STAY at home, save lives and protect the NHS. That’s the message from the government and public health experts, as a new national lockdown begins to tackle a more easily-caught strain of coronavirus which is spreading across the country.
The whole of England entered a new national lockdown on 5 January, with people asked to follow the new rules immediately. It means everyone must stay at home except for specific reasons, such as essential shopping, exercise or work, if you cannot work from home.
Schools have moved to remote learning for most pupils until at least February half term. Only children of key workers and vulnerable children can attend school in person. Early years settings, such as nurseries, will remain open.
You cannot leave your home to meet socially with anyone you do not live with or are not in a support bubble with. The police can take action against you if you leave home without a ‘reasonable excuse’, and issue you with a fine of £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400.
Staying at home as much as possible is the single most important action we can all take to protect the NHS. You may only leave home to:
- shop for basic necessities, for you or a vulnerable person
- go to work, or provide voluntary or charitable services, if you cannot reasonably do so from home
- exercise with your household (or support bubble) or one other person, this should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.
- meet your support bubble or childcare bubble where necessary, but only if you are legally permitted to form one
- seek medical assistance or avoid injury, illness or risk of harm (including domestic abuse)
- attend education or childcare - for those eligible
When outside the home, you should stay 2 metres away from anyone you don’t live with.
More detailed information on the rules can be found at gov.uk
A number of city council buildings are also closed. For the latest updates visit: www.leicester.gov.uk/your-council/coronavirus/service-updates-in-leicester
Leicester’s two recycling centres at Freemen’s Common and Gypsum Close will remain open, and the council plans to continue with its weekly collections of orange bags and household waste. The city council’s parks, outdoor playgrounds and public toilets will also remain open, but outdoor sports facilities such as tennis courts, golf courses and outdoor gyms will close.
Leicester’s director of public health Prof Ivan Browne said: “With this new and more easily-caught version of coronavirus spreading across the country, it’s more important than ever that we all stay at home as much as possible. This is the best way to protect yourself, your loved ones and your community. It is vital that we all do this to prevent hospital services from becoming overwhelmed.
“I know it’s not easy and of course in Leicester we have had to live with restrictions for a really long time. But we simply have to follow the rules, if we are to succeed in stopping the spread of coronavirus and getting back to a more normal way of life.
“The simple things that you can do to protect yourself and others remain. Wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds. If you do have to go out for essentials, wear a face covering and maintain social distancing from anyone not in your household or support bubble.
“If you develop symptoms, get a test as quickly as possible – and if you’re told to self-isolate, you must do so.”
People who are clinically extremely vulnerable have been advised to re-commence shielding. More information for clinically extremely vulnerable people is available on the Government’s website at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19
Since 28 September, anyone who receives a positive Covid-19 test or is told to self-isolate by the NHS Test & Trace Service must self-isolate by law, with anyone failing to self-isolate when they are required to do so facing a fine of between £1,000 and £10,000.
Anyone with symptoms or living in the same household as someone with symptoms must self-isolate for 10 days.
If you cannot work because you’ve been instructed to self-isolate by NHS test and trace and are on a low income with a qualifying benefit you can get a £500 test and trace support payment. To find out if you qualify or to apply visit: www.leicester.gov.uk/your-council/coronavirus/coronavirus-support-for-residents/test-and-trace-support-payment
The latest figures for Leicester show a rate of 397 people per 100,000 testing positive for coronavirus in the seven days to 30 December.
Anyone who finds themselves in need of emergency assistance during the lockdown, or who knows someone who needs urgent help, can contact the city council via its dedicated helpline: firstname.lastname@example.org