Coronavirus FAQs

UPDATED 14 October The new restrictions announced by Government on 12 October will come into place on Wednesday 14 October. Please see our updated FAQs below.

Covid Alert Levels

  1. What are the new COVID alert levels?

The Government has set out new COVID alert levels, which come into effect on October 14, they are:

  • Medium – this is for areas where national restrictions continue to be in place.

  • High – this is for areas with a higher level of infections where some additional restrictions are in place.

  • Very high – this is for areas with a very high level of infections and where tighter restrictions are in place.

  1. Which level is the North East region under?

The North East region is subject to ‘high’ restrictions

  1. What does this entail?
  • Residents must not socialise with other people outside of their own households or support bubble in private homes
  • Residents must not socialise with other people outside of their own households or support bubble indoors, such as pubs and restaurants (a full list of these venues is below)
  • Hospitality for food and drink will be restricted to table service only
  • Late night restriction of operating hours will be introduced, with leisure and entertainment venues required to close between 10pm to 5am.

Residents are also advised to adhere to the following guidance to further reduce rates of infection:

  • Residents are advised to only use public transport for essential purposes, such as travelling to school or work
  • Holidays should be taken within your own household or support bubble
  • Residents are advised against attending outdoor amateur and semi-professional sporting events as spectators.

  1. Is this different to the restrictions we had in place from September?

No, except under these measures you can now meet in someone’s garden as long as it’s not with more than six people.

  1. What areas does it cover?

The whole of North Tyneside, Newcastle, Northumberland, Gateshead, County Durham, Sunderland and South Tyneside.

  1. Why are the measures being introduced?

These measures will help to address the significant rise in coronavirus cases in the region in recent weeks.

There is an increased risk of transmission the more people who gather together. Our data shows an increased rate of transmission in homes, hospitality venues and through grassroot sports.

We are doing everything we can to protect our most vulnerable, keep businesses open and children in school, which these measures will help with.

  1. Why are North Tyneside, Northumberland and Durham subject to these measures when they’re not on the Government’s ‘watchlist’?

Infection rates have risen significantly in all areas, with increased numbers of outbreaks, leading to more community transmission across the region. While our rates of infections are different, all local authorities in this area are seeing significant rises in positive cases. 

People also travel frequently between the different area for work and leisure, so it makes sense for us to come together to contain this latest increase in infections.

  1. How long will it last?

Restrictions are monitored closely, and we are waiting for information from government on when they will be reviewed.

  1. What are the household changes?

You must not meet people who do not live with you or are not part of your support bubble, either indoors, unless for the specific purposes mentioned below.

People should only come inside your home for specific purposes:

  • 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 (the visitor can be someone the dying person lives with, a close family member, friend or, if none of those is visiting, anyone else)
  • 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
  • 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.

  1. I don’t live with my partner, but we’re in an established relationship, can I meet up with them and can we stay at each other’s houses?

Yes. You also do not need to socially distance from someone you’re in an established relationship with, or anyone in your legally permitted support bubble if you are in one.

  1. I am medically vulnerable to coronavirus – do I need to shield?

Under the ‘high’ alert level, the Government’s advice for clinically extremely vulnerable people is that you keep the number of different people you meet with low. The fewer people you meet, the less likely you are to catch COVID-19.

You are encouraged to continue to go outside with your household and/or support bubble because of the benefits of exercise. If you do choose to meet other households outside of your support bubble, this must be outside, must be in groups of less than six people and the Government advises you to keep the numbers low.

You do not need to maintain social distancing within your household.

You are advised to reduce the number of shopping trips you make. If you do go to the shops, consider doing so at quieter times of the day.

Click here for more information.

  1. Do these measures affect childcare?

You can continue to use early years and childcare settings, including childminders and providers offering before or after school clubs or other out-of-school settings for children. You can also continue to employ nannies, including those living outside of the region.

Children of parents who are separated can continue to move between households.

‘Informal’ childcare, for example grandparents looking after children, is allowed for children under 14 or vulnerable adults where that is necessary for caring purposes (see questions 9-11 for further information)

It does not allow for play-dates or parties.

