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FAQs: Covid-19 Lockdown

New restrictions



Education and childcare

Staying healthy

Social activity and exercise


New restrictions

When will we come out of lockdown?

In Stoke on Trent, the Tier 4: Very High Alert (Stay at Home) restriction was replaced by the National lockdown: Stay at Home restrictions on 5th January 2021.

The lockdown will be reviewed mid-February 2021 (exact date to be confirmed).

Why are we going into lockdown?

Confirmed cases of Covid-19 continue to remain at a high level in Stoke-on-Trent and other areas of the country. The University Hospital of North Midlands NHS Trust is currently treating a significant number of patients with Covid-19. It is important to make sure the NHS has capacity to be able to manage increased numbers of patients needing treatment at hospital or consultation with their GP, due to Covid-19, the new variant of the coronavirus which is thought to spread more easily and quickly and other winter infections such as flu.

We know that social contact spreads Covid-19. In Stoke-on-Trent, national lockdown restrictions will be put in place to control the spread of Covid-19 after increases in the rate of people becoming infected with Covid-19 in December.

To continue to protect yourself, your family and your community from Covid-19 it is important to adhere to the guidelines so that we can limit the spread of Coronavirus, reduce the impact on the NHS and save lives.

Further information from the UK government on the tier system is available through the following link:

What can I leave home for?

You can leave home for the following reasons:

  • to work where it is unreasonable for you to do your job from home.
  • to provide voluntary or charitable services.
  • to obtain essential supplies such as food – also on behalf of a disabled or vulnerable person or someone self-isolating.
  • for education, childcare and supervised activities for children where they are eligible to attend - access to education and children’s activities for school-aged pupils is restricted.
  • to continue existing arrangements for contact between parents and children where they live apart.
  • to visit people in 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 - to enable parents to work.
  • to provide care for disabled or vulnerable people.
  • to provide emergency assistance.
  • to attend a support group (of up to 15 people).
  • 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.
  • for exercise - alone, with one other person or with your household or support bubble - limited to once per day, maintaining social distancing and no travel outside your local area.
  • for medical reasons - including to get a COVID-19 test, appointments and emergencies.
  • for birth partners.
  • to avoid injury or illness, or to escape risk of harm.
  • to see someone who is terminally ill or at the end of life or someone in a care home (if permitted under care home guidance), hospice, or hospital, or to accompany them to a medical appointment.
  • for animal welfare reasons – to attend veterinary services for advice or treatment.
  • to attend a funeral – with no more than 30 people present – or a commemorative event such as a wake for someone who has died – with no more than 15 people present
  • to attend a wedding or civil partnership – with no more than 6 people present.
  • to fulfill legal obligations.
  • to facilitate moving home.
  • to vote (where reasonably necessary).

Can I go to work?

You can leave home for work purposes where your place of work remains open however everyone who can work from home should do so wherever possible.

If you need to attend your place of work to protect yourself and your colleagues remember Hands, Face and Space.

Frequent hand washing for a minimum of 20 seconds, wearing a face covering and giving a minimum of 2m of space for colleagues can help reduce your risk of becoming infected with Covid-19 in the workplace.

Can different households mix indoors? What about outdoors?

You must not meet socially indoors with anyone you do not live with, or who is not in your support bubble, this includes in any private garden.

You may only meet with 1 person from another household in an outdoor public space, you must not travel outside of your local area to meet a person from a different household.

Are support bubbles still allowed to meet?

Yes, support bubbles can still meet during the national lockdown. A support bubble is where a household with one adult joins with another household. Households in a support bubble can continue to visit each other and stay overnight.

My child doesn’t live with me, can I still visit them at their home?

Yes, this is possible – there is an exemption in all tiers for arrangements where children do not live in the same household as both their parents or guardians.

Should some people still be shielding?

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.

If you think you or a family member is clinically vulnerable to Covid-19 infection and want to take steps to protect yourself further information is available through the following link:

I am in the extremely clinically vulnerable (CEV) group but cannot work from home, what can I do?

If you are clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus – that is, people with specific serious health conditions. Over this period, we are advising you to work from home. If you cannot work from home, you are advised not to go to work and may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) or Employment Support Allowance (ESA). You are encouraged to stay at home, but are encouraged to go outside for exercise.

Whilst outside you can reduce your risk of Covid-19 infection by hand washing for a minimum of 20 seconds when you return home and using hand sanitiser when outside, wearing a face covering and giving a minimum of 2m of space to people outside of your household.

Can I leave the house to go for a doctor’s appointment?

Yes. Your GP and local hospital services remain open to the public and are there to support you.

Some GP Practices now offer telephone or video consultation to continue offering appointments to their patients whilst helping protect both NHS staff and patients from the risk of Covid-19 spreading.

You can leave your home if you have any medical concerns, reasons, appointments and emergencies, or to escape risk of harm – such as domestic abuse. If you have any medical concerns it is really important that you contact your GP Practice or ring NHS 111 who can advise on the most appropriate action for you to take.

Can I go to the dentist?

