• 04 JAN 21

    New National Lockdown from midnight tonight 5th January 2021

    The Government has issued a new national lockdown from midnight tonight. People should stay at home and most schools in England will be closed. The UK alert level is going up to five.

    Who this guidance is for

    This guidance is for people who are fit and well. There is additional advice for ​people who are clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus and ​households with a possible or confirmed coronavirus infection​. If you are clinically extremely vulnerable you should not attend work, school, college or university, and limit the time you spend outside the home. You should only go out for medical appointments, exercise or if it is essential.

    Hands. Face. Space.

    Approximately 1 in 3 people who have coronavirus have no symptoms and could be spreading it without realising it.

    Remember – ‘Hands. Face. Space.’

    ● hands–washyourhandsregularlyandforatleast20seconds ● face–wearafacecoveringinindoorsettingswheresocial

    distancing may be difficult, and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet

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    ● space–stay2metresapartfrompeopleyoudonotlivewith where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place (such as wearing face coverings)

    In all circumstances, you should follow the ​guidance on meeting others safely​.

    When you can leave home

    You must not leave or be outside of your home except where you have a ‘reasonable excuse’. This will be put in law. The police can take action against you if you leave home without a ‘reasonable excuse’, and issue you with a fine (Fixed Penalty Notice).

    You can be given a Fixed Penalty Notice of £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400.

    A ‘reasonable excuse’ includes:

    ● Work-​you can only leave home for work purposes where it is unreasonable for you to do your job from home, including but not limited to people who work within critical national infrastructure, construction or manufacturing that require in-person attendance

    ● Volunteering-​you can also leave home to provide voluntary or charitable services.

    ● Essential activities-​you can leave home to buy things at shops or obtain services. You may also leave your home to do these things on behalf of a disabled or vulnerable person or someone self-isolating.

    ● Educationandchildcare-​Youcanonlyleavehomefor education, registered childcare, and supervised activities for

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    children where they are eligible to attend. Access to education and children’s activities for school-aged pupils is restricted. See ​further information on education and childcare​. People can continue existing arrangements for contact between parents and children where they live apart. This includes ​childcare bubbles​.

    ● Meetingothersandcare-​Youcanleavehometovisitpeoplein your ​support bubble​ ( if you are legally permitted to form one), to provide informal childcare for children under 14 as part of a childcare bubble​ (for example, to enable parents to work, and not to enable social contact between adults), to provide care for disabled or vulnerable people, to provide emergency assistance, to attend a support group (of up to 15 people), or for respite care where that care is being provided to a vulnerable person or a person with a disability, or is a short break in respect of a looked-after child.

    ● Exercise​ You can continue to exercise alone, with one other person or with your household or support bubble​.​ This should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area​.​You should maintain ​social distancing​. See exercising and meeting other people.

    ● Medical reasons-​You can leave home for a medical reason, including to get a COVID-19 test, for medical appointments and emergencies.

    ● Harmandcompassionatevisits​-you can leave home to bewith someone who is giving birth, to avoid injury or illness or to escape risk of harm (such as domestic abuse). You can also leave home to visit someone who is dying or someone in a care home (if permitted under ​care home guidance​), hospice, or hospital, or to accompany them to a medical appointment.

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    ● Animalwelfarereasons​–you can leave home for animal welfare reasons, such as to attend veterinary services for advice or treatment.

    ● Communalworshipandlifeevent​s-​Youcanleavehometo attend or visit a place of worship for communal worship, a funeral or event related to a death,​ ​a burial ground or a remembrance garden, or to attend a wedding ceremony.​ ​You ​should follow the guidance on the safe use of places of worship​ and ​must not mingle with anyone outside of your household or support bubble when attending a place of worship.Weddings, funerals a​nd religious, belief-based or commemorative events linked to someone’s death are all subject to limits on the numbers that can attend, and weddings and civil ceremonies may only take place in exceptional circumstances.

    There are further reasonable excuses. For example, you may leave home to fulfil legal obligations or to carry out activities related to buying, selling, letting or renting a residential property, or where it is reasonably necessary for voting in an election or referendum.

    Exercising and meeting other people

    You should minimise time spent outside your home.

    It is against the law to meet socially with family or friends unless they are part of your household or support bubble. You can only leave your home to exercise, and not for the purpose of recreation or leisure (e.g. a picnic or a social meeting). This should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.

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    You can exercise in a public outdoor place:

    ● by yourself
    ● with the people you live with
    ● with your support bubble (​if you are legally permitted to for money)

    ● in a child care bubble where providing childcare
    ● or, when on your own, with 1 person from another household

    Public outdoor places include:

    ● parks,beaches, countryside accessible to the public, forests ● public gardens (whether or not you pay to enter them)
    ● the grounds of a heritage site
    ● Playgrounds

    Outdoor sports venues, including tennis courts, golf courses and swimming pools, must close.

    When around other people, stay 2 metres apart from anyone not in your household – meaning the people you live with – or your ​support bubble​. Where this is not possible, stay 1 metre apart with extra precautions (e.g. wearing a face covering).

    You must wear a face covering in many indoor settings, such as shops or places of worship where these remain open, and on public transport, unless you are exempt. This is the law. ​Read guidance on face coverings.