This informal arrangement exemption was announced by government on September 21 after initially not being permitted.

The seven local authorities had asked for informal childcare to be exempt from the restrictions and lobbied for this to change.

We would advise that vulnerable people should not provide childcare.

  1. Can grandparents from the same household (i.e. grandma and grandad) both provide childcare?

Yes. Grandparents who live in the same household, i.e. grandma and grandad, can link with one other household so that the parents of the children can work.

  1. I have two sets of grandparents who live in separate households looking after my children. Is this allowed?

No.  You can only link with one other household at any time, so the parents of the children can work.

  1. I am a grandparent, how many of my grandchildren can I look after?

One set from one household, so the parents can work.

  1. What is a support bubble?

A support bubble is a close support network between a household with only one adult in the home (known as a single-adult household) and one other household of any size.

Once you’re in a support bubble, you can think of yourself as being in a single household with people from the other household. It means you can have close contact with that household as if they were members of your own household.

Once you make a support bubble, you should not change who is in your bubble.

You should not have multiple bubbles.

  1. Do these measures affect access to education?

No. Schools, colleges and universities remain open and are operating in a COVID-secure way.

  1. Does my child need to wear a face covering at school?

Unless exempt, in education settings where students in Year 7 and above are educated, including middle schools, face coverings should be worn by staff, visitors and students when moving around in corridors and communal areas.

  1. Can I travel outside the area for work or school?

Yes, people living inside and outside of these areas can continue to travel for work or school. Workplaces and schools themselves should also be implementing covid-secure measures. 

  1. Can I go to someone’s house in an area not subject to the restrictions?

You must not visit anyone’s home inside or outside of the restricted area (except for your support bubble).

  1. Can I go to a care home?

Care homes in the region have been advised to stop non-essential visiting, excluding health care professionals and those involved in end of life care (including family members).

If you are planning to visit relatives in care homes outside the affected areas, then check with the care home prior to travelling to ensure that they are still open to visits from family members.

  1. What are the changes for the hospitality venues?

The following must close from 10pm to 5am:

  • Pubs
  • Bars and restaurants (including hotel dining rooms and members’ clubs)
  • Cafes including workplace canteens (but not including cafes or canteens at hospitals, care homes, prisons, establishments intended for the use of naval, military or air force purposes, and for providing food or drink to the homeless, or those where there is no practical alternative for staff at that workplace to obtain food)
  • Social clubs
  • Cinemas
  • Theatres
  • Casinos
  • Bingo halls and concert halls
  • Amusement arcades or other indoor leisure centres or facilities
  • Static/fixed funfairs (indoors or outdoors), theme parks, and adventure parks and activities

During opening hours (5am to 10pm), venues serving alcohol must operate table service only for food and drinks – this includes ordering. Those venues who don’t serve alcohol can operate counter service, but the consumption of food and drinks should take place at a table as much as possible.

Hospitality venues must take reasonable steps to ensure that bookings are not accepted, or customers admitted onto the premises if they

  • are groups of more than one household and support bubble if they will be located indoors. 
  • or more than 6 people if the group does include multiple households if they will be seated outside.

As elsewhere in the country, venues must also take details of customers for NHS Test and Trace from September 18.

  1. What about takeaways?

Hot food takeaways should close to walk-ins between 10pm and 5am each day, but they can continue to operate a delivery service during these hours, via a website, telephone, text message, post, or by ‘drive-throughs’.

  1. Can I still go to a hospitality venue, like a pub or restaurant, with family and friends who don’t live with me?

No. From September 30, you can only visit the venues listed below with members of your own household (or support bubble).

  • Restaurants, including restaurants and dining rooms in hotels or members’ clubs
  • Bars, including bars in hotels or members’ clubs
  • Public houses
  • Social clubs
  • Casinos
  • Cafes
  • Workplace canteens (except those at hospital, care home, school, prison, those providing food or drink to the homeless, those intended for naval military or air force purposes, or those where there is no practical alternative for staff at that workplace to obtain food)

It is also advised that you don’t visit a beer garden/pavement cafe with other households or congregate outside a public venue.

  1. Why can I visit the pub but not my relative’s house?

This is because the hospitality industry has enhanced measures, such as risk assessments and test and trace, which private homes don’t have.

