New measures to compel people to stay away from others to help reduce the spread of coronavirus were announced by the Government last night (Monday 23 March).

They include requiring people to stay at home except for very limited purposes, the closure of non essential shops and community spaces and stopping all gatherings of more than 2 people in public, except for members of the same household.

Residents must comply with these new measures, and the authorities, including the police, will be given the powers to enforce them – including through fines and dispersing gatherings. The measures will be reviewed in 3 weeks' time. 

John Denley, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Director of Public Health, said: "When we reduce our day to day contact with other people, we will reduce the spread of the infection, and that is why the Government is now introducing these new social distancing measures. 

“They should be followed by everyone. Separate advice is available for individuals or households who are isolating, and for the most vulnerable who need to be shielded.

"These new measures will come as a shock to some but, looking at what has happened elsewhere in the world, it is something that most of us will have been expecting.

“The advice is strong and clear and will dramatically reduce our day to day contact with other people, which in turn will play a vital part of our efforts to reduce the rate of transmission of coronavirus."

People should only leave the house: 

  • To shop for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible
  • For 1 form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle - alone or with members of your household
  • For any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person 
  • To travel to and from work, but only where work cannot be done from home

When leaving the house, you should ensure you are 2 metres apart from anyone, other than members of your own household. If you are a 'critical worker', or your child has been identified as vulnerable, you can continue to take your children to school.

The Government has also ordered non essential shops and public spaces to be closed. 

Last week, the Government ordered certain businesses - including pubs, cinemas and theatres - to close. It has now extended this requirement to cover all non essential retail stores (include clothing and electronics stores and hair, beauty and nail salons), 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, hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, campsites and caravan parks.

To make sure people are staying at home and apart from each other, the Government is also stopping all public gatherings of more than 2 people. The only exceptions to this are where the gathering is of a group of people from the same household, or where the gathering is essential for work purposes – but workers should be trying to minimise all meetings and other gatherings in the workplace.

In addition, the Government is stopping social events, including weddings, baptisms and other religious ceremonies. Funerals can continue, but can only be attended by immediate family members.

Mr Denley added: “The challenge, not just in England but around the world, is that some members of society haven't been able to follow advice around social distancing without stricter measures being put in place. Sometimes to really get issues like coronavirus controlled, you have to go a little further in terms of the approach, and that's where we are now."

The updated guidance is available at Coronavirus (COVID-19): what you need to do. There’s lots of advice on how people can protect themselves and their families from coronavirus at NHS - Coronavirus (COVID-19). For further information and guidance, please also visit the council’s own coronavirus pages at Coronavirus advice and information.