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Coronavirus (COVID-19): new restrictions FAQs

1. What has changed?

The government has introduced three different coronavirus alert levels. Middlesbrough has been placed in the 'High' alert level.

2. When do the new laws come into force?

The new laws came into force on Wednesday 14 October.

3. Where do these laws apply?

They apply to homes and businesses in Middlesbrough.

The same laws also apply in Darlington, Hartlepool, Redcar and Cleveland, and Stockton.

4. How long will these laws apply?

That isn’t clear at this stage.

5. What are the new restrictions on mixing with other households?

If you live in Middlesbrough, you must not (unless they’re in your support or childcare bubble, or when an exemption applies):

  • meet people you do not live with in your home
  • meet people you do not live with in their home, whether inside or outside the Middlesbrough Council boundary
  • socialise with people who you do not live with in indoor settings, including pubs and restaurants, whether inside or outside the Middlesbrough Council boundary

6. What is a support bubble?

A support bubble is where a household with one adult joins with another household (on an exclusive basis). Households within a bubble can still visit each other, stay overnight, and visit public places together.

Once you make a support bubble, you should not change who is in your bubble. You should not have multiple bubbles.

Find out more about support bubbles on GOV.UK.

7. What is a childcare bubble?

A childcare bubble is where someone in one household can provide informal (i.e. unpaid and unregistered) childcare to a child aged 13 or under in another household. This applies to extended family members and friends but must be on an exclusive basis - always the same two households.

Find out more about childcare bubbles on GOV.UK.

See questions 10, 11, and 12 for more information specifically relating to grandparents.

8. What are the other exemptions to the household mixing rule?

People can visit another household:

  • to attend a birth at the mother’s request
  • to visit a person who is dying
  • to fulfil a legal obligation
  • for work purposes, 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 and informal childcare as part of a childcare bubble
  • 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 help with 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.

9. 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.

Children of parents who are separated can continue to move between households, providing the two separate households are in the same support bubble together.

10. Can both grandparents from the same household, i.e. nana and grandad, look after my children at the same time?

Yes. Grandparents who live in the same household can link with one other household to provide childcare.

11. Two sets of grandparents usually look after my children at different times. Is this allowed under the new restrictions?

No. You can only link with one other household to provide childcare.

12. I’m a grandparent with grandchildren living in different homes. How many can I look after?

One set of grandchildren from one household only.

13. How do the changes affect schools, colleges and universities?

Middlesbrough’s schools, colleges and universities will remain open and are following Public Health England and Department for Education guidance on keeping students and staff safe. University students must follow the specific guidance and rules set by their university.

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

Now that Middlesbrough is subject to local restrictions, face coverings should be worn in secondary schools by staff, visitors and students when moving around school in corridors and communal areas where social distancing is difficult.

15. When do I have to wear a face covering?

Face coverings are now a legal requirement in many public places, including shops and public transport. When you're wearing a face covering, it must cover both your nose and your mouth.

By law you must wear a face covering in these places (unless you're exempt):

  • public transport (aeroplanes, trains, and buses)
  • taxis and private hire vehicles
  • transport hubs (airports, rail stations and terminals, maritime ports and terminals, bus and coach stations and terminals)
  • shops and supermarkets (places which offer goods or services for retail sale or hire)
  • shopping centres (malls and indoor markets)
  • auction houses
  • premises providing hospitality (bars, pubs, restaurants, cafes), except when seated at a table to eat or drink (see exemptions)
  • post offices, banks, building societies, high-street solicitors and accountants, credit unions, short-term loan providers, savings clubs and money service businesses
  • estate and lettings agents
  • theatres
  • premises providing personal care and beauty treatments (hair salons, barbers, nail salons, massage centres, tattoo and piercing parlours)
  • premises providing veterinary services
  • visitor attractions and entertainment venues (museums, galleries, cinemas, theatres, concert halls, cultural and heritage sites, aquariums, indoor zoos and visitor farms, bingo halls, amusement arcades, adventure activity centres, indoor sports stadiums, funfairs, theme parks, casinos, skating rinks, bowling alleys, indoor play areas including soft-play areas)
  • libraries and public reading rooms
  • places of worship
  • funeral service providers (funeral homes, crematoria and burial ground chapels)
  • community centres, youth centres and social clubs
  • exhibition halls and conference centres
  • public areas in hotels and hostels
  • storage and distribution facilities

16. How do the changes affect care homes?

We advised care homes to suspend visiting in early September in response to rising infection rates and this remains our advice. Decisions on visiting are ultimately made by home managers.