  1. Can I meet up outdoors, i.e. on the beach or in the park, with other households?

If you decide to meet with friends and family you do not live with outdoors, including in private gardens, you must not meet in a group of more than six and you must practice social distancing.

  1. Are there restrictions on weddings, civil partnerships and funerals?

For England, including in the North East of England, the following attendance limits apply for weddings and funerals:

    • Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies are limited to 15 people 
    • Wedding receptions and celebrations can continue for up to 15 people in the form of a sit-down meal and in a Covid Secure setting, not in a private dwelling.
    • Funerals (including ceremonies at crematoria) are limited to 30 people
    • All other religious or belief-based standalone life cycle ceremonies or celebrations are limited to 6 people 

Anyone working at these ceremonies or events are not included as part of the person limit.

The additional restriction on mixing with other households within indoor settings does not change the attendance limits.

  1. What are the changes to playing team sports?

You can continue to take part in organised sporting or licensed physical activity in groups of more than six outdoors and only one household and support bubble (for over 18s) indoors. There is an exemption for indoor sports if it is organised for the purposes of someone who has a disability taking part and an exemption for children’s activities.

Outdoor activities either need to be organised by a national governing body, club, registered instructor/coach, business or charity, and/or involve someone who has received an official licence to use equipment relevant to the activity. In all cases, the organiser must conduct a risk assessment and ensure compliance with COVID-19 Secure guidance.

You should only be playing team sports where the relevant governing body has published guidance on how to do so safely and is outdoors. See a list of team sports governing bodies which have developed guidance. For all other sports, guidance is available from your governing body and details on how to safely undertake this activity within an organised environment.

Organised dance and exercise classes can take place in groups of more than six outdoors, where a risk assessment has been carried out, but you must not mix with more than five other participants. The relevant indoor sport facilities guidance or outdoor guidance must be followed for these activities. Outdoor organised sport and physical activity events are allowed provided they follow guidance for the public on the phased return of outdoor sport and recreation in England.

We advise that you should not attend amateur or professional sporting events as a spectator in the affected local areas. If you do attend, you must remain socially distanced and groups of no more than six when outdoors (and if indoors only with your household or support bubble).

  1. Can I travel to play sport outside of the areas with restrictions?

Yes, providing it is organised by a national governing body, club, registered instructor, business or charity or someone with an official licence. Please wear a face covering if using public transport unless exempt.

  1. Can I go to the gym, gym class, leisure centre or a swimming pool?

Yes, as long as these venues have the required Covid-secure risk assessments and guidelines in place.

  1. How are community activities like support groups and clubs affected?

Activities organised by community and voluntary organisations, including physical activity, education, providing support to vulnerable people, youth groups, charitable and voluntary work, are permitted and can exceed the limit of six people based on their individual Covid risk assessment. However, particular care must be taken to stringently follow guidance on social distancing, handwashing and the taking of attendees’ details for purposes of contact tracing.

  1. Can I have someone in my house (or go into someone’s house) to do repairs or other work?

Only official/registered tradespeople can go to other people’s homes for work purposes as long as you follow national guidance on how to work safely there. This includes mobile hairdressers and beauticians.

  1. Can I visit a friend or relative in hospital or accompany them to an appointment?

Please check with the hospital before visiting.

  1. Can I still go on holiday?

You can still go on holiday within the UK or abroad, but you should only do this with people you live with (or have formed a support bubble with). You need to follow any rules in the area you visit and be aware of the self-isolation rules when travelling to and from certain countries.

People can visit the region on holiday but must comply with the local restrictions.

  1. What about public transport and car sharing?

Residents are advised to walk or cycle when possible and when travelling by car to only travel with those in your household and/or support bubble.

It is advised to only use public transport for essential purposes, such as travelling to school or work.

Face coverings must be worn unless exempt.

  1. Are the airport, train stations and ports still open?

Newcastle Airport, train stations and ports remain open and members of the public are permitted to travel to and from these locations.

  1. Can I move home?

Yes

  1. What support is available for medically vulnerable residents?

Our Citylife Line continues to be available to help vulnerable people. Please go to www.newcastle.gov.uk/citylifeline for full information.     

