Alert Level 5 – what it means

Weeks ahead “hardest yet”

Boris Johnson has said that the weeks ahead would be the “hardest yet” but he believed the country was entering “the last phase of the struggle”.

Announcing a national lockdown on Monday 4 January, he said the Government is once again instructing us to stay at home. We are at Alert Level 5, the highest level in the plan announced in May. Level 5 means there is a significant risk that the healthcare services could become overwhelmed, and strict social distancing rules are needed.

Boris Johnson’s speech in full

A Consultant at one of west London’s largest hospitals has told The Chiswick Calendar that his hospital ‘has filled almost all space for the sickest patients, despite having massively expanded the available ITU beds, and is close to becoming overwhelmed’. Read his guest blog for The Chiswick Calendar here:

Professor Jeremy Levy has received his Covid vaccination and says it’s imperative that when you’re offered one, you take the opportunity

National lockdown rules

From the government website summary of what you can and cannot do during the national lockdown:

‘You must stay at home. The single most important action we can all take is to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives. You should follow this guidance immediately. The law will be updated to reflect these new rules’.

Image above: Walkers in the gardens of Chiswick House; photographer Anna Kunst

Leaving home

You must not leave, or be outside of your home except where necessary. You may leave the home to:

  • shop for basic necessities, for you or a vulnerable person
  • go to work, or provide voluntary or charitable services, if you cannot reasonably do so from home
  • exercise with your household (or support bubble) or one other person, this should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.
  • meet your support bubble or childcare bubble where necessary, but only if you are legally permitted to form one
  • seek medical assistance or avoid injury, illness or risk of harm (including domestic abuse)
  • attend education or childcare – for those eligible

Colleges, primary and secondary schools will remain open only for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers. All other children will learn remotely until February half term. Early Years settings remain open.

Higher Education provision will remain online until mid February for all except future critical worker courses.

If you do leave home for a permitted reason, you should always stay local in the village, town, or part of the city where you live. You may leave your local area for a legally permitted reason, such as for work.

If you are clinically extremely vulnerable you should only go out for medical appointments, exercise or if it is essential. You should not attend work.

Meeting others

You cannot leave your home to meet socially with anyone you do not live with or are not in a support bubble with (if you are legally permitted to form one).

You may exercise on your own, with one other person, or with your household or support bubble.

You should not meet other people you do not live with, or have formed a support bubble with, unless for a permitted reason.

Stay two metres apart from anyone not in your household.

Read the full detailed government guidance on the national lockdown

Image above: Hogarth club

Which businesses must close and which can stay open?

Under the rules of the lockdown, non-essential retail, such as clothing and homeware stores, must close. Hospitality venues such as cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars and social clubs must close, with the exception of providing food and non-alcoholic drinks for takeaway or delivery.

Accommodation such as hotels, hostels and guest houses must close, except for specific purposes, which include where it is essential to stay there for work purposes.

Leisure and sports facilities, including gyms, must close, as well as entertainment venues such as theatres, concert halls, cinemas, museums and galleries,.

Personal care facilities such as hair, beauty, tanning and nail salons must also close.

Among the list of businesses and venues which can remain open are essential retail such as food shops, supermarkets, pharmacies, garden centres, building merchants and suppliers of building products and off-licences, market stalls selling essential retail and businesses providing repair services.

Petrol stations, vehicle repair and MOT services, bicycle shops, and taxi and vehicle hire businesses can remain open, as can banks, building societies, post offices, short-term loan providers and money transfer businesses.

Funeral directors, laundrettes and dry cleaners, medical and dental services, vets and places which sell pet supplies, outdoor playgrounds and outdoor parts of botanical gardens and heritage sites can stay open (though Syon House estate is closed and Kew Gardens is ticketed and very nearly fully booked at time of writing).

Places of worship, crematoriums and burial grounds can also stay open. Public services such as Job Centres, NHS premises and courts are also still functioning.

New grants for businesses closed by the lockdown

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced on Tuesday 5 January new grants for businesses forced to close during lockdown.

The one-off top-ups will be granted to closed businesses as follows:

  • £4,000 for businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or under
  • £6,000 for businesses with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  • £9,000 for businesses with a rateable value of over £51,000

The guidance for businesses says:

‘any business which is legally required to close, and which cannot operate effectively remotely, is eligible for a grant’.

Retailers struggling to work out whether they are still able to offer click and collect services

This has left retailers trying to work out whether they are best off closing completely, or still trying to operate a click and collect service or a click and delivery service. The Chiswick Calendar has talked to two local retailers who are trying to decide what they should do. Both have built up their online business over recent months.

One, Snappy Snaps, is open for click and collect today. The other, LA Menswear, is not offering any kind of service today. Both businesses are hoping to receive clarification soon of how they should proceed. Read the full article here:

Can businesses still offer Click & Collect?

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See more: How to end a perfect year – BBC presenter Julian Worricker on catching Covid

See more: Hamish Pringle: ‘Lockdown – if I can still see, I can see a way out’

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