people can meet up at one time and where?

Another major change that was brought in on 4 July was that people are allowed to meet indoors. Your household is allowed to meet someone from another household, inside or outside.

You may meet as many separate households as you want at separate times, you do not need to limit yourself to just one.

More than two households are still not allowed to meet up at one time indoors, but you can continue to meet in any outdoor space in a group of up to 6 people from different households.

You are also allowed to stay overnight in another person’s home or a hotel.

Pubs are now open in England but staff must wear protective equipment. (Getty)
Pubs are now open in England but staff must wear protective equipment. (Getty)

The guidelines still say you should avoid sharing toilets and other household items when in another person’s home.

They also advise wiping down door handles and surfaces the guest may touch before and after they leave.

There are no restrictions on where you meet people or how far you travel to meet them. However, you are not allowed to share a car with anyone who is not in your support bubble.

It is currently against the law for gatherings of more than 30 people to take place unless planned by an organisation following government guidelines, like a pub with a large beer garden or a cafe with an outdoor seating area.

What are the rules regarding pubs and restaurants?

Pubs and restaurants are now allowed to open in England, although some have chosen not to for the time being.

All open establishments must follow the government’s safety guidelines.

These include:

  • Customers must use hand santiser and give contact details upon arrival

  • Indoor establishments must use table service only to avoid crowded bars and reduce contact between staff and customers

  • Venues must monitor how many people they have inside at one time

  • Increased cleaning of facilities once a customer leaves

People can now get a haircut as long as the establishment is following the government guidelines. (Getty)
People can now get a haircut as long as the establishment is following the government guidelines. (Getty)

Can I get a finally get a haircut?

Yes, barbers and hair salons reopened on 4 July. They have to follow similar guidelines to what is in place for pubs and restaurants, but people can finally get a haircut.

People can now also visit beauticians and nail bars which were allowed to open on Monday.

Some services that involve work on or around the face such as makeup and eyebrow waxing are still not allowed.

A nail technician at work behind a plastic protective as they reopen to customers on following the easing of lockdown restrictions in England.(Getty)
A nail technician at work behind a plastic protective as they reopen to customers on following the easing of lockdown restrictions in England.(Getty)

What about exercise?

You are allowed to exercise as much as you like outdoors currently.

Recreational outdoor sports teams were given the go-ahead to reconvene last week, alongside the announcement of the reopening of outdoor swimming pools.

This will be followed by the reopening of gyms and indoor swimming pools on 24 July.

Gyms have been asked to adhere to strict guidelines around ensuring social distancing and the cleaning of equipment, but customers will not be asked to wear masks while inside.

What is a support bubble?

A support bubble is different from other rules regarding meetups, they can only be formed with one other household under certain conditions.

Importantly, you can only form a social bubble if one of the homes is occupied by an adult living alone or with a child under the age of 18.

In effect, a social bubble is the joining of two households as if they were all living in the same house and they do not have to adhere to social distancing guidelines.

When do I need to wear a face mask?  

Since June 15, coverings have been required on all public transport in England. This includes National Rail trains and buses.

Uber and many local taxi companies have also said a mask should be worn when using their services.

The government also recently announced that from July 24, face coverings will also be required wearing in shops in England

Shops can refuse entry for anyone who isn’t wearing a mask and police are being given the ability to fine people £100 for not complying.

Can I travel abroad?

The government recently announced that travelers from more than 50 countries, including France, Spain, and Italy, will not have to quarantine upon arrival.

Some countries still have restrictive rules for people arriving from the UK.

Travelers arriving from the United States do still have to quarantine themselves for 14 days.

Will I be working from home forever?

For the time being, yes. If you have a job where you can work from home you should continue to do so.

Workers who cannot work from home are now expected to go to work, but avoid public transport if possible.

The government has released guidelines to make workplaces safer, including encouraging social distancing as much as possible and providing hand sanitiser for staff.

Work in other people’s homes, such as plumbing and cleaning, can take place provided no one in the house is isolating because of Covid-19.

What won’t be returning anytime soon?

Currently, there is no date for the reopening of nightclubs, bowling alleys, conference centres or indoor theatres.

Other recreational spaces like skating rinks, indoor jungle gyms, and indoor sporting facilities are also still unable to open.

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