We all know that listening to the science on coronavirus is really important, especially now, but the government's come in for a lot of criticism over its advice to us during the coronavirus crisis.
im电竞官网-"I cannot stand here and tell you that by the end of June that we will be on the downward slope," Johnson said on 20 March. "It's possible but I simply can't say that that's for certain. We don't know how long this thing will go on for. But what I can say is that this is going to be finite."
Translation: it'll be ending at some point before the Rapture. Crystal clear. Since then we've moved into full-on lockdown, with stringent measures in place to stop people passing coronavirus around.
So what can you do and what can't you do? Where should you go and where shouldn't you go? What's safe and what's potentially unwise? When we spoke to Professor Lucy Yardley, who's co-director of research at the Centre for Doctoral Training in Digital Health and Care at the University of Bristol, and who , on 21 March she said it wasn't quite that simple.
"It's very difficult to give definitive answers, because basically it's not a black and white thing. Any activity that you do outside the home, assuming that [coronavirus] hasn't got inside your home already, obviously increases your risk of infection. Some things increase it more than others, and the government advice is changing daily. They're trying to strike a balance between letting society still function, especially the absolutely vital parts – food, transport infrastructure and so on – and stopping the spread of the virus."
Instead, Prof Yardley suggests, it's helpful to think of activities on a traffic light scale: red is a definite no, orange is a maybe depending on circumstances, and green is fine with sensible precautions: "The things that will probably never be locked down".
We also spoke to Dr Mike Tildesley, Associate Professor of Life Sciences at the University of Warwick, for a proper update at the start of April.
As we say, the government is giving daily updates on the best way stop coronavirus spreading at press conferences, but this is the state of things right now. We'll be updating this page regularly as the situation changes.
What does the new advice change? What can’t I do that I could before?
On 10 May, Boris Johnson announced a very slight slackening of the lockdown rules. Johnson's government's advice has switched from the very direct "Stay home, protect the NHS, save lives" to "Stay alert, control the virus, save lives". So, keep an eye out for any puddles of virus accumulating on the pavement.
im电竞官网-You're now allowed to exercise outside as many times as you like, and you can hang out in the park as long as you like. Our apparently infinitely huge parks will be taking a lot of the strain.
im电竞官网-"You can sit in the sun in your local park, you can drive to other destinations, you can even play sports, but only with members of your own household," Johnson said.
im电竞官网-From Wednesday, people who can't work from home will be encouraged to go back to work. That doesn't sound that different from what the message was before now, and if you're heading back to work you're not allowed to use public transport to do it – the advice is to walk, cycle or drive.
Sports like golf, basketball, tennis and fishing will be OK to do too, as long as they're with members of your household, according to culture secretary Oliver Dowden.
It's not exactly the kind of liberation that all those 'Happy Monday!' front pages of last week implied, and Johnson's new announcement has caused a fair bit of consternation as to its practicality. On Monday morning, Dominic Raab went jazz with the government line while speaking to Radio 4 and TalkRadio, and Andrew Bridgen didn't exactly clear things up on Good Morning Britain.
So can I see my parents?
im电竞官网-Well. Johnson said that you could meet one, in a park. Raab's interviews this morning suggested you could meet both, in a park, presumably while stood in an equilateral triangle. Raab also suggested your family could meet a grandparent in a park, though whether that's actually the policy is anyone's guess. This is a genuine clarification.
And my mates?
im电竞官网-Same deal: you can meet a person from another household in the park. Unlucky if you've been away from your partner since lockdown though, because you'll have to stay two metres away from them.
Will we see things opening back up?
im电竞官网-The "phased reopening" of non-essential shops could happen from 1 June, at the earliest. We're looking at July at the earliest for restaurants, pubs, hairdressers and the like, and that would be in the best possible scenario. Socially distanced cinemas, open-air cafés Schools may open at the start of June, but initially just for Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 pupils.
That's not what Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are doing though, is it?
No it's not. The lockdown rules we've become used to are still in place outside of England, though people are now allowed to exercise outside more than once a day. Garden centres have reopened in Wales too. Good news if you like a bit of garddio.
