From lockdown rules to travel advice and vaccines, we bring you all the latest information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic
With coronavirus cases in the UK generally on the rise as we head towards winter, government guidelines are constantly changing.
The new three-tier system introduced across England in October has now been put on hold, with the whole country going into a second lockdown as of 5 November. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that this lockdown will continue until Wednesday 2 December. The full list of restrictions for England can be found on the government's website.
In Scotland, a new five-tier system was introduced on 2 November, with each area of the country being designated a tier between 0 and 4, depending on the number of cases in that area. Each tier has its own unique set of restrictions.
Due to a rise in coronavirus cases in Northern Ireland, a new set of rules was implemented there on 16 October. These are due to last for four weeks from that date.
Please note that government guidelines can change rapidly – to keep up to date with restrictions in your area, click on the relevant link at the bottom of this article.
1. I want to book an autumn break here in the UK. Is that allowed at the moment?
England: If you live in England, you are not allowed to travel anywhere in the UK during this current lockdown period, "unless for work, education or other legally permitted reasons" (i.e. for essential shopping, to take exercise or to visit people in your support bubble). Besides, overnight stays away from your primary residence are not currently permitted, unless under exceptional circumstances (see the link at the bottom of this page for more information).
Scotland: Each of the tiers in Scotland's new five-tier system has its own unique set of guidelines regarding travel and tourism. The Scottish government currently advises against travelling between Scotland and the other home nations.
Wales: During the firebreak, people living in Wales are not permitted to take a holiday elsewhere in the country or across the UK, and people living outside of Wales are not allowed to enter the country for a holiday. When the firebreak ends on 9 November, people living in Wales will be allowed to enjoy a holiday within their own country. However, guidelines state that they should not take a holiday outside of Wales, and neither should people from outside of Wales enter the country for a holiday.
Northern Ireland: People living in Northern Ireland are currently advised to avoid all unnecessary travel, both within and outside of the country.
If you want to find out when the resorts owned by Boundless and its partners are reopening, click on the links below:
• Whitemead Forest Park – our woodland oasis in the Forest of Dean offers a range of luxurious accommodation, as well as spacious camping and caravanning pitches, in an idyllic setting
• West Cliff Hotel – our luxurious clifftop resort is close to the beach in Bournemouth
As a Boundless member, you can get a 20% discount on all bookings, as well as a Book with Confidence Guarantee that covers you in case the coronavirus pandemic forces you to change your plans. For more information, visit our dedicated Boundless Breaks page.
2. Can I travel abroad?
England: People living in England are not currently permitted to travel outside of the country, unless under exceptional circumstances (for details, click on the link at the foot of the page).
Scotland: People living in Scotland are currently advised to avoid all unnecessary international travel.
Wales: See answer to question 1.
Northern Ireland: See answer to question 1.
If you do travel abroad, you will need to self-isolate for 14 days upon your return. That is unless you are travelling to one of the countries the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) has identified as "no longer posing an unacceptably high risk for British travellers". In which case, you will not need to self-isolate.
Travelling aboard cruise ships is currently not recommended. If you are visiting a foreign country, you should always adhere to its individual safety regulations.
3. What are the latest rules for meeting up with friends and family?
England: If you live in England, you are allowed to meet in a public outdoor place with people from your own household, people in your support bubble or, as long as you're on your own, one person from another household. However, the government advises that you should generally minimise the amount of time spent outside of your own home. You should not meet indoors or in a private garden with anybody unless they are part of your own household or your support bubble.
Scotland: Who you can meet, and where, depends on which tier your local area comes under. Details of the five-tier system can be found here.
Wales: During the firebreak, people in Wales should not meet up with those outside of their own household either indoors or outdoors, unless it is to provide or receive care, or if those people are part of your extended household. After 9 November, you will be allowed to meet with people from other households in a public outdoor setting as long as your group does not exceed four people. This number should be seen as a maximum, not as a target. You should still not meet with people indoors or in a private garden unless they form part of your extended household.
Northern Ireland: Under the new set of rules implemented on 16 October, you are generally not allowed to meet with people from another household indoors at a private home. Some exceptions apply, such as if you are in a bubble with another household or if you work in childcare (to find out more, click here). Up to six people from no more than two households can meet in a private garden (children aged 12 and under do not count in this number). Or, if you want to meet in a public indoor or outdoor place, your group should not exceed 15 people (note: you are not permitted to meet in a caravan or self-catering holiday home).
