COVID-19 FAQs

First published: 26 March 2020
Last updated: 13 January 2022

COVID-19 has not gone away. We can help control the virus if we all stay alert. With this in mind, you are advised to:

  • continue washing your hands regularly
  • increase close contact gradually by minimising the number, proximity and duration of social contacts
  • meet outdoors where possible and let fresh air into enclosed spaces

You must wear face coverings in shops and on public transport.

Please visit gov.uk/coronavirus for the latest official guidance and announcements.


Latest updates

11 January 2022: If you get a positive rapid lateral flow test result, most people will not need to take a PCR test to confirm the result. You must self-isolate immediately if you get a positive rapid lateral flow test result.

9 January 2022: From 4am on 9 January, if you qualify as fully vaccinated, you can take either a rapid lateral flow or PCR test within two days or arriving in England. If you have a positive result on the rapid lateral flow test, you must take a PCR test.

7 January 2022: From 4am on 7 January, if you qualify as fully vaccinated or are under 18 you do not need to take a PCR test before you travel to England or self-isolate when you arrive.

08 December 2021: The Prime Minister has confirmed that England will move into Plan B in response to the risks of the Omicron variant. This means that face coverings will be required by law in most indoor settings from 10 December, office workers who can work from home are advised to do so from 13 December, and from 15 December certain venues and events will be required by law to check that all visitors aged 18 or over are fully vaccinated, have proof of a negative test in the last 48 hours, or have an exemption.

We are eager to remind victims of domestic abuse that you are not alone. If you need support and advice, please visit our domestic abuse help page.

 

What measures are now in place to control the spread of COVID-19?

England has now moved into Plan B of the winter plan for managing COVID-19 due to the risks associated with the Omicron variant. There are three main changes to the measures in place.

Face coverings

From Friday 10 December 2021, face coverings will be required by law in most indoor public places and on public transport. This includes:

  • Shops
  • Enclosed shopping centres and indoor markets
  • Banks, building societies, credit unions, short-term loan providers, savings clubs and currency exchange businesses.
  • Post offices
  • During driving lessons and tests
  • On all public transport, including taxis, and in transport hubs, such as airports, rail and tram stations and terminals, maritime ports and terminals, and bus and coach stations and terminals
  • Community centres, village halls, youth centres, members clubs and social clubs
  • Libraries and public reading rooms
  • Polling stations and premises used for the counting of votes
  • Places of worship
  • Crematoria and burial ground chapels
  • Visitor attractions and entertainment venues, such as museums, galleries, cinemas, indoor theatres, concert halls, cultural and heritage sites, indoor areas at aquariums, zoos and visitor farms, bingo halls, snooker and pool halls, amusement arcades, adventure activity centres, indoor sports stadiums, funfairs, indoor theme parks, casinos, skating rinks, bowling alleys, and indoor play areas including soft-play.
  • Public areas in hotels and hostels
  • Indoor areas of sports stadiums
  • Auction houses
  • Estate and letting agents
  • Premises providing personal care and beauty treatments, including hair salons, barbers, nail salons, massage centres, and tattoo and piercing parlours
  • Pharmacies
  • Premises providing veterinary services
  • Retail galleries
  • Retail travel agents
  • Takeaways without space for the consumption of food or drink on premises

While it is advised that you should wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces where you may come into contact with other people you do not normally meet, you are not legally required to wear a face covering in:

  • Hospitality settings, such as restaurants, cafés and canteens
  • Bars, pubs and shisha bars
  • Gyms and exercise facilities
  • Photography studios
  • Nightclubs, dancehalls and discotheques

Working from home

Office workers who can work from home are advised to do so from Monday 13 December 2021. Anyone who cannot work from home, for example if you need to access equipment necessary to do your job, should continue to go into the workplace. You are advised to take regular lateral flow tests to manage your own risk and the risk to others.

