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Lockdown restrictions are gradually being eased in parts of the UK.

From Friday in Scotland, two separate households – up to a maximum of eight people – can meet outdoors, in a park or private garden. Social distancing rules still apply.

This goes further than in England, where you can meet up with one other person from outside your household – keeping 2m (6ft) apart.

Who am I allowed to meet?

The guidelines in England allow one person to meet someone from outside their household outdoors, as long as they stay more than 2m apart.

It means, for example, they could have a picnic in the park, or play a non-contact sport, provided they observe social distancing.

This only applies to two individuals from separate households, so you would still not be allowed to meet both your parents together.

It also means you cannot have a barbecue in your garden for friends, even if you all stayed 2m apart. And you are still not able to invite people inside your home.

However, anyone who is shielding and has been asked to stay at home should continue to do so.

What about other parts of the UK?



Northern Ireland:

Can I exercise with other people?

People in England can now take unlimited exercise and play certain non-contact sports like tennis, golf or basketball with one person from outside their household, as long as social distancing is maintained.

However, they are still unable to use areas like playgrounds and outdoor gyms where there is a higher risk of close contact and touching surfaces.

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People in England are free to drive as far as they like to outdoor open spaces. But they should not travel to Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, or stay anywhere else overnight, including at a second home.

What could the next steps be?

The government is considering whether to allow two households to socialise with each other, provided neither side mixes with other groups.

Known as a ”social bubble”, this would allow more social contact, and an opportunity to share childcare, while hopefully limiting transmission.

It is also looking at ways small weddings could be allowed to take place.

This coronavirus appears to thrive in crowded, indoor spaces which is why pubs, restaurants and many workplaces remain closed and the public has been advised against using public transport.

But transmission of viruses is less likely when ”fresh” air is involved – and that’s usually when people are outside.

Why is social distancing necessary?

Social distancing is important because coronavirus spreads when an infected person coughs small droplets – packed with the virus – into the air.

These can be breathed in, or can cause an infection if you touch a surface they have landed on, and then touch your face with unwashed hands.

What is self-isolation?

If you show symptoms of coronavirus – such as a dry cough and high temperature – you must take extra precautions.

You should stay at home and not leave it for any reason. This is known as self-isolation.

You should not leave your property even to buy food or medicine, and instead order these online, or ask someone to drop them off at your home.

If the NHS Test and Trace team in England gets in touch because you’ve been close to someone who has tested positive for coronavirus, you will have to self-isolate for up to 14 days – even if you feel fine.

The people you live with don’t have to self-isolate, but they must take extra care regarding social distancing and hand washing.

What about those who are clinically vulnerable?

The advice is different for those who have certain underlying health conditions, are pregnant or are over 70, making them clinically vulnerable.

They are more likely to be seriously affected by coronavirus and should stay at home as much as possible, minimising contact with others if they go outside.

Those who have serious underling health conditions, are thought to be ”clinically extremely vulnerable” and should remain ”shielding” at home.

Food and medicine should be dropped off at the door, or ordered online. GP appointments should be over the phone, or online.

Others in the same household, and carers, can go out as long they observe proper social distancing.

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CoronaVirus translator

What do all these terms mean?

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  • Antibodies test

    A medical test that can show if a person has had the coronavirus and now has some immunity. The test detects antibodies in the blood, which are produced by the body to fight off the disease.

  • Asymptomatic

    Someone who has a disease but does not have any of the symptoms it causes. Some studies suggest some people with coronavirus carry the disease but don’t show the common symptoms, such as a persistent cough or high temperature.

  • Containment phase

    The first part of the UK’s strategy to deal with the coronavirus, which involved trying to identify infected people early and trace anyone who had been in close contact with them.

  • Coronavirus

    One of a group of viruses that can cause severe or mild illness in humans and animals. The coronavirus currently sweeping the world causes the disease Covid-19. The common cold and influenza (flu) are other types of coronaviruses.

  • Covid-19

    The disease caused by the coronavirus first detected in Wuhan, China, in late 2019. It primarily affects the lungs.

  • Delay phase

    The second part of the UK’s strategy to deal with the coronavirus, in which measures such as social distancing are used to delay its spread.