4. Can I invite people to my home for dinner?
England: See answer to question 3.
Scotland: See answer to question 3.
Wales: See answer to question 3.
Northern Ireland: See answer to question 3.
5. Can my family stay overnight with friends?
England: You are currently only allowed to stay overnight with people in your support bubble, and it must be in one or the other's home (i.e. staying in a holiday home is not permitted).
Scotland: Whether you can stay overnight with members of another household depends on which tier your local area comes under. Details of the five-tier system can be found here.
Wales: See answer to question 3.
Northern Ireland: See answer to question 3.
6. What's the latest advice regarding public transport?
All home nations: You are still advised to avoid public transport if at all possible. If you need to use it, you must now wear a face mask by law unless you qualify for certain exemptions (read the list here). With social distancing measures in place across the different modes of public transport, be aware that there may be delays in your journey.
7. What other businesses are open at the moment?
England: As of 5 November, pubs, bars and restaurants must close, except if they are providing takeaway or delivery services. Other businesses that have been told to close include non-essential shops, leisure and sports facilities, entertainment venues (including bowling alleys, skating rinks and softplay centres), holiday accommodation, hair and beauty salons, and places of worship (except for private prayer). Banks, building societies, post offices, schools, colleges, essential shops, launderettes and outdoor play areas may remain open. For a full list of what's open and closed, click here.
Scotland: Each tier has its own set of rules regarding which businesses are allowed to remain open. Details of the five-tier system can be found here.
Wales: For a full rundown of what's open and what's closed during the firebreak, click here. From 9 November, most businesses will be allowed to open, including pubs and restaurants, leisure facilities and all retail outlets. To find out more, click here.
Northern Ireland: Hospitality venues are currently only allowed to open for takeaway and deliveries. Alcoholic drinks will not be on sale. The retail sector remains open, though close-contact services such as hair salons and tattoo parlours must close. Most indoor entertainment venues are closed, though outdoor attractions such as country parks and drive-in cinemas are operating as normal. For a full list of what's open and what isn't, click here.
8. In places where pubs and bars are still open, how are they operating?
England: Pubs and bars are currently closed, except for takeaway and delivery services (alcohol must not be sold and businesses are obliged to close by 10pm).
Scotland: Each tier has its own set of rules regarding the opening of pubs and bars. Details of the five-tier system can be found here.
Wales: During the firebreak, pubs and bars are closed except for takeaway and delivery food services and, if they are licensed for it, the sale of takeaway alcohol. From 9 November, pubs and bars will be allowed to reopen, though there will be restrictions in place (including table service, the compulsory wearing of face masks when not seated at a table, and a maximum of four people in a group unless they are from a single household (children aged 11 and under do not count in this number).
Northern Ireland: See answer to question 7.
9. I have a special occasion coming up that I'd like to celebrate. What are my options?
For advice on meeting up with friends and family for a celebration, see the answers to question 3. To find out what hospitality venues are open where you live, see question 7. If pubs and restaurants are open in your area and you're looking to book a table for a meal, it is advised that you phone ahead as many will be operating at a reduced capacity.
Note also that if you're looking to book a venue such as a hall or a social club, the maximum number of guests allowed to attend may have been reduced to help with social distancing. They may also not be able to offer live music or entertainment.
10. What's the latest news regarding Boundless group activities? Is there anything happening?
As has been the case with most organisations in the home nations, the various groups available to Boundless members – from the Classic Vehicle Group to the Camping & Caravanning Group – have had to suspend physical get-togethers during the pandemic.
We are hoping to resume physical social activity in the near future. In the meantime, we are discussing the possibility of running a series of online events for our member communities. If you would like to take part, keep an eye on our dedicated events page.
11. Do the above rules also apply to shielded people?
If you have been told that you are at greater risk of catching the coronavirus due to your age or medical condition, you may still have to limit what you can and cannot do.
12. When is there likely to be a coronavirus vaccine?
The scientific community began the search for a vaccine almost as soon as the virus was identified, and it looks like one may be ready for the new year. The UK’s deputy chief medical officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, told MPs at the beginning of October that a vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca could be ready for deployment in January, with thousands of NHS staff in line to undergo training during November and December. The first vaccines will be given to the most at risk, meaning the elderly and those with other health conditions.
For the very latest guidelines on what you can and cannot do in your country, click on the relevant link below:
All photos: Getty Images