NHS COVID Pass

From Wednesday 15 December 2021 certain venues and events will be required by law to check that all visitors aged 18 years or over are fully vaccinated, have proof of a negative test in the last 48 hours, or have an exemption. You’ll be required to show an NHS COVID Pass or alternative proof of a negative test result to gain entry into these venues:

  • Nightclubs, dancehalls and discotheques.
  • Any other venue which is open between 1am and 5am, and serves alcohol during this time, and has a dancefloor, or designated space for dancing, and provides music, whether live or recorded, for dancing.
  • Indoor events with 500 or more seated attendees, where those attendees are likely to stand or move around for all or part of the event, such as music venues with standing audiences or large receptions.
  • Outdoor events with 4,000 or more unseated attendees, where attendees are likely to stand or move around for all or part of the event, such as outdoor festivals.
  • Any events with 10,000 or more attendees indoor or outdoor, such as large sports and music events.

Some settings will be exempt from the requirement of using the NHS COVID Pass, including communal worship, wedding ceremonies, funerals and other commemorative events, and events which take place outdoors, in a public space and is not ticketed/charged, which could include protests and mass participation sporting events.

You can access your NHS COVID Pass through the NHS App (this is different to the COVID-19 Track and Trace app), NHS.uk or by obtaining a letter from NHS.uk or by calling 119.

 

Are there restrictions on the number of people I can meet with?

At present, there are no limits to the number of people you can meet with, indoors or outdoors, however it’s recommended that you limit close contact with those you do not usually live with and increase close contact gradually. This includes minimising the number, proximity and duration of social contacts.

 

Do I have to wear a face covering in shops or on public transport?

Yes, face coverings became mandatory in retail settings and on public transport from Tuesday 30 November 2021, unless you have an exemption. From Friday 10 December 2021 this list was expanded and you must wear a face covering in most indoor public places, including

  • Shops
  • Enclosed shopping centres and indoor markets
  • Banks, building societies, credit unions, short-term loan providers, savings clubs and currency exchange businesses.
  • Post offices
  • During driving lessons and tests
  • On all public transport, including taxis, and in transport hubs, such as airports, rail and tram stations and terminals, maritime ports and terminals, and bus and coach stations and terminals
  • Community centres, village halls, youth centres, members clubs and social clubs
  • Libraries and public reading rooms
  • Polling stations and premises used for the counting of votes
  • Places of worship
  • Crematoria and burial ground chapels
  • Visitor attractions and entertainment venues, such as museums, galleries, cinemas, indoor theatres, concert halls, cultural and heritage sites, indoor areas at aquariums, zoos and visitor farms, bingo halls, snooker and pool halls, amusement arcased, adventure activity centres, indoor sports stadiums, funfairs, indoor theme parks, casinos, skating rinks, bowling alleys, and indoor play areas including soft-play.
  • Public areas in hotels and hostels
  • Indoor areas of sports stadiums
  • Auction houses
  • Estate and letting agents
  • Premises providing personal care and beauty treatments, including hair salons, barbers, nail salons, massage centres, and tattoo and piercing parlours
  • Pharmacies
  • Premises providing veterinary services
  • Retail galleries
  • Retail travel agents
  • Takeaways without space for the consumption of food or drink on premises

While it is advised that you should wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces where you may come into contact with other people you do not normally meet, you are not legally required to wear a face covering in:

  • Hospitality settings, such as restaurants, cafés and canteens
  • Bars, pubs and shisha bars
  • Gyms and exercise facilities
  • Photography studios
  • Nightclubs, dancehalls and discotheques

 

Who is exempt from wearing a face covering?

The exemption to the rules around face coverings include:

  • A child under the age of 11
  • Anyone working, including employees or someone providing a service, in the place where face coverings are required, unless they are in contact with, or likely to be in contact with, members of the public.
  • A police officer or police community support officer acting in the course of their duty.
  • Anyone acting in the capacity of an emergency responder.
  • A relevant official acting in the course of their employment or duties.