Yes, it is safe to attend the dentist and unless you or someone in your household has symptoms of Coronavirus it is important that you access essential appointments.

My child is due to have their routine vaccinations. What shall I do?

Routine vaccinations for babies, pre-school children and adults are continuing as normal and are important to protect against other infectious diseases.

If invited for vaccination it is important to go to your appointments unless you, your child or someone you live with has symptoms of coronavirus.

It is important that vaccines are given on time to provide the best protection against infectious disease, but if you or your child missed a vaccine, contact your GP to catch up.

I normally have a flu jab at this time of year.  Should I have one during lockdown?

Yes.  It is really important to have your flu jab. Your GP may be in touch to arrange this and they will help you get the flu jab in a Covid-19 secure way. 

If your normally arrange a flu jab for yourself, you can either talk to your GP Practice or call a local pharmacy, and subject to availability of vaccines they may be able to book you in for a flu jab.  Of course, they will do this in a covid-19 secure way.

I have been invited by my GP to have screening for a health condition.  Should I go?

Yes, NHS Screening Services are important for the early detection and diagnosis of a number of health conditions in people who are otherwise healthy.

The NHS offers a range of screening tests to different sections of the population.  If invited for a routine screening appointment it is still really important that you attend this screening.  The NHS is very well prepared to do this for you irrespective of the current restrictions.

Some appointments may be cancelled or rescheduled but keep going to any appointments unless you’re told not to.

Can I go to a funeral?

Yes, funerals are permitted, but can only be attended by a maximum of 30 people. It is advised that only close friends and family attend. Linked ceremonial 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.

What shops can open during the national lockdown?

Essential retail such as those selling food and essential supplies, including indoor and outdoor markets and car boot sales, can open.

They are expected to follow COVID-19 secure guidelines to protect customers, visitors and workers.


What shops are classed as essential services?

Food shops, supermarkets, garden centres and certain other retailers providing essential goods and services can remain open. Essential retail should follow COVID-secure guidelines to protect customers, visitors and workers.

Which businesses will close?

To reduce social contact, the Government has ordered certain businesses and venues to close. These include:

  • non-essential retail, such as clothing and homeware 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, guest houses and campsites, except 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, 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. These services should not be provided in other people’s homes
  • community centres and halls must close except for a limited number of excemt activities. Libraries can 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 such as community centres and halls will 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
  • childcare purposes and supervised activities for those children eligible to attend
  • hosting blood donation sessions and food banks
  • to provide medical treatment
  • 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)
  • for the purposes of film and TV filming

Which businesses will remain open?

All businesses and venues that are open are expected to follow COVID-19 secure guidelines to protect customers, visitors and workers. The following businesses and venues can remain open:

  • essential retail such as food shops, supermarkets, pharmacies, garden centres, building merchants and suppliers of building products and off-licences.
  • market stalls selling essential retail 
  • businesses who primarily offer repair services
  • petrol stations, automatic (but not manual) car washes, 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
  • 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
  • car parks, 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



Can I car share with my work colleagues?


No. You should avoid car sharing with anyone from outside your household or your support bubble and work from home where possible.

The furlough scheme finished in October has this been extended?

Yes. This will be extended until 30 April 2021.Workers in any part of the UK can retain their job, even if their employer cannot afford to pay them, and be paid at least 80% of their salary up to £2500 a month.

The flexibility of the current Coronavirus Job Return Schemes (CJRS) will be retained to allow employees to continue to work where they can.

Employers small or large, charitable or non-profit are eligible and because more businesses will need to close, they will now be asked to pay just National Insurance and Pensions contributions for their staff – making this more generous than support currently on offer.

The Job Support Scheme will not be introduced until after Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ends Wherever you live, you may be able to get financial help through the:

To be confirmed:

I am a dog-groomer, can I open for business?

Guidance, from Advice for people in England with Animals, states that:

"If your animal needs treatment, phone first to arrange the best way to meet their needs.

You may leave your home to take an animal to:

  • veterinary services to seek advice about the health or welfare of your pet or other animal in your care
  • grooming services if they are essential to your animal’s welfare”

Grooming services should only be operating for essential procedures that benefit the animal’s welfare. Non-essential procedures should not be taking place during the lockdown period. This is to ensure that people are staying at home during this time and that dog owners and grooming service staff have minimal contacts. These are the only appointments dog grooming services should be making during this period.



Can I travel?

You must not leave your home unless you have a reasonable excuse (for work or education purposes). If you need to travel you should stay local – meaning avoiding travelling outside of the area you live and 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 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
  • outdoor exercise. This should be done locally 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.

You must not travel if you are experiencing any coronavirus symptoms, are self-isolating as a result of coronavirus symptoms, are sharing a household or support bubble with somebody with symptoms, or have been told to self-isolate after being contacted by NHS Test and Trace.


Education and childcare

Will children still be able to go to school?

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.

Will nurseries be open?

Yes. Early years settings can remain open. Parents are able to form a childcare bubble with another household for the purposes of informal childcare, where the child is 13 or under. As above, some households will also be able to benefit from being in a support bubble, which allows single adult households to join another household.