  1. How to do I book a test and what happens next?

You need to get tested as soon as possible (within the first five days of having symptoms).

You can book online here or by calling NHS 119. You will then be invited to a test site - or you can order a home test kit if you can’t get to a test site.

The testing service continues to be very busy throughout the country, so please only book one if you have symptoms or have been asked to get tested by the NHS Test and Trace Programme.

If you cannot get a test at first, or the location or time are not convenient, try again in a few hours as slots become available. If no tests are available online, do not call the helpline to get a test as no extra tests are available through it.

NHS Test and Trace has seen unprecedented demand for testing recently, but new booking slots and home testing kits are made available daily and it is targeting testing capacity at the areas that need it most.  It has also doubled its capacity to process tests – most people get their results the next day.

  1. I have symptoms, does the rest of my household need to book a test?

If someone in your household starts to have symptoms, then that person must get tested and the rest of the household should self-isolate with them whilst they wait for the results. If you or other members of the household don’t have symptoms, then you should not get a test – only people with symptoms should get tested.

It is very important that people with symptoms and their household members stay at home before the test and until they receive their results.

  1. Do I need to self-isolate even though my test result was negative?

A negative result means the test did not find coronavirus.

You do not need to self-isolate if your test is negative, as long as:

  • Everyone you live with (or your support bubble) who has symptoms tests negative
  • You were not told to self-isolate for 14 days by NHS Test and Trace
  • If you feel well – if you feel unwell, stay at home until you’re feeling better.

Full guidance on self-isolating can be found on the Government’s website here.

  1. What do I do if I see someone breaking the rules?

Where people are breaking the rules, we will seek to engage, explain and encourage them to adhere to the restrictions. However, enforcement action will be taken where appropriate.

If an individual is breaching restrictions, you can report it to Northumbria Police. To do so, where possible, people are asked to use the reporting tool on the force’s website www.northumbria.police.uk.  Alternatively, you can call 101. The police will assess the circumstances to determine the appropriate action.

Once the legislation is in place, the police or the local authority will be able to take action against those who break these rules, including asking people to disperse and issuing fixed penalty notice.

 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.

  1. Where do I find information on infection rates?

You can find information on the Government’s website here.

Other frequently asked questions

Other restrictions including the 'rule of six' are still in place where local restrictions don't apply.  The answers to the questions below should be read in conjunction with the answers to the questions above.

Changes from 14 September

What are the new rules on socialising

The 'Rule of Six' means you must not meet socially with people from other households in groups of more than six people.  This applies indoors and outdoors including in your own home.  There are some limited exceptions to the rule of six such as in workplaces and schools or to fulfil legal obligations.  You can find out more about the rule of six here.   Please be aware the you cannot currently meet anyone from outside your household or support bubble in a private home or garden or indoors in public venues such as bars and restaurants.  

How many people will be able to attend my wedding or civil partnership?

Weddings can still go ahead with a maximum of 15 people attending in groups of six or less at both the ceremony and reception. 

Can I be fined for breaking the rules?

Yes.  There are different fines depending on the offence and whether it is your first breach of the legislation but these can be up to a maximum £10,000.  You can find out more about the fines here.

Do I have to give contact details in a bar or restaurant?

Yes.  It is mandatory for some businesses including bars and restaurants to collect data for NHS Test and Trace.  This is enforceable by law.  You can find out more about this here.

Business

Is there still help and advice available for businesses now some are able to reopen?

There have been some changes to support for businesses but there is still a range of advice and help available including grants, loans and business rate holidays.  The support you are eligible for will depend on the size and type of your business.  You can find more details here.

Where can I get my business rate account number and unique property reference number if I don’t have access to my bill or other correspondence?

Please email business.rates@newcastle.gov.uk and they will provide this as quickly as possible.

Is there any help available for self-employed people?

You can find more information about the governments Self-employment Income Support Scheme here.

Citylife Line

What is Citylife Line?

If you are self-isolating due to COVID-19, or if you know somebody in Newcastle that is, you can access information, advice and support at the Citylife Line page

How do I request a food package?

