Coronavirus / When can I leave my home?

Coronavirus: When can I leave my home?

This information was correct as of 23 July 2020, but is subject to possible changes.

Unless otherwise stated, this page sets out the law and guidance which applies in England only.

When can I leave my home?

As of 4 July 2020, there are no limitations on leaving your home. This means that you can leave and stay outside of your home for any reason, as long as you comply with the rules banning certain types of gatherings, and any rules imposed by a local lockdown (see below).

This means that it is no longer a criminal offence to leave or to be outside of your home without a ‘reasonable excuse’, or to stay overnight at any place other than the place that you or your linked household is living

Social distancing

Government social distancing guidance still recommends that you stay home and limit your contact with others where you can.

It also recommends you stay two metres apart from anyone who isn’t from your household or your linked household. However, it now says that you can be one metre away from others so long as there are also ‘mitigation measures’ in place. This is known as the “one-metre-plus” rule. Mitigation measures might include screens or the use of face coverings.

It is recommended that you follow this advice for the safety of yourselves and others. However, it isn’t a specific criminal offence if you don’t follow this advice.

Can I stay overnight somewhere other than my home?

Yes. Under the new regulations it is no longer a crime to stay anywhere other than your home or the home of your support bubble overnight.

You can now stay at hotels, hostels, B&B accommodation, holiday apartments and homes, cottages and bungalows, although there are still restrictions on staying in shared dormitory rooms.

You can also stay at campsites and caravan parks overnight.

Government guidance says that you should only stay somewhere overnight in groups of up to two households (although anyone in your support bubble counts as one household).

The Government has also issued guidance that accommodation providers should follow to help keep customers safe.

If you currently have nowhere to stay or are concerned you might become homeless, you can call Shelter’s emergency helpline on 0808 800 4444 or read Shelter’s housing advice: coronavirus.

We created a postcard to know your rights if you are homeless. Please note that this postcard refers to the old law, so it will only apply if you were given a fixed penalty notice (FPN) or prosecuted before 4 July 2020.

We also created an information street for frontline organisations working with people experiencing homelessness. Again, this refers to the old law, so will only be relevant to anything before 4 July 2020.

Can I travel anywhere now?

You can now travel anywhere within England, but you can’t stay overnight anywhere that is under a local lockdown.

If travelling by car, government guidance recommends that you avoid travelling with anyone from outside your household or support bubble, given that transmission can happen during car journeys. The guidance also recommends taking hygiene and safety precautions if using services on the way.

Government guidance still recommends that you avoid using public transport where possible. If you do need to use public transport, is against the law if you do not wear a face covering while doing so – see our page for more information about this.

If travelling to anywhere else in the UK, you should check the local law and guidance. This is because different rules apply in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

See the Department for Transport’s safer travel guidance for more information.

Which types of businesses are now open?

Any business except for those listed in the regulations can now open for business. For example, the following businesses are now allowed to open:

  • most cafes, bars, pubs and restaurants
  • hotels, hostels, B&B accommodation, holiday apartments and homes, cottages or bungalows (but not shared sleeping spaces e.g. dormitory rooms)
  • campsites and caravan parks
  • hair salons and barbers, including mobile hair businesses
  • nail bars and salons
  • tanning booths and salons
  • spas and beauty salons
  • massage parlours
  • tattoo parlours
  • body and skin piercing services
  • cinemas, theatres and concert halls
  • libraries
  • community centres
  • places of worship
  • funfairs, theme parks and adventure parks
  • museums and galleries
  • bingo halls
  • outdoor playgrounds
  • outdoor gyms
  • outdoor pools
  • amusement arcades and entertainment centres, such as snooker halls
  • model villages
  • social clubs
  • indoor attractions at aquariums, zoos, safari parks, farms and wildlife centres
  • visitor attractions, including gardens, heritage sites, film studios and landmarks.

It is still worth checking that individual businesses or attractions are open before you travel, as they may still be closed or have reduced business hours.

The Government has provided guidance on measures businesses should be taking to help keep you safe. There is specific guidance for:

Which types of businesses are still closed?

The new regulations say that the following types of businesses must remain closed:

  • nightclubs
  • dance halls, discotheques and other venues which open at night, have a dance floor, and which provide music (live or recorded) for dancing
  • sexual entertainment venues and hostess bars
  • casinos
  • indoor skating rinks
  • indoor swimming pools, including indoor facilities at water parks
  • indoor play areas, including soft play areas
  • indoor fitness and dance studios
  • indoor gym and sports courts and facilities
  • bowling alleys
  • conference centres and exhibition halls (except in very limited circumstances).

These types of businesses can still be used to host blood donation sessions where it is suitable to do so. Fitness centres, gyms, sports courts, swimming pools and leisure centres can be used for training by elite sportspersons. Fitness and dance studios can be used by professional dancers and choreographers (people who make their living from dance or choregraphing dance.)