    Support and childcare bubbles

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    You have to meet certain eligibility rules to form a support or childcare bubble. This means not everyone will be able to form a bubble.

    A ​support bubble​ is a support network which links two households. You can form a support bubble with another household of any size only if you meet the ​eligibility rules​.

    It is against the law to form a support bubble if you do not follow these rules.

    You are permitted to leave your home to visit your support bubble (and to stay overnight with them). However, if you form a support bubble, it is best if this is with a household who live locally. This will help prevent the virus spreading from an area where more people are infected.

    If you live in a household with anyone aged under 14, you can form a childcare bubble​. This allows friends or family from one other household to provide informal childcare.

    You must not meet socially with your childcare bubble, and must avoid seeing members of your childcare and support bubbles at the same time.

    There is separate guidance for ​support bubbles​ and ​childcare bubbles.​ Where and when you can meet in larger groups

    There are still circumstances in which you are allowed to meet others from outside your household, childcare or support bubble in larger groups, but this should not be for socialising and only for permitted purposes. A full list of these circumstances will be included in the regulations and includes:

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    • ●  forwork, or providing voluntary or charitable services, where it is unreasonable to do so from home. This can include work in other people’s homes where necessary – for example, for nannies, cleaners, social care workers providing support to children and families, or tradespeople. See guidance on ​working safely in other people’s homes​). Where a work meeting does not need to take place in a private home or garden, it should not – for example, although you can meet a personal trainer, you should do so in a public outdoor place.
    • ●  in a ​child care bubble​(for the purposes of child care only)
    • ●  Whereeligibletousetheseservices, for education, registered

      childcare, and supervised activities for children. Access to education and childcare facilities is restricted. See further information on ​education and childcare​.

    • ●  for arrangements, where children do not live in the same household as both their parents or guardians
    • ●  to allow contact between birth parents and children in care, as well as between siblings in care
    • ●  for prospective adopting parents to meet a child or children who may be placed with them
    • ●  to place or facilitate the placing of a child or children in the care of another by social services
    • ●  for birth partners
    • ●  to provide emergency assistance, and to avoid injury or illness, or

      to escape risk of harm (including domestic abuse)

    • ●  to see someone who is dying
    • ●  to fulfil al egal obligation, such as attending court or jury service
    • ●  for gathering within criminal justice accommodation or

      immigration detention centres

    • ●  to​ provide care or assistance to someone vulnerable​, or to

      provide respite for a carer

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    • ●  for a wedding or equivalent ceremony in exceptional circumstances and only for up to 6 people
    • ●  for funerals – up to a maximum of 30people. Wakes and other linked ceremonial events can continue in a group of up to 6 people.
    • ●  to visit someone at home who is dying, or to visit someone receiving treatment in a hospital, hospice or care home, or to accompany a family member or friend to a medical appointment
    • ●  for elite sportspeople(and their coaches if necessary, or parents/guardians if they are under 18) – or those on an official elite sports pathway – to compete and train
    • ●  to facilitate a house move

      Support groups that have to be delivered in person can continue with up to 15 participants where formally organised to provide mutual aid, therapy or any other form of support – but they must take place at a premises other than a private home.

      Where a group includes someone covered by an exception (for example, someone who is working or volunteering), they are not generally counted as part of the gatherings limit. This means, for example, a tradesperson can go into a household without breaching the limit, if they are there for work, and the officiant at a wedding would not count towards the limit.

      If you break the rules

      The police can take action against you if you meet in larger groups. This includes breaking up illegal gatherings and issuing fines (fixed penalty notices).

      You can be given a Fixed Penalty Notice of £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400. If you hold, or

    are involved in holding, an illegal gathering of over 30 people, the police can issue fines of £10,000.

    Protecting people more at risk from coronavirus

    If you are clinically vulnerable, you could be at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus. There is additional advice for ​people who are clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus​. Those who are clinically extremely vulnerable should not attend work, school, college or university, and limit the time you spend outside the home. You should only go out for medical appointments, exercise or if it is essential.

    Travel

    You must not leave your home unless you have a reasonable excuse (for example, for work or education purposes). If you need to travel you should stay local – meaning avoiding travelling outside of your village, town or the part of a city where you live – and look to reduce the number of journeys you make overall. The list of reasons you can leave your home and area include, but are not limited to:

    • ●  work, where you cannot reasonably work from home
    • ●  accessing education and for caring responsibilities
    • ●  visiting those in your support bubble–or your childcare

      bubble for childcare

    • ●  visiting hospital, GP and other medical appointments or visits

      where you have had an accident or are concerned about your

      health

    • ●  buying goods or services that you need, but this should be

      within your local area wherever possible

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    • ●  out door exercise. This should be done locally wherever possible, but you can travel a short distance within your area to do so if necessary (for example, to access an open space)
    • ●  attending the care and exercise of an animal, or veterinary services

      If you need to travel, walk or cycle where possible, and plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport. This will allow you to practice social distancing while you travel.

      Avoid car sharing with anyone from outside your household or your support bubble. See the ​guidance on car sharing​.

      If you need to use public transport, you should follow the ​safer travel guidance.

      International travel

      You can only travel internationally – or within the UK – where you first have a legally permitted reason to leave home. In addition, you should consider the public health advice in the country you are visiting.

