North East lockdown: Your Covid-19 questions answered
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New rules, which were implemented at midnight on Wednesday, September 30, have made it illegal for around two million people to socialise in any indoor setting, including pubs and restaurants, in a bid to curve the spread of coronavirus.
The most recent restrictions are in addition to a number of laws and measures made specifically for those living in the North East as well as regulations which have been rolled out across the country.
These are the questions and answers readers have asked for:
What are the new rules?
You are now banned from going for a drink or meal at a pub or restaurant with anyone you don’t live with.
This is in addition to the existing rule which stopped people from meeting in private homes and gardens.
The new rules do not affect schools and workplaces.
So what is a support bubble?
This is a close support network which allows a lone adult household to mix with one other household of any size on an exclusive basis.
Can I go in family member/friend’s house if they’re in my support bubble?
Yes. A person who lives in a lone adult household can visit the home and garden of the member(s) in their support bubble. A support bubble should only include two households (the lone adult household and a dedicated household of any size).
Once you are in a support bubble, you can have close contact with that household as if they were members of your own household.
I was told to shield during lockdown, do I need to again?
Those who are clinically extremely vulnerable are not currently being advised to shield, however it is important that those affected continue to take precautions.
Can I meet a friend at a beer garden or outdoor area at a restaurant?
Under the new restrictions, it is not illegal for six people, who come from more than one household, to meet at an outdoor public venue. However it is against the guidance from the Department of Health and Social care who advised against mixing with anyone from outside your support bubble in any setting.
What are the rules on childcare and seeing grandparents?
Registered childcare providers (such as nannies), people from your support bubble and people from your childcare support bubble are allowed in private homes and gardens to provide childcare.
A childcare bubble is where someone in one household can provide informal (unpaid and unregistered) childcare to a child aged 13 or under in another household. The Government says this must occur on an exclusive basis - always the same two households.
Family or friends (including grandparents) who are not in a support or childcare bubble should not visit your home or garden.
Can children go between households if parents are separated?
Yes. Children of parents who are separated can continue to move between households.
Can I see loved ones who I’m not in a support bubble with?
Socialising with people from outside your household and support bubble, whether it is indoor or outdoor, is against Government advice and should be avoided.
However it is only against the law to meet someone inside a home, private garden or inside a public venue such as restaurants, pubs and cafes.
Although it is against advice, you can still legally meet friends of family members in groups of up to six outside in places such as a pub’s beer garden or to go for a walk outside or sit in the park.
How are they going to police the new restrictions?
Hospitality venues must be table service only, must ensure tables are spaced to enable social distancing and not allowing bookings or customers to enter the premises if their group includes more than one household or support bubble.
Venues cannot play loud music and must ensure customers do not sing or dance.
Businesses can be fined by local authorities or the police if they fail to fulfil the obligations placed on them in law: £1,000 for the first offence, £2,000 for the second, £4,000 for the third and £10,000 for the forth offence and any offences after.
Can I be fined for breaking the rules?
The police are also able to take action against those who break these rules, including asking people to disperse and issuing fixed penalty notices starting at £200 for those who participate in illegal gatherings. For a second offence, you can be charged £400 and it continues to double up to £6,400 for each breach.
Can I go on holiday?
You can still go on holiday outside of the affected local areas, but you should only do this with people you live with (or have formed a support bubble with).
Can I visit family who live outside of the lockdown area?
Although you are allowed to leave the area you should not be socialising with anyone outside of your household. Meaning you should not stay with or see family or friends who live outside the affected areas.
What are the restrictions on travel and public transport?
The Government advises that you should only travel for essential reasons when travelling into, within and out of the affected local areas.
It is a legal requirement to wear a mask on public transport and you could be fined unless you are exempt for age, health or disability reasons.
Can I got to the park to play football with five friends?
Outdoor activity and sports need to be organised by a national governing body, club, registered instructor/coach, business or charity, and/or involve someone who has received an official licence to use equipment relevant to the activity.
Where do I have to wear a face mask?
In line with the rest of England, people in the North East must wear face coverings on public transport and in taxis, in supermarkets and retail shops, in
restaurants, pubs, cafes, and bars (except for when you’re sat at your table).
You must wear a mask at all entertainment and visitor attractions, theatres and places of worship. For the full list: click here.
You can be fined for not wearing a mask unless you are exempt due to age, health or disability reasons.