So why is the advice so different?
Their leaders just aren't convinced now's the time to loosen up. Nicola Sturgeon called Johnson's new statement "vague and imprecise".
im电竞官网-From here down, the advice is all about the original lockdown guidance from April, which is probably going to come in very handy if and when we have a second wave of infections and a return to lockdown.
What does lockdown actually entail?
im电竞官网-The imposition of lockdown conditions changed pretty much everything. Every "non-essential" shop is closed, as are libraries, playgrounds, outdoor gyms and places of worship. They were pretty much the only places still open after the Friday 20 March order to close pubs, restaurants and places you'd usually hang out and have a big laugh. Weddings and baptisms are off too. You can still exercise, but only for one session a day outside. Don't take the piss and go for a four-hour run though. The London marathon's been punted to autumn anyway.
You can go outside to pick up food from the shops – "infrequently", the government insists – or to look after a vulnerable person, or to get to and from work if it's "absolutely necessary". That last one, like a lot of the government's guidance, is kind of open to interpretation, but really you shouldn't be going anywhere willy-nilly.
What constitutes "essential" movement?
A fair question. The response from some police forces around the country – and, in the most pathetically British turn of events imaginable, a disturbing amount of curtain-twitching amateurs – has been to steam in and denounce everyone who's left the house at all. Obviously sunbathing isn't really in the spirit of a nationwide lockdown, but you do get the feeling some people are absolutely living for narcing on others.
However, according to advice issued to police by the National Police Chiefs Council, the legal basis for whether you should be told to bugger off home isn't whether you literally have to be outside or not – it's whether you have a "" for being outside.
im电竞官网-Despite that drone video which shamed people for driving to beauty spots to go for a walk, the advice says clearly that it is "lawful to drive for exercise". Don't take the piss and drive to Cumbria for a quick stroll, but you're within your rights to drive a little bit.
im电竞官网-"Exercise must involve some movement," the advice helpfully notes, "but it is acceptable for a person to stop for a break in exercise." Basically, that means you can have a walk, stop for a bit to eat, then keep walking, but strolling to a nearby bench and staying there for an hour and a half probably isn't on.
Your big shop needn't just be for pasta, rice and chickpeas either: "the purchase of snacks and luxuries is still permitted," the advice says. Going out to buy DIY supplies for essential maintenance on your home would likely be a 'reasonable excuse' too.
Plus, there's latitude for discretion when it comes to difficulties between yourself and whoever you might be locked down with. "Moving to a friend’s address for several days to allow a ‘cooling-off’ following arguments at home" is another acceptable reason for travelling during lockdown.
The document encourages officers to use their "discretion and judgement" in enforcing lockdown conditions, so hopefully you'll not get tased.
Why can’t I go to the pub? Or, you know, anywhere else?
On Friday 20 March, a few hours after we spoke to Prof Yardley, the government finally announced that it would force pubs, restaurants, bars, clubs, cinemas, theatres and leisure centres to close until further notice.
The government had taken a lot of flak for discouraging people from going to pubs, restaurants, theatres and other places where you'd usually hang out and have fun, but not outright banning them. It meant the businesses can't claim any insurance payouts and are struggling to keep their heads above water. They were open, but not for anyone to drink in. They were Schrödinger's pubs.
im电竞官网-But why is it important to close places where people would hang out? Could we not just have a pint two metres away from each other?
"It's not just the people that are in front of you, it's the person that was there. It's the person that was using that glass that may not have been cleaned quite as much as you'd like. And, of course, it may be you, just before you go down with it. Bars are the worst: people's inhibitions go, they hug each other, they breathe right in each other's faces and your immune system is down because you're suppressing it with alcohol. It's just not worth it really." Sounds like a solid red.
People are still using the Tube. Is it safer to get the bus? Should I be going anywhere?
If you live in London, Tube services are being cut down and 40 stations have been shut. Sadiq Khan really wants you to stop moving around if you don't need to.
