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Social distancing: what you need to do

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

This is called social distancing.

Stay at home as much as possible

It's very important to stay at home as much as possible.

There are only a few specific reasons to leave your home, including:

  • for work, if you cannot work from home
  • going to shops to get things like food and medicine, or to collect things you've ordered
  • to exercise or spend time outdoors
  • for any medical reason, to donate blood, avoid injury or illness, escape risk of harm, provide care or help a vulnerable person

When outside your home, it's important to try to stay 2 metres (3 steps) away from anyone you do not live with.

How to stop the infection spreading

There are also other things you can do to help reduce the risk of you and other people getting ill with coronavirus.

Do

  • 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

  • if you can, wear something that covers your nose and mouth when it's hard to stay away from people, such as on public transport – see staying safe outside your home on GOV.UK

Don't

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

Looking after your health and wellbeing

To help yourself stay well while you're at home:

  • stay in touch with family and friends over the phone or on social media
  • try to keep yourself busy – you could try activities like cooking, reading, online learning and watching films
  • do light exercise at home or outside – see NHS fitness studio: exercises you can do at home
  • 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

If you need medical help

While everyone is being told to stay at home, it can be hard to know what to do if you're unwell.

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

  • If you have symptoms of coronavirus (a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste), use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service.
  • If you need to contact a GP, use the GP surgery's website, use an online service or app, or call the surgery.
  • For urgent medical help, use the regular NHS 111 online service, or call 111 if you're unable to get help online.
  • For life-threatening emergencies call 999 for an ambulance.

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 how to get medical help from home.

Information:

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: 18 May 2020
Next review due: 25 May 2020