Latest restrictions - tier three 'very high'

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 What are the new measures for residents?

Tier 3 restrictions came into force in Darlington from 00:01 am on Wednesday 2 December. 
A full list of the measures can be found on the government website [external link]. 

Remember hands, face, space  – 

  • hands: wash your hands regularly and for 20 seconds
  • face: wear a face covering in indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult, and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet
  • space: stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place (such as wearing face coverings).

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.

Support bubbles have been expanded - you can form a support bubble with another household if you:

  • are the only adult in your household (any other members of the household having been under 18 on 12 June 2020), or are an under 18 year old living alone
  • live with someone with a disability who requires continuous care and there is no other adult living in the household
  • live with child under 1, or who was under 1 on 2 December 2020
  • live with a child under 5, or who was under 5 on 2 December 2020, with a disability.

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].

Can I continue to care for someone vulnerable who is outside my bubble?

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.

Can I meet people socially indoors?

You must not meet socially indoors with anybody you do not live with or have a support bubble with unless a legal exemption applies. ‘Indoors’ means any indoor setting, including private homes and venues such as pubs and restaurants.

Can I meet people socially outdoors?

You must not meet socially (in a private garden or many outdoor public venues), with anybody you do not live with or have a support bubble with unless a legal exemption applies. 

However, you can see friends and family you do not live with (or do not have a support bubble with) in some outdoor public places, in a group of up to 6. This limit of 6 includes children of any age. These outdoor places include:

  • parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, forests
  • public gardens (whether or not you pay to enter them)
  • allotments
  • the grounds of a heritage site
  • outdoor sports courts and facilities
  • playgrounds.

You can continue to meet in a group larger than 6 if you are all from the same household or support bubble, or another legal exemption applies.

Do these measures affect childcare/children's activities?

There are several ways that parents and carers can access childcare 

Friends or family who do not live with you and are not part of a support or childcare bubble must not visit your home to help with childcare. Childcare bubbles are to be used to provide childcare only, and not for the purposes of different households mixing where they are otherwise not allowed to do so. Read guidance on making and using a childcare bubble.

Can grandparents from the same household (for example Grandma and Grandad) both provide childcare?

Yes. Grandparents who live in the same household, for example 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?

Schools, colleges and universities remain open. Senior clinicians still advise that school is the best place for children to be, and so they should continue to go to school. Schools have implemented a range of protective measures to make them safe.

For those who are home-schooled, pupils can still access education and training in community settings where needed to receive a suitable full-time education.

University students are allowed to change their household temporarily once to return home for Christmas. After that point they should comply with the social contact limits above as if their family home is their household. This will not affect any support bubble arrangements their family home is part of. Where available, students should take advantage of a free test from their university before departing.

Training for extra-curricular purposes, for instance as part of clubs, should not take place. Facilitated activities for children where these provide a childcare function for working parents are allowed to continue

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 go to work?

Everyone who can work from home should do.

Where people cannot do so – including, but not limited to, people who work in critical national infrastructure, construction, or manufacturing – they should continue to travel to their workplace.

Public-sector employees working in essential services, including education settings, should continue to go into work where necessary.

The risk of transmission can be substantially reduced if COVID-19-secure guidelines are followed closely. Extra consideration should be given to those people at higher risk.

If you are clinically extremely vulnerable you can go to work as long as your workplace is COVID-secure. Gatherings for work purposes are only allowed where they are reasonably necessary. If meetings take place in the workplace, workplaces should be set up to meet the COVID-secure guidelines. Meals to socialise with work colleagues are not permitted.
For more information, read the guidance on how to return to work safely [external link].

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 a Tier 1 or 2 area?

You must continue to follow Tier 3 rules when you travel to a Tier 1 or Tier 2 area. You must not stay with anyone you do not live with elsewhere in the UK or visit their home (unless you share a support bubble).

Avoid travelling outside your area, including for overnight stays, other than where necessary, such as:

  • for work
  • for education
  • to access voluntary, charitable or youth services
  • because of caring responsibilities
  • for moving home
  • to visit your support bubble
  • for a medical appointment or treatment

Where necessary, you can travel through other areas as part of a longer journey.

Can I go to a care home?

Visits to care homes can take place with arrangements such as substantial screens, visiting pods, and window visits. Regular testing will be offered to up to two family members or friends per resident by Christmas, which – when combined with other infection-control measures such as PPE – will support indoor visits with physical contact. Detailed guidance will be published by the government soon. 

What are the changes for businesses and hospitality venues?

