A Confused Person’s Guide to the UK Coronavirus Lockdown

Don't see mates, don't see family and don't be a dick.
March 24, 2020, 1:04pm
Woman in a coronavirus mask on the Tube
Photo: Chris Bethell

On Monday, Boris Johnson announced that the UK is going into lockdown. In his speech, now one of the most-watched broadcasts in British history, he announced that there would be restrictions on how often people can leave their houses, what they’re allowed to leave their house for, and which business are allowed to stay open. While government advice prior to his speech had been along the same lines (e.g. don’t go out unless for essentials), there are now potential fines involved in breaching the guidelines.


Johnson’s speech was far clearer than his daily bumbling press conferences, but there’s still a lot of uncertainty when it comes to what exactly a “lockdown” entails or how it's different from before. So, in order to stop you from spreading your germs everywhere, we’ve broken it down for your quarantine-addled brain:

Can I leave my house?

Yes, but rarely. Only leave your house if:

  • You're shopping for necessities (e.g. food), but you should do this as little as possible. Think: once a week. Don't just pop out for a tinny when you fancy it.
  • You're exercising – which you can do once a day.
  • You have a medical need or you’re providing care.
  • You're travelling to or from work, assuming you can't work from home.

Otherwise, don’t be a dick and just stay inside.

Can I see my mates?

Nope. Johnson made it pretty clear in his speech last night: “You should not be meeting friends. If your friends ask you to meet, you should say ‘no’.” Get used to your housemates being the only people you’re going to hang out with in person for a while. Any groups of more than two people who aren’t your housemates will be dispersed if police see you catch you.

Can I see my family?

Nope! You should not be seeing any family members who do not live in your house.

Will my hairdressers/favourite cafe close?

Yes, alongside every other shop apart from food shops, pharmacies, corner shops, hardware stores, petrol stations, pet shops, dry cleaners, car rentals, post offices, bicycle shops, banks, newsagents and shops inside hospitals.

Can I still buy food?

Yes, but only when it's essential. Try not to go more than once a week, and do not fucking stockpile. Don’t go in the first hour of the morning, which most supermarkets have reserved for NHS workers and the elderly.

Can I get a takeaway?

Yes. Restaurants already have already had to close, but you are still able to order a takeaway meal.

How will the government put all of this into practice?

The police are now allowed to enforce this. This means they have the power to disperse people hanging out in groups, as well as fine people in the harshest of cases. These guidelines are about not spreading a dangerous virus, so don’t take the piss and go for two runs a day.

When will this hell end?

These lockdown measures will be in place for three weeks, provisionally until the 13th April. However, this may have to be extended, which is something that has happened in other European cities who have had lockdown measures implemented already.

When it comes to life going back to normal, well, even a genius can’t tell you that.