      If you do need to travel overseas (and are legally permitted to do so, for example, because it is for work), even if you are returning to a place you’ve visited before, you should look at the rules in place at your destination and the ​Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) travel advice​.

      UK residents currently abroad do not need to return home immediately. However, you should check with your airline or travel operator on arrangements for returning.

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    Foreign nationals are subject to the ‘Stay at Home’ regulations. You should not travel abroad unless it is permitted. This means you must not go on holiday.

    If you are visiting the UK, you may return home. You should check whether there are any restrictions in place at your destination.

    Staying away from home overnight

    You cannot leave your home or the place where you are living for holidays or overnight stays unless you have a reasonable excuse for doing so. This means that holidays in the UK and abroad are not allowed.

    This includes staying in a second home or caravan, if that is not your primary residence. This also includes staying with anyone who you don’t live with unless they’re in your support bubble.

    You are allowed to stay overnight away from your home if you:

    • ●  are visiting your support bubble
    • ●  are unable to return to your main residence
    • ●  need accommodation while moving house
    • ●  need accommodation to attend a funeral or related

      commemorative event

    • ●  require accommodation for work purposes or to provide

      voluntary services

    • ●  are a child requiring accommodation for school or care
    • ●  are homeless, seeking asylum, a vulnerable person seeking

      refuge, or if escaping harm (including domestic abuse)

    • ●  are an elite athlete or their support staff or parent, if the

      athlete is under 18 and it is necessary to be outside of the home for training or competition

    If you are already on holiday, you should return to your home as soon as practical.

    Guest accommodation providers such as hotels, B&Bs and caravan parks may remain open for the specific reasons set out in law, including where guests are unable to return to their main residence, use that guest accommodation as their main residence, need accommodation while moving house, are self-isolating as required by law, or would otherwise be made homeless as a result of the accommodation closing. A full list of reasons can be found in the guidance on closing certain businesses and venues in England​.

    Accommodation providers are also encouraged to work cooperatively with local authorities to provide accommodation to vulnerable groups, including the homeless.

    Going to work

    You may only leave your home for work if you cannot reasonably work from home.

    Where people cannot work from home – including, but not limited to, people who work in critical national infrastructure, construction, or manufacturing – they should continue to travel to their workplace. This is essential to keeping the country operating and supporting sectors and employers.

    Public sector employees working in essential services, including childcare or education, should continue to go into work.

    Where it is necessary for you to work in other people’s homes – for example, for nannies, cleaners or tradespeople – you can do so.

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    Otherwise, you should avoid meeting for work in a private home or garden, where COVID-19 Secure measures may not be in place.

    Employers and employees should discuss their working arrangements, and employers should take every possible step to facilitate their employees working from home, including providing suitable IT and equipment to enable remote working.

    The risk of transmission can be substantially reduced if ​COVID-19 secure guidelines​ are followed closely. Extra consideration should be given to those people at higher risk.

    Going to school, college and university

    Colleges, primary (reception onwards) and secondary schools will remain open for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers. All other children will learn remotely until February half term.

    In the circumstances, we do not think it is possible for all exams in the summer to go ahead as planned. We will accordingly be working with Ofqual to consult rapidly to put in place alternative arrangements that will allow students to progress fairly.

    Universities

    Those students who are undertaking training and study for the following courses should return to face to face learning as planned and be tested twice, upon arrival or self-isolate for ten days:

    ● Medicine&dentistry
    ● Subjectsalliedtomedicine/health ● Veterinary science

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    • ●  Education(initial teacher training)
    • ●  Social work
    • ●  CourseswhichrequireProfessional, Statutory and Regulatory

      Body (PSRB) assessments and or mandatory activity which is scheduled for January and which cannot be rescheduled (your university will notify you if this applies to you).

      Students who do not study these courses should remain where they are wherever possible, and start their term online, as facilitated by their university until at least Mid-February. This includes students on other practical courses not on the list above.

      We have previously published ​guidance to universities and students on how students can return safely to higher education in the spring term​. This guidance sets out how we will support higher education providers to enable students that need to return to do so as safely as possible following the winter break.

      If you live at university, you should not move back and forward between your permanent home and student home during term time.

      For those students who are eligible for face to face teaching, you can meet in groups of more than your household as part of your formal education or training, where necessary. Students should expect to follow the guidance and restrictions. You should socially distance from anyone you do not live with wherever possible.

      Childcare

      There are several ways that parents and carers can continue to access childcare:

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    • ●  EarlyYearssettings(including nurseries  and child minders)remain

      open

    • ●  Vulnerablechildrenandchildrenofcriticalworkerscancontinueto

      use registered childcare, childminders and other childcare

      activities (including wraparound care)

    • ●  parents are able to form a ​child care bubble​ with one other household for the purposes of informal childcare, where the child is under 14. This is mainly to enable parents to work, and must not be used to enable social contact between adults
    • ●  some households will also be able to benefit from being ina

      support bubble

    • ●  nannies will be able to continue to provide services, including in the home

      Care home visits

      Visits to care homes can take place with arrangements such as substantial screens, visiting pods, or behind windows. Close-contact indoor visits are not allowed. No visits will be permitted in the event of an outbreak.

      You should check the guidance on ​visiting care homes during COVID-19 to find out how visits should be conducted. Residents cannot meet people indoors on a visit out (for example, to visit their relatives in the family home). There is ​separate guidance for those in supported living​.

