Latest lockdown restrictions - tier two 'high'

Frequently asked questions

What are the new measures for residents?

Tighter restrictions came into force in Darlington from 00:01 am on Wednesday 14 October in a bid to stem the rising number of Covid-19 cases.

The new Government rules – which apply to everyone within the borough and carry substantial fines if they are broken - mean that:

  • People must not socialise with anybody outside of their household or support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place
  • People must not socialise in a group of more than 6 outside, including in a garden or other spaces like beaches or parks (other than where specific exemptions apply in law).
  • Businesses and venues can continue to operate, in a Covid-secure manner, other than those which remain closed in law.
  • Certain businesses selling food or drink on their premises are required to close between 10pm and 5am. Businesses and venues selling food for consumption off the premises, can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-thru.

Further guidance includes:

  • Schools, universities and places of worship remain open
  • Weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of attendees
  • Exercise classes and organised sport can continue to take place outdoors. These will only be permitted indoors if it is possible for people to avoid mixing with people they do not live with (or share a support bubble with)
  • People can continue to travel to venues or amenities which are open, for work or to access education, but should look to reduce the number of journeys they make where possible 

People must:

Wear a face covering in those areas where this is mandated

People should continue to:

  • Follow social distancing rules
  • Work from home where they can effectively do so
  • Walk or cycle where possible, or plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport.

What is a household or a support bubble?

The term ‘household’ is used here to mean the people you live with on a daily basis.

A support bubble is a close support network between a household with only one adult in the home (known as a single-adult household) and one other household of any size.

Once you're in a support bubble, you can think of yourself as being in a single household with people from the other household. It means you can have close contact with that household as if they were members of your own household.

Once you make a support bubble, you should not change who is in your bubble.

You should not have multiple bubbles.

More information can be found on the GOV.UK making a support bubble with another household page [external link].

Caring or providing assistance to someone vulnerable

There are circumstances where people who care for others may need to do this outside of their bubble. Some exceptions are allowed, where people from different households can gather beyond the limits set out in the support bubble rules [external link]. These exceptions include those that provide care or assistance to someone vulnerable. Carers are able to continue to provide care as long as they carefully follow the guidelines to keep themselves and the person they care for safe.

The government website provides Guidance for those who provide unpaid care to friends or family [external link]. This information is to help people continue to provide care in a way that everyone involved remains safe.

What other restrictions are now in place?

  • Hospitality for food and drink will be restricted to table service only.
  • Late night restriction of operating hours, with leisure and entertainment venues required to close between 10pm to 5am.

Residents are also advised to adhere to the following guidance to further reduce rates of infection:

  • Residents are advised to only use public transport for essential purposes, such as travelling to school or work.
  • Holidays should be taken within your own household or support bubble.
  • Residents are advised against attending amateur and semi-professional sporting events as spectators.

What area does it cover?

The whole of the borough of Darlington.

The measures follow those already brought in for County Durham and the wider North East, as well as Middlesbrough, Hartlepool and, now, Stockton and Redcar and Cleveland.

Why are the measures being introduced? 

These measures will help to address the significant rise in coronavirus cases in the borough of Darlington in recent weeks. 

There is an increased risk of transmission the more people who gather together. Our data shows an increased rate of transmission due:

  • people mixing with others in their own homes
  • workplaces
  • retail
  • transport and
  • hospitality venues

We are doing everything we can to protect our most vulnerable, keep businesses open and children in school, which these measures will help with.

There are national rules that are different to these local measures – what should I follow?

Residents should follow the most restrictive and protective measures - so this means following the local tier two 'high' restrictions at this time. 

Why is Darlington being put under tighter restrictions now? 

We have continued to regularly monitor the data available to us. When reflecting on the most recent data our infection rates have risen sharply; with increased numbers of outbreaks too, leading to more community transmission across the borough.

While our overall cases are lower than any other Tees Valley area it is understandable that the Government now wishes to include Darlington in tighter restrictions.

How long will it last?

The 'high' restrictions began at 00:01 hours on Wednesday 14 October. They will be monitored closely and reviewed. The next steps will depend on the impact the measures have.

What are the household changes?

The Government restrictions state you must not meet people who do not live with you or are not part of your support bubble in any indoor venue.