If you require information on free or low cost food provision please visit the Information Now page.  

Employment and benefits

I can’t go to work because of Coronavirus can I claim any benefits?

You can find information on the benefits that may be available here.

Can my employer force me to return to work?

The latest government guidance says that you should work from home if it is possible to do so.  If it is not possible for you to work from home because of the nature of your job, for example if you work in manufacturing or the construction industry, the government have set out five steps to working safely that all employers must take before asking employees to return to work.  This includes completing risk assessments.   They have also published sector specific guidance for some industries including construction and manufacturing.   

What can I do if I don’t think my workplace is safe?

If you are concerned that your employer is not taking all practical steps to promote social distancing or make your workplace safe then you can report this to your local authority or the Health and Safety Executive who can take a range of action, including where appropriate requiring your employer to take additional steps.  You can find more information here.  

You should not return to work if you or anyone in your household has symptoms of coronavirus or is self-isolating or if you have recently returned from a country where quarantine restrictions are in place

Libraries, parks and leisure

Are libraries open?

The City Library reopened on Wednesday 22 July with social distancing, reduced hours and other measures in place to help prevent the spread of the virus.  Other libraries are opening throughout September.  You can find the most up to date information here.

Registration and Bereavement Services

How do I register a death?

From Monday 30 March 2020 all deaths and still births will need to be registered by telephone.  To make an appointment to register a death or still birth please call 0191 2787878 and ask for the Registration Services.  We will explain the process when you call to make the appointment. 

Are there any changes to funerals?

Only immediate family will be able to attend a funeral.  Up to 30 mourners can legally attend depending on the venue.  The number of mourners currently able to attend a funeral at the crematorium in Newcastle is 20. 

How do I register the birth of my baby?

Birth registrations resumed on Monday June 8 with a new system to enable outstanding birth to be registered as quickly as possible while strictly adhering to social distancing.  Registrations will be strictly by appointment only.  Parents the Register Office to make an appointment by calling 0191 2787878 and asking for registrars or  emailing registrars@newcastle.gov.uk.   You can find more information here.

When will weddings and civil partnerships be able to take place?

The government has now issued guidance to assist people planning to get married or form a civil partnership in England and under the guideline’s ceremonies resumed in Newcastle on 4 July 2020.  Couples with a ceremony booking should read the guidance carefully and in full as it may help them decide if they want to proceed or to make alternative arrangements.  You can find our more here.

Can I book a wedding or civil partnership in the Civic Centre or other council building?

We are now taking new ceremony bookings which can be made up to two years in advance.  Couples booking ceremonies for 2021 and 2022 will be advised of the restrictions currently in place.  We do not know if or when restrictions will be relaxed so couples booking a new ceremony should proceed on the basis that they will still be in place at the time of their ceremony.

If you are interested in booking a ceremony to take please contact the Register Office on 0191 2787878 and ask for Registrars or email registrars@newcastle.gov.uk stating your preferred date and time, the name of your venue and your contact details and someone will get back to you.

We are currently working our way through the requests we have on file so if you have already contacted us about booking a ceremony we will be in touch in due course.

Will my citizenship ceremony go ahead?

On 14 July UK Visas and Immigration advised local authorities that they could reintroduce citizenship ceremonies where they can do so safely in accordance with health and safety guidance. Ceremonies will be limited and the number of attendees allowed will be restricted  in order to reduce the risk of infection.

The Home Office will send out a ceremony invite to each applicant.  Please do not contact the Register Office until you receive your invitation as we can’t book your ceremony before then.  We are not currently offering virtual citizenship ceremonies or private citizenship ceremonies.

Read the full guidance for citizenship ceremonies here.

Can I get documents verified for my EU Settlement Scheme application?

The EU Settlement Scheme ID Verification Service has been suspended until further notice.

Rent and Council Tax

Is there any help to pay my rent if I lose my job as a result of coronavirus?

The government has introduced legislation to suspend evictions from social or private rented accommodation until 20 September 2020.  If you are struggling to pay your rent because your financial circumstances have changed due to coronavirus you should speak to your landlord about your situation or contact the Private Rented Service Newcastle for advice by emailing privaterentedservice@newcastle.gov.uk 

What if I can’t afford the rent on my council home due to coronavirus?  

