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Guidance on regulation 8 of the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) Regulations 2020.

First published:
3 July 2020
Last updated:

Introduction

We are more likely to catch coronavirus from – and pass it on to – people we are in close contact with every day. The safest thing to do is to stay at home and avoid contact with other people you do not live with. However, we recognise that this is difficult, so when the firebreak ends we are removing the requirement to stay home and some of the very tough restrictions on meeting people.

However, we will all need to work hard to keep Wales safe by following some simple guidance to protect each other, manage pressure on the NHS and reduce the risk that further firebreaks are needed.

Other than in very limited circumstances, nobody other than members of your extended household should enter your home or garden. Please refer to the visiting people in private homes guidance for further information on this, including what is meant by an “extended household”.

Away from private homes and gardens, you are allowed to meet other people, subject to rules set out in this guidance. But we are asking people to consider not just what they can do – what the law allows them to do – but what they should do – what is the right thing to do to minimise the spread of coronavirus.  In particular, we ask you to

  • please try and be restrained in how many different people you see. It is better to see the same one or two people regularly than to see lots of different people occasionally
  • please maintain social distancing, including outdoors
  • please meet people outdoors rather than indoors where possible
  • avoid doing activities that might increase the risk of transmission (for example shouting to be heard over loud music, or singing in close proximity)

If you are meeting people you do not live with, in most circumstances the absolute maximum number of people who can gather together is four (not including any children aged under 11). However, this is a maximum and not a target – the smaller the number of people who gather, the lower the risk.

If you have been advised to self-isolate

None of the information in this guidance applies to people who have been told to self-isolate by NHS Wales Test Trace Protect. You must not leave your home to see other people if you have been told to self-isolate by NHS Wales Test Trace Protect. Failure to self-isolate when told to do so can lead to you being issued a fixed penalty notice or criminal prosecution.

We also strongly advise you to self-isolate if you are notified through the NHS Covid-19 app that you should do so. However, there is no legal duty to do so because the privacy and anonymity protections on the app mean that it does not collect any personal details.

We also strongly advise you that if you have symptoms of COVID-19, however mild, you should follow the general self-isolation guidance and should arrange to have a test (although again this is not covered by the legal duty).

Leaving your home

Coronavirus is spread by large droplets and aerosol transmission from breath. The risk is even greater when sneezing, coughing or talking loudly, from the mouth and nose. This means close contact with others, in particular face-to-face contact within 2 metres, is most likely to cause infection. The virus can live on some indoor surfaces for days and may be spread by people touching those surfaces, then touching their mouth or nose with unwashed hands. The virus is much less likely to be spread outside, although this depends in part on the weather conditions, and disperses more in well ventilated environments. The virus dies quickly in the summer sun but less so in colder conditions.

Before leaving your home you should plan how you will keep safe and minimise risk. Frequent handwashing and the use of hand sanitiser gel remains important, as do social distancing and refraining from touching your nose/mouth with unwashed hands. You should also be mindful of whether you will be indoors or outside.

Even outside there are still risks in places used by many people, or where they may congregate, such as public toilets – where many people may touch taps and flush handles, cafes – especially use of things that many others touch such as sauces and condiments - petrol pumps, pay and display machines, door handles, and cash machines.

Disinfectant gel dispensers may also transmit infection if many hands operate them, so should be operated with the wrist/forearm rather than fingers/palm of hand.

Staying away from your home

You are allowed to go on holiday within Wales if you live in Wales. All accommodation is allowed to be open but measures must be in place to protect people from coronavirus. You will only be able to share holiday accommodation with the people you live with. This helps to reduce the risk of coronavirus being transmitted significantly, as sleeping in close proximity to other people carries a high risk of transmission due to the length of time you spend near each other.

Travel outside of Wales is still only permitted for people with a reasonable excuse, such as for work purposes. For more information, please see guidance on travelling safely during coronavirus.

Seeing people outdoors

While the risk of transmission is lower outdoors than indoors, the risk outdoors is higher now than it was in summer. This is because sunlight plays an important role in dispersing the virus. Social distancing is therefore more important than ever, whether you are indoors or outdoors. 

In general, we are asking you to think about what is the most sensible thing to do to protect yourself, your family, friends and your community, rather than thinking about what you are – legally - allowed to do. Only through everybody taking responsibility for their actions will we be able to avoid further lockdowns.

Small groups of people are allowed to meet outdoors, including for exercise, to play sports or simply socially. However, the smaller the number of people who gather, the lower the risk. That means you can vary the people you meet, but we ask you to try and be restrained in how many different people you see. It is better to see the same one or two people regularly than to see lots of different people occasionally. The more people you come in to contact with, the greater the risk.

