Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): staying at home and away from others (physical distancing)

Rules on staying at home and away from others to help protect the NHS and save lives.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): staying at home and away from others (physical distancing)
Staying at home

Staying at home

You should only leave the house for very limited purposes, for example:

  • for basic necessities, such as food and medicine. Trips must be as infrequent as possible
  • daily exercise, for example a run, walk, or cycle - alone or with members of your household. Exercise can take place outdoors as often as you like, as long as you observe physical distancing rules
  • to ensure basic animal welfare needs are met, including taking dogs out when necessary
  • any medical need, including to donate blood, avoid or escape risk of injury or harm, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
  • travelling for work purposes, but only where you cannot work from home

These measures must be followed by everyone.

These reasons are exceptions - even when doing these activities, you should be minimising time spent outside of the home (except for exercise) and ensuring you are 2 metres apart from anyone outside of your household.

Read more:

Shared parenting

Where parents do not live in the same household, children can be moved between their parents’ homes. 

 Read more: 

Key workers

We have published guidance on setting out what childcare and learning provision we expect to be made available to key workers during closures of school and early learning and childcare settings to deal with the coronavirus outbreak.

It identifies three categories of key workers. Read more: Coronavirus: school closure guidance for key workers.

This key worker definition does not affect whether or not you can travel to work - if you are not a key worker, you may still travel to work provided you cannot work from home subject to the further guidance about the criteria for deciding if workplaces should stay open, given later in this document.  Key workers and parents of vulnerable children may leave the house to take children to and from school or their childcare provider.

Other critical public services – such as social services, support for victims, support provided by local authority or public services, or the justice system – should be provided and accessed remotely whenever possible, but you can leave the house to access them when physical attendance is absolutely necessary.  Individuals may move house but only if it is absolutely necessary.

Medical treatment

You can leave your home for medical need. If you (or a person in your care) have a specific health condition that requires you to leave the home to maintain your health - including if that involves travel beyond your local area - then you can do so. This could, for example, include where individuals with learning disabilities or autism require specific exercise in an open space two or three times each day. 

Even in such cases, in order to reduce the spread of infection and protect those exercising, travel outside of the home should be limited, as close to your local area as possible, and you should remain at least 2 metres apart from anyone who is not a member of your household or a carer at all times.