Sports facilities and venues, including such as indoor gyms, fitness and dance studios, indoor swimming pools and indoor water parks are due to open from 25 July 2020.

Can I attend a wedding, civil partnership or a funeral?

Yes. Anyone can now hold or attend a wedding, civil partnership or a funeral.

Any marriage or civil partnership ceremony must comply with the law on gatherings. The law does permit gatherings of more than 30 people in certain public places (where specific steps have been taken) and government guidance acknowledges that this will include all licensed venues where legal marriage ceremonies can take place.

However, the Government strongly advises that weddings, civil partnerships and funerals should be limited to no more than 30 people for public health reasons. The guidance suggests that you should therefore only invite close friends and family members.

While attendance should generally be capped at 30, an individual premises may limit capacity based on how many people it can safely accommodate with social distancing in place.

The Government has provided specific guidance for weddings and civil partnerships.

The Government has also provided specific guidance for funerals.

Can I attend a live music, drama or comedy performance?

Only if it is outdoors.

While theatres, concert halls and community centres can now reopen, the government guidance says that live performances – such as drama, comedy and music – should not currently take place in front of a live audience indoors.

The Government has said that this is because of the increased risk of transmission associated with these types of activities or as a result of patrons needing to raise their voices to be heard over background music. There is also an increased risk of infection in environments where you are singing, chanting, shouting or conversing loudly.

If you do attend an outdoor performance, the guidance says that you should only be seated with members of one other household, and that you should socially distance (as far as possible) from those you do not live with or are not in your support bubble.

Can I exercise or play sports with other people?

There are no restrictions on what kind of exercise you can do, how often you can do it or how far you can go to do it.

You can use outdoor sports courts, such as tennis and basketball courts, bowling greens and golf courses, as well as outdoor gyms and outdoor pools.

Government guidance now says that you can play team sports in any number if this is formally organised by a sports club or similar organisation and sports-governing body guidance has been issued.

If you are playing one of these sports informally, there must be no more than 30 people involved, including participants, coaches, umpires and spectators, in line with the law on gatherings.

However, for sports where guidance has not been issued by the governing body, government guidance says that you should not play as a team and that you should only train together in groups of up to six people outdoors or groups of up to two households indoors. It says that you should socially distance from people you don’t live with.

Indoor swimming pools indoor gyms, indoor sports courts, fitness studios and dance studios all remain closed to the general public (except for elite sportspersons and professional dancers.) The Government has indicated that these facilities will open from 25 July, subject to evidence closer to the time.

I am scared of my partner or somebody I live with. Can I leave my home if I’m worried about my safety?


You can now leave home for any reason, and it was always okay during ‘lockdown’ to leave your house to escape a risk of harm.

Social isolation can be a time of increased risk for anybody experiencing domestic abuse. If you need to escape to a safe place, domestic abuse refuges are still open.

If you are worried about your immediate safety, you should call the police on 999. This guide explains how you can alert the police that you need help if you are unable to speak.

For further assistance, you can call the freephone 24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline run by Refuge on: 0808 2000 247.

Contact the helpline through this online form.

The Government has also produced guidance about what to do if you are experiencing domestic abuse during this time, which includes other ways that you might be able to get support.

Can I leave the house for mental health reasons?

Yes, you can now leave home for any reason.

If you are having a mental health emergency, for example, you are having thoughts of hurting yourself or ending your life and feel like you can’t keep yourself safe, you should call the emergency services on 999.

The NHS has provided guidance on where to get urgent help for mental health issues.

You can also call the Samaritans for free 24-hours a day, 365 days a year on 116 123.

The mental health charity Mind has also created a list of helplines that you can call in a crisis.

The Government has provided guidance and support to help improve your mental health.

Can the Government close certain public places?

Yes. The new regulations give the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care the power to make a direction to restrict the public from accessing certain public outdoor places.

A direction is a type of law which can be made by a minister without any oversight by Parliament. However, the Secretary of State can only make this type of direction if it is both necessary and proportionate to respond to the public health risk.

If this happens, the direction will be published on and in the Gazette, specifying exactly which public place or places you are restricted from accessing (the “restricted area”), as well as the start and end date and time.

During this time, you will not be able it will be a criminal offence to enter or to stay in the restricted area without a reasonable excuse. A reasonable excuse could include:

  • you are the owner or occupier of land falling within (or partially within) the restricted area
  • to obtain access to or leave your home
  • to avoid illness or injury or escape a risk of harm
  • to continue existing arrangements for access to, and contact between parents and children (where you do not live in the same household)
  • to fulfil a legal obligation
  • to participate in legal proceedings
  • for work purposes, or the provision of voluntary or charitable services (where it is reasonably necessary to enter or stay in the restricted area)
  • to facilitate a house move (where it is reasonably necessary to enter or stay in the restricted area)
  • to provide care and assistance to a vulnerable person (where it is reasonably necessary to enter or stay in the restricted area)
  • to provide emergency care (where it is reasonably necessary to enter or stay in the restricted area).