To reduce social contact, the government has ordered certain businesses and venues to close or restrict how they provide goods and services, whilst others are allowed to open: 

  • retail premises may open, other than shops situated inside closed premises that cannot be accessed directly from the street – retail premises within accommodation may also stay open
  • personal care and close contact services such as hairdressers and barbers, beauty salons, tattoo parlours, nail salons, spas and beauty services, saunas, steam rooms, massage parlours and tanning salons can remain open
  • community centres and halls, and libraries can remain open. Group events should not take place, unless there’s a specific legal exemption to the social contact rules e.g. support groups, supervised activities for children
  • recycling and waste centres, car parks, and public toilets may continue to stay open.
  • leisure and sports facilities may continue to stay open, but group exercise classes (including fitness and dance) should not go ahead
  • hospitality settings, such as bars (including shisha bars), pubs, cafes, restaurants, and social clubs must close except for takeaway, delivery and click and collect services. This includes restaurants and bars within hotels or member’s clubs. See the government website for exemptions
  • businesses and venues selling alcohol for consumption off the premises can continue to do so as long as this is through takeaway, delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-through
  • food or alcohol purchased from a hospitality premises via takeaway or click-and-collect may not be consumed on any part of that premises, including beer gardens, as well as adjacent seating to the premises (with exceptions for motorway service areas, airports, seaports, the international terminal at Folkestone and public transport services although these places cannot sell alcohol after 11pm)
  • accommodation such as hotels, hostels, guest houses and campsites. Except for specific circumstances, such as where these act as someone’s main residence, where they cannot return home, for homeless people, or where it is essential to stay there for work purposes.
  • the following entertainment and tourist venues must close: indoor play centres and areas including inflatable parks and soft play centres and areas (other than for people who have a disability); trampolining parks (other than for elite athletes, people with a disability, supervised activities for children and for formal education or training purposes); casinos; bingo halls, bowling alleys; indoor skating rinks (other than for elite athletes, professional dancers and choreographers, people with a disability, supervised activities for children and for formal education or training purposes); amusement arcades and adult gaming centres; nightclubs and adult entertainment venues; laser quests and escape rooms; cinemas, theatres concert halls – other than drive-in events, broadcasting performances, training or rehearsal; circuses; snooker and pool halls (other than for elite athletes)
  • at the following outdoor entertainment venues, the indoor attractions must close: zoos, safari parks, and aquariums; other animal attractions including farms; water parks and aqua parks; model villages; museums, galleries and sculpture parks; botanical or other gardens, biomes or greenhouses; theme parks, fairgrounds and funfairs; adventure playgrounds and parks, including ziplining; visitor attractions at film studios; heritage sites such as castles, stately homes or heritage railways; landmarks including observation wheels and viewing platforms
  • conference centres and exhibition halls must close for the purposes of hosting conferences, exhibitions, trade shows, private dining events or banquets
  • outdoor cinemas, theatres and concert venues can remain open for drive-in only, but must close at 11pm, other than for the purposes of concluding a performance which began before 10pm
  • outdoor events, such as funfairs can continue to happen in line with COVID-secure guidance – other than large outdoor performance events (performances, shows and screenings), which must be drive-in only.

Are there restrictions on weddings, civil partnerships and funerals?

Weddings, civil partnership ceremonies and funerals must only take place in COVID-secure venues or in public outdoor spaces unless in exceptional circumstances.

You can have up to:

  • 15 people for wedding or civil partnership ceremonies – but receptions are not permitted
  • 30 people for funerals
  • 15 people for wakes or linked ceremonial events (such as stone-settings) before or after the funeral

The limits above are the maximum number for all attendees at the event, for example at a wedding or civil partnership ceremony to include the couple and guests. Anyone working at a wedding, civil partnership ceremony, funeral or linked ceremonial event is not included in the limit. Within these larger gatherings, social distancing should still be followed between people who do not live together or share a support bubble.

Can I attend a place of worship?

You can attend places of worship for a service. However, you must not mingle with anyone outside of your household or support bubble.

You should follow the national guidance on the safe use of places of worship.

Can I go to the gym, play sport or swim?

In line with guidance from sporting national governing bodies, you can take part in organised sport and physical activity outdoors with any number of people. However, you should avoid contact in training and, for some sports, avoid contact in all activities. Read the guidance on what this means for your sport.

Gyms and sports facilities will be open for individual exercise and exercise in single households or support bubbles only. Indoor group activities and exercise classes should not take place.

You can continue to do unlimited exercise alone, or in an outdoor public place in groups up to 6.

There are exceptions for disability sport; sports as part of the curriculum in education; supervised sport and physical activity for under-18s (including those who were under 18 on 31 August 2020).

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 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?

If you are travelling, you should only do so alone or with members of your household or support bubble, and should follow the safer transport guidance.

If you live in a Tier 3 area, you should avoid staying overnight outside of your area other other than where necessary, such as for work; for education; because of caring responsibilities; to visit your support bubble; for moving home; to access voluntary, charitable or youth services; for a medical appointment or treatment.

You must not stay with anyone you do not live with from a Tier 3 alert level area, or visit their home, unless you share a support bubble.

In a Tier 3, you should avoid travelling outside of your area. If you do need to travel abroad see the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office Travel Advice for your destination and the travel corridors list.

When travelling, it is important that you respect the rules in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and do not travel to different parts of the UK where your intended activities there would be prohibited by legislation passed by the relevant devolved administration.

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].

Can I move home? 

You can still move home.

Estate and letting agents and removals firms can continue to work. If you’re looking to move home, you can go to property viewings. Follow the national guidance on moving home safely, which includes advice on social distancing and wearing a face covering.

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 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].