      Weddings, civil partnerships, religious services and funerals

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    Weddings, civil partnership ceremonies and funerals are allowed with strict limits on attendance, and must only take place in COVID-19 secure venues or in public outdoor spaces unless in exceptional circumstances.

    Funerals can be attended by a maximum of 30 people. Linked religious, belief-based or commemorative events, such as stone settings and ash scatterings can also continue with up to 6 people in attendance. Anyone working is not counted in these limits. Social distancing should be maintained between people who do not live together or share a support bubble.

    Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies must only take place with up to 6 people. Anyone working is not included. These should only take place in exceptional circumstances, for example, an urgent marriage where one of those getting married is seriously ill and not expected to recover, or is to undergo debilitating treatment or life-changing surgery.

    Places of worship

    You can attend places of worship for a service. However, you must not mingle with anyone outside of your household or support bubble. You should maintain strict social distancing at all times.

    You should follow the ​national guidance on the safe use of places of worship​.

    Sports and physical activity

    Indoor gyms and sports facilities will remain closed. Outdoor sports courts, outdoor gyms, golf courses, outdoor swimming pools, archery/driving/shooting ranges and riding arenas must also close. Organised outdoor sport for disabled people is allowed to continue.

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    Moving home

    You can still move home. People outside your household or ​support bubble​ should not help with moving house unless absolutely necessary.

    Estate and letting agents and removals firms can continue to work. If you are looking to move, you can go to property viewings.

    Follow the ​national guidance on moving home safely​, which includes advice on social distancing, letting fresh air in, and ​wearing a face covering​.

    Financial support

    Wherever you live, you may be able to get financial help:

    • ●  financial support packages for businesses
    • ●  financial support for closed businesses as a result of tiering

      restrictions

    • ●  claimforemployeewagesthroughCoronavirusJobRetention

      Scheme

    • ●  checkifyoucanclaimagrantthroughtheSelf-Employment

      Income Support Scheme

    • ●  financial support if you’re off work because of coronavirus

      Businesses and venues
      Businesses and venues which must close

      To reduce social contact, the regulations require some businesses to close and impose restrictions on how some businesses provide goods

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    and services. The full list of businesses required to close can be found in the guidance on closing certain businesses and venues in England, but includes:

    • ●  non-essential retail,such as clothing and home ware stores, vehicle showrooms (other than for rental), betting shops, tailors, tobacco and vape shops, electronic goods and mobile phone shops, auction houses (except for auctions of livestock or agricultural equipment) and market stalls selling non-essential goods. These venues can continue to be able to operate click-and-collect (where goods are pre-ordered and collected off the premises) and delivery services.
    • ●  hospitality venues such as cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars and social clubs; with the exception of providing food and non-alcoholic drinks for takeaway (until 11pm), click-and-collect and drive-through. All food and drink (including alcohol) can continue to be provided by delivery.
    • ●  accommodation such as hotels, hostels, guesthouses and campsites, except for specific circumstances, such as where these act as someone’s main residence, where the person cannot return home, for providing accommodation or support to the homeless, or where it is essential to stay there for work purposes
    • ●  leisure and sports facilities such as leisure centres and gyms, swimming pools, sports courts, fitness and dance studios, riding arenas at riding centres, climbing walls, and golf courses.
    • ●  entertainment venues such as theatres, concert halls, cinemas, museums and galleries, casinos, amusement arcades, bingo halls, bowling alleys, skating rinks, go-karting venues, indoor play and soft play centres and areas (including

    inflatable parks and trampolining centres), circuses,

    fairgrounds, funfairs, water parks and theme parks

    • ●  animal attractions(such as zoos,safari parks,aquariums,and

      wildlife reserves)

    • ●  indoor attractions at venues such as botanical gardens,

      heritage homes and landmarks must also close, though outdoor grounds of these premises can stay open for outdoor exercise.

    • ●  personal care facilities such as hair, beauty,tanning and nail salons. Tattoo parlours, spas, massage parlours, body and skin piercing services must also close. These services should not be provided in other people’s homes
    • ●  community centres and halls must close except for a limited number of exempt activities, as set out below. Libraries can also remain open to provide access to IT and digital services – for example for people who do not have it at home – and for click-and-collect services

      Some of these businesses and places will also be permitted to be open for a small number of exempt activities. A full list of exemptions can be found in the ​guidance on closing certain businesses and venues in England​, but includes:

      • ●  education and training–for schools to use sports, leisure and community facilities where that is part of their normal provision
      • ●  child care purposes and supervised activities for those children

        eligible to attend

      • ●  hosting blood donation sessions and food banks
      • ●  to provide medical treatment

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    • ●  for elite sports persons to train and compete (in indoor and outdoor sports facilities), and professional dancers and choreographers to work (in fitness and dance studios)
    • ●  for training and rehearsal without an audience (in theatres and concert halls)
    • ●  forthepurposesoffilmandTVfilming

      Businesses and venues which can remain open

      Other businesses and venues are permitted to stay open, following COVID-19 secure guidelines. Businesses providing essential goods and services can stay open. The full list of these businesses can be found in the ​guidance on closing certain businesses and venues in England​, but includes:

    • ●  essential retail such as foodshops, supermarkets, pharmacies, garden centres, building merchants and suppliers of building products and off-licences
    • ●  market stalls selling essential retail may also stay open
    • ●  businesses providing repair services may also stay open,

      where they primarily offer repair services

    • ●  petrol stations, automatic(but not manual)carwashes,

      vehicle repair and MOT services, bicycle shops, and taxi and

      vehicle hire businesses

    • ●  banks, building societies, post offices, short-term loan

      providers and money transfer businesses

    • ●  funeral directors
    • ●  laundrettes and dry cleaners
    • ●  medical and dental services
    • ●  vets and retailers of products and food for the upkeep and

      welfare of animals

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    • ●  animal rescue centres, boarding facilities, and animal groomers (may continue to be used for animal welfare, rather than aesthetic purposes)
    • ●  agricultural supplies shops
    • ●  mobility and disability support shops
    • ●  storage and distribution facilities
    • ●  carparks, public toilets and motorway service areas
    • ●  outdoor playgrounds ●
    • ●  outdoor parts of botanical gardens and heritage sites for

      exercise

    • ●  places of worship
    • ●  crematoriums and burial grounds

      Public services

      The majority of public services will continue and you will be able to leave home to visit them. These include:

    • ●  the NHS and medical services like GPs and dentists. We are supporting the NHS to carry out urgent and non-urgent services safely, and it is vital anyone who thinks they need any kind of medical care comes forward and seeks help
    • ●  JobcentrePlussites
    • ●  courts and probations ervices
    • ●  civil registration offices
    • ●  passport and visa services
    • ●  services provided to victims
    • ●  waste or recycling centres
    • ●  getting an MOT, if you need to drive when lawfully leaving

      home

    • 24 DEC 20

    Tier 4 level restrictions from 00:01 on Boxing Day (Saturday 26 December)

    The UK Government has confirmed that Oxford City, and the rest of Oxfordshire will be moving to Tier 4 level restrictions from 00:01 on Boxing Day (Saturday 26 December).

    The latest COVID-19 data shows that the infection rate is 289 per 100,000 in Oxford – a 58% increase in the past week. Across Oxfordshire overall, the infection rate is 237 per 100,000 – an 86% increase over the past week.

    On Saturday 19 December, the Government announced new Tier 4 measures being introduced to try and stop the spread of the new variant of COVID-19 from spreading beyond London and the South East.

    What are the tier 4 rules?

    • Stay at home, except for permitted reasons. This includes shopping for food and other essentials, exercise, education, childcare, collecting prescriptions, medical appointments, essential work, and to attend a place of worship.
    • Everyone who can work from home should do so.
    • You cannot meet other people indoors or in a private garden, unless you live with them or they are part of your support bubble.
    • You can exercise or meet in a public outdoor place with people you live with or your support bubble (or as part of a childcare bubble), or with one other person at a safe social distance.
    • You must not travel to other areas, other than for legally permitted reasons, to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
    • Shops selling non-essential goods and market stalls not selling food must close.
    • Cafes, restaurants, bars and pubs must close but they can serve takeaways, click and collect and delivery orders.
    • Personal care, hair and beauty salons must close, as should tattoo, massage and spa venues.
    • Entertainment venues, indoor attractions and leisure facilities must close.
    • Clinically extremely vulnerable people are advised to stay at home as much as possible, except to go outdoors for exercise or to attend health appointments. If they cannot work from home, they are advised not to go to work and claim any support where eligible.

    General information on Tier 4 can be found on the Government website.

    Christmas Day

    Oxford will remain in Tier 2 on Christmas Day.

    Under Tier 2 restrictions, you may see a maximum of two other households indoors (your ‘Christmas bubble’) on Christmas Day (25 December) only.

    You cannot see anyone from a Tier 4 area, unless they are part of your already existing support bubble.

    You should think very carefully about the risks and only form a Christmas bubble if you feel you absolutely need to. Wherever possible, discuss alternatives to meeting up in person.

    During the Christmas period, the Council will continue to provide emergency support to those in hardship and community groups will be providing food support.

    Testing facilities will also remain open across Oxford. Residents are encouraged to get tested if they think they have symptoms.

    Booking is required for all testing sites, and there are plenty of slots available across all the county’s sites. Anyone with symptoms should book on the NHS website or by calling 119.

    • 21 DEC 20

    Christmas Bubbles (the Covid variety!)

    25 December

    You can make a Christmas bubble if you live in Tier 1, 2 or 3. You cannot make a Christmas bubble in Tier 4. You may see a maximum of two other households (your ‘Christmas bubble’) on Christmas Day only (25 December). You cannot see anyone from a Tier 4 area. SUPPORT BUBBLES, CHILDCARE BUBBLES AND CHRISTMAS BUBBLES ARE ALL DIFFERENT. (if you are as confused as me please see 1, 2.1 and 2.2 below)

    It is vital that we each take personal responsibility this Christmas to limit the spread of the virus and protect our loved ones, particularly if they are vulnerable. One in three people with coronavirus (COVID-19) have no symptoms and will be spreading it without realising it. So the safest way to celebrate Christmas this year is with your household or existing support bubble in your home. The more people you see, the more likely it is that you will catch or spread coronavirus.

    Areas in Tier 4

    If you live in a Tier 4 area, you must follow the rules in your tier over the Christmas period. This means that you cannot meet other people indoors, unless you ordinarily live with them, or they are part of your existing support bubble. Outdoors, you can only meet one person from another household.