"I can't say this clearly enough," the mayor said on 20 March. "People should not be travelling by any means unless they absolutely must. The scientific advice on this is very clear. Londoners should be avoiding social interaction unless absolutely necessary."
im电竞官网-There isn't really a 'safest' form of public transport either.
im电竞官网-"It just takes one person to have been there before you got on and left lots of the virus around, or while you're there," says Yardley. "You wouldn't necessarily know that the person that was in your seat 10 minutes ago was coughing their guts up all over it."
im电竞官网-All of which makes the lack of guidance on how to get to hospital without using public transport or a taxi all the more puzzling.
Where should I walk on the pavement?
im电竞官网-"I think the good practice I’ve seen people doing is – because of the two metre thing, people are very very aware of that generally – if it’s a very narrow pavement and there’s a grass verge to the side then move over onto the grass to allow that distance," says Tildesley.
im电竞官网-If thing get too close for comfort, please don't sprint into the middle of the road to get around people. Accident and emergency departments have more than enough on without setting your broken limbs.
"The best thing to do is stop, and then make sure there’s no traffic coming, so that people can make sure they observe the distance," Tildesley says.
Should I be wearing a face mask?
"The advice on face masks seems to be slightly shifting," says Dr Tildesley. "The thing with facemasks is it’s not a substitute for maintaining other social distancing measures and good hygiene practices. That’s the key thing. Wearing facemasks probably does have some impact, especially if you’re infected – but of course, if you’re infected you shouldn’t be going out of the house anyway."
im电竞官网-Some droplets containing the virus might be stopped, but if they're not fitted to your nose and mouth there's still a fair chance droplets will be going into and out of your mouth.
im电竞官网-"There is some evidence that people who wear facemasks might exhibit other risky behaviours because of this perception that because they’re wearing a mask they’re fully protected," Tildesley adds. "It’s not like they’re a bad idea, but they shouldn’t be used as a substitute for doing everything else."
Will wrapping a scarf around my face help?
In a word: no. "A scarf is not a substitute for a mask," says Tildesley. "It’s possible if someone were to sneeze on your scarf, because of the type of material [it is] it could potentially trap the virus in the scarf, and if you touch it later it could be infected. If you’re going to wear something, you should try and wear a proper face mask."
Is it safe to go for a jog? Are there places I should and shouldn’t run?
This one's a green, though you're best off sticking to parks and open spaces where you can keep some distance from other people. You're only allowed one outdoor exercise session a day and taking exercise on your own is best – in fact, all gatherings of more than two are out of bounds – but just being outside doesn't make you or anyone else less infectious.
im电竞官网-"If you do cough, make sure that you look far away from people," says Yardley. "When you jog you expel air from your chest much more vigorously than usual so look away from people as you pass them otherwise you might be puffing air on them, and you might have an infection you don't know about yet. You're also pulling in air more when you're jogging."
"I think the key thing is the distancing," adds Tildesley. "If you’re running through the park then give people a wide berth, and I would probably always be overly cautious with that – maybe go somewhat wider than the two metres."
Walking is less risky, but both are relatively safe. Exercise is also essential if you're not going to lose your marbles.
What about the gym?
im电竞官网-Gyms are shut too, buddy, by order of the government.
Can I go into my own garden?
"At this time, when we’re under such severe restrictions, it’s actually extremely important to go into your garden if you’re fortunate enough to have one," says Tildesley. "I think people should be going in[to their gardens], enjoying the fresh air, getting a bit of exercise where possible."
I’m going to need to walk the dog. Is that alright?
im电竞官网-That's bang in the green, says Prof Yardley, "as long as you stay six feet away from everybody, and make sure you don't cough on anything". That includes your dog. They can't catch it, but still, they don't need that.
What about other people's dogs in the park? Can I hug them?
It might bring you joy, but Tildesley would err on the side of caution. "I would say I’d probably veer away from that if possible," he says. "Again the average likelihood is relatively low, but if someone is infected and they’re walking with their dog then obviously they’re going to be fussing their dog. I think it’s possible that it could increase risk, and if you’re fussing someone’s dog then you’re automatically in closer proximity to the owner."
Will it be OK if I take my kids to the park?