Can I still use my childminder?

Yes. Vulnerable children and children of critical workers can continue to use childminders.

Will is happening with universities?

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
  • Subjects allied to medicine/health
  • Veterinary science
  • Education (initial teacher training)
  • Social work
  • Courses which require Professional, 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 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.

I am currently at university; can I go home to visit my parents at the weekend?

No. If you live at University, you must not move back and forward between your permanent home and student home to minimise the risk of Covid-19 spreading.


Staying healthy

How can I look after my physical health during the lockdown? How important is it to be fit and healthy?

Exercise - It’s well-known that exercise makes a big difference to your physical and mental health. You can exercise in your home and garden or in a public outdoor place with the people you live with, with your support bubble or with 1 person from another household whilst adhering to social distancing guideline, try and exercise once a day. You can find tutorials suitable for all ages on YouTube.

Eating - The Change4Life website has lots of ideas for healthy meals, snacks and drinks to help you and your family maintain a healthy diet.

Routine - We're all used to some sort of routine and a change to that can bring different challenges. Try and come up with a new routine that will suit everybody's needs in your household and make time for regular breaks and fun activities in between work and school work. Sleep is also really important so try and stick to normal bedtimes and routines.

For more tips on structuring your days click here.


I’m feeling really anxious at the moment – is there anything simple I can do to help feel a bit better?

We are all used to having some sort of routine and many of our regular routines will have been affected by the Covid-19 outbreak and so it’s important that we try create new ones.Plan your days around work, school work and activities.Make sure you factor in time to relax – you could try learning some relaxation techniques.  It’s also important to keep active in your home. You can find tutorials suitable for all ages on YouTube or use our leisure centre staff's tutorials here.


How can I look after my mental health during the lockdown?

We know that this is a worrying time and there is a range of support available.

If you need help or you want to offer help to others, then you can contact #StokeonTrentTogether on 0800 561 5610 or e mail at  or visit the website for more information.

In addition, if you are going through a difficult time and feel you have no one to talk to or you are feeling concerned, worried, stressed or low – or if you are worried about someone you know – you can contact our 24-hour mental health helpline. This helpline has been established as part of Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s response to coronavirus. Call handlers offer the person calling a safe space to talk through any issues they may be experiencing, and callers are then sign posted to the appropriate support services available. Call 01782 234233.


I can’t visit my friend, who I think is struggling. How can I support them during lockdown?

You can offer support to your loved ones during these difficult times by holding an online video chat or by simply picking up the phone.

Use positive language and have open and honest conversations while offering reassurance. You could also try hosting a fun activity such as a quiz, game of bingo or a virtual coffee morning over video chat.

When talking about Covid-19 with family, friends and your community, make sure the advice and information you’re sharing is accurate and up-to-date. The most trustworthy sources for information are the Government website, Public Health England and the NHS.  Try to report any misinformation that you find online to the relevant platform.

If you are able to, there are plenty of ways you can help your others in your community during the coronavirus pandemic. Supporting others can help you to feel better as well. If you know someone that is self-isolating, shielding or needs to limit their interactions, then you could offer to help by giving them a friendly phone call, delivering their shopping and other things they might need.  Advice on safe social distancing when supporting others, such as by delivering shopping, is available here: Social Distancing Guidance

There are lots of volunteering opportunities in communities at this time and you can still take part in these while observing social distancing rules and making essential journeys. You can sign up to #StokeonTrentTogether – a community support network created by Stoke-on-Trent City Council and VAST – to be matched with somebody in your local area who may need some extra help with shopping or just needs a friendly phone call.

Go to for more information and to join this network.


Social activity and exercise

Can I leave the house for exercise?

You can exercise in a public outdoor place such as a park, beach, countryside, forests, public gardens, the grounds of a heritage site or a playground with the people you live with, your support bubble, childcare bubble (where providing childcare) or, when on your own, with 1 person from another household.

You must not travel outside of your area to exercise unless within reason to access an appropriate outdoor space.

Organised outdoor sport for disabled people is allowed to continue.

Last lockdown children were unable to play on playgrounds in the local park. Will this be happening again?

Outdoor exercise is allowed but only with your household or support bubble. You will be able to visit local parks, beaches, countryside, public gardens and playgrounds. It is not permitted for you to meet in a private garden.

Are the libraries still open to the public?

Libraries can 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

Can I go to my place of worship?

Places of Worship will be open but interaction cannot take place with anyone outside your household or bubble.

Places of Worship can continue to be used for:

  • Funerals
  • To broadcast acts of worship
  • Individual prayer
  • Formal childcare or where part of a school
  • Essential voluntary and public services, such as blood donation or food banks
  • Other exempted activities such as some support groups

Can my kids go to football practice?

No, 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.

Organized activities for Elite athletes, under 18’s and disabled people can take place. Elite sports will also be allowed to continue behind closed doors, including Premier League football matches.

Will I be allowed to go to the pub?

No. Pubs and restaurants will have to stay closed. Entertainment venues will also have to close. Takeaway and delivery services will still be allowed.

Can we go to a wedding?


Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies 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.

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.