Coronavirus: Can I walk the dog? Am I still able to fill up with fuel? UK lockdown questions answered

March 24, 2020

Boris Johnson has announced a nationwide lockdown to tackle the UK's coronavirus outbreak.

In an address to the nation on Monday night, the prime minister said Britons must stay at home for at least three weeks and only leave for four "very limited purposes" to slow the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

However, the decree has thrown up many questions for people in lots of different situations.

Sky News answers some of your questions about the lockdown.

What are the four reasons Mr Johnson said I could leave the house for?

  • Shopping for basic necessities like food and medicine - but you should do this "as infrequently as possible" and use food delivery services "where you can"
  • One form of exercise a day, such as a run, walk or cycle. This can be done alone, with members of your household, or indeed with your dog
  • Any medical need, to give care or to help a vulnerable person
  • Travelling to and from work, but only if this is "absolutely necessary" and cannot be done from home

But, what if...?

I defy the rules and do not stay at home (apart from the exceptions)?

Health secretary Matt Hancock said fines will start at £30 and could be unlimited.

I need to go to the dentist - can I attend a clinic?

NHS primary care premises are exempt from closure requirements and will still be operating.

However, the British Dental Association (BDA) is urging dentists to only treat emergency cases.

Guidance from the Welsh and Scottish governments recommends that routine dental appointments are suspended, while Northern Ireland has called for a halt to aerosol generating procedures, such as root canal treatments.

NHS England is still updating its guidance.

A number of clinics in England have already taken the decision themselves to close to all but emergency cases.

The British Orthodontic Society also says no orthodontic patient should attend any clinic at this time.

In an extreme emergency, they should call the practice and discuss ways of resolving their problem at home.

I've got a hospital appointment - can I still go?

You should attend your appointment as usual, unless you have coronavirus symptoms, are advised against visiting a hospital by your clinician, or are contacted to cancel your appointment.

Although hospital appointments have not been entirely suspended, many facilities are replacing face-to-face appointments with telephone or video consultations.

You may be contacted and asked to change the appointment to a telephone or video call, or you may have your visit rescheduled or postponed.

I am separated from my child's parent - can the child (under 18) still visit us both?

Yes. Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove told Sky News children should not be moving between households, but the government recognises "this may be necessary" for separated parents so "is permissible".

Mr Gove later apologised for not being "clear enough".

I work in the construction industry, can I keep working?

Mr Gove said construction on open air sites can continue but workers should follow "social distancing advice". However, many builders have pointed out this is almost impossible on construction sites.

Global health physician Dr Peter Drobac told Sky News from a public health point of view, builders and any tradesmen should not be working because that means they are not staying at home.

The Cabinet Office said the government is providing support for workers so they do not have to work.

The government is set to announce further support for self-employed workers soon.

How about if I'm a plumber?

Mr Gove said plumbers can attend emergency call-outs "to ensure people can stay safe" but if it is not essential, then do not.

I have planned building work that has already started on my house - can it continue?

Mr Gove said work can continue on open air sites but if builders cannot be two metres apart while working on your house they should stay at home.

I don't live near my parents, who are self-isolating as they are over 70 or have other health conditions, can I drive to them to deliver a food shop?

It is "unlikely" police will be pulling cars over just for driving, Mr Gove said. So as long as you leave the shopping outside their door it should be fine.

I volunteer to help the elderly/vulnerable, can I still do that?

Yes. Under the new lockdown rules, helping a vulnerable person counts as part of a medical reason to leave the house.

Are independent food shops still open?

Several have decided to close or have moved to food delivery service or online orders only. The best thing to do is to check their social media pages or websites to see if they are still open and running.

I need to get to work - can I still use the bus, train or Tube?

People should avoid using public transport, but if they have to and they are a key worker they can. Social distancing rules still apply but as services have been reduced this is difficult.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has called for all non-essential use of public transport in the capital to stop and said more services cannot be run because staff are sick or self-isolating.

I work in a textile factory where we work in close quarters, should I be made to go to work?

No. Mr Hancock said if you are not an essential worker you should stay at home, adding that corporate companies will be fined for making workers go in. Any essential workers should stay two metres apart at work where possible.

Can I go for a drive to blow the cobwebs away?

"It is unlikely anybody will be pulled over by the police just for driving," Mr Gove said.

If I see a group of people hanging out in the park what should I do?

You should encourage people to disperse and if they do not then you can call the police, Mr Gove said.

Will the lockdown be extended?

Mr Gove said the lockdown could continue after the three weeks is over if there is an "intensification" in coronavirus cases.

Funerals are allowed under the lockdown - with only immediate families allowed to attend - but what does that mean?

Co-op Funeralcare director David Collingwood said families still need to adhere to social distancing requirements during a funeral.

He said churches and crematoriums that have filming facilities should make them available to all families so the funeral can be streamed for those who cannot be there.

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I need to get some fuel or my car needs repairing, will garages be open?

Garages should remain open so people can get fuel and repairs, Mr Gove said - but car showrooms should be closed.

I need to rent a car to get around so I don't have to take public transport - can I?

Mr Gove said car hire companies can stay open so people are able to get around if they absolutely need to, "but social distancing needs to be kept to".

My neighbour is too scared to leave the house, can I take their dog for a walk?

As people are only allowed to exercise once a day dogs should be taken for walks then, but Mr Gove said you ideally should not take somebody else's dog out to ensure social distancing is adhered to.

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