Protecting Yourself and Social Distancing

Page last reviewed and updated on: 29 September 2020

On 22 September, the Government announced additional measures to address the increase in coronavirus cases. These build on the social contact rules that were put in place on 9 September, with the aim of helping us to control the virus as we move into winter. This is national guidance that applies to England only – there is different guidance in ScotlandWales and Northern Ireland.

When you leave your home, you should follow the guidelines on meeting with others safely.

You should continue to avoid close contact and remain socially distant from anyone you do not live with or who is not in your support bubble.

It is critical that everybody observes the following key behaviours:

  • HANDS - Wash your hands regularly and for 20 seconds.
  • FACE - Wear a face covering in indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult, and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet.
  • SPACE - Stay two metres apart from people you do not live with where possible, or one metre with extra precautions in place (such as wearing face coverings or increasing ventilation indoors).

Read guidance on face coverings.

If you have symptoms, you should stay at home and arrange to have a test to see if you have coronavirus. From 28 September, you could be fined if you do not stay at home and self-isolate following a positive test result for COVID-19 or if you are contacted by NHS Test and Trace and instructed to self-isolate.

You can find answers to the most frequently asked questions about what you should and should not do during the coronavirus outbreak on our FAQs page.

The UK Government has updated its guidance on self-isolation. You can find the latest information and advice on self-isolation and treating coronavirus symptoms.

The UK Government has updated its guidance on local lockdowns.

Information last reviewed and updated on: 16 July 2020.

The Government has continued to update its guidance on the social distancing measures that will help us all to stay alert and remain as safe as possible. You can find the specific details for people living in England in the Stay Alert and Stay Safe (Social Distancing) document.

People in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should follow the specific rules for those parts of the UK.

What is social distancing?

Social distancing measures are designed to decrease our level of interaction to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. The Government is regularly updating these as they start to ease restrictions and these will differ across the UK.

Social distancing means staying at home except for a few specific purposes. These include work (if you can't work at home), exercise, collecting food or medical supplies, receiving essential healthcare or providing care for someone who is vulnerable.

In England, social distancing should still be observed, although the rules are changing from two metres to one metre plus. This also depends upon where you are; for example, in shops where there are screens or on public transport where people are wearing face masks.

Each UK nation has its own detailed guidance and rules. There could also be differences at a more local level when they're needed and at the moment, certain areas are subject to local lockdowns. Find out what restrictions are in place if you live, work or travel in the Leicester area during the local outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19).

If there's different advice for your city or county, your local council website should have details. Find your local council at gov.uk.

You should follow the guidance on safe social distancing and meeting people who you do not live with.

More businesses are opening, including restaurants, pubs, libraries, hairdressers and campsites. All will be expected to follow COVID-19 secure guidelines.

While things are changing, we still need to follow the guidance on staying home as much as possible and limiting contact with others, social distancing and hygiene. Read the Gov UK information about what you can and cannot do.

Please note, this guidance applies to England only. People in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland should follow the information given below.

Should I practice social distancing even if I do not have any symptoms?

The Government has instructed everyone to reduce their social interactions in order to reduce the rate of transmission. This relates to people living in their own homes, with or without additional support from friends, family or carers. People who are extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 should be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures. These include anyone aged 70 or over, people with underlying health conditions, (i.e. those advised to have the annual flu jab on medical grounds) and pregnant women. You can find the full list here.

Should I be self-isolating?

The guidelines for people at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 are the same as for the general population. If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 you must self-isolate at home for ten days. The guidance will vary according to your living situation, the severity of your symptoms and those you live with: click here for full details on when and how to self-isolate.

There are many resources available for managing self-isolation and social distancing, and we will continue to help our community as much as possible. Please call our Helpline on 0800 311 2756 if you are feeling anxious and want to talk; or the NHS 111 service for non-urgent medical enquiries.

How can I protect myself?

Always ensure that you are following the latest Government advice regarding social distancing and self-isolation.

Practical measures that will help to protect against COVID-19 include all of the following:

  • Wash your hands: wet your hands with clean running water and apply soap. Lather your hands, including the backs, between your fingers and under your nails, and scrub for at least 20 seconds. Rinse
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the bin and wash your hands. If you do not have a tissue to hand, cough or sneeze into your elbow
  • Face masks offer some protection as they block liquid droplets. However, they do not block smaller aerosol particles that can pass through the fabric of the mask. You can use a clean scarf to cover your nose and mouth in the same way. There is evidence that some viruses can infect people through their eyes, which will remain exposed even when you cover your face
  • Seek medical help if you are showing symptoms of COVID-19, and share your travel history with healthcare providers
  • Look after your own wellbeing and physical health during this time

For more information, please click here

Local Government Association – Click here for information about your local council: https://www.local.gov.uk/

Scotland - for information about your local council click here: https://www.gov.scot/coronavirus-covid-19/

Northern Ireland- for information about your local council click here: https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/coronavirus

Wales - for information about your local council click here: https://gov.wales/coronavirus

It is important to seek help with the delivery of food, medicines and essential supplies, as well as to access support for your physical and mental health and wellbeing. Let your family, friends and neighbours know how to support you, and register online for Government schemes.

For all the latest information, please visit Public Health England. If you do have specific concerns surrounding medications or symptoms, you should speak to your GP, contact NHS 111 or get in touch with your consultant. Please do this by telephone; do not go in person to a hospital or your GP unless you have been directed to do so.