Social distancing from 23rd March

Coronavirus - restrictions on movement

As the spread of coronavirus has continued the Government has now made the decision to take more measures to reduce risk to life. These measures were announced by both the Prime Minister and First Minister respectively on the 23rd March and will be enforced by the Police and other relevant authorities.

It is in everyone’s interest to stick to these instructions.

Rules on staying at home and keeping your distance

The single most important action we can all take to save lives and protect our NHS is to stay at home. Even when we leave home we should ensure we stay 2 metres (6ft) apart from other people to limit the spread of infection.

From the 23rd of March the following instructions apply to everyone.

  • People are required to stay at home, except for identified exceptions
  • Non-essential shops and community spaces will be closed
  • All gatherings of more than two people in public will be stopped

Everyone must comply with these new measures.

Identified exceptions for leaving home

You should only leave the house for one of four reasons.

  • Shopping for basic necessities​, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible.
  • One form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle - alone or with direct members of your household.
  • Any medical need​, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person.
  • Travelling to and from work​, but only where your work absolutely cannot be done from home – for example if you are a keyworker.

Even when following these exceptions you must minimise the time spent outside your home, and you must make sure you are 2 metres apart from anyone who does not share your home. 

These measures must be followed by everyone. 

If you work in a critical sector outlined in this​ guidance​, or your child has been identified as vulnerable, you can continue to take your children to school.​

Where parents do not live in the same household, children under 18 can be moved between their parents’ homes

Closing non-essential shops and public spaces

Previously, the Government ordered certain businesses - including pubs, cinemas and theatres - to close, these instructions now include

  • all non-essential retail stores - including clothing and electronics stores; hair, beauty and nail salons; and outdoor and indoor markets, excluding food markets.
  • libraries, community centres, and youth centres.
  • indoor and outdoor leisure facilities such as bowling alleys, arcades and soft play facilities.
  • communal places within parks, such as playgrounds, sports courts and outdoor gyms.
  • places of worship, except for funerals attended by immediate families.
  • hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, campsites, caravan parks, and boarding houses for commercial/leisure use (excluding permanent residents and key workers).

More detailed information on business closures can be found here.

Stopping public gatherings

To make sure people are staying at home and apart from each other, the Government is also stopping all public gatherings of more than two people. There are only two exceptions to this rule:

  • where the gathering is of a group of people who live together - this means that a parent can, for example, take their children to the shops if there is no option to leave them at home.
  • where the gathering is essential for work purposes - but workers should be trying to minimise all meetings and other gatherings in the workplace.

In addition, the Government is stopping social events, including weddings, baptisms and other religious ceremonies. This will exclude funerals, which can be attended by immediate family.

Delivering these measures

Everyone is instructed to comply with these new measures.

The Government will give the Police and other relevant authorities, powers to enforce these measures, including through fines and dispersing gatherings where people do not comply..

Stay at home - support our NHS - save lives