Definitions: local COVID alert levels, social distancing, self-isolating, shielding and clinically vulnerable
The government has published guidance on protecting yourself and others from coronavirus.
Local COVID alert levels
To help manage outbreaks of COVID-19 across England, every area of England now falls into one of three local COVID alert levels: medium, high and very high.
London is in Local COVID Alert Level: High.
You can check the COVID alert level of local areas to see which level applies to other areas.
Below are the rules for each of the alert levels (Tiers):
Tier 1: local COVID alert level MEDIUM
Areas in Tier 1 must follow the basic national rules that have been in force recently. This means:
- Follow the rule of 6 if meeting indoors or outdoors, unless you are a larger household or part of a support bubble
- Pubs and restaurants to close at 10pm
Tier 2: local COVID alert level HIGH
- No mixing indoors with anyone who is not from your household or in your support bubble. This includes private homes, as well as pubs or restaurants.
- The rule of 6 applies outdoors – you can still meet friends and family who you do not live with outdoors, but only in a group of up to six people
- Pubs and restaurants to close at 10pm
Tier 3: local COVID alert level VERY HIGH
- No mixing indoors or outdoors in hospitality venues or private gardens with anybody who is not in your household or support bubble
- The rule of 6 applies in outdoor public spaces like parks, beaches, countryside or forest
- Pubs and bars not serving meals will be closed. Alcohol can only be served as part of a meal
- Guidance against travelling in and out of the area other than for work, education, youth services or because of caring responsibilities
Social distancingTo continue to fight against coronavirus we must stay alert and stay safe. To reduce the risk of catching or spreading coronavirus you must follow social distancing measures. This means you should:
- Try to keep 2 metres away from people you do not live with
- Avoid physical contact, being close and face-to-face and shouting or singing close to people who you do not live with
- Avoid crowded areas with lots of people
If you cannot stay 2 metres apart you should try to stay more than 1 metre apart and take extra steps e.g. wearing a face covering, moving outdoors or keeping rooms indoors well ventilated.
You do not need to socially distance from:
- People in your household
- Someone you are in an established relationship with
- Anyone in your legally-permitted support bubble if you have one
When seeing friends and family you do not live with you should:
- Meet in groups of 6 or less
- Follow social distancing rules
- Meet outdoors where practical
There are some exceptions where groups can be larger than 6 people, such as providing support to a vulnerable person. Guidance on this is available.
If you can, you should avoid using public transport and aim to walk, cycle or drive instead. If you do use public transport you will need to wear a face covering. There are some exceptions to this rule.
Further government guidance about staying alert and safe (social distancing) is available.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are any of the following:
- a new continuous cough
- a high temperature
- a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell
If you, or someone you live with shows any of the above symptoms it is important that everyone in the household follows self-isolation guidance and stays at home.
If you have symptoms of COVID-19 you must self-isolate for at least 10 days from when your symptoms started. During this period you must:
- not go to work
- not go to school
- not go to public areas
- not use public transport or taxis.
If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should arrange to have a test to see if you have COVID-19. You will be alerted by text, email or a phone call. Read the government guidance on the NHS test and trace service, and what to do if you test positive.
If you test positive for COVID-19 you are legally required to self-isolate and stay at home for at least 10 days, starting from the date the test was taken.
- If you show symptoms you must stay at home for 10 days from when the symptoms started, and arrange to have a test to see if you have COVID-19. After 10 days, if you do not have a high temperature, you do not have to continue to self-isolate. If after 10 days you still have a temperature you must continue to self-isolate and seek medical advice. If you do not have internet access, phone 111 for NHS advice, or phone 999 in a medical emergency
- If someone you live with shows symptoms you must stay at home for 14 days and person showing symptoms needs to get tested for COVID-19. Your 14 days start from the first day that the person in the household became ill. If during your 14 days you display symptoms, then you must stay at home for at least another 10 days from when your symptoms appear.
Shielded people: clinically extremely vulnerable
Some people are at greatest risk of severe illness from COVID-19 due to specific medical conditions. These people are clinically and extremely vulnerable and were advised to take extra precautions during the peak of the pandemic. This is known as ‘shielding’.
The government is advising that you do not need to shield at the moment. This means:
- you do not need to follow previous shielding advice
- you can go to work if your workplace is COVID-secure, but should work from home if possible
- clinically extremely vulnerable children should attend education settings
- you can go outside but should try to keep overall social interactions low
- you can visit businesses e.g. supermarkets, pubs and shops while keeping 2 meters away from people if possible
- you should continue to wash your hands carefully
- you will no longer receive free food parcels, medicine deliveries and basic care from the National Shielding Service
You will still be able to get:
- volunteer support by contacting your local authority (contact details and further information are available)
- prescriptions, essential items and food delivered by NHS Volunteer Responders
- priority slots for supermarket delivered (if you previously registered for free food parcels).
If transmission of COVID-19 increases then you could be advised to shield again. The government will write to you if the advice changes.
If Camden enters local lockdown and you are clinically extremely vulnerable then the government will write to you to advise you to stay at home and shield.
2020 to 2021 Flu programme
Clinically vulnerable people
Some people are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 due to particular health conditions. These people are classified as “clinically vulnerable”. If you are clinically vulnerable you:
- can go outside as much as you like but should try to keep social interactions low
- can visit businesses e.g. supermarkets, pubs and shops whilst keeping 2 meters away from others, of 1 meter plus other precautions
- should continue to wash your hands carefully and more frequently as usual, and thoroughly clean frequently touched areas of your home and/or workspace.