Understanding new coronavirus guidance and staying at home

As people across the UK settle in for the first full day of what has been dubbed a lockdown, we look at what it means for you and the general public.

Last night (23 March) the Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a new series of restrictions to fight the coronavirus, COVID-19, outbreak affecting the UK and countries all over the world.

Unlike previous restrictions which were said to be strong advice, this new course of action has been outlined as a set of enforceable rules that the public must follow.

While some of the measures might seem extreme or scary, they are to protect you, your loved ones and the general public.

These new rules came into effect immediately and must be followed by everyone. The current measures will stay in place for three weeks and will then be reviewed.


Adding to previous closures of places like pubs, restaurants, gyms and cafes, all shops selling non-essential goods will now be closed. Non-essentials goods include clothes and electronics, but supermarkets will still remain open.

Some supermarkets have introduced new shopping hours for NHS workers, carers, and vulnerable people in society.

Libraries, playgrounds, places of worship and outdoor gyms are also required to close during this time.

You will be able to spend time with the people that you live with, but public gathering with people outside of your household will now be limited to two people. This includes events like weddings and baptisms which won’t be allowed to take place, but funerals will still be allowed.

Staying home

The idea of not seeing family members who don’t live with you or close friends is scary, but it is important to stay home and socially distance yourself as much as possible.

This includes working from home where possible unless you have been identified as an essential worker: people who work in healthcare, essential services or supply chains for food.

Care services that visit you or a loved one at home should come under this category, but it is best to call the care provider to check if there will be any disruption during this time.

Visitor hours at hospitals, care homes and inpatient wards have all been restricted to prevent the spread of the virus. If you are concerned about seeing your loved ones call ahead to ensure you are able to visit and when.

Essential supplies

While you should stay in your home wherever possible, everyone is allowed to go out to carry out certain activities. Arguably the most vital of these is ensuring you have enough food and supplies at home.

The Prime Minister has advised that everyone is allowed to visit their local supermarket or other essential stores once a day, but the more infrequently you do this, the better.

If you are unable to go shopping by yourself, require assistance to do this, or care for someone who cannot go shopping alone, this is also allowed.

Those who care for vulnerable people are allowed to shop for them and drop essential supplies off at their homes.

Many supermarkets including Tesco, Iceland and Co-Op now have dedicated hours of the day for elderly people, vulnerable people and carers to go shopping to ensure they have access to stock. Your closest supermarket can advise on these hours and on any restrictions.

Medical visits

You are also allowed to leave your home to attend essential medical appointments. This doesn’t include routine appointments with your GP or dentist who can advise what to do if your scheduled appointment has been cancelled or delayed.

Essential medical visits include emergency situations, or if you are advised to visit your GP or healthcare centre by a medical professional.

If you have a repeat prescription that can’t be delivered to you, you can still go and collect this from your pharmacy.

If you do have a prescription to pick up it is important to call the pharmacy first to ensure this is ready, this will avoid leaving the house when it isn’t necessary.

Staying active

The word lockdown is especially daunting if you are used to getting outside and living an active lifestyle. A lack of physical activity could lead to further health problems unrelated to the coronavirus, and so it is important to stay active over the next three weeks.

As advised by Boris Johnson, everyone is permitted to go outside and exercise once a day. When you do this it is important to socially distance yourself from people who aren’t part of your household.

In order to provide spaces to exercise parks will remain open during the lockdown.

Along with physically active, getting outside during this time is key for your mental health and wellbeing. A few minutes in the outdoors everyday will make staying at home for three weeks much easier.

Staying active isn’t reserved for the outdoors. With gyms closed it is the perfect time to utilise home workouts and easy exercises you can do without equipment in the house.

The MS Society provides a set of resources including the importance of staying active and some exercises you can do in the comfort of your own home.

The NHS also provides guidance on staying active with a disability including exercises you can do infront of the TV.

At Enable we understand that this is a scary and uncertain time. That’s why we are dedicated to providing you with accurate information, support and a friendly voice to turn to when you are worried.

We’ve been finding the best podcasts to listen to in self isolation to keep you laughing, sharing our tips on how to tackle loneliness if you are at home alone during this time, and much more.

We want to know what content you would like to see, how you have been staying active during this time and any advice you have for other people in a similar situation on social media. Connect with Enable on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook to start a discussion.

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