    Areas not in Tier 4

    If you do not live in a Tier 4 area, you may see a maximum of two other households (your ‘Christmas bubble’) on Christmas Day (25 December). You cannot see anyone from a Tier 4 area.

    You should think very carefully about the risks and only form a Christmas bubble if you feel you absolutely need to. Wherever possible, discuss alternatives to meeting up in person.

    1. Forming a Christmas bubble

    Christmas bubbles, support bubbles and childcare bubbles are all different things and have their own specific rules.

    The rules on Christmas bubbles will be put into law. Once in force, you must follow the rules to minimise the spread of infection.

    You can only form a Christmas bubble if you do not live in a Tier 4 area. If you are permitted to form a Christmas bubble and choose to do so:

    • keep your Christmas bubble as small as possible. Two other households is a maximum, not a target
    • do not join a Christmas bubble with anyone from a Tier 4 area
    • stop all unnecessary social contact outside your immediate household as soon as possible and for at least five days before you meet other households in your bubble
    • only meet your Christmas bubble in private homes or in your garden, places of worship, or public outdoor spaces
    • only see your bubble on Christmas Day. Do not stay overnight and keep your visits as short as possible
    • stay local where possible. Avoid travelling from a high prevalence to a low prevalence area
    • only meet people who are not in your Christmas bubble outside your home according to the rules in the tier you live in (unless coming from a lower to a higher tier) and do not meet socially with friends and family that you do not live with in your home or garden unless they are part of your Christmas bubble

    When seeing your Christmas bubble, you should keep taking steps to reduce the spread of the virus. This includes meeting outdoors where possible, ensuring indoor spaces get as much fresh air as possible, making space between members of different households wherever you can, washing your hands regularly and for 20 seconds, and following rules on self-isolation if you develop symptoms or test positive for coronavirus.

    You must not visit another household if you, or anyone in your household, is feeling unwell or self-isolating. You should get a free NHS test if you have symptoms, have been asked to by your local council or your hospital, or are taking part in a government pilot project.

    2. If you are over 70 or clinically extremely vulnerable

    It is particularly important to think about the greater risks to more vulnerable people whilst recognising how hard it can be to maintain good physical and mental health without essential contact with family and friends.

    If you are over 70 or clinically extremely vulnerable think carefully about the risks. The safest approach may be not to form a Christmas bubble

    If you are permitted to form a Christmas bubble and choose to do so, be especially careful to observe the guidance:

    • meet outdoors where possible
    • wash your hands regularly
    • keep a distance from those you do not live with
    • if you meet indoors, ensure good ventilation by letting in fresh air

    If you are in an existing household or support bubble with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable, the safest approach would be not to join a wider Christmas bubble to help reduce the risks to their health.

    2.1 If you’re in a support bubble

    If you are in an existing support bubble with someone who lives in a Tier 4 area, you can see each other on Christmas Day. If you choose to do so, you must not join a Christmas bubble with anyone else.

    Existing support bubbles count as one household towards the three household limit. This means that if you are in a support bubble outside a Tier 4 area, you can collectively form a Christmas bubble with two other households. This applies only to support bubbles as set out in law. You should, however, consider the risks of doing so and keep your Christmas bubble as small as possible.

    If you are in a support bubble with someone who is over 70 or clinically extremely vulnerable, think carefully. To help reduce the risks to their health, the safest approach would be to celebrate with your household or support bubble and not with others.

    Outside of Tier 4, the two households in a support bubble can choose to join separate Christmas bubbles, but should avoid contact with each other both before and after Christmas Day.

    Read guidance on making and using a support bubble

    2.2 If you’re in a childcare bubble

    You can continue to use a childcare bubble on 25 December, including in a Tier 4 area, but only if reasonably necessary for the purposes of childcare and where there are no reasonable alternatives. If you want to meet socially with the other household in your childcare bubble, you should include them in your Christmas bubble, but can only do so if neither of you live in a Tier 4 area. You and the other household in your childcare bubble would count as two households towards the three household limit for Christmas bubbles.

    Read guidance on making and using a childcare bubble

    2.3 Separated parents of children under 18

    Children (under-18) whose parents do not live together may be part of both parents’ Christmas bubbles, if their parents choose to form separate bubbles. Nobody else should be in two bubbles.

    If one or both parents live in a Tier 4 area, children may continue to move between their parents’ houses, but neither household is permitted to join a Christmas bubble with others.

    2.4 Forming a different Christmas bubble to the people you live with normally

    If you are permitted to form a Christmas bubble, you are allowed to form a different Christmas bubble from the people you live with normally. If you and the people you are living with want to be in different Christmas bubbles, you can form a Christmas bubble with that household and one other household (this will count as three households). You should check the guidance on households where everybody is not in the same Christmas bubble below.

    2.5 If you’re a student who’s moved home from university for the holidays

    If you are a student who has moved home for the university holidays, you are considered to be part of the household to which you have returned. You are not treated as part of your term-time household for this period.

    3. Meeting with your Christmas bubble, and other friends and family

    To protect you and your loved ones, think carefully about the risks of forming a bubble. Only do so if you feel you need to. One in three people who have coronavirus (COVID-19) have no symptoms and will be spreading it without realising it. Everybody in a Christmas bubble is responsible for taking clear steps to prevent catching and spreading the virus. If you do not follow these rules, you increase the risk of catching the virus, and spreading it to your friends and family.

