Public health advice

Throughout Phase 2 people need to minimise the spread of the disease through continuing good hygiene practices: hand washing (for 20 seconds), social distancing (2m or 6 feet) and regular disinfecting of surfaces touched by others. These will be in place for some time.

The number of social contacts people make each day must continue to be limited, the exposure of vulnerable groups must continue to be reduced from normal levels, extremely vulnerable groups must continue to shield and symptomatic and diagnosed individuals will still need to isolate.

If you show symptoms:

Common symptoms (95%) for coronavirus are a high temperature or a new, continuous cough or a change in your sense of smell or taste.

  • Stay at home. Even if you can continue to work or not, if you have symptoms, stay at home for 7 days. If you live with other people, they should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms. If you live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days. If you have to stay at home together, try to keep away from each other as much as possible. See stay at home guidance.
  • Get a test. If you have symptoms of coronavirus you should ask for a test to check if you have the virus. This is called an antigen swab test. This tests if you have the virus, not if you have previously had the virus (antibody test), which is not yet available in the UK. You can apply for a test for yourself, a household member or a child. The test involves taking a swab of the inside of your nose and the back of your throat, using a long cotton bud. These either take place at a test centre or at home with a home kit. You can apply for a test online. If you don’t have access to the internet, you can order a test by phoning 119.

For medical guidance on symptoms call NHS 111. Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you're staying at home.

Vulnerable people:

People who are ‘clinically vulnerable’, meaning you are at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus, are advised to stay at home as much as possible and, if you do go out, take particular care to stay alert and minimise contact with others outside your household. See staying alert guidance.

Clinically vulnerable people are those who are:

  • aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions)
  • under 70 with an underlying health condition listed below (that is, anyone instructed to get a flu jab as an adult each year on medical grounds):
  • chronic (long-term) mild to moderate respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis
  • chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
  • chronic kidney disease
  • chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
  • chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), or cerebral palsy
  • diabetes
  • a weakened immune system as the result of certain conditions, treatments like chemotherapy, or medicines such as steroid tablets
  • being seriously overweight (a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above)
  • pregnant women

Extremely vulnerable people:

There is a further category of people with serious underlying health conditions who are ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’, meaning they are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus.

People who are clinically extremely vulnerable should have received a letter telling them they are in this group or been told by their GP. You, your family and carers should be aware of the further specific advice on how to protect yourself and shielding. If you are unsure see NHS guidance or contact your GP.


As more people return to work, there will be more movement outside people's immediate household. The Government is now advising that people should aim to wear a face-covering in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not always possible such as on public transport or in some shops.

Homemade cloth face-coverings can protect against inadvertent transmission of the disease to others if you have it asymptomatically. You can make them at home from old clothing. See how to wear and make a cloth face covering.

Get outside:

SAGE advise that the risk of infection outside is significantly lower than inside. From June 1 you can meet up to 6 persons from outside your household outside or in the garden, so long as you remain 2m (6 feet) apart. People are only permitted inside to access the garden or use the toilet. 

People may exercise outside as many times each day as they wish. You still are not be able to use areas like playgrounds, outdoor gyms or ticketed outdoor leisure venues, or play contact team sports where social distance cannot be maintained. 

People are also permitted to rest, relax, picnic and sunbathe in public spaces, so long as they respect social distancing guidance.

People may drive to outdoor open spaces irrespective of distance, so long as they respect social distancing guidance.