There are specific exceptions as listed below:

People should only come inside your home for specific purposes:

  • where everyone in the gathering lives together or is in the same support bubble
  • to attend a birth at the mother's request
  • to visit a person who is dying (the visitor can be someone the dying person lives with, a close family member, friend or, if none of those is visiting, anyone else)
  • to fulfil a legal obligation
  • for work purposes (see guidance on working safely in other people's homes), or for the provision of voluntary or charitable services
  • for the purposes of education or training
  • for the purposes of childcare provided by a registered provider
  • to provide emergency assistance
  • to enable one or more persons in the gathering to avoid injury or illness or to escape a risk of harm
  • to facilitate a house move
  • to provide care or assistance to a vulnerable person
  • to continue existing arrangements for access to, and contact between, parents and children where the children do not live in the same household as their parents, or one of their parents.

Do these measures affect childcare?

You can continue to use early years and childcare settings, including childminders and providers offering before or after school clubs or other out-of-school settings for children. You can also continue to employ nannies, including those living outside of the borough.

Children of parents who are separated can continue to move between households.

'Informal' childcare, for example grandparents looking after children, is allowed for children under 14 or vulnerable adults where that is necessary for caring purposes (see below for further information)

It does not allow for play-dates or parties.

We would advise that vulnerable people should not provide childcare.

Can grandparents from the same household (i.e. grandma and grandad) both provide childcare?

Yes. Grandparents who live in the same household, i.e. grandma and grandad, can link with one other household so that the parents of the children can work. 

I have two sets of grandparents who live in separate households looking after my children. Is this allowed?

No. You can only link with one other household at any time, so the parents of the children can work.

I am a grandparent, how many of my grandchildren can I look after?

One set from one household, so the parents can work.

Do these measures affect access to education?

No. Schools, colleges and universities remain open and are operating in a Covid-secure way.

Does my child need to wear a face covering at school?

Unless exempt, in education settings for students in Year 7 and above, face coverings should be worn by staff, visitors and students when moving around in corridors and communal areas.

Can I travel outside the area for work or school?

Yes, people living inside and outside of these areas can continue to travel for work or school. Workplaces and schools themselves should also be implementing Covid-secure measures.

Can I go to someone's house in an area not subject to the restrictions?

You must not visit anyone's home inside or outside of the restricted area (except for your support bubble).

Can I go to a care home?

Care homes in the borough have been advised to stop non-essential visiting, excluding health care professionals and those involved in end of life care (including family members).

If you are planning to visit relatives in care homes outside the affected areas, then check with the care home prior to travelling to ensure that they are still open to visits from family members.

What are the changes for the hospitality venues?

By law, the following must close from 10pm to 5am, every day of the week:

  • pubs
  • bars and restaurants (including hotel dining rooms and members' clubs)
  • cafes including workplace canteens (but not including cafes or canteens at hospitals, care homes, prisons, establishments intended for the use of naval, military or air force purposes and for providing food or drink to the homeless)
  • social clubs
  • cinemas
  • theatres
  • casinos
  • bingo halls and concert halls
  • amusement arcades or other indoor leisure centres or facilities
  • static/fixed funfairs (indoors or outdoors), theme parks, and adventure parks and activities
  • travelling funfairs are also prohibited

During opening hours (5am to 10pm), venues serving alcohol must operate a table service only for food and drinks - this includes ordering. Those venues who don't serve alcohol can operate counter service, but the consumption of food and drinks should take place at a table as much as possible.

Hospitality venues must take reasonable steps to ensure that bookings are not accepted, or customers admitted on to the premises if they:

  • are groups of more than one household and support bubble if they will be located indoors.
  • are more than 6 people - if the group does include multiple households they can only be seated outside.

As elsewhere in the country, venues must also take details of customers for NHS Test and Trace using either the official NHS Covid-19 app or by manually collecting contact details. 

What about takeaways?

Hot food takeaways should close to walk-ins between 10pm and 5am each day, but they can continue to operate a delivery service during these hours through a website, telephone, text message or post. 

Orders made online or by phone can also be collected from the doorway by customers or by 'drive-throughs', where the order is passed through the car window or placed in the boot.

Organised Events 

Events such as craft groups, Christmas wreath making, choir practice, private training courses, a retreat or a church meeting are permissible indoors.

There must be no mixing of households and measures such as social distancing, track and trace are put in place by the organiser and the event is ‘covid secure’.

The GOV.UK website [external link] provides information that will help with this

In terms of church meetings [external link] these are permissible but again without individuals from different households mixing.

Can I still go to a hospitality venue, like a pub or restaurant, with family and friends who don't live with me?

No. From Wednesday 14 October, you can only visit the venues listed below with members of your own household (or support bubble).

