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Stay alert? Stay home? Find out what has changed and how it affects you

Read our summary of what the new Government advice means so that you can make decisions and take actions that are right for you.

As of today, the UK Government’s headline message is to ‘stay alert.’

This change comes as the Government takes early steps towards easing the lockdown in England, but for many people what this new message means may be unclear.

We know how important it is for anyone affected by a neurological problem, as well as any other health problem for that matter, to be able to understand their level of risk and to be confident that they are taking the right actions to keep themselves safe.

The most important thing to know is that we are still facing a global pandemic and that the coronavirus has not gone away. Unfortunately things will not be returning to normal yet and it is vital that everyone continues to stay safe and avoids taking unnecessary risks.

We hope that our summary of what the new Government advice means and how it applies to you, can support you to make decisions and take actions that are right for you.

What does ‘stay alert’ mean?

The UK Government’s new position is that we can all help control the virus if we all stay alert.

This means you must:

  • stay at home as much as possible
  • work from home if you can
  • limit contact with other people
  • keep your distance if you go out (2 metres apart where possible)
  • wash your hands regularly

Do not leave home if you or anyone in your household has symptoms. You must still self-isolate if you or someone you live with is experiencing symptoms.

For people who are clinically extremely vulnerable (or high risk), the advice about what you should do has not changed. It is still advised that if you are at high risk you should follow social shielding guidance, and the Government is asking everyone at high risk to continue to do this until at least the end of June.

We understand that this is a very difficult time for many people and that things may seem unfair, frustrating or lonely if you are facing stricter guidance. We’re here if you need support, and you can contact out helpline team on 0808 808 1000 (Mon to Thurs, 9am - 1pm) or via email at helpline@brainandspine.org.uk

Alongside this new message, the Government is changing some of the lockdown restrictions in England to allow people to return to work if they cannot work from home and to take part in more outdoor activities.

How is ‘stay alert’ different to ‘stay at home’?

Although the key message has changed, the advice is still for everyone to stay at home as much as possible.

This is important because it helps to reduce the spread of the virus and protects our healthcare system from being overwhelmed.

Everyone should also still be social distancing whenever they are outside of the house and making sure to wash their hands regularly.

The main changes to the lockdown restrictions are targeted at people who are unable to work from home, and will most widely apply to those who are at lower risk of severe illness from the coronavirus.

For those living in England and that are not at high risk, there are a limited number of things you can now do that you could not do before:

  • spend time outdoors – for example sitting and enjoying the fresh air, picnicking, or sunbathing
  • meet one other person from a different household outdoors - following social distancing guidelines
  • exercise outdoors as often as you wish - following social distancing guidelines
  • use outdoor sports courts or facilities, such as a tennis or basketball court, or golf course – with members of your household, or one other person while staying 2 metres apart
  • go to a garden centre

At all times, you should continue to observe social distancing guidelines when you are outside your home, including ensuring you are 2 metres away from anyone outside your household.

The regulations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland may be different and you should check whether changes have been made that apply to where you live.

How do I know if I am at higher risk?

If you are at high risk and are considered clinically extremely vulnerable, then you should have received a letter from the NHS.

If you have not been contacted and think you should have been, you should speak to your GP or hospital care team.

The advice for people at high risk is to take extra care and to not leave your home for any reason - this is called social shielding. There is support available for people who must follow this advice, and you can find out more here.

Some people may be at moderate risk of becoming severely unwell due to the coronavirus, and currently it is thought that this group of people are able to manage their risk as long as they adhere to the same social distancing advice that everyone should be following.

Please visit our page on understanding if you are at higher risk for more details and links to other useful sources of information.

Where can I find out more?

You can keep up to date with the latest advice from the UK Government on the GOV.UK website.

The NHS website is also a useful source of information and advice.

If you would like to talk to someone, you can contact out helpline team on 0808 808 1000 (Mon to Thurs, 9am - 1pm) or via email at helpline@brainandspine.org.uk

For more information about the coronavirus and how to take care of yourself, please see our section on COVID-19.