The legislation also defines what constitutes a ‘reasonable excuse’ to not wear a face covering:

  • A covering cannot be worn for physical or mental illness/impairment or disability reasons or without severe distress.
  • A person is accompanying or providing assistance to another person and that person relies on lip reading to communicate.
  • A person removes a face covering to avoid harm/injury or the risk of harm/injury to themselves or others.
  • A person removes a face covering to receive medical treatment.
  • A person entering a relevant place or public transport to escape risk of harm and doesn’t have one on them.
  • A person can remove a face covering if it’s reasonably necessary to eat or drink or take medication.
  • A person is asked to remove a face covering by someone acting in the course of their employment at a relevant place/public transport service to verify ID.
  • A person is asked to remove a face covering by someone acting in the course of their employment at a pharmacy to provide healthcare/advice.
  • A person is asked to remove a face covering by a relevant person/local authority officer.

 

Will the police step in if retail or transport workers face difficulties enforcing the use of face coverings?

Police forces will continue to enforce Coronavirus Regulations where it is necessary to do so. We will support transport and retail staff in ensuring people wear face coverings in line with the regulations. We will work closely with businesses and will continue to respond to incidents where individuals are violent or abusive towards staff or members of the public.

 

Do I still have to work from home?

Office workers who can work from home are advised to do so from Monday 13 December 2021 – this is guidance and not mandated.

Anyone who cannot work from home, for example if you need to access equipment necessary to do your job, should continue to go into the workplace. You are advised to take regular lateral flow tests to manage your own risk and the risk to others.

All businesses should implement COVID-safe working procedures, which will be different for each workplace. You can find more on the gov.uk website.

 

Will there be a requirement to have any sort of COVID Pass to enter certain premises or take part in certain activities?

From Wednesday 15 December 2021 certain venues and events will be required by law to check that all visitors aged 18 years or over are fully vaccinated, have proof of a negative test in the last 48 hours, or have an exemption. You’ll be required to show an NHS COVID Pass or alternative proof of a negative test result to gain entry into these venues:

  • Nightclubs, dancehalls and discotheques.
  • Any other venue which is open between 1am and 5am, and serves alcohol during this time, and has a dancefloor, or designated space for dancing, and provides music, whether live or recorded, for dancing.
  • Indoor events with 500 or more seated attendees, where those attendees are likely to stand or move around for all or part of the event, such as music venues with standing audiences or large receptions.
  • Outdoor events with 4,000 or more unseated attendees, where attendees are likely to stand or move around for all or part of the event, such as outdoor festivals.
  • Any events with 10,000 or more attendees indoor or outdoor, such as large sports and music events.

Some settings will be exempt from the requirement of using the NHS COVID Pass, including communal worship, wedding ceremonies, funerals and other commemorative events, protests, and mass participation sporting events.

 

How do I get access to the COVID Pass?

You can access your NHS COVID Pass through the NHS App (this is different to the COVID-19 Track and Trace app), NHS.uk or by obtaining a letter from NHS.uk or by calling 119.

 

What policing powers remain relating to COVID-19?

The Force will continue to enforce existing Coronavirus Regulations where it is necessary to do so and are working with affected businesses and authorities to support their implementation. We will continue to respond to incidents where individuals are violent or abusive towards staff or members of the public.

 

What are the rules around self-isolating?

If you are showing symptoms of COVID-19 you must self-isolate immediately, and get a PCR test, even if your symptoms are mild. This includes a new continuous cough, a high temperature and/or a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell. You should isolate at home from the day your symptoms started, regardless of vaccination status.

If you have a positive COVID-19 test result you must self-isolate immediately for 10 days. From 11 January in England, people who receive positive lateral flow device (LFD) test results for COVID-19 will be required to self-isolate immediately and won’t be required to take a confirmatory PCR test, as detailed on gov.uk.

If you test positive and are fully vaccinated, you have the option to end your isolation on day seven if you receive negative lateral flow test results on day six and seven of your isolation period. These tests must be taken at least 24 hours apart and the first tests must be taken no earlier than day six of the isolation period. You are still advised to limit close contact with other people in crowded or poorly ventilated spaces, work from home and minimise contact with anyone who is at higher risk of severe illness if infected with COVID-19 at this point. If your day six and/or day seven test results are positive, you must continue to isolate for the full 10 days.

