Coronavirus advice for employers

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement of a national lockdown in England on 4 January, the government has published stay at home guidance which stresses that the single most important action we can all take is to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives.

National lockdown: Stay at Home

The only reasons for leaving home are set out as follows:

  • Shop for basic necessities, for you or a vulnerable person;
  • Go to work, or provide voluntary or charitable services, if you cannot reasonably do so from home;
  • Exercise with your household (or support bubble) or one other person, this should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area;
  • Meet your support bubble or childcare bubble where necessary, but only if you are legally permitted to form one;
  • Seek medical assistance or avoid injury, illness or risk of harm (including domestic abuse);
  • Attend education or childcare – for those eligible.

Colleges, primary and secondary schools will remain open only for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers. All other children will learn remotely until February half term. Early Years settings remain open.

The government is also advising the clinically extremely vulnerable to begin shielding again, and letters will be sent to individuals with advice on what this means for them.

Certain businesses and venues are permitted to stay open, following COVID-19 secure guidelines. These include:

  • Businesses providing repair services;
  • Banks, building societies, post offices, short-term loan providers and money transfer businesses;
  • Medical and dental services;
  • Storage and distribution facilities.

All non-essential retail, hospitality and personal care services must close, or remain closed. Restaurants can continue delivery, takeaway or click-and-collect of food and non-alcoholic drinks, but venues will no longer be able to serve takeaway or click-and-collect alcohol.

Essential shops and garden centres can remain open. Entertainment venues and animal attractions such as zoos must close, but the outdoor areas of venues such as heritage homes and botanical gardens can remain open, to be used for exercise. Playgrounds may also remain open.

Places of worship can also remain open, but you may only visit with your household.

Indoor and outdoor sports facilities including sports courts, gyms, golf courses, swimming pools, and riding arenas must also close. Elite sport and disabled sport can continue, as can PE lessons for those children attending school.

The restrictions came into effect from 5 January and are expected to last until the middle of February if the situation in hospitals improve. By this point, the NHS hopes to have vaccinated everyone in the top four priority groups identified by the JCVI – including older care home residents and staff, everyone over 70, all frontline NHS and care staff and all those who are clinically extremely vulnerable.

The guidance document setting out details of what you can and can’t do under the lockdown restrictions is available here.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): stay at home guidance


This document sets out guidance on the new stay at home regulations which came into effect on 5 January 2021.

To minimise the risk of spreading the virus, the instruction is to stay at home as much as possible.  By law, in a level 4 area, you can only leave your home (or garden) for an essential purpose. And although you can leave home for these purposes, you should stay as close to home as possible.

Examples of reasonable excuses to go out:

  • For work or an activity associated with seeking employment, or to provide voluntary or charitable services, but only where that cannot be done from your home.
  • For education including, school, college, university or other essential purposes connected with a course of study.
  • For essential shopping, including essential shopping for a vulnerable person. You should use online shopping or shops and other services in your immediate area wherever you can.
  • To obtain or deposit money, where it is not possible to do so from home.
  • For healthcare, including COVID-19 testing and vaccination.
  • For childcare or support services for parents or expectant parents.
  • For essential services, including services of a charitable or voluntary nature such as food banks, alcohol or drug support services.
  • To access public services where it is not possible to do so, including from home (eg social care services)
  • To provide care, assistance, support to or respite for a vulnerable person
  • To provide or receive emergency assistance.
  • To participate in or facilitate shared parenting.
  • To visit a person in an extended household.
  • To meet a legal obligation including satisfying bail conditions, to participate in legal proceedings, to comply with a court mandate in terms of sentence imposed or to register a birth.
  • For attendance at court including a remote jury centre, an inquiry, a children’s hearing, tribunal proceedings or to resolve a dispute via Alternative Dispute Resolution.
  • For essential animal welfare reasons, such as exercising or feeding a horse or going to a vet.
  • For outdoor recreation, sport or exercise, walking, cycling, golf, or running that starts and finishes at the same place (which can be up to 5 miles from the boundary of your local authority area) as long as you abide by the rules on meeting other households
  • To attend a marriage ceremony or registration of a civil partnership.
  • To attend a funeral or for compassionate reasons which relate to the end of a person’s life. This includes gatherings related to the scattering or interring of ashes, a stone setting ceremony and other similar commemorative events.
  • If you are a minister of religion or worship leader, for the purposes of leading an act of worship (broadcast or online), conducting a marriage or civil partnership ceremony or a funeral.
  • To donate blood.
  • For activities in connection with moving home (including viewing a property), or for activities in connection with the maintenance, purchase, sale, letting, or rental of residential property that the person owns or is otherwise responsible for. Travelling for the purposes of undertaking essential work on a property other than your main residence should not be used as a pretext for a holiday.  You should not stay longer than for the length of time required to undertake the necessary work.
  • To avoid injury, illness or to escape a risk of harm.
  • For those involved in professional sports, for training, coaching or competing in an event.
  • To visit a person receiving treatment in a hospital, staying in a hospice or care home, or to accompany a person to a medical appointment.
  • To register or vote in a Scottish or UK Parliament, Local Government or overseas election or by-election, including on behalf of someone else by proxy.
  • To visit a person detained in prison, young offenders institute, remand centre, secure accommodation or other place of detention.

The full guidance can be found here.