In most circumstances, the absolute maximum number of people that do not all live together who can gather outdoors is four (not including any children under 11). This is a maximum and not a target.

You are also able to spend time outdoors with your extended household even if there are more than four of you. As long as you remain outdoors, the maximum number of four people gathering together does not apply when all the people gathered together are from the same household or extended household. So, for example, if a family of four was in a bubble with a family of five, the two entire families could go for a walk together.

However, the maximum of four people who do not live together does still apply in any outdoor areas attached to shops, cafes, pubs and similar – for example it would apply in outdoor parts of a car dealership or garden centre, and in a beer garden.

Seeing people indoors

Coronavirus spreads much more easily indoors, because it can survive in the atmosphere and on surfaces for a very long time without direct sunshine and adequate ventilation. For this reason, we recommend that you consider meeting people outdoors instead of indoors when you can.

Where this is not possible, you can meet people in regulated premises that are required to follow Covid-safety rules, such as cafes, and other places which members of the public can access. You must not meet with anybody outside of your household or extended household in a private home, or garden, including your own.

The maximum number of people who can meet in regulated settings is four (not including any children aged under 11). These can be any people – they do not have to be people you live with or part of your extended household. If some of the people you meet with are part of your extended household, this does not mean that your group can be larger than four people. The only exception to this is where you are in a single household of more than four people. Under these circumstances, you will be able to visit places as a household group over four subject to verification.

However, as was the case for meeting outdoors, four is the maximum and not a target. The smaller the number of people who gather, the lower the risk. We also advise you to please try and be restrained in how many different people you see. It is better to see the same one or two people regularly than to see lots of different people occasionally.

You should do everything you can to maintain social distancing from people you do not live with, and you should avoid activities that are a particular risk of spreading the virus such as shouting over loud music or singing.

Meeting people in pubs, bars, cafes or restaurants

Hospitality premises are regulated premises and must take reasonable steps to minimise the risk of exposure to the virus. Customers need to be aware of the following requirements if they wish to visit these premises:

  • entry to these premises will generally be controlled. This means that you may be required to pre-book with details of all members of the group
  • ‘walk-ins’ will be kept to a minimum
  • You will only be able to book one table of up to four people (not including children aged under 11, or a person who is caring for someone participating in such a gathering, or if the booking is being made for more than four people living together in one household). You should not request a booking for over 4 people from different households by asking the venue to separate the party onto different tables.
  • you will need to provide verification of your name using, for example, a driver’s licence, bank or credit cards if you are attending as a single household group of over 4, you will need to provide proof of name and address, for example, via an electronic or paper based official document
  • you should make every effort to maintain social distancing at all times from people on other tables and in the broader premises.
  • all staff and customers (excluding children under 11 or a carer of a member of the group) should wear a face covering at all times, except when seated at a table, unless there is some other reasonable excuse or an exception, such as a particular disability
  • where people from different households are sat together at a table, you should make every effort to maximise distancing from people not in your household
  • all premises licensed to sell alcohol must stop selling and serving alcohol by 10pm and must close by 10:20pm. These premises are permitted to offer takeaway services after 10pm but this cannot include alcohol
  • for licensed premises, all food and drink should be ordered and consumed at tables
  • for unlicensed premises (e.g. cafes), food can be ordered at the counter, subject to maintaining social distancing

You should consider the use of the NHS COVID-19 app to check in to places you visit. The app can provide you with updates to risk information.

Detailed guidance can be found on the UK Hospitality website.

Larger households

There are no restrictions on people from a single household spending time together outdoors or in regulated premises. This is irrespective of the size and composition of the household.  For example one large single household composed of five adults and two children under 11 could go to a restaurant, café, bar or pub together as a group.

However, if some members of that household wish to meet up with other people they do not live with, that gathering should contain no more than four people at any one time (not including children under 11). This is because the risk of spreading the virus gets much greater when you meet people you do not live with.

Visiting people who do not live in private homes

In general the law does not prevent visits to people who do not live in private homes. So for example, indoor visits to care homes, hospices and secure accommodation facilities for children are permitted under the law. This does not mean that any of these places are obligated to be open - individual settings will need to ensure they are able to support visits safely. We recommend checking with the relevant location for their specific visiting arrangements.

These visits will need to be in accordance with the rules put in place by the setting you are visiting.

When considering whether there is a need to visit someone outside your extended household, especially indoors, you should remember we all have a responsibility to recognise the risks the virus presents to ourselves, our families and friends and our wider communities.