Any owner or occupier of land which falls within the restricted area has the right to appeal against the direction to the Magistrates’ Court.

What is a local lockdown?

Areas of the country which are experiencing a local COVID-19 outbreak can now be subject to a ‘local lockdown’. This means that different guidance and law will apply in that region compared to the rest of the country.

For example, Leicester is currently under local lockdown. The rules in place in Leicester are very similar to the lockdown rules which were previously in force for England as a whole, including a ban on staying overnight away from your home or support bubble’s home, and a ban on gatherings in groups of more than six people outdoors or more than two people indoors unless you are all members of the same household or support bubble. This is the law, and it is a criminal offence to breach these rules (as it was for the previous lockdown in relation to England as a whole.)

The Government has provided guidance about where the Leicester lockdown will apply. You can also check on that page to see if any new regions have been put under local lockdown.

Additionally, the Government has given new powers to local authorities. Councils can now prohibit or restrict access to premises, events and public outdoor places in their areas in certain circumstances. If they do, it will be a criminal offence to break these rules unless you have a reasonable excuse. The Government has also published guidance about how these powers will work.

Who is a ‘vulnerable person’?

The new regulations still say that the following people are considered to be vulnerable to COVID-19:

  • people aged 70 or older
  • anybody with an underlying health condition
  • anybody who is pregnant.

A non-exhaustive list of underlying health conditions can be found in Schedule 1 of the regulations.

Government guidance provides more detailed definitions as follows:

Clinically vulnerable

You will be in this category if you are aged 70 or over, you have a specific chronic pre-existing condition and/or you are pregnant. Underlying health conditions include things such as lung conditions if they are not severe (for example asthma, emphysema or bronchitis), heart disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, hepatitis, conditions affecting the brain or nerves (such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease or multiple sclerosis), being seriously overweight (with a BMI of 40 or above), or other things set out in the list below.

Clinically extremely vulnerable

If you are in this group, you should have been informed about it by the NHS, your clinician or your GP. You will be in this group if you have had an organ transplant, have certain types of cancer, you have a severe lung condition (such as cystic fibrosis, severe asthma, and others), have a rare disease that significantly increases your risk of infection (such as severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) or sickle cell), have a serious heart condition and are pregnant, or other things set out in the list below.

The full list of medical conditions in relation to both categories can be found here. You should note that the government guidance says that the list may not include everyone who is at higher risk from coronavirus, and that the list might change over time. If you are unsure whether you fall into either category, you should call your GP or 111 for the non-emergency NHS helpline.

What are the rules for ‘vulnerable people’?

The regulations don’t impose any specific restrictions on vulnerable people. This means that, if you fall into one of these groups, you are required to follow the law (as set out in the regulations) in the same way as anybody else.

However, the Government has provided specific guidance for people who fall into these groups, which they recommend you follow to keep yourself safe. The guidance distinguishes between the clinically vulnerable and the clinically extremely vulnerable (see definitions above). What you are advised to do will depend on which group you fall into (as set out below).

What can I do if I’m a ‘clinically vulnerable person’?

If you fall into the clinically vulnerable group, government guidance advises that you continue to take particular care to minimise contact with others outside your household.

If you are pregnant, the Government has issued some advice about pregnancy and coronavirus here.

What can I do if I’m a ‘clinically extremely vulnerable person’?

If you fall into the clinically extremely vulnerable group, the government guidance about what you should do changed as of 6 July 2020.

The advice is that you continue shielding, but the rules about what you should do have been slightly relaxed. This means that the advice is that you no longer need to observe social distancing with other members of your household, and that you can form a support bubble with one other household. It means that you can meet in a group of up to six people outdoors, including people from other households.

See this guidance for anyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable. As was the case previously, you should note that this guidance is advisory only, meaning that it is not a crime if you do not follow this advice.

As of 1 August 2020, the advice will be that you can stop shielding, but that you instead adopt strict social distancing measures. This means that you can go out to more places but that you should minimise contact with others from outside your household or support bubble.

If you need help accessing basic supplies or meeting basic care needs while you are shielding, you can register for the National Shielding Programme here. By doing so, you can have a box of basic supplies sent to you, access priority supermarket deliveries and request help for basic care needs.

You can also find a food bank through The Trussel Trust website here.

Support for anyone who is shielding

If you are feeling isolated and lonely as a result of shielding or for any other reason, you can call the following helplines for emotional support:

  • Samaritans – freephone 116 123 (open 24 hours a day, every day of the year) or access their website here.
  • Mind Infoline – 0300 123 3393 (9am-6pm Monday to Friday except bank holidays) or access their website here.
  • Age UK Advice Line – 0800 678 1602 (8am-7pm every day of the year) or access their website here.

You can contact us for further advice on our Get Advice page.

Read our next page: can I gather with other people?

What are my rights on this?

Find out more about your rights and how the Human Rights Act protects them

Did you find this content useful?

Help us make our content even better by letting us know whether you found this page useful or not