  • Fixed penalty notice

    A fine designed to deal with an offence on the spot, instead of in court. These are often for driving offences, but now also cover anti-social behaviour and breaches of the coronavirus lockdown.

  • Flatten the curve

    Health experts use a line on a chart to show numbers of new coronavirus cases. If a lot of people get the virus in a short period of time, the line might rise sharply and look a bit like a mountain. However, taking measures to reduce infections can spread cases out over a longer period and means the “curve” is flatter. This makes it easier for health systems to cope.

  • Flu

    Short for influenza, a virus that routinely causes disease in humans and animals, in seasonal epidemics.

  • Furlough

    Supports firms hit by coronavirus by temporarily helping pay the wages of some staff. It allows employees to remain on the payroll, even though they aren’t working.

  • Herd immunity

    How the spread of a disease slows after a sufficiently large proportion of a population has been exposed to it.

  • Immune

    A person whose body can withstand or fend off a disease is said to be immune to it. Once a person has recovered from the disease caused by the coronavirus, Covid-19, for example, it is thought they cannot catch it again for a certain period of time.

  • Incubation period

    The period of time between catching a disease and starting to display symptoms.

  • Intensive care

    Hospital wards which treat patients who are very ill. They are run by specially-trained healthcare staff and contain specialist equipment.

  • Lockdown

    Restrictions on movement or daily life, where public buildings are closed and people told to stay at home. Lockdowns have been imposed in several countries as part of drastic efforts to control the spread of the coronavirus.

  • Mitigation phase

    The third part of the UK’s strategy to deal with the coronavirus, which will involve attempts to lessen the impact of a high number of cases on public services. This could mean the NHS halting all non-critical care and police responding to major crimes and emergencies only.

  • NHS 111

    The NHS’s 24-hour phone and online service, which offers medical advice to anyone who needs it. People in England and Wales are advised to ring the service if they are worried about their symptoms. In Scotland, they should check NHS inform, then ring their GP in office hours or 111 out of hours. In Northern Ireland, they should call their GP.

  • Outbreak

    Multiple cases of a disease occurring rapidly, in a cluster or different locations.

  • Pandemic

    An epidemic of serious disease spreading rapidly in many countries simultaneously.

  • Phase 2

    This is when the UK will start to lift some of its lockdown rules while still trying to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

  • PPE

    PPE, or personal protective equipment, is clothing and kit such as masks, aprons, gloves and goggles used by medical staff, care workers and others to protect themselves against infection from coronavirus patients and other people who might be carrying the disease.

  • Quarantine

    The isolation of people exposed to a contagious disease to prevent its spread.

  • R0

    R0, pronounced “R-naught”, is the average number of people who will catch the disease from a single infected person. If the R0 of coronavirus in a particular population is 2, then on average each case will create two more new cases. The value therefore gives an indication of how much the infection could spread.

  • Recession

    This happens when there is a significant drop in income, jobs and sales in a country for two consecutive three-month periods.

  • Sars

    Severe acute respiratory syndrome, a type of coronavirus that emerged in Asia in 2003.

  • Self-isolation

    Staying inside and avoiding all contact with other people, with the aim of preventing the spread of a disease.

  • Social distancing

    Keeping away from other people, with the aim of slowing down transmission of a disease. The government advises not seeing friends or relatives other than those you live with, working from home where possible and avoiding public transport.

  • State of emergency

    Measures taken by a government to restrict daily life while it deals with a crisis. This can involve closing schools and workplaces, restricting the movement of people and even deploying the armed forces to support the regular emergency services.

  • Statutory instrument

    These can be used by government ministers to implement new laws or regulations, or change existing laws. They are an easier alternative to passing a full Act of Parliament.

  • Symptoms

    Any sign of disease, triggered by the body’s immune system as it attempts to fight off the infection. The main symptoms of the coronavirus are a fever, dry cough and shortness of breath.

  • Vaccine

    A treatment that causes the body to produce antibodies, which fight off a disease, and gives immunity against further infection.

  • Ventilator

    A machine that takes over breathing for the body when disease has caused the lungs to fail.

  • Virus

    A tiny agent that copies itself inside the living cells of any organism. Viruses can cause these cells to die and interrupt the body’s normal chemical processes, causing disease.

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