People will need to make judgements for themselves about what is reasonable, in line with that overarching principle. Keep in mind that the purpose of the continuing restrictions is to prevent the spreading of the virus, including to those we care about.

Larger gatherings

There are some limited circumstances where gathering with other people is permitted in numbers larger than four at a time. These include:

  • For work purposes, if it is not reasonably practicable to do your work without gathering with other people
  • To visit health services, including veterinary services
  • For registered childcare
  • To participate in educational activities
  • To participate in elite sports
  • To avoid injury or illness, or escape a risk of harm
  • To attend a funeral if you are organising it, are invited by the person organising the funeral, or are the carer of a person attending the funeral (or also to attend an event marking someone’s life, such as a wake)
  • To attend marriage or civil partnership ceremonies and/or celebrations, if invited
  • To attend a place of worship; or
  • To take part in other organised activities, discussed in the next sections of this guidance

Where you do gather with others for any of these purposes, it is very important you follow guidance on social distancing, cough and cold hygiene and follow the rules on face coverings in indoor public places. You should also continue to wash your hands frequently or use hand sanitiser gel. You should only attend if completely well, and if you have any symptoms of coronavirus, it would be advisable to remain at home. If you have been informed by NHS Wales Test Trace Protect that you need to self-isolate, you must not leave your home to see other people.

Specific guidance is available on workplaces and the responsibilities of employers and employees.

Organised activity

One reason you may leave your home and see other people is to participate in an organised activity. These activities must be organised by a responsible body, who must take certain steps prior to the activity (see below). Examples of organised activities could include team sports, support groups, youth work and drama classes.

During these activities, people can gather from a mix of households only where there is sufficient space to undertake the activity as safely as possible. People should remain physically distanced from others outside of their household.

The organiser of the activity is responsible for completing a risk assessment. Both the organiser of the activity and the people in charge of the premises (if different) are responsible for putting in place all reasonable measures to prevent infection and the spread of coronavirus. This means they should be taking steps to ensure physical distancing and limiting face to face interaction, and improved hygiene (such as cleaning and sharing of equipment, hand washing and respiratory hygiene and so on). Where possible, the use of outdoor space and on-line delivery of activities should be considered.

Rules on organised activities

Organised activities are permitted as long as the following rules are followed to prevent the spread of infection:

  • The activity must be organised by a business, public body or charitable institution, club, political organisation or national governing body of a sport or other activity.
  • A risk assessment must be completed and must take in to account the number of people that can be safely take part, regardless of any maximum limits allowed by law.
  • Activities should only be organised outdoors or in premises where measures can be put in place to keep people as safe as possible. This includes, but is not limited to, premises such as community centres and leisure centres. Licensed premises, such as pubs, can also be used but must not involve alcohol as part of the activity.
  • The organiser of the activity should remain present for the duration of the activity.
  • People should only gather to take part in the activity and should not gather before or after.
  • Activity organisers and people in charge of the premises where the activity is taking place must ensure that reasonable measures are in place to minimise risk of exposure to coronavirus, including maintaining a two metre distance between people if they are not part of the same household where possible.
  • Face coverings must be worn by all staff and participants aged 11 and over when indoors, unless they have a reasonable excuse not to wear one or to remove one temporarily or are exempted from doing so. Please visit our guidance on face coverings to see more information on the people who do not need to wear face coverings and the circumstances in which they can be removed.
  • Singing, chanting, shouting or the use of wind instruments are considered to be high risk activities and should generally be avoided, especially indoors, even where physical distancing and face coverings are used. If these do take place, the organisers of the activity must take extensive mitigating actions, otherwise they may be failing to meet their statutory duty to take all reasonable measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Guidance covering rehearsing, performing and taking part in the performing arts has now been published. Other guidance such as that for tourism and hospitality or places of worship will be relevant depending on the activity and the setting.

Organised activities must not:

  • Involve the sale or consumption of alcohol
  • Take place in people’s homes or gardens

Unless the activities are specifically aimed at children’s development or wellbeing (see below section), a maximum of 15 people are able to participate in organised activities if they are indoors, or 30 people if they are outdoors. In both cases this does not include any children under 11, or the event organiser(s) and anyone working or volunteering to facilitate the activity. These are maximum numbers and not targets. While we recognise the potential welfare benefits these activities provide, the more people that gather, the greater the risk of coronavirus transmission.

There is no fixed limit on the number of children aged under 11 that can participate in organised activities. However, both the organiser of the activity and the people in charge of the premises where the activity is taking place (if different) are responsible for completing a risk assessment and putting in place all reasonable measures to prevent infection and the spread of coronavirus. This may limit the number of people who can safely take part.

