Houses of Parliament
On Sunday night, the Prime Minister announced some changes to the rules and restrictions that were introduced in March to deal with the coronavirus outbreak. He also spoke about the Government’s ideas on getting things back to normal over time.

There have only been a few changes and they will come into force on Wednesday 13 May. Some of the rules might also be changed or relaxed at different times in different nations in the UK. We will update our coronavirus hub pages with the relevant information.

Some of the restrictions might have to be brought back if numbers of people getting ill with coronavirus increase again.

It is important to remember that these things have not changed:

  • If you get symptoms of coronavirus, you need to self-isolate.
  • When you are outside, you need to keep 2 metres from people who are not in your household (this is called “social distancing”).
  • If you can work from home, you should keep working from home.
  • If you are more vulnerable to coronavirus because of an underlying health condition, you still need to be careful to minimise contact with people outside your household.
  • If you had a letter from the NHS telling you that you are “extremely clinically vulnerable” (also called “shielding”) you should still stay at home at all times.

These are the things that will change in England from Wednesday 13 May:

Work:

  • People who cannot work from home and whose workplace is open are being encouraged to go to work. There will be guidelines for workplaces to follow. These will be published this week.
  • If you are going to work, try and avoid using public transport if you can. There will be more Government guidance about how to do “social distancing” on public transport this week.

Schools:

  • Although the Prime Minister talked about opening schools again in the future, this is not happening yet.
  • But, for children of keyworkers and children with EHC Plans, the Government is encouraging councils and schools to urge more children who would benefit from going to school, to do that.

Face coverings:

  • If you can’t socially distance in an enclosed space (for example on transport), the Government says that people should try and wear a face-covering. This doesn’t mean all the time when you are outside your house.
  • Face coverings can be homemade, and it doesn’t mean that you have to wear surgical masks. Children younger than two or people who might find it difficult to manage a face mask don’t have to wear them. You should wash your hands before putting the mask on and off, and avoid touching it while you are wearing it. 

Going out and exercising:

  • You can spend time outdoors (for example sitting in the park). This wasn’t allowed before. But:
    • You should not meet with more than one person who does not live in your household.
    • You should keep 2 metres away from people who don’t live in your household (the Government has already clarified that this does not apply to carers and support workers going out with autistic people). This includes if you are meeting someone.
      You should wash your hands regularly.
  • You can exercise outside as many times as you like, but you cannot use playgrounds or things like outdoor gym equipment, or go to outside leisure venues. But:
    • You can play team sports outside but only with people who live in your household.
    • You can’t exercise with more than one person who doesn’t live in your household – and you still need to stay 2m away from them. This means sports like tennis or fishing are ok, but football or basketball aren’t.
  • You can drive to outdoor open spaces to exercise. But be careful to respect the rules at your destination (particularly if you have crossed a border between nations in the UK).
  • There will be bigger fines if you break the rules.

This is the first stage of relaxing the coronavirus restrictions. More rules will be relaxed in the future, like re-opening schools. But these have not changed yet. It will be at least three weeks before this happens and it could be longer. There will also be more information about carrying out more tests and identifying people who might have been infected by coronavirus.

If you would like to share your experiences of coronavirus with us, please email stories@nas.org.uk.

If you have questions about coronavirus, please visit our online hub at www.autism.org.uk/coronavirus.