Members of the public have so far been instructed to practise social distancing and to self-isolate if showing any symptoms of coronavirus, or if they have been in contact with anyone with symptoms – namely a high temperature and/or a new, continuous cough. Restaurants, pubs and social venues like theatres and cinemas have been ordered to close. Shops selling essential items like food and medicine have remained open.

Can I go for a walk in the countryside?

With a lockdown looming it’s likely the public will be told to stay indoors at all times except for certain circumstances.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is said to be considering a lockdown similar to the ones in place in France and in Italy.

The first coronavirus-related lockdown was implemented by the Chinese government in Wuhan, were the illness first started in December.


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In Wuhan, no journeys were allowed in or out of the city, even for those with medical or humanitarian reasons while public transport was cancelled and private cars banned from the roads unless the driver was part of the fight against the virus.

Only residents, authorities, or people providing help to elderly or disabled were allowed in to the many apartment blocks.

Pharmacies and supermarkets stayed open and people were only permitted to leave their homes – with a facemask – to get essential supplies or seek medical help.

The stricter measure in the UK could be a countrywide lockdown, similar to the ones seen in France and Italy.

The French government has limited movement and asked citizens to stay inside at all times, except for a few limited reasons to go outside.

France has enforced the lockdown by deploying around 100,000 police officers onto the streets.

To be outside, members of the public need to justify their “essential” reason for being outdoors using a signed declaration form.

Failure to do so results in an on-the-spot fine.

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Brief outings to get some exercise or take pets for a walk are allowed.

Long walks in the countryside are likely to be banned even though Robert Dingwall, a professor of sociology at Nottingham Trent University and a government adviser on the social dynamics of infectious disease outbreaks, says walking “in quiet areas is unlikely to spread the virus”.

The other exceptions to movement in France under the lockdown are include travelling to work so long as the work is essential, cannot be postponed, and cannot be done from home

Shopping for groceries and other essential items is allowed; there is no need for panic-buying as supermarkets and bakers can remain open throughout the lockdown.

Exceptions are also made for “imperative family reasons”, such as looking after children and the elderly.

In practice, parents with shared custody can travel between each other’s homes; shopping for an elderly relative is also allowed (as long as people keep to a safe distance when visiting vulnerable relatives).

All health-related appointments are permitted, including trips to the pharmacy.

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