Children

The rules on meeting people indoors apply to children as well as adults. So it is still not generally permitted for children to go into someone else’s home unless you have formed an extended household, or bubble, with them.

In circumstances where young children mix with others, it may not be practical to attempt to maintain 2 metre distancing (between children, or even between children and adults). This is in part because it is harder for younger children to understand the concept of physical distancing, and in part because appropriate support from carers will often require closer contact.

Young children under 11 are also not included in any legal numerical limits on sizes of gatherings, because studies have found that young children are less likely to transmit the virus, whether to other children or to adults, and the virus appears to take a milder course in children than in adults for most cases. This will also allow parents with larger numbers of children to meet with other adults more easily.

However, as young children can still transmit the virus, parents of young children should still exercise their good judgement, take care and encourage their children to follow hand hygiene measures and keep close contact to a minimum wherever possible. Even with children it is safer to meet in smaller numbers, and to meet the same people regularly rather than a range of different people.

In other settings, the number of children who can gather together is constrained by the size of the setting and the need for a sufficient number of adults to be present to supervise.

Organised activities for children

Organised activities for children are any activities for the development or wellbeing of children arranged and supervised by a responsible body - for example, a business, public body, charity or club.  This could include children’s sports, music classes, parent and toddler groups and recreational activities. It also includes activities provided outside of school hours and during school holidays. To repeat, the purpose of the activity should be the development and wellbeing of children.

These activities for children are permitted as long as the following rules are followed to limit the spread of infection:

  • Activities should only be organised outdoors or in premises where measures can be put in place to keep people as safe as possible. This includes, but is not limited to, premises such as community centres and leisure centres. Licensed premises, such as pubs, can also be used but must not involve alcohol as part of the activity.
  • The organiser of the activity should remain present for the duration of the activity.
  • People should only attend the venue to take part in the activity and should not gather before or after.
  • Activity organisers and the people in charge of the premises where the activity is taking place must ensure that reasonable measures are in place to keep all participants safe, including maintaining a two metre distance between people if they are not part of the same household
  • Providing refreshments should be avoided because of the transmission risk. Parents/carers should try to bring their own food and drink for themselves and their children where possible
  • Singing, chanting, shouting or the use of wind instruments are considered to be high risk activities and should generally be avoided, especially indoors, even where physical distancing and face coverings are used. If these do take place, the organisers of the activity must take extensive mitigating actions, otherwise they may be failing to meet their statutory duty to take all reasonable measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Guidance covering rehearsing, performing and taking part in the performing arts has now been published. Other guidance such as that for tourism and hospitality or places of worship will be relevant depending on the activity and the setting.
  • Face coverings must be worn by all staff and participants aged 11 and over when indoors, unless they have a reasonable excuse not to wear one or to remove one temporarily. Please visit our guidance on face coverings to see more information on the people who do not need to wear face coverings and the circumstances in which they can be removed.

Organised activities for children must not:

  • Involve the sale or consumption of alcohol
  • Take place in people’s homes or gardens

It is the organisers’ responsibility to ensure that all activities are provided in as safe a way as possible. We also ask that organisers consider a blended approach to the activity and where possible, outdoor activity is less risky than indoor activity and organisers should consider whether the activity can be undertaken online.

There is no fixed limit in law on the number of children that can participate, and for the purposes of these organised activities, that applies to all children up to the age of 18. However, both the organiser of the activity and the people responsible for the premises where the activity is taking place (as applicable) are responsible for completing a risk assessment and putting in place all reasonable measures to prevent infection and the spread of coronavirus.  This may limit the number of children who can safely take part.

Any adults that may be present during these activities, but are not directly participating in or facilitating the activities, should not stay in the area where the activity is taking place. Supporters and spectators of organised activities should be limited to only those who absolutely need to attend, for example, parents or guardians of children who require their attendance for health or safeguarding reasons.

Any adults present on or near the premises while the activity is taking place must keep their distance both from those participating in the activity and also from other adults. Under no circumstances should adults waiting for their children be gathering in groups of more than four people while they wait. The organisers of the event should consider where parents might safely wait without being required to be in close proximity to each other, and should try to manage collection and drop off so that it does not create unnecessarily large crowds of people in close proximity.

While we recognise the potential welfare benefits these activities provide, the more people that gather, the greater the risk of coronavirus transmission. Again, rather than asking what we can or can’t do, we need to ask ourselves what we should be doing to keep our families, friends and communities safe.