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Coronavirus: latest news and government advice

Coronavirus advice and restrictions are changing quickly. This page outlines the latest government advice, how it might affect you and how to keep yourself and others safe.


Do I need to wear a face covering?

There are places where you must wear a face covering unless you're exempt. These include:

  • shops, supermarkets and shopping centres
  • public transport and taxis
  • transport hubs, such as airports, train stations and bus and coach stations
  • healthcare settings, such as hospitals, GP surgeries, care homes and pharmacies 
  • banks, post officers and estate agents
  • close contact personal care settings, such as hairdressers, nail salons and other beauty treatments
  • places of worship
  • indoor entertainment settings, such as museums, cinemas, theatres and concert halls
  • community centres, such as village halls, social clubs and libraries.

You don't need to wear a face covering in exercise facilities or in hospitality settings where the main activity is eating, drinking or dancing - this includes weddings. However, individual businesses may ask you to wear a face covering when on their premises.

It's recommended that you wear a face covering in any other busy indoor settings, or anywhere you'd feel more comfortable doing so.


Do I need a take a coronavirus test?

You should book a PCR test if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • a new and persistent cough
  • a temperature
  • a change in or a loss of your sense of taste or smell

Once you've taken a PCR test, you should isolate until you get the results. If the result is positive, you must isolate for 10 full days after the start of your symptoms (or the day you took the test, if you don't have symptoms).

If you've been in contact with someone that's tested positive for coronavirus, you should take a lateral flow test each day for 7 days. 

You're advised to take a lateral flow test before going into any busy indoor setting or when socialising with anyone that may be more vulnerable.


Do I need to self-isolate?

There are different rules for self-isolating depending on whether you're fully vaccinated. You're considered fully vaccinated if you've had the first 2 vaccine doses and your second dose was at least 14 days ago.

If you're fully vaccinated 

If you've received a positive PCR test result you should self-isolate for 10 full days after the start of your symptoms (or the day you took the test, if you don't have symptoms).

You're able to stop self-isolating after 5 full days if you don't have a temperature and test receive a negative test result on lateral flow tests taken on days 5 and 6. These tests need to be taken 24 hours apart. If either test is positive, you must continue to isolate until you receive 2 negative tests 24 hours apart or the full 10-day period is over. 

If you live with someone or you're identified as a close contact of someone with a positive test result, you don't necessarily need to self-isolate - but you should take a lateral flow test every day for 7 days. and you may want to limit contact with other and avoid busy spaces. 

If you're not fully vaccinated 

If you live with someone or you're identified as a close contact of someone with a positive test result, you should self-isolate for 10 days.

Have you had your booster?

The best way to protect yourself and others, as well as following the latest guidance, is to get your coronavirus booster jab.


How do I get an NHS COVID pass?

You can get an NHS COVID pass via:

  • the NHS app (this is different from the NHS COVID-19 app)
  • the NHS website
  • or by calling 119 to request a letter be posted to you.

Passes are available in different formats, including braille and audio.

Your pass gives information about your vaccination status and is a legal requirement for some events and businesses, such as:

  • nightclubs and bars that are open past 1am
  • indoor, unseated events with 500+ people
  • outdoor, unseated events with 4000+ people
  • any indoor or outdoor event with 10,000+ people. 

Instead of an NHS COVID pass, you can show a negative lateral flow test result. This test should be taken no more than 48 hours before the event (ideally within 12 hours). You need to submit your result - you'll then be provided with an email or text to prove a negative result.


What are the latest travel restrictions?

There are specific rules for travel that differ depending on whether you're vaccinated or not. You're considered fully vaccinated if you've had two vaccine doses and your second dose was at least 14 days ago.

These rules outline what to do when returning to England from another country. You should order any tests you'll need on your return before leaving England. When travelling abroad, the rules may vary and you must follow the rules in the country you're visiting.

When travelling within the UK, Ireland and the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man you don't need to take a coronavirus test, but there may be different rules in these places that you must follow.

If you're fully vaccinated

Anyone over the age of 12 must take a PCR or lateral flow test within 2 days before their return to England. You won't be able to travel without a negative test result. 

On your return, you must take a PCR test and self-isolate until you get your result. You must take this test by the end of your second full day back. If the result is positive, you must self-isolate for 10 days.

If you're not fully vaccinated

As well as the measures outlined above for those who are fully vaccinated, you must also take a PCR test on or after your eighth full day back. You have to self-isolate between these tests, and for a total of at least 10 days. If this second PCR test result on your return comes back after your 10 days, you need to isolate until it arrives. 

If this result comes back positive, you must isolate for a further 10 days. 

All tests required for travel purposes will need to be paid for and can be found on the government website.

If you're travelling from a country on the red list

If you're travelling to England from a country on the red list, or you've been in one of these countries in the 10 days before your return to England, you will have to isolate in a mandated hotel at your own cost. You must do this regardless of your vaccination status.

There are currently no countries on the red list, but if any are added you can find them on the government website.


Can I meet up with friends and family?

You can still socialise. There are no limits on the number of people you can meet up with or when and where you can do this. However, the more people you have contact with, the greater your risk of catching or passing on the virus.

There are still things you can do to reduce the risk of spreading or catching coronavirus, such as:

  • prioritise the people and events that matter to you most and reduce other social contact
  • minimise contact with others where possible - particularly those who may be more vulnerable
  • meet up outside or in well-ventilated spaces
  • take a lateral flow test before meeting others
  • wear a face covering.

Want to know more?

This page outlines the latest guidance. But if you want to know more about these topics, we have more information for you.

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Last updated: Jan 17 2022

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