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Your coronavirus questions answered as Suffolk goes into lockdown

PUBLISHED: 11:42 24 March 2020 | UPDATED: 16:25 24 March 2020

People in face masks walk through Ipswich town centre    Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

People in face masks walk through Ipswich town centre Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

Today Suffolk and the rest of the UK enters coronavirus ‘lockdown’ after the PM rolled out stricter measures – here, we answer your questions.

Can I leave the house?

You should only leave the house for one of four reasons:

• Shopping for basic necessities, such as food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible

• One form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household

• Any medical need, or to provide care/help a vulnerable person

• Travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home

These four reasons are exceptions – even when doing these activities, you should be minimising time spent outside your home and ensuring you are two metres apart from anyone outside of your household.

I don’t have underlying health issues. Do I still need to follow these measures?

These measures must be followed by everyone, the PM said last night.

Separate advice is available for individuals or households that are isolating, and for the most vulnerable who need to be shielded.

If you work in a critical sector, or your child has been identified as vulnerable, you can continue to take your children to school. Where parents do not live in the same household, children under 18 can be moved between their parents’ homes.

MORE: Visit our coronavirus topic page for all of our stories so far

Am I considered a key worker?

The list of key workers, as outlined by the government, is as follows:

• Doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers, care workers, frontline health and social care staff including volunteers and medical distributors

• Childcare, support and teaching staff, social workers

• Justice system staff, religious staff, charities and workers delivering key frontline services, funeral directors and undertakers, journalists and broadcasters providing public service broadcasting

• Local and national government workers essential to delivering COVID-19 response, government agencies/bodies facilitating payment of benefits

• Food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery workers

• Police and support staff, MoD civilians, contractor and armed forces personnel, fire and rescue service employees including support staff, National Crime Agency staff, border security workers, prison and probation staff and other national security roles including those overseas

• Air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport workers

• Bank clerks, building society and financial market workers, oil, gas, electricity and water sector workers, IT and data infrastructure employees, civil nuclear, chemicals, telecommunications, postal services and delivery, payments providers and waste disposal sectors.

A full list can be found on the Government website.

What is a non-essential shop or facility?

After closing restaurants and pubs last week, the government has since ordered a further set of businesses and other venues to shut, including:

● All non-essential retail stores – clothing and electronics stores, hair, beauty and nail salons, outdoor and indoor markets excluding food markets

● Libraries, community centres, and youth centres

● Indoor and outdoor leisure facilities such as bowling alleys, arcades and soft play facilities

● Communal places within parks, such as playgrounds, sports courts and outdoor gyms

● Places of worship, except for funerals attended by immediate families

● Hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, campsites, caravan parks, and boarding houses for commercial/leisure use (excluding permanent residents and key workers)

Can I go to the park?

One form of exercise is permitted per day – a walk, run or cycle – but this must be done with one member of your immediate household and you must ensure you are ‘socially distanced’ from others.

Can I travel to work on public transport?

Key workers can still travel to work on public transport but the number of rail and bus services available have decreased, many to emergency timetables.

This must only be done if you absolutely cannot work from home or if you are on the list of essential workers outlined above.

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Can I meet up with friends?

To make sure people are staying at home and apart from each other, all public gatherings of more than two people are also being stopped.

There are only two exceptions to this rule:

● Where the gathering is of a group of people who live together – this means a parent can, for example, take their children to the shops if there is no option to leave them at home

● Where the gathering is essential for work purposes – but workers should be trying to minimise all meetings and other gatherings in the workplace

All social events, including weddings, baptisms and other religious ceremonies are also being stopped.

This will exclude funerals, which can be attended by immediate family.

Will I still be able to get an MOT?

Vehicle approval tests are suspended for up to 3 months due to coronavirus – but tests are available for vehicles that are critical to the COVID-19 response.

However, these tests are not the same as MOT tests, which check your vehicle meets road safety and environmental standards each year. The Department for Transport is keeping MOT testing for cars, motorcycles and light vans under review.

Visit the department’s website for updates.

Can I still get petrol?

Petrol stations and garages are among the businesses permitted to remain open.

However, those purchasing petrol should make sure they are distancing themselves appropriately from others and thinking about whether they need to be buying fuel – for instance, if they are not a key worker and can work effectively from home.

Will courts remain open? Can I attend a court case safely?

Arrangements have been put in place to use telephone, video and other technology to continue as many hearings as possible remotely. The Lord Chief Justice said yesterday that they will seek to make best possible use of the equipment currently available.

Some hearings, the most obvious being jury trials, cannot be conducted remotely – and therefore jury trials are being paused with no new ones starting.

Efforts to bring current jury trials to a close are continuing with social distancing measures remaining in place at all times.

What will happen to me if I don’t comply?

Police and other relevant agencies have the powers to enforce the above measures, including through fines and dispersing gatherings where people do not comply.

How long will the so-called lockdown last?

These new measures will initially last for three weeks from March 23, at which point the Government will look at them again and relax them if the evidence shows this is possible.

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