Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Phase 1: 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) Phase 1: staying at home and away from others (physical distancing)
Staying at home and going out

Staying at home and going out

You should stay at home as much as possible. You should only leave the house for very limited purposes, for example:

  • shopping for basic necessities (such as food and medicine) and at other shops that are open
  • exercise and other outdoor activity alone or with members of 1 other household at a time
  • to use outdoor spaces for other recreational purposes, for example to sit or relax alone or with members of 1 other household at a time
  • 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
  • to access recycling or waste disposal services, for example, local authority household waste recycling centres

When doing these activities, you should ensure you are 2 metres apart from anyone outside of your household.

These measures must be followed by everyone.

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.

With the gradual resumption of critical public services and support services – such as social services, support for victims, and for those at risk - consideration should be given to whether face to face activity can be safely resumed.   In many cases, it may be appropriate for support to be provided and accessed remotely, consistent with existing arrangements.  However, where face to face activity is more appropriate so that services can provide direct support to those at risk, this can take place provided physical distancing and hygiene measures are adhered to.

Individuals may move house, but only if it is absolutely necessary.

Medical treatment

You can leave your home for medical need. If you have (or a person in your care has)  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 - ideally in line with a care plan agreed with a medical professional.

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.