17. Can I leave Middlesbrough or travel into the town from another area to go to work?

Yes. Workplaces should have Covid-secure arrangements in place. 

18. Can I visit someone’s home outside of Middlesbrough?

People who live in Middlesbrough should not visit other households inside or outside of the town’s boundaries (unless an exemption applies).

The same restrictions apply across the Tees Valley - Darlington, Hartlepool, Redcar and Cleveland, and Stockton are all subject to the same 'High' alert level restrictions as Middlesbrough.

19. Can I meet a friend in a pub or café in another town?

No, if you live in Middlesbrough you must not socialise indoors with people who you do not live with in, including in pubs and restaurants, whether inside or outside the Middlesbrough Council boundary.

The same restrictions apply across the Tees Valley - Darlington, Hartlepool, Redcar and Cleveland, and Stockton are all subject to the same 'High' alert level restrictions as Middlesbrough.

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

You may continue to see friends and family you do not live with (or have not formed a support bubble with) outside, including in a garden or other outdoor space. When you do so, you must not meet in a group of more than 6. This limit of 6 includes children of any age. You should also follow social distancing rules and stay 2m apart.

21. 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.

22. Can I 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 and adhere to the self-isolation rules when travelling to and from certain countries.

If you're going on holiday, you should try to avoid entering a very high alert level area, unless you're just travelling through the area as part of a longer journey. You should avoid staying overnight in a very high alert level area if you do not live there.

23. Can tradespeople do work inside my home?

Official/registered tradespeople can go to other people’s homes for work purposes as long as they follow national guidance on how to work safely there.

24. 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 up to 30 people depending on the venue
  • 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.

25. What are the changes to playing sports? 

You can continue to take part in organised sporting or licensed physical activity in groups of more than 6 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 6 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.

The government advises 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 in groups of no more than 6 when outdoors (and if indoors only with your household or support bubble).

26. 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.

27. 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.

28. Can I move home?


29. 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)
  • 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 the:

  • groups include more than one household and support bubble if they will be located indoors
  • groups include more than one household and support bubble, or more than 6 people if the group includes multiple households, if they will be located outdoors

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

30. 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’.

31. 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 3 October, 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 or those intended for naval military or air force purposes)

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

32. 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.

34. How do I know if I have coronavirus symptoms?

The symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • a new continuous cough
  • a high temperature
  • a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell

35. Where can I get a test in Middlesbrough if I have symptoms?

The Regional Testing Site at Cannon Park, in the town centre, is open from 8am to 8pm daily. Free tests can be booked online or by calling 119.

A Mobile Testing Unit is also regularly in Middlesbrough town centre. Dates and times are published on symptoms and testing page. Again, free tests can be booked online or by calling 119.

Only people with coronavirus symptoms should book a test.

36. What about people who were previously shielding?

People with health conditions and those who were asked to shield are still particularly vulnerable and need to take special care during this worrying period and to be extra cautious and follow the new guidance.

37. What if I need extra help because of coronavirus?

If you're affected by coronavirus and need help, let us know and we'll match you with a volunteer in your area.

Here are some of the things we can help you with:

  • food
  • medicine
  • someone to listen and support you
  • health advice and taking care of yourself

We can help with other concerns you have too, please do get in touch, call us on 01642 729777, we're all here to help.

We've also launched a payment to support people who may struggle with money if they need to self-isolate and cannot work.

38. 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 Cleveland Police. To do so, where possible, people are asked to use the reporting tool on the force’s website. 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.

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