Your Homes Newcastle (YHN) and the council understand that this is a difficult time and that some tenants may be suffering financially.  We are following Government guidance on what actions need to be taken around coronavirus and the potential financial impact that the outbreak may have on our customers.  You can find out more here.

Will the council cancel or suspend council tax payments to help hard up families who need to self-isolate?

We understand that this is a difficult time and some of our residents many be struggling financially.  If you’re finding difficult to pay your Council Tax because of coronavirus you can find out about the support available here.

Retail, leisure and hospitality industry

Is the Grainger Market open?

The market is now fully open between 9 am and 4 pm from Monday to Saturday.  There is a one way system in place with three gates open as entrances and another two are open for exit.  You can enter on Clayton Street, Nelson Street or Grainger Street.  Over 50 traders are currently open covering with more planning to open in the coming weeks.  Some traders are also operating a home delivery service with support from volunteers and taxi drivers.  You can find our more on the home delivery service page.

What should I do if a business is open when it shouldn’t be?

If you see or know of a businesses or premises that is open that you believe shouldn’t be please report this in confidence be emailing psr@newcastle.gov.uk.   

Can I go on holiday in another country?

There are some restrictions on where you can travel to, and from 8 June anyone entering the UK from abroad will need to self-isolate for 14 days unless the country is on the list of travel corridors.  If you are travelling abroad please be aware that the countries on the list of travel corridors can change at very short notice and you may need to self-isolate on your return even if restrictions weren't in place when you travelled to that country.  You can find guidance on what that will mean for you here.

Can I stay in my caravan or at a B and B or hotel in the UK

Hotels and other guest accommodation in England will be able to reopen providing all guests are in self-contained accommodation and are Covid secure.  More information can be found here.   The rules in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are different so please check before travelling.

Social care

Are the Welford Day Centre and Resource Centres open or closed?

Welford Day Centre is still open as normal (Mon - Friday 9am till 4pm).  All of the Resource Centres (Connie Lewcock, Byker Lodge, Scrogg Road and Castledene) are open.  There is no respite care available at Castledene.  All Resource Centres are closed to visitors except during end of life care.

What provisions are being made for homeless people in the city during the pandemic?

You can find information on the support we are offering to homeless people during the pandemic here.

Where can I get help for someone who is sleeping rough?

If you know someone who is sleeping rough in Newcastle you can find out what support we are offering here

Social distancing

Can I meet friends and family from outside my household?

While local restrictions are in place you can't meet with anyone from outside your household or support bubble in a private home or garden or in indoors in a public venue.   You can find information on the latest rules for meeting people from outside your household here.  Please check the local restrictions that are in place at the top of this page.

What should I do if someone breaks social distancing rules?

If you believe someone is breaking social distancing rules you can report this to the police using their online form.

Do I need to wear a face mask if I leave my house?

From 8 August you are required by law to wear a face covering in a range of indoor settings including in shops, supermarkets, libraries, visitor attractions and museums unless you are exempt on medical grounds.  You are also required to wear a face covering on all public transport including Taxis and aeroplanes.   You also need to wear a face covering in hospitality venues except when you are seated at a table and eating or drinking.  If you refuse to wear a face covering without a valid exemption you can be refused entry or asked to leave the service or vehicle.  You can find more about when you need to wear a face covering here

Can I be fined for refusing to wear a face covering?

Enforcement will only be carried out by the police although shops, businesses and transport operators should encourage customers to comply with the legislation.  The police can direct you to wear a face covering and, if you refuse, they can order you to leave the service.   If necessary, the police officers issue fines of £100, this will be reduced to £50 for a first offence if the fine is paid within 14 days.  

Repeat offenders will have their fines doubled for each offence.  After the first offence, there will be no discount.  For example, receiving a second fine will amount to £200 and a third fine will be £400, up to a maximum value of £3,200.  You can find out more here.

Who is exempt from wearing a face covering

Children under the age of 11 and people with certain disabilities and medical conditions are exempt from wearing a face covering.   You can find more information on who is exempt here.   

