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UK coronavirus lockdown: what you can and cannot do

Britain is now in lockdown, and all non-essential businesses must close.

But many questions remain after Monday night’s historic broadcast by the prime minister with many people unsure what they can and cannot do, or which businesses are essential and non-essential.

Interviews with cabinet members over the past 12 hours have shed some more light on the lists of things we can and cannot do.

How long does lockdown last?

What remains open?

Ordered to close

  • Restaurants and cafes (exceptions: they can offer food delivery and takeaway)

  • Workplace canteens (exceptions: canteens in hospitals, care homes, schools, prisons and military canteens, services providing food or drink to the homeless)

  • Pubs

  • Bars and nightclubs including bars in hotels and members clubs

  • Hair, beauty and nail salons

  • Piercing and tattoo parlours

  • Massage parlours

  • Auction houses

  • Car showrooms

  • Caravan parks/sites for commercial use (exceptions: Parks where people live permanently or those used by people as interim abodes where their primary residence is not available)

  • Libraries

  • Playgrounds

  • Outdoor gyms

  • All shops selling non-essential goods including clothing and electronic stores.

  • Community centres, youth centres (exceptions: Halls may remain open to host essential voluntary or public services such as food banks and facilities for homeless people)

  • Churches, mosques and places of worship (exceptions – they can remain open for “solitary prayer”, funerals with social distancing – the mourners two metres apart and for live streaming)

  • Cinemas (exceptions: live-streaming of a performance if the group of workers exercise social distancing)

  • Museums and galleries

  • Bingo halls

  • Casinos and betting shops

  • Spas

  • Skating rinks

  • Gyms

  • Swimming pools

  • Playgrounds

  • Enclosed spaces in parks including tennis courts and pitches for football, bowling etc, and outdoor gyms (equipment could become contaminated by human touch)

  • Prisons in England and Wales are closed to visitors

Services, free movement and work that can continue (according to written government guidance and interviews in past 12 hours)

You should not:

Leaving home

People are instructed to limit going out for these reasons:

  • Shopping for basic necessities “as infrequently as possible”

  • To take one form of exercise a day – for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household


  • Dog walking is permitted as part of the one form of exercise people can take a day. Households with two or more members can take it in turns to walk their dog so the dog gets more than one walk a day

  • To look after any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person.

  • To donate blood

  • Under-18s of separated parents can visit both homes

  • To travel to and from work “but only where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home”

  • Essential work (list here) including work on construction sites, although there has been conflicting instructions on contruction

  • The housing secretary, Robert Jenrick, said: “if you are working on site, you can continue to do so. But follow Public Health England guidance on social distancing”

Robert Jenrick
(@RobertJenrick)

Advice for the housing, construction & building maintenance industries:
🔹If you can work from home, do so.
🔹If you are working on site, you can continue to do so. But follow Public Health England guidance on social distancing.
🔹Outside of work, remember to #StayHomeSaveLives


March 23, 2020

Good Morning Britain
(@GMB)

The London Mayor Sadiq Khan says construction workers should not be going to work today unless they are working for ‘safety reasons’. pic.twitter.com/Ji98irvjWA


March 24, 2020

Social events that are banned

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