THE Government has published its full guidance on the new lockdown restrictions placed on parts of the North-East.
New restrictions came in on Wednesday banning households from mixing in areas already under local lockdown-style rules.
It is now illegal to mix with other households in ‘any indoor setting’ in County Durham, Gateshead, Sunderland, Newcastle, North and South Tyneside and Northumberland.
Tougher new penalties for those who flout the rules will also see rule-breakers fined £200, doubling up to a maximum of £6,400 for subsequent breaches.
But what exactly do the new rules mean for those living in locked-down parts of the region, and those who intend to visit?
We’ve looked at the Government guidance, which was published on Wednesday, and have broken it down to help you understand what it means for you.
Who can I meet and can I meet them outdoors?
Under new restrictions, households in the affected areas CANNOT mix with other households in ‘any indoor’ setting, unless in a support or childcare bubble.
This means that the ban applies to all indoor venues including pubs, restaurants, cafes and bars, something which up until recently was only guidance not law.
New rules also continues a ban on mixing at private settings including private homes and gardens, indoors and even outdoors.
The law doesn’t actually state that you cannot meet people in outdoor settings i.e. a beer garden or the park, as the rules only apply to indoor settings.
What is a support bubble and can everyone have one?
Those who are in a support bubble with another household can continue to mix as they would if they were under one roof.
But not everyone is eligible for a support bubble:
The guidance states: “A support bubble is where a household with one adult joins with another household (on an exclusive basis). Households within a bubble can still visit each other, stay overnight, and visit public places together.”
If two households, both have more than two adults at each, then the support bubble rules would not apply and you could be fined if caught mixing.
What about childcare?
But the rules are slightly different when providing childcare:
“A childcare bubble is where someone in one household can provide informal (i.e. unpaid and unregistered) childcare to a child aged 13 or under in another household. This must occur on an exclusive basis – always the same two households.”
Who can I have round if my area is in local lockdown?
Although family and friends, who are not in your support bubble, cannot visit your home or garden, you can still allow a number of people into your home for the following reasons:
– where everyone in the gathering lives together or is in the same support bubble
– to attend a birth at the mother’s request
– to visit a person who is dying
– to fulfil a legal obligation
– for work purposes (see guidance on working safely in other people’s homes), or for the provision of voluntary or charitable services
– for the purposes of education or training
– for the purposes of childcare provided by a registered provider and informal childcare as part of a childcare bubble
– to provide emergency assistance
– to enable one or more persons in the gathering to avoid injury or illness or to escape a risk of harm
– to facilitate a house move
– to provide care or assistance to a vulnerable person
– to continue existing arrangements for access to, and contact between, parents and children where the children do not live in the same household as their parents, or one of their parents.
What about weddings and funerals?
The rules in locked down areas of the North-East regarding weddings and funerals are different to what they are nationally.
Restrictions on the number of people that can attend a weddings and civil partnership ceremonies have come into force with the number of people allowed reduced from 30 to 15.
Wedding receptions and civil partnership celebrations can continue for up to 15 people in the form of a sit-down meal and in a Covid-19 Secure setting.
Funerals, including ceremonies at crematoria, are limited to 30 people – and all other religious or belief-based standalone life cycle ceremonies or celebrations are limited to 6 people if outdoors and only one household and support bubble indoors.
People living outside of the affected areas can travel there in order to attend a wedding, civil partnership ceremony or funeral, but you must must not meet with another household in a private home or garden.
Face coverings mandatory in secondary schools but not primary
The law previously said that secondary schools in areas under local lockdown rules would have to make wearing of face coverings mandatory in communal areas and corridors.
All secondary schools in each of the seven local authority areas will have to comply with this rule, with pupils, staff and visitors needing to wear a covering.
It is not necessary to wear face coverings in the classroom, where protective measures already mean risks are “lower” and they may inhibit teaching and learning.
Primary School children do not need to wear face coverings under current Government guidance.
Who can be fined?
The police will be able to take action against those who break these rules, including asking people to disperse and issuing fixed penalty notices starting at £200 for those who participate in illegal gatherings.
People aged 18 or over can be fined: £200 for the first offence, lowered to £100 if paid within 14 days
£400 for the second offence, then doubling for each further offence up to a maximum of £6,400
The government has also introduced fines for those who hold illegal gatherings of over 30 people.
Holding or being involved in the holding of an illegal gathering of more than 30 people is an offence, and police may issue fines of £10,000 to those who break the law.