COVID-19 FAQs

First published: 26 March 2020
Last updated: 21 July 2021

Most restrictions have been lifted, but 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
  • wear face coverings in crowded areas, such as public transport

Do not leave home if you or anyone in your household has symptoms.

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


Latest updates

19 July 2021: England has now entered Stage Four of the Roadmap out of lockdown. This means that most legal restrictions have been lifted and the remainder of businesses can now reopen. People are advised to take personal responsibility to reduce the spread of COVID-19, including regular lateral flow testing and maintaining hygiene standards.

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 happens now we’re at Stage Four of the Roadmap?

Most legal restrictions to control COVID-19 have been lifted. However, you should continue to take personal responsibility and act in a way that keeps yourself and others safe, such as limiting the contact you have with those you don’t normally live with and taking appropriate cautions when in close proximity to others. Remember, COVID-19 has not gone away.

Government guidance stats that from Monday 19 July:

  • You will not need to stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with. There will also be no limits on the number of people you can meet, indoors or outdoors.
  • However, in order to minimise risk at a time of high prevalence, you should limit the close contact you have with those you do not usually live with, and increase close contact gradually. This includes minimising the number, proximity and duration of social contacts.
  • Meet outdoors where possible and let fresh air into homes or other enclosed spaces.
  • The Government is no longer instructing people to work from home if they can. However, the Government expects and recommends a gradual return over the summer.
  • The requirement to wear face coverings in law will be lifted. However, the Government expects and recommends that people wear face coverings in crowded areas such as public transport.
  • There will no longer be limits on the number of people who can attend weddings, civil partnerships, funerals and other significant life events (including receptions and celebrations). There will be no requirement for table service at life events, or restrictions on singing or dancing. You should follow guidance for weddings and funerals to reduce risk and protect yourself and others.
  • There will no longer be restrictions on group sizes for attending communal worship.

What restrictions do remain in place?

Rules around self-isolation will remain in place, as will rules around international travel. Local authorities are still able to issue directions in relation to individual premises, events and public outdoor spaces if required.

How many people am I allowed to meet with at any one time?

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.

Can large scale events go ahead now?

Yes, all capacity limits at sporting, entertainment or business events will be lifted. However, organisers and businesses still have a legal duty to manage risks to those affected by their business. They would be expected to carry out a risk assessment and take reasonable steps to mitigate the risks that are identified, which could include increasing ventilation, more frequent cleaning or requesting attendees to wear masks in enclosed spaces.

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

There are no legal restrictions in place around the use of face coverings in shops or on public transport, but businesses may put their own restrictions in place to ensure they are mitigating any risks identified in their risk assessments. This could include asking customers to wear face coverings.

If supermarkets and other shops ask their customers to wear a face covering, will the police provide assistance if a person refuses?

We expect retailers to manage entry to their stores and compliance with their own individual requirements while customers are inside. As such, police would only get involved if called to deal with a disturbance, such as someone using abusive and/or threatening behaviour.

Do I still have to work from home?

The Government is no longer instructing people to work from home if they can. However, work places are encouraged to return gradually and continue taking measures to protect their staff.

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

There’s no legal requirement at the moment, but the Government does reserve the right to mandate this in certain venues at a later date if necessary. Higher risk settings are encouraged to use the NHS COVID Pass as a condition of entry. Businesses are also encourage to continue using the NHS COVID-19 app QR codes to support NHS Test and Trace, but it is no longer a legal requirement.

How do I get access to the COVID Pass?

The NHS COVID Pass is available through the NHS App (this is different to the NHS Test and Trace App). You can find more about it on nhs.uk.

What policing powers remain relating to COVID-19?

The police will still have a role to play in responding to reports of someone not self-isolating when they are required to. There is also a role to play in managing foreign travel and assisting the local authority if they issue legal directions to the public in relation to a premises, event or outdoor places.

What are the rules around self-isolating?

You must self-isolate if you:

  • Show any of the signs and symptoms of COVID-19, including a new continuous cough, a high temperature or a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell. You should arrange a PCR test as soon as possible.
  • You test positive for COVID-19 even if you are not showing any symptoms.
  • If you are contacted on the phone and told to do so by NHS Test and Trace. You are also advised to self-isolate if you are alerted by the NHS Test and Trace app, although this is not mandatory.
  • If you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Government guidance suggests that from 19 August, if you have been fully vaccinated you will be exempt from the requirement to self-isolate if you are a contact of a positive case. You are expected to take a PCR test as soon as possible, and should self-isolate if you test positive.

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

There are different rules depending on where you are travelling from. You can see the red, amber and green lists and the full rules for returning on gov.uk.

Returning from a red list country:

  • Take a COVID-19 PCR test and complete a passenger locator form before travelling
  • You should book a quarantine hotel package, including two COVID-19 tests before you travel.
  • These rules should be followed even if you have been fully vaccinated.

Returning from an amber list country if you are fully vaccinated:

  • Take a COVID-19 PCR test and complete a passenger locator form before travelling
  • Book and pay for a day two COVID-19 PCR test, which should be taken on this day after arrival in England.
  • You will need to show proof of your vaccination status to your travel provider when you travel.
  • You do not need to quarantine unless your day two test result is positive or you are contacted by NHS Test and Trace to say that you travelled to England or came into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Please note: if you are returning from France you must follow the rules for returning from an amber list country if you are not fully vaccinated, regardless of your vaccination status.

Returning from an amber list country if you are not fully vaccinated:

  • Take a COVID-19 PCR test and complete a passenger locator form before travelling
  • Book and pay for a day two and day eight COVID-19 PCR test, which should be taken on these days after arrival in England.
  • You must quarantine at home or the place you are staying for 10 days.
  • You may be able to end quarantine early if you pay for a private COVID-19 test through the Test to Release scheme.

Returning from a green list country:

  • Take a COVID-19 PCR test and complete a passenger locator form before travelling
  • Book and pay for a day two COVID-19 PCR test, which should be taken on this day after arrival in England.
  • You do not need to quarantine unless the test result is positive or you are contacted by NHS Test and Trace to say that you travelled to England or came into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

How will officers know if a person is fully vaccinated and doesn’t need to self-isolate after returning from an Amber list country?

The Government’s private security contractor will still receive referrals from the Department of Health and Social Care, filtering out those who are fully vaccinated, and refer cases to the police where they believe a breach has occurred. This might mean a reduction in the number of referrals overall, and therefore for the police, but the process itself will not change.

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.

Do you expect crime to increase now that lockdown has ended?

Although overall crime is marginally lower than this time in 2019, demand on the police remains significant. We expect it to increase over the coming months, given the end of lockdown.

We are ready to meet any increase in demand, at whatever pace it comes. As ever, we ask the public to stay vigilant, and to report any emergencies through 999.

What are the police’s priorities now that lockdown has ended?

Police’s efforts will shift more towards day-to-day policing, to prevent and tackle crime and keep communities safe. We believe this is what the public will want to see and expect from us. Please be reassured that all forces have robust plans in place to deal with any upturn in crime, including violence, and will clamp down on violent offenders.

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