  • Restaurants, including restaurants and dining rooms in hotels or members' clubs
  • Bars, including bars in hotels or members' clubs
  • Public houses
  • Social clubs
  • Casinos
  • Cafes
  • Workplace canteens (except those at hospital, care home, school, prison, those providing food or drink to the homeless or those intended for naval military or air force purposes)

Hospitality Venues – people from same household 

Premises are expected to make reasonable enquiries as to whether groups are from a single household.  For example, if a group say they are from one household and are all of the same age, then this may not be true and further enquiries could be made regarding the address if necessary.

Any offence is being committed by the customer, not the Licensed Premises, so reasonable enquiries should be made but the premises is not accountable for mis-information being given.

Licensed premises do have the right to refuse service for any reason if they so wish, so they could use this option if they believe it is necessary.

Businesses can contact us for advice on 01325 405111 or [email protected].

Why can I visit the pub but not my relative's house? 

This is because the hospitality industry has enhanced measures, such as risk assessments and test and trace, which private homes don't have.

Can I meet up outdoors, i.e. on the beach or in the park, with other households?

The guidance from the Government is that you may meet with people you do not live with in outdoor areas, such as the pavement or road or parks, but you must follow the Rule of Six.

If you do decide to meet with friends and family you do not live with outdoors, perhaps for exercise, you must not meet in a group of more than 6 and you must practice social distancing. You can meet up in someone's garden/yard.

Are there restrictions on weddings, civil partnerships and funerals?

For England, including in the North East of England, the following attendance limits apply for weddings and funerals:

  • Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies are limited to 15 people
  • Wedding receptions and celebrations can continue for up to 15 people in the form of a sit-down meal and in a Covid-secure setting, not in a private dwelling.
  • Funerals (including ceremonies at crematoria) are limited to 30 people
  • All other religious or belief-based standalone life cycle ceremonies or celebrations are limited to 6 people 

Anyone working at these ceremonies or events are not included as part of the person limit.

The additional restriction on mixing with other households within indoor settings does not change the attendance limits.

What are the changes to playing sports?

You can continue to take part in organised sporting or licensed physical activity in groups of more than six outdoors. 

Sport or physical activity will only be permitted indoors if it is possible for people to avoid mixing with people they do not live with (or share a support bubble with)

There is an exemption for indoor sports if it is organised for the purposes of someone who has a disability taking part and an exemption for children's activities.

Outdoor activities either 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. In all cases, the organiser must conduct a risk assessment and ensure compliance with Covid-19 secure guidance.

You should only be playing team sports where the relevant governing body has published guidance on how to do so safely and is outdoors. See a list of team sports governing bodies which have developed guidance [external link]. For all other sports, guidance is available from your governing body and details on how to safely undertake this activity within an organised environment.

Organised dance and exercise classes can take place in groups of more than 6 outdoors, where a risk assessment has been carried out, but you must not mix with more than five other participants. The relevant indoor sport facilities guidance [external link] or outdoor guidance [external link] must be followed for these activities. Outdoor organised sport and physical activity events are allowed provided they follow guidance for the public on the phased return of outdoor sport and recreation in England [external link].

Golf, as outside sport, can be played, but social distancing must be remembered around the course and we would not advise you to play in mixed households. Organised tournaments of mixed groups can be played, so long as risk assessments and control measures are in place. 

We advise that you should not attend amateur or professional sporting events as a spectator in the affected local areas. If you do attend, you must remain socially distanced and groups of no more than 6 when outdoors (and if indoors only with your household or support bubble).

Can I travel to play sport outside of the areas with restrictions?

Yes, providing it is organised by a national governing body, club, registered instructor, business or charity or someone with an official license. Please wear a face covering if using public transport unless exempt.

You should not travel in a car with anyone who is not in your household to reach the site.

Can I go to the gym, gym class, leisure centre or a swimming pool?

Yes, as long as these venues have the required Covid-secure risk assessments and guidelines in place. 

Can I have someone in my house (or go into someone's house) to do repairs or other work?

Only official/registered tradespeople can go to other people's homes for work purposes as long as you follow national guidance on how to work safely there. This includes mobile hairdressers, beauticians, repair services, fitters, meter readers, plumbers, cleaners, cooks, visiting childcare providers, and surveyors (this is not an exhaustive list)

Guidance for people working in, visiting or delivering to other people's homes can be found on the GOV.UK working safely during coronavirus webpages [external link]

Can I visit a friend or relative in hospital or accompany them to an appointment?

Please check with the hospital before visiting.

Can I still go on holiday?

You can still go on holiday within the UK or abroad, but you should only do this with people you live with (or have formed a support bubble with). You need to follow any rules in the area you visit and be aware of the self-isolation rules when travelling to and from certain countries.