If you are exempt from wearing a face covering on medical grounds you may find it useful to download a Journey Assistance Card from https://www.nexus.org.uk/journey-assistance-cards to show to staff when you are travelling on public transport in Tyne and Wear.  

What is the difference between a face covering and a mask

A face covering is something which safely covers the nose and mouth and are not the same as the surgical masks worn by healthcare and other workers.   You can buy reusable or single-use face coverings, use a scarf, bandana or religious garment, make your own cloth covering but these must fit securely around the side of the face.  

A face covering is not the same as  surgical masks used  by healthcare and other workers.  These need to be reserved for those who need them to protect against risks in their workplace such as health and social care workers. You can find guidance on face coverings here

Are the rules changing for people who are shielding or vulnerable?

If you are in the shielding category you will be able to meet up to six people from different households outside from 6 July as long as you maintain strict social distancing.  You will no longer need to socially distance from other members of your own household and if you live in a single adult household you will be able to form a support bubble with one other household.

People in the shielding category and those who are clinically vulnerable should be especially careful and extra diligent about social distancing and hand hygiene.  Details of people classed as clinically vulnerable can be found here.

Can I move home?

The government has amended the coronavirus (COVID-19) regulations to make clear that people who wish to move home can do so but you must stick to social distancing rules.  You can find more information here.

What does '1m plus' mean?

One metre plus or '1m plus' does means that people should still stay 2 metres apart wherever possible.  If this is not possible then you should stay at least 1 metre from other people and take mitigating action to reduce the spread of the virus.  The mitigation action you will need to take will depend on the setting.  Examples of mitigating actions that you need to take if you can't stay 2 metres apart include:

  • Wearing an face covering, mask or protective visor;
  • Installing protective screens;
  • Not sitting or standing face to face with people from outside your household or support bubble;
  • Improving fresh air ventilation;
  • Minimising the amount of time you spend with people from outside your household or support bubble;
  • Strictly adhering to hand washing guidelines and using sanitiser when you are out;
  • Staying outdoors when meeting people from outside your household or support bubble;
  • Changing shift patterns so staff work in set teams;
  • Changing room layouts so people sit back to back or side by side;
  • Avoiding social interactions in workplaces;
  • Reduced hours in the workplace;
  • No touch technology;
  • Avoid 'hot desking' and sharing equipment;
  • Increased frequency of surface cleaning;
  • Improved drain and sanitation maintenance;
  • Replacing jet dryers with paper towels;
  • One way system for moving thorough spaces;
  • Improved waste management;
  • Improved hygiene behaviour in bathrooms, for example put the toilet seat down;
  • Protective clothing in health care and close contact settings;
  • Avoid loud talking and activities such as singing and dancing;
  • Keep interactions with other people brief.

Without mitigation the risk of transmission increases by up to 10 times at one metre compared to two metres.  If you cannot stay two metres apart you should take mitigating actions. 

Waste management

What is the council’s social distancing policy for bin collections?

We are minimising contact between refuse collection staff and full social distancing measures are in place in the depots. Staff wear gloves at all times when carrying out their duties.  Residents are asked to ensure they follow government advice on disposing of their waste and on social distancing which includes not approaching our refuse collection staff.  You can find more advice on cleaning and waste disposal here.

Are the recycling centres open?

Our Household Waste and Recycling Centres (HWRC) reopened on Monday May 11, with strict social distancing measures in place - Please see our Coronavirus: Household Waste & Recycling Centres page for more details.

From August 3, to help cut queues we introduced a number plate system with odd and even numbered cars being able to access the sites on different days.  If your car has number plate has an odd number, for example 11 or 12 you can use the sites on odd dates, for example 15 August.  If your car has an even number, for example 14 or 20, you can access on an even date, for example the 8 August.  You can find more information here

As an alternative to visiting a HWRC, please consider using our paid for bulky waste collection service. Find out more on our Bulky Waste Collections page.

You can find out more about disruption to council services here.

Did you know?

We must all follow the HANDS - FACE - SPACE guidance, know the symptoms and when to get tested. If we do not play our part tighter restrictions will be introduced in the city.

 

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