Prime Minister Boris Johnson has introduced ”careful steps” to ease lockdown measures for England. From Wednesday, people will be allowed take part in more outdoor activities and exercise as much as they want.
However, people will still need to follow social distancing rules by keeping more than 2m (6ft) apart from anyone they don’t live with.
The new guidelines will allow one person to meet one other person from outside their household outdoors – as long as they stay more than 2m apart. That means, for example, a person wouldn’t be allowed to meet both their parents together.
It also means that having a barbecue in your garden for friends would not be allowed, even if you all stayed 2m apart. And you would not be able to invite people inside your home.
Mr Johnson said people in England could now sit in the sun in the park and exercise as much as they wish – providing they observed social distancing.
However, people will still not be able to use areas like playgrounds and outdoor gyms where there is a higher risk of close contact and touching surfaces.
The UK government says people should still go out as little as possible and only leave home if they have a “reasonable excuse“. This includes:
Social distancing is important because coronavirus spreads when an infected person coughs small droplets – packed with the virus – into the air.
These can be breathed in, or can cause an infection if you touch a surface they have landed on, and then touch your face with unwashed hands.
Analysis – Philippa Roxby, health reporter
For many reasons, the transmission of viruses is less likely when ”fresh” air is involved – and that’s usually when people are outside.
Research shows that this coronavirus thrives in crowded, indoor spaces which is why pubs, restaurants and many workplaces have been closed and the public has been advised against using public transport.
Outdoors, it’s a different matter – and that’s mainly to do with what we know about how the virus is spread.
Most scientists agree there are three main ways infections could happen:
When outdoors, we’re much less likely to come into contact with an infected surface, while any tiny particles of virus (called aerosols) would be dispersed by fresh air.
So the main remaining danger comes from large droplets, and staying 2m (6ft) away from other people – as social distancing guidelines recommend – should overcome that.
There are also natural elements working in our favour outside – breezes, air currents, rain, wind – which all dilute the possibility of the virus particles being passed from one person and landing on another.
If you show symptoms of coronavirus – such as a dry cough and high temperature – you must take extra precautions.
You should stay at home and not leave it for any reason.
This is known as self-isolation.
You should not go out even to buy food or medicine, and should order these online, or ask someone to drop them off at your home.
You can use your garden, if you have one.
Everyone who shows coronavirus symptoms – a fever of above 37.8C, a persistent cough or breathing problems – and everyone who lives in the same home.
The person with symptoms should stay in a well-ventilated room with a window that can be opened, and keep away from other people in the home.
People are advised not to ring NHS 111 or their GP to report their symptoms unless they are worried.
The government says those who have an underlying health condition which makes them “clinically extremely vulnerable” should remain at home. They are more likely to be seriously affected by coronavirus.
To minimise the risk, friends or family should drop off food and medicine at the door, or it should be ordered online. GP appointments should be over the phone, or online.
The government says it will work with local authorities, supermarkets and the armed forces to ensure people get supplies of essential food and medicines.
Others in the same household, and carers, can go out as long they observe proper social distancing.
People aged over 70 are advised to take particular care to minimise contact with others outside their household.