The first changes to government restrictions for those living in England under Lockdown 3, which was imposed in the first week of January, kick in today.
From Monday, March 8, the key changes are:
- Children are required to return to school.
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- People can now meet with a person from one other household for social purposes, including a coffee or picnic in public spaces, such as parks.
- Care home residents will now be able to select one named, consistent visitor.
Government scientific advisors and public health experts have stressed, however, that the lockdown relaxation steps are tentative measures and that a significant increase in infection rates could knock back progress towards the subsequent roadmap stages.
Those visiting loved ones in residential care settings must take a rapid turnaround Covid test in advance and wear PPE during the visit, although holding hands is allowed.
If meeting somebody from another household, the Government has said there should only be two people in total, though children under five and two carers for people with a disability are not included in the limit on gatherings.
As of Monday, March 8, wraparound childcare including childminders for all children can resume – for parents who are working, seeking work, attending education, seeking medical care or attending a support group.
Political campaigners will also be allowed to engage in leafleting and canvassing ahead of the upcoming May local elections, so long as they observe social distancing and do not enter people’s homes.
Although ‘recreation’ has now been added to the Government’s list of lockdown exemptions, the national ‘stay at home’ order remains in place until March 29. Aside from the new category of recreational activity, residents may leave the house for education, work, shopping for essential items and to assist or care for a vulnerable person.
Group meetings are still prohibited under new the relaxation of lockdown rules.
Residents are also unable to enjoy overnight stays away from home, go on holiday or leave the country unless a ‘valid reason’ is provided.