Green! "Taking your kids to the park in principle would be OK, if you're sure they're not going to meet any other children. If you take them out to the middle of the woods or something, that's probably better because everyone else is going to be in the park." Whether you can catch Covid-19 at a teddy bear's picnic is, currently, unclear.
Can I have my mates round? They’re not coughing or anything yet.
im电竞官网-No. No, no, no. Noooooooo. Nope. Absolutely not. Gatherings of more than two people are out of the question, aside from people in your household. It's just you and your flatmates/partner/family for the foreseeable. Children whose parents live in different houses will be allowed to move between them though.
What about getting the train across the country? Does it matter where I’m going to and from?
Not a good idea. "If you go to a different city, the risk is you'll transmit between cities," says Yardley, and the whole point of the self-isolation thing is to slow the spread of coronavirus across the country and give the NHS time and capacity to treat people. Travelling out of London to visit friends in other cities isn't advised, as infection rates are far higher in the capital and you're likely to speed up the spread of coronavirus that way.
im电竞官网-"And equally if you're going into London – everyone who's outside of London should avoid it if they possibly can, because they don't want to bring back infection from there."
I’ve got annual leave booked. Obviously international travel’s off, but can I go on holiday in the UK?
im电竞官网-Buddy! Lockdown! Does! Not! Mean! Going! On! Holiday!
Should I be disinfecting my phone screen?
"I’m terrible – I never wipe my phone down, and I think it’s something you probably should [do]," says Tildesley. "Once or twice a day, making sure it’s clean, is probably reasonable practice."
This is another one that's relatively low-risk if you don't bother, but it might be an idea. At the very least, it could stop you worrying about it.
im电竞官网-"It’s a surface that theoretically could have virus on it, particularly if someone else in the household is infected and picks up your phone," says Tildesley. "But then, of course, if someone has it in your household you’re probably going to catch it off them anyway."
What about packages coming into the house, and cardboard packaging from my shopping?
im电竞官网-"The average risk of getting infected by anything coming through the post is low, but there is some evidence that the virus can survive on [different] surfaces," says Tildesley. "There’s been a study done in the US that suggests the virus can survive on cardboard for 24 hours and on solid metals potentially for significantly longer than that. It’s one of those where people just need to be vigilant about it. On average, your risk is probably low if a letter comes through the post."
If I’ve got symptoms, how long do I self-isolate? Two weeks? More?
This one's got a lot of people confused. The government and NHS say: "If you live alone and you have symptoms of coronavirus illness (Covid-19), however mild, stay at home for seven days from when your symptoms started.
"If you live with others and you are the first in the household to have symptoms of coronavirus, then you must stay at home for seven days, but all other household members who remain well must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill."
I’ve got asthma, does that mean I’ve got to self-isolate for three months? That’s ages.
im电竞官网-The government says people with conditions that put them in the 'at risk' category, including asthma, must "be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures". Those measures are pretty extensive, and you can read them all . Johnson said yesterday that 'at risk' groups need to be "largely shielded from social contact for around 12 weeks".
im电竞官网- "If you look at the death rate in other countries, to be honest asthma doesn't look top of the list – COPD, diabetes, cardiovascular problems, cancer seem to be higher on the list," says Yardley. "But asthma is on there."
Are there any other green-rated activities I could be doing?
Obviously things are a lot more restricted than they were, but there are still some opportunities for safe interaction. Yardley is working on putting some together at the moment, and has heard about initiatives where streets sign up to a big group chat to give each other social and emotional support from the safety of their own gardens.
If you're sensible though, there's actually a lot you can do. "I think people can come up with their own, and as long as you stick to the rules – don't touch something that's been touched by somebody else unless it's been disinfected, stay six feet or more apart outside the home," says Prof Yardley. "After that, get going with your imagination."
That's off the table for now, but when things ease up a little it's worth bearing in mind.
The information in this story is accurate as of the publication date. While we are attempting to keep our content as up-to-date as possible, the situation surrounding the coronavirus pandemic continues to develop rapidly, so it's possible that some information and recommendations may have changed since publishing. For any concerns and latest advice, visit the . If you're in the UK, the can also provide useful information and support, while US users can contact the .
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