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Coronavirus: What do Covid rules mean for half-term holidays?

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During October half-term many people would normally be thinking of taking a short holiday in the UK.

But with new local restrictions in place, traveling could be a complicated and difficult business.

What are the rules for England?

England is now divided up into three tiers, depending on the rate of Covid transmission in a particular area.

If you live in a Tier 1 (medium risk) area, you can holiday anywhere in England that's also in Tier 1.

  • You can holiday with people from other households in private accommodation (as long as you socially distance), but only in groups of six and under (unless your own household or support bubble is bigger)
  • You can stay in a hotel or B&B with another household, but you should avoid sharing rooms with people outside your household
  • You should try not to share a vehicle with those outside your household or support bubble

People who live in Tier 2 (high risk) areas should aim to "reduce the number of journeys they make where possible" - according to the government

  • You can go on holiday outside your local area as long as you don't share accommodation with people you don't live or bubble with, or socialise with them in any indoor setting
  • People visiting a Tier 2 area should follow the local Covid rules for that area

If you live in a Tier 3 (very high risk) area, you're advised to avoid travelling outside of your local area, unless it's for work, education or caring responsibilities

  • People who live in Tier 3 areas should not visit or stay overnight in another part of the UK, whether in a second home, a private home or guest accommodation
  • You may travel to hotels and other guest accommodation within your own area, but you should only do this with people in your household or support bubble
  • People from Tier 1 and Tier 2 areas should avoid holidaying in a Tier 3 area

Use our postcode checker to see the rules where you live.

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image captionBamburgh Castle in Northumberland is in an area under local restrictions

Where can you visit in Wales?

The short answer is basically, nowhere.

From 23 October until 9 November, Wales will be under a "circuit breaker" lockdown, during which people will be told to stay at home and not travel, except for essential purposes.

Hotels and hospitality businesses will be closed during that period, and it will not be possible to travel to Wales for a holiday.

The Welsh government has advised anyone who has paid for a holiday in Wales to contact their travel agent or company, and discuss the situation with their travel insurer.

Travel into Wales from Tier 2 or 3 areas of England has been banned since 16 October.

Inside Wales, travel in and out of any area under local restrictions is limited to essential journeys only, and if you live in a restricted area, you cannot leave to go on holiday elsewhere in Wales or the rest of the UK.

Police can issue fixed penalty notices for breaking this rule, or you could be prosecuted and fined by the courts.

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image captionLlandudno - currently closed to tourists from outside the area

Where can you travel in Scotland?

You can travel anywhere within Scotland, unless there are local restrictions in place advising you not to do so.

The government has advised people living in the central belt region - which stretches from Glasgow to Edinburgh - not to travel outside their area from 10 October until 1 November, if they don't need to. Likewise, people elsewhere in Scotland have been asked not to visit the central belt unless it is necessary.

However, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also said, "We are not insisting that people cancel any half-term breaks they have planned."

You cannot visit another household, or stay with them.

You can stay in private accommodation, such as a flat, caravan or holiday cottage, but only with members of your own household.

You can stay in a hotel or B&B, but you cannot share rooms with someone from outside your household.

People in Scotland are advised not to travel to areas of England where local restrictions are in place, unless the journey is absolutely necessary.

What are Northern Ireland's travel rules?

Northern Ireland currently faces four weeks of restrictions from 16 October onwards, and residents have been advised against any unnecessary travel.

You can still travel to Northern Ireland from elsewhere in the UK, but hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs are closed to tourists, as are campsites (but not static caravans).

You can still stay in self-catering rented accommodation but only with members of your own household or support bubble.

What if my holiday accommodation is closed because of local restrictions?

If you're not able to take a planned holiday because of local restrictions, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) says it would generally expect you to be offered a full refund.

If your holiday is partially affected by lockdown laws, then, "depending on the circumstances and the scale of the impact", you may be entitled to a refund or a price reduction.

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CoronaVirus translator

What do all these terms mean?

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  • Antibodies test

    A medical test that can show if a person has had the coronavirus and now has some immunity. The test detects antibodies in the blood, which are produced by the body to fight off the disease.

  • Asymptomatic

    Someone who has a disease but does not have any of the symptoms it causes. Some studies suggest some people with coronavirus carry the disease but don't show the common symptoms, such as a persistent cough or high temperature.

  • Containment phase

    The first part of the UK's strategy to deal with the coronavirus, which involved trying to identify infected people early and trace anyone who had been in close contact with them.

  • Coronavirus

    One of a group of viruses that can cause severe or mild illness in humans and animals. The coronavirus currently sweeping the world causes the disease Covid-19. The common cold and influenza (flu) are other types of coronaviruses.

