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What should I be doing to stay safe?

Understand how to stay safe and find out which advice you should be following at this time, depending on your own situation.

What is the difference between social distancing, self-isolation and social shielding?

The UK Government's general advice is that we all must stay alert and stay at home as much as possible.

For more information and guidance about current rules and regulations please visit the Government website.

The regulations in ScotlandWales and Northern Ireland may be different to those in England and you should make sure to check for guidance that applies to you and where you live.

There is a lot of information going around that talks about social distancing, self-isolation and social shielding.

It is important for you to know the difference between these and to understand when you should be doing each of them, as these actions will help stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Social distancing

Everyone should follow the advice about social distancing at all times, and should be staying at home as much as possible.

Social distancing means avoiding all unnecessary face-to-face or close contact with other people.

Social distancing involves:

  • Staying at home as much as possible
  • Working from home if you can
  • Limiting contact with other people
  • Keeping your distance from people not in your household (2 metres apart where possible)
  • Washing your hands regularly


Self-isolation is the advice you must follow if you start to experience any symptoms of coronavirus, or if someone you live with is experiencing symptoms.

If you are experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, you must self-isolate and stay at home for at least 10 days, from the day your symptoms started.

If you live with someone who has started experiencing symptoms, then you must self-isolate and stay at home for 14 days. You must do this even if you do not experience any symptoms yourself.

If you begin to develop symptoms during this time, you must self-isolate for 10 days from the day your symptoms started - even if this extends past the original 14 days.

When you are self-isolating, you must:

  • Not leave your home for any reason
  • Not go out to buy food or collect medicine – order them by phone or online, or ask someone else to drop them off at your home
  • Not have visitors, such as friends and family, in your home

You can use your garden, if you have one.

If you still have a high temperature after 10 days, you must continue to self-isolate until your temperature returns to normal.

After self-isolating you must continue to stay at home and follow advice about social distancing.

If you are at high risk or are considered extremely vulnerable, you may have been advised to self-isolate as part of social shielding, even if you are not showing symptoms. This is to help significantly reduce the chances of you catching the virus. You may need to follow this advice for longer than the 10 or 14 days mentioned above.

Social shielding

The Government's guidance on social shielding has changed as of Monday 6th July 2020.

Further changes are expected to come in to place after August 1st 2020.

Social shielding is for people who are most vulnerable and who may be at high risk of catching the virus or becoming severely unwell if they become infected.

Social shielding is about limiting interactions with other people to reduce your risk of becoming infected.

The Government's guidance on shielding has changed as of Monday 6th July 2020, and now advises:

  • Stay at home as much as possible
  • You no longer need to socially distance from people you live with
  • If you want to, you can meet in a group of up to 6 people outdoors, including people from other households
  • You can form a 'support bubble' with one other household, as long as one of the two households involved is a single adult household (either an adult living alone or with children under 18 only). You can spend time together with those in your support bubble, both inside and outside your homes, without needing to socially distance.

Those at very high risk have been advised to follow the current guidance for social shielding until the end of July. You will be advised by the Government or your healthcare team on whether to extend this period.

You can find more guidance for vulnerable people and where you can go to get support whilst shielding at home here.


Quick guide

Everyone must stay alert, stay at home as much as possible and follow social distancing advice at all times.
Please follow further advice if you are...Which advice to followHow long for
Experiencing symptoms of coronavirusSelf-isolation10 days
Living with someone who has symptoms of coronavirusSelf-isolation14 days (2 weeks)
Extremely vulnerable person or in a high risk groupSocial shieldingUntil end of July



Last updated: 30/07/2020