People can visit the region on holiday but must comply with the local restrictions.

What about public transport and car sharing?

Residents are advised to walk or cycle when possible. People from a household or support bubble [external link] can travel together in a vehicle.

It is advised to only use public transport for essential purposes, such as travelling to school or work.

Face coverings must be worn unless exempt.

For advice on private cars and car sharing please refer to the GOV.UK safer travel guidance for passengers page [external link].

Are the airport, train stations and ports still open?

Teesside and Newcastle airports, train stations and ports remain open and members of the public are permitted to travel to and from these locations.

Can I move home? 


What support is available for medically vulnerable residents?

Our Darlington Community Support Hub continues to be available for our vulnerable residents and can be contacted by calling 01325 405000 at the following times:

  • Monday - Wednesday: 8:30-4:45pm
  • Thursday: 9:30-4:45pm
  • Friday: 8:30-4:15pm

The support hub is for those that are self-isolating or quarantining and where your normal support network has broken down. We can provide you with signposting advice and guidance to local community groups that may be able to help you with supplies and shopping. The HUB does not provide emergency food parcels or arrange medication collections.

If you can safely get food and other necessities for yourself, or have family, friends, or good neighbours to help you, please use these channels.

How to do I book a test and what happens next?

If you have symptoms you need to get tested as soon as possible (within the first eight days of having symptoms).

You can book online NHS: Get a test to check if you have coronavirus [external link] or by calling NHS 119. You will then be invited to a test site - or you can order a home test kit if you can't get to a test site.

The testing service continues to be very busy throughout the country, so please only book one if you have symptoms or have been asked to get tested by the NHS Test and Trace programme.

If you cannot get a test at first, or the location or time are not convenient, try again in a few hours as slots become available. If no tests are available online, do not call the helpline to get a test as no extra tests are available through it.

NHS Test and Trace has seen unprecedented demand for testing recently, but new booking slots and home testing kits are made available daily and it is targeting testing capacity at the areas that need it most. It has also doubled its capacity to process tests - most people get their results the next day.

I have symptoms, does the rest of my household need to book a test?

If someone in your household starts to have symptoms, then that person must get tested and the rest of the household should self-isolate with them whilst they wait for the results. If you or other members of the household don't have symptoms, then you should not get a test - only people with symptoms should get tested.

It is very important that people with symptoms and their household members stay at home before the test and until they receive their results.

If you, or anyone you care for, are unwell or have symptoms which concern you seek advice from 111 or your own GP, or call 999 if you feel that you are in immediate danger.

Do I need to self-isolate even though my test result was negative?

A negative result means the test did not find coronavirus.

You do not need to self-isolate if your test is negative, as long as:

  • everyone you live with (or your support bubble) who has symptoms tests negative
  • you were not told to self-isolate for 14 days by NHS Test and Trace
  • you feel well - if you feel unwell, stay at home until you're feeling better.

Full guidance on self-isolating can be found on the Government's website GOV.UK: Stay at home - guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection [external link].

What do I do if I see someone breaking the rules?

Where people are breaking the rules, we will seek to engage, explain and encourage them to adhere to the restrictions. However, enforcement action will be taken where appropriate.

If an individual is breaching restrictions, you can report it to Durham Constabulary. To do so, where possible, people are asked to use the reporting tool on the force's Durham Police website [external link]. Alternatively, you can call 101. The police will assess the circumstances to determine the appropriate action.

Once the legislation is in place, the police or the local authority will be able to take action against those who break these rules, including asking people to disperse and issuing fixed penalty notices starting at £100.

 People aged 18 or over can be fined:

  • £200 for the first offence, lowered to £100 if paid within 14 days
  • £400 for the second offence, then doubling for each further offence up to a maximum of £6,400

The government has also introduced fines for those who hold illegal gatherings of over 30 people. Holding or being involved in the holding of an illegal gathering of more than 30 people is an offence, and police may issue fines of £10,000 to those who break the law.

Where do I find information on infection rates?

You can find information on the Government's website: GOV.UK: Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the UK [external link].

Ask a question 

If this page doesn't answer your question, you can use our Covid-19 general enquiry form to ask for more information.

Update - October 13

We have received dozens of queries and are doing our best to work through them. We are continuing to ask the Government and Public Health England for more clarity around the rules - when we receive any new information we will update this webpage.

The latest Government advice on the new alert levels is available. Local COVID alert levels: what you need to know [external link]

Thank you for taking the time to submit your questions, they help us understand where there are gaps in the guidance and what we need to chase.