  • Covid-19

    The disease caused by the coronavirus first detected in Wuhan, China, in late 2019. It primarily affects the lungs.

  • Delay phase

    The second part of the UK's strategy to deal with the coronavirus, in which measures such as social distancing are used to delay its spread.

  • Fixed penalty notice

    A fine designed to deal with an offence on the spot, instead of in court. These are often for driving offences, but now also cover anti-social behaviour and breaches of the coronavirus lockdown.

  • Flatten the curve

    Health experts use a line on a chart to show numbers of new coronavirus cases. If a lot of people get the virus in a short period of time, the line might rise sharply and look a bit like a mountain. However, taking measures to reduce infections can spread cases out over a longer period and means the "curve" is flatter. This makes it easier for health systems to cope.

  • Flu

    Short for influenza, a virus that routinely causes disease in humans and animals, in seasonal epidemics.

  • Furlough

    Supports firms hit by coronavirus by temporarily helping pay the wages of some staff. It allows employees to remain on the payroll, even though they aren't working.

  • Herd immunity

    How the spread of a disease slows after a sufficiently large proportion of a population has been exposed to it.

  • Immune

    A person whose body can withstand or fend off a disease is said to be immune to it. Once a person has recovered from the disease caused by the coronavirus, Covid-19, for example, it is thought they cannot catch it again for a certain period of time.

  • Incubation period

    The period of time between catching a disease and starting to display symptoms.

  • Intensive care

    Hospital wards which treat patients who are very ill. They are run by specially-trained healthcare staff and contain specialist equipment.

  • Lockdown

    Restrictions on movement or daily life, where public buildings are closed and people told to stay at home. Lockdowns have been imposed in several countries as part of drastic efforts to control the spread of the coronavirus.

  • Mitigation phase

    The third part of the UK's strategy to deal with the coronavirus, which will involve attempts to lessen the impact of a high number of cases on public services. This could mean the NHS halting all non-critical care and police responding to major crimes and emergencies only.

  • NHS 111

    The NHS's 24-hour phone and online service, which offers medical advice to anyone who needs it. People in England and Wales are advised to ring the service if they are worried about their symptoms. In Scotland, they should check NHS inform, then ring their GP in office hours or 111 out of hours. In Northern Ireland, they should call their GP.

  • Outbreak

    Multiple cases of a disease occurring rapidly, in a cluster or different locations.

  • Pandemic

    An epidemic of serious disease spreading rapidly in many countries simultaneously.

  • Phase 2

    This is when the UK will start to lift some of its lockdown rules while still trying to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

  • PPE

    PPE, or personal protective equipment, is clothing and kit such as masks, aprons, gloves and goggles used by medical staff, care workers and others to protect themselves against infection from coronavirus patients and other people who might be carrying the disease.

  • Quarantine

    The isolation of people exposed to a contagious disease to prevent its spread.

  • R0

    R0, pronounced "R-naught", is the average number of people who will catch the disease from a single infected person. If the R0 of coronavirus in a particular population is 2, then on average each case will create two more new cases. The value therefore gives an indication of how much the infection could spread.

  • Recession

    This happens when there is a significant drop in income, jobs and sales in a country for two consecutive three-month periods.

  • Sars

    Severe acute respiratory syndrome, a type of coronavirus that emerged in Asia in 2003.

  • Self-isolation

    Staying inside and avoiding all contact with other people, with the aim of preventing the spread of a disease.

  • Social distancing

    Keeping away from other people, with the aim of slowing down transmission of a disease. The government advises not seeing friends or relatives other than those you live with, working from home where possible and avoiding public transport.

  • State of emergency

    Measures taken by a government to restrict daily life while it deals with a crisis. This can involve closing schools and workplaces, restricting the movement of people and even deploying the armed forces to support the regular emergency services.

  • Statutory instrument

    These can be used by government ministers to implement new laws or regulations, or change existing laws. They are an easier alternative to passing a full Act of Parliament.

  • Symptoms

    Any sign of disease, triggered by the body's immune system as it attempts to fight off the infection. The main symptoms of the coronavirus are a fever, dry cough and shortness of breath.

  • Vaccine

    A treatment that causes the body to produce antibodies, which fight off a disease, and gives immunity against further infection.

  • Ventilator

    A machine that takes over breathing for the body when disease has caused the lungs to fail.

  • Virus

    A tiny agent that copies itself inside the living cells of any organism. Viruses can cause these cells to die and interrupt the body's normal chemical processes, causing disease.

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