If you test positive and are not fully vaccinated, you must still self-isolate for the full 10 days.

You must also self-isolate if you are told to do so by NHS Test and Trace, which may include because you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive and you do not have an exemption.

It’s advised that you limit contact with other members of your household as much as possible – you can find other guidance around self-isolating on gov.uk.

You are not required to self-isolate if you live in the same household as someone with COVID-19 or are a close contact of someone with COVID-19 and any of the following apply:

  • You’re fully vaccinated.
  • You’re below the age of 18 years and six months.
  • You’ve taken part in or are currently part of an approved COVID-19 vaccine trial.
  • You’re not able to get vaccinated for medical reasons.

If you are aged five years and over and have been identified as a contact of someone with COVID-19 and you are not legally required to self-isolate, you are strongly advised to take a lateral flow test every day for seven days, ideally in the morning or before you leave your home for the first time that day. If any of these tests are positive, you should immediately self-isolate and follow the rules around self-isolation.

 

What are the rules for those returning to England from other countries?

There are different rules for travelling to England depending on your vaccination status.

If you are fully vaccinated (currently considered to be the first two doses of the Pfizer, Astra Zeneca and Moderna vaccine or one dose of the Janssen vaccine at least 14 days before your arrival in England issued by either the UK vaccination programme, the United Nations vaccine programme for staff and volunteers, or an overseas vaccination programme with an approved proof of vaccination for travel to the UK)

Before travelling to England you must:

On arrival to England, you must:

  • Take your pre-booked COVID-19 PCR or LFT test before the end of day two.
  • Self-isolate in your home or the play you are staying if your test result is positive.
  • From 4am on 9 January, you will be able to take a lateral flow test instead of PCR test. If this is positive, you must self-isolate and take a PCR test.

If you are not fully vaccinated

Before travelling to England you must:

  • Take a COVID-19 test in the two days before you travel to England.
  • Book and pay for a COVID-19 PCR test to be taken by the end of day two and day eight (the day you arrive is day zero) after you arrive into England, even if you’re in England for less than two days.
  • Complete a passenger locator form in the 48 hours before you arrive in England.

On arrival to England, you must:

  • Quarantine at home or in the place you are staying for 10 full days – if you are in England for less than 10 days you need to quarantine for the time you are here.
  • Take your pre-booked COVID-19 PCR tests on or before day two and on or after day eight. You only have to take the tests if you are still in England on those days.

Self-isolation based on your test results:

  • If your day two test is negative or unclear, you must continue to self-isolate and take your day eight test on or after day eight after you arrive.
  • If you receive a positive test result on day two, you must continue to self-isolate for a full 10 days after you took the test. You will not need to take a day eight test if your day two test is positive.
  • If your day eight test is negative, you can stop self-isolating either on the 10th day after you arrive in England or when you receive the negative test result, whichever is later.
  • If your day eight test is positive, you must self-isolate for a full 10 days after the day that you took the test.
  • If your day eight test is unclear, you must self-isolate for a full 10 days after the day that you took the test. You can choose to take another private test, and if that result is negative you can stop self-isolating either after 10 full days after you arrived in England or the day that you received the negative replacement test result, whichever is later.

There are different rules, regardless of vaccination status, if you are travelling from a country on the Red List or have been in a Red List country in the 10 days before arriving in England. This includes the need to take a COVID-19 test before travelling to England and booking a quarantine hotel package.

 

Will Devon & Cornwall Police be removing their COVID Secure measures in the workplace?

No, we will continue to take measures to protect our officers and staff and ensure we can properly support our communities. This includes the requirements to wear face masks across the police estate, including where cars are double crewed, the need to maintain social distance where possible, and to continue increased ventilation in enclosed spaces. We will continue to do all we can to reduce the risk from COVID-19 in our communities and amongst colleagues.

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