Coronavirus: What you need to know

England is in a national lockdown. Londoners must stay at home.

COVID-19 cases in London are extremely high and rates of infection and hospital admissions are rising rapidly. The new variant of the virus is spreading quickly, and the Government has announced a full national lockdown to get it under control.   

Hospitals in London are under significant pressure. COVID-19 admissions are significantly higher than at any other time in this pandemic and unless urgent action is taken, the NHS is at risk of being overwhelmed.

Londoners have already made huge sacrifices but there will be more difficult weeks ahead. It is vital that we stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.

This is what you need to know about the current rules:

You must stay at home

You must not leave or be outside your home except for legally permitted reasons.  

These include:  

  • Work where it is unreasonable for you to do your job from home. You can also leave your home to provide voluntary or charitable services; 
  • Essential activities like buying food and medicine or accessing services that remain open. You may also do these on behalf of someone else who is vulnerable, shielding or self-isolating; 
  • Education and registered childcare where children are eligible to attend. Access to these services and activities for school-age children is now limited to vulnerable children and children of critical workers. Further information on education and childcare. 
  • Exercise. This should be limited to once a day and you should not travel outside of your local area;
  • Visiting people in your support bubble (if you are legally permitted to form one), to use your childcare bubble, to provide emergency assistance, or to provide care for vulnerable people. Arrangements for contact between parents and children where they live apart can continue.
  • Medical reasons, including to get a COVID-19 test, attend your COVID-19 vaccination appointment and attend other health appointments and emergencies. You can leave home to be with someone who is giving birth or attending a medical appointment or visit them in a hospital or care home. You can also leave to access veterinary services.
  • To attend a place of worship or a funeral. You are also allowed to leave to attend a wedding, although these now can only take place in exceptional circumstances.
  • Attending a formal support group (up to 15 people). 
  • To avoid or escape risk of injury or harm (such as domestic abuse).

If you are clinically vulnerable you could be at risk of severe illness from coronavirus.

Those who are clinically extremely vulnerable should not attend work, school, college, or university, and limit time spend outside the home. You should only go out for medical appointments, exercise or if it is essential.  There is additional advice from the government for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable.   

Meeting others is restricted

You should minimise time spend outside your home.

  • It is against the law to meet socially with family or friends unless they are part of your household or support bubble.
  • You can only leave your home to exercise and not to socialise with others (e.g. you cannot have a picnic or a social meeting). Exercise should be limited to once a day and in your local area. 

  • You can exercise in public outdoor places, like parks:

    • by yourself, 

    • with the people you live with, 

    • with your support bubble or in a childcare bubble where providing childcare,  

    • or, when on your own, with one person from another household. Children under five or up to two carers for a person with a disability who needs continuous care are not included in this limit.


Colleges, primary and secondary schools will close except for certain groups

  • Colleges, primary (reception onwards) and secondary schools will remain open for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers.
  • All other children will learn remotely until February half term.
  • University students on a small number of specific courses, like medicine or social work, will return to face to face learning as planned. All other students who do not study these courses should remain where they are and start their term online. This will last until at least mid-February.
  • Early years settings remain open.

If you are a parent or carer that needs to take time off work because schools are closed, you can get advice on your employment rights on the Employment Rights Hub.


Only travel if essential

  • You must not leave your home unless you have a legally permitted reason.   
  • You should continue to work from home unless you cannot reasonably do so.  
  • If you must travel, then you should stay local – meaning avoiding travelling outside the part of the city you live in. Look to reduce the number of journeys you make overall.   
  • If you need to travel, then you should walk or cycle where possible and plan ahead to avoid busy times and routes. Avoid car sharing with anyone you do not live with or who is not in your support bubble.   
  • You cannot travel overseas or within the UK unless you have a legally permitted reason to leave your home.
  • You should not go on holiday or stay away from home overnight, unless it is for a legally permitted reason. If you are already on holiday, then you should return to your home as soon as practical.
  • You are still allowed to move home.


These businesses and settings must close or remain closed

  • Outdoor sports venues, including tennis courts, golf courses and swimming pools. Indoor leisure facilities like gyms must remain closed.
  • Non-essential shops and retailers, such as shops selling clothing and electrical goods, car showrooms, and betting shops. Shops can still trade via delivery and click-and-collect services.
  • Indoor and outdoor leisure facilities, such as gyms, and swimming pools.
  • Entertainment venues, such as theatres, cinemas, museums, galleries and concert halls. Animal attractions, like zoos, must also close.
  • Personal care facilities including hairdressers, beauty and nail salons, tattoo parlours. 
  • Restaurants, bars, pubs and other hospitality venues (they can still provide takeaways and delivery services). 
  • Hotels, hostels, campsites and guest houses (except for very specific circumstances including essential work travel).
  • Community centres and halls must close except for a limited number of exempt activities. Libraries can only remain open to provide access to IT and digital services for those who do not have them at home and for click-and-collect services.


Some venues, business and settings can stay open 

  • Place of worship including for communal worship 
  • Food shops, supermarkets and pharmacies
  • Garden centres and suppliers of building products
  • Outdoor playgrounds and parks 
  • Petrol stations, car repairs and MOT series, bicycle shops and taxi businesses 
  • Banks and post offices 
  • Vets and pet shops
  • Laundrettes and dry cleaners
  • Estate agents and letting agents 
  • Public toilets
  • Waste and recycling centres, courts and many other public services


NHS services, including GP services and dentist remain open. 

If you think you might need medical care, it is important to come forward.  Contact your GP or call 111 if you need medical care and in an emergency 999. GPs and hospitals have processes in place to keep you safe.

Most other public services can also continue, including Jobcentre Plus, courts, passport and visa services.

Remember to always:

  1. Keep a safe distance from others.  Stay two metres apart from people you do not live with as much as possible.
  2. Wherever you cannot keep a safe distance from others you should wear a face covering, this includes at any busy outdoor public places. It is mandatory to wear a face covering on public transport and in shops.
  3. Wash your hands frequently and carry hand sanitiser when you are out.
  4. Keep your home well ventilated if you must have people there, such as those doing maintenance. Open windows and doors when you can to allow fresh air to circulate.
  5. If you develop COVID-19 symptoms (high temperature, continuous cough, loss or change to taste or smell) then self-isolate immediately and request a test as soon as you can.

Read the full government guidance.

Source: Mayor of London