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Social distancing: what you need to do

To stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), you should avoid close contact with anyone you do not live with.

This is called social distancing.


There is separate advice:

How to avoid spreading the infection

It's very important to do what you can to reduce the risk of you and other people getting ill with coronavirus.

You can spread the virus even if you do not have symptoms.


  • try to stay at least 2 metres (3 steps) away from anyone you do not live with (or anyone not in your support bubble)

  • wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds

  • use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available

  • wash your hands as soon as you get home

  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze

  • put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards


  • do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean

Face coverings

If you can, wear something that covers your nose and mouth in places where it's hard to stay away from other people.

There are some places where you must wear a face covering, such as:

  • on public transport
  • in shops
  • when you go to hospital appointments or visit someone in hospital


Some people should not wear face coverings, such as children under 3 and people with breathing difficulties.

For more information, see when to wear face coverings and how to make your own on GOV.UK.

Advice in your local area

Advice about staying safe outside your home, meeting other people and going to work depends on where you live.

The advice is based on the level of risk from coronavirus in your area. This is known as the local COVID alert level.

For information about what you can and cannot do in your area, see local COVID alert levels on GOV.UK.

Support bubbles

If you live alone or you’re a single parent who lives alone with your children, you can meet with 1 other household without social distancing.

This is called a support bubble.

Find out more about making a support bubble with another household on GOV.UK.

Looking after your health and wellbeing

To help yourself stay well:

  • get plenty of exercise
  • consider taking 10 micrograms of vitamin D each day if you're indoors most of the day – this is to keep your bones and muscles healthy
  • try to quit smoking – smoking can make you more likely to get infections like coronavirus and become seriously ill
  • eat a healthy balanced diet

If you need medical help

It's important to get medical help if you need it, especially if you feel very unwell or think there's something seriously wrong.

If you're advised to go to hospital, it's important to go. Keep going to any appointments you usually have, unless you're told not to.

Read about using the NHS and other health services during coronavirus.

Get help and support

If you're at a higher risk from coronavirus, you can get help from an NHS volunteer with things like getting food, medicines and other things you need.

Call 0808 196 3646 (open 8am to 8pm) to get help from NHS Volunteer Responders.

Page last reviewed: 23 October 2020
Next review due: 30 October 2020