Social distancing remains a key part of the UK’s strategy for keeping people safe and preventing the spread of Covid-19.
It means keeping a certain distance away from people who aren’t in your household or bubble to lessen the risk of passing on – or catching – coronavirus.
What are the rules in each UK nation?
Each nation has slightly different advice, although the general advice everywhere is to stay at home except for very limited purposes.
Social distancing is important because coronavirus spreads mainly when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks, and transmits small droplets – packed with the virus – into the air.
These droplets can land in other people’s mouths or noses nearby or may be inhaled into the lungs. You could also be infected after touching a surface on which the droplets have landed.
The risks are far higher indoors than outdoors.
How can I meet other people safely and can we hug?
Social distancing is a key element of meeting others safely.
The only people you do not need to socially distance from are:
Otherwise, when seeing anybody else you must:
- Follow social distancing rules
- Avoid physical contact like a handshake or hug
- Not be too close or face-to-face
- Not shout or sing too close to them
- Avoid touching other things which others have touched
- Wash your hands before and afterwards
How many people can I meet?
Lockdowns are in force over most of the UK.
In England, nobody can meet anyone from outside their household or support bubble indoors.
They can meet one other person in an outdoor public place, such as a park.
This is also the case for most areas in Scotland (the mainland and the isles of Skye, Bute, Arran and Gigha), which are currently under enhanced level four restrictions.
In Wales you are currently not allowed to meet anyone outside your household or support bubble.
People living in Northern Ireland can meet in public places in groups of up to six people, from no more than two households (children count towards this total).
Across the UK, there is additional advice for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus.
They are advised to limit the time they spend outside their home, and only go out for medical appointments, exercise or if it is essential. They should not attend work, school, college or university.
Can I be fined for breaking the rules?
People can be fined for breaking coronavirus regulations.
- In England, it is £200 for a first offence, doubling on each further offence up to £6,400
- In Scotland and Northern Ireland, fixed penalty notices start at £60 and double on repeat offences up to a maximum of £960
- In Wales, fixed penalty notices start at £60 and can rise to £1,920