    You should take particular care to follow this advice if you are in a Christmas bubble with anybody who is vulnerable or clinically extremely vulnerable. There is further advice on what to do if you are clinically extremely vulnerable further down this page.

    3.1 Before forming and meeting your Christmas bubble

    If you are permitted to form a Christmas bubble and decide to do so, take precautions to minimise risk by stopping unnecessary social contact outside your immediate household as soon as possible and for at least five days before meeting your Christmas bubble. Workers who cannot work from home may continue to go to their place of work. Any increase in contact with other people increases the risk you will catch or spread coronavirus.

    3.2 Meeting your Christmas bubble indoors

    If someone is in your Christmas bubble, you can visit each other’s homes on 25 December, but must not stay overnight. You can also go to a place of worship together, or meet in public outdoor spaces. You cannot meet your Christmas bubble in any other indoor setting, such as a pub, hotel, shop, theatre, or restaurant. In these settings, rules on who you can and cannot meet depend on your tier.

    Do not meet with friends and family that you do not live with in your home or garden unless they are part of your Christmas bubble. You can continue to meet people who are not in your Christmas bubble outside your home according to the rules in the tier you live in, but should aim to minimise all non-essential contact. If you travel to a tier with stricter rules than the one you have come from, you should follow the stricter rules that are in place.

    There are specific guidelines for those who have chosen to form a different Christmas bubble from the people they normally live with, and for those who choose not to form a Christmas bubble.

    We know that it’s easier to catch and spread the virus in an indoor space, especially if there is little flow of fresh air. Therefore, when meeting your Christmas bubble you should take these measures to prevent the spread of the virus:

    • keep your visits short because the risk of transmission increases the longer you stay
    • wash your hands frequently
    • clean touch points regularly, such as door handles and surfaces
    • keep socially distanced from anybody you do not live with as much as possible
    • make sure you let as much fresh air in as you can during a visit and after visitors have left, without getting cold, by opening windows and doors

    People may continue to work in other people’s homes where necessary, such as for nannies, cleaners or tradespeople. To reduce risk, they should observe social distancing wherever possible, and where it can be avoided should not go into homes that are hosting Christmas bubbles.

    3.3 Meeting your Christmas bubble outdoors

    You can be with your Christmas bubble in your garden or an outdoor public place. You can continue to meet people who are not in your Christmas bubble outside your home according to the rules in the tier you are meeting in, but should aim to avoid all unnecessary contact during this period.

    Outdoor public places include:

    • parks, beaches, parts of the countryside open to the general public
    • public gardens (whether or not you pay to enter them)
    • allotments
    • playgrounds

    4. Households where everybody is not in the same Christmas bubble

    If you have chosen to form a different Christmas bubble from other people in your household – the people you live with normally – you should take additional steps to prevent the opportunity for the virus to spread within your household, and between bubbles.

    This might include: taking extra precautions such as cleaning surfaces and contact points like door handles and letting in as much fresh air as possible after someone has visited your househol

    5. If you choose not to form a Christmas bubble

    If you choose not to form a Christmas bubble, you must continue to follow the rules in your area. In a tier 1 area this would mean that you can see others inside a private dwelling in a group of no more than six, provided that they too are from a tier 1 area and have not formed a Christmas bubble.

    You can also continue to see your support bubble if you have one.

    6. Self-isolation and Christmas bubbles

    You must also follow rules on self-isolation, which apply if either you, someone you live with, someone in your childcare or support bubble, or someone you have been in contact with, has symptoms or has tested positive for coronavirus. This means you must not form a Christmas bubble if you have coronavirus symptoms or are self-isolating. These rules are the law and you must follow them even if it means not meeting with friends or family for Christmas Day.

    If a member of your Christmas bubble tests positive for coronavirus or develops coronavirus symptoms on 25 December, or up to 48 hours after members of the bubble last met, all members of the bubble must self-isolate as if they were members of the same household.

    7. If you are clinically extremely vulnerable

    It is particularly important that we all think about the risks to more vulnerable people, whilst recognising how hard it can be to maintain good physical and mental health without essential contact with family and friends. If you do decide to form a Christmas bubble you should take extra precautions set out in Guidance for the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable. Others in your bubble should be mindful of your increased risks and be extra vigilant in the days before you get together.

    If you are in an existing household or support bubble with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable, think carefully. To help reduce the risks to their health, the safest approach would be to celebrate with your household or support bubble and not with others.

    8. If you are a care home resident

    The guidance on care homes applies to England – see guidance for Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

    Spending time with others outside the care home will increase risk of exposure to coronavirus for the resident and the other residents in their home on their return, and is likely to place an additional burden on the care home. Given this, visits out of care homes should only be considered for care home residents of working age. Residents, their families and care homes should very carefully consider whether this is the right thing to do, or whether visiting at the care home would provide meaningful contact in a safer way. Guidance on care home visits is available.

    Some residents of working age may be able to leave their care home to form a bubble, in agreement with the home and subject to individual risk assessments. A care home resident may form a bubble with one other household, and should not form a three-household Christmas bubble at any point.

    If a care home resident does join a household for Christmas they should maintain social distance, wash hands regularly, and let plenty of fresh air into rooms by opening windows and doors.

    Others in the household should take steps to minimise the risk to the care home resident and others in the care home, recognising that introducing coronavirus to a care home puts all those who live and work there at risk. All members of the bubble should:

    • take steps to minimise their potential exposure to coronavirus by limiting the number of people they meet for two weeks prior to allowing a care home resident into their household
    • talk to the care home about getting tested prior to meeting the care home resident outside the care home. In order to safely return to the care home, the resident will need to be tested and isolated. We will provide further details shortly through the publication of relevant guidance

    In order to safely return to the care home, the resident will need to be tested and isolated. We will provide further details shortly through the publication of relevant guidance.

    In order to safely return to the care home, the resident will need to be tested and isolated. Further guidance is available on visits out of care homes

    9. Travel and overnight stays with your Christmas bubble

    You must not visit or leave a Tier 4 area in order to see others over Christmas or on Christmas Day.

    If you are in Tier 3 or lower and choose to form a Christmas bubble and choose to do so, you should consider carefully the risks of travelling at all. If you live in an area with the highest level of protection, for example, tier 3 in England, you should avoid travelling to lower prevalence areas where possible.

    If you have to travel, book ahead to enable you and others to travel safely and plan your outward and return journeys carefully.

    If you plan to travel to Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland to form a Christmas bubble, you must follow the rules of that country and should read guidance from Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland before you travel. You cannot leave a Tier 4 area to join a Christmas bubble in a Devolved Administration.

    You cannot mix with the other households in your Christmas bubble (unless otherwise permitted by your tier rules) before or after the 25 December except in exceptional circumstances (for example, in the event of unforeseen travel disruption, or if a member of your Christmas bubble develops symptoms of coronavirus and you are required to self-isolate). This includes anyone travelling to or from Northern Ireland.

    Transport routes may be busier than normal. If you do need to travel, you should:

    • plan ahead, check for disruption before you leave, and avoid the busiest routes, as well as busy times
    • avoid making unnecessary stops during your journey
    • avoid sharing a car with people not in your household or Christmas bubble
    • keep your distance from other people when you travel, where possible
    • wash or sanitise your hands regularly

    If you need to travel with your Christmas bubble, wherever you are, you should follow Safer travel guidance.

    Access further information on travel

    Outside a Tier 4 area, you can stay in private rented accommodation, a hotel, hostel or B&B in England over Christmas, in line with the social gathering rules in your tier. This includes in a tier 3: Very High alert area between 24 and 26 December, as long as you are staying by yourself, or with other members of your household and it is necessary for the purposes of seeing your Christmas bubble on Christmas Day. If necessary, you can stay in private rented accommodation with members of your household, or your Christmas bubble.

    You should not gather as a Christmas bubble in a hotel, hostel or B&B in any tier unless a member of your bubble lives there permanently. This is also the case for other types of non-private residence (for example an educational establishment or Bed & Breakfast). If this applies to you, do not mix with your Christmas bubble in any shared facilities or spaces, like a restaurant.

    If you are travelling to the UK from abroad you and your household may join a Christmas bubble on Christmas Day. However if you normally live abroad and arrive to join friends and family in the UK, you will count as a separate household for the purposes of forming a Christmas bubble.

    If you arrive in the UK from or have travelled through a non-travel corridor country or territory you will need to self-isolate for 10 days, or may take a test after 5 days of isolation and end your self-isolation after a negative result.

    10. After meeting your Christmas bubble

    After meeting your Christmas bubble on 25 December, you should reduce your contact with people you do not live with as much as possible. While the rules relevant to your local tier will apply, you should exercise extra caution, and think carefully about whether to meet up with friends or family outside your household. This includes not meeting up with them for New Years Eve, even if you feel well. Around one in three people with coronavirus don’t have symptoms, and can still pass it on.

    You can go to work if you cannot work from home, but you should avoid unnecessary social interaction. Any increase in contact with other people increases the risk you will catch or spread coronavirus.

    For more information www.gov.uk

     

    • 27 NOV 20

    From 2nd December Oxfordshire on ‘High’ alert level (Tier 2)

    From 2 December national lockdown restrictions are lifted so please continue the good work that has helped reduce Covid-19 cases during November. (Vale of the White Horse website)

    Oxfordshire has been placed into the ‘High’ alert level (Tier 2) by central government. This means that from 2 December:

    • We must not meet socially with anybody outside our household or support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place.
    • We must not meet in a group of more than six outside, including in a garden or other space.
    • Non-essential shops can reopen, as can personal care businesses such as hairdressers, gyms and the wider leisure sector. All businesses and venues that reopen must have COVID-secure measures in place.
    • Hospitality venues will be allowed to stay open until 11pm – with last orders at 10pm. However, only those that serve substantial meals can operate, and alcohol can only be served with substantial meals.
    • Collective worship, weddings and outdoor sports can resume, with restrictions in place.
    • Everyone who can work from home should continue to do so.

    Further information is available on the government website.

    Remember – ‘Hands. Face. Space.’:

    • hands – wash your hands regularly and for 20 seconds
    • face – wear a face covering in indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult, and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet (except if you are exempt)
    • space – stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place (such as wearing face coverings or increasing ventilation indoors)