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Advice for Members

Last Updated: 06 November 2020

This page is related to current guidance in England. Please visit our pages on Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for further information about the guidance that applies there.

Members in England – four-week national lockdown

On Saturday 31 October, the Government announced that England would be entering a four-week national lockdown. From Thursday 5 November until Wednesday 2 December, the following restrictions will be in place in England:
  • People must stay at home, except for specific purposes such as education, work or exercise.
  • People must not mix with anyone from outside their household or bubble, either indoors or in private gardens.
  • Many businesses including non-essential retail and hospitality/leisure venues will be required to close but non-essential retail stores may continue with customer deliveries and ‘click and collect’ services.
  • Non-essential online retail can continue as normal, with covid-safe measures.
  • Hospitality venues like restaurants, bars and pubs must close, but can still provide takeaway and delivery services. However, takeaway of alcohol will not be allowed.
  • Hotels, hostels and other accommodation should only open for those who have to travel for work purposes and for a limited number of other exemptions which will be set out in law.
  • Essential retail, such as food stores, supermarkets and garden centres will remain open.
  • Schools, colleges and childcare will remain open.
  • Outdoor recreation is still permitted. Individuals may meet one other person from outside their household to do this.
The new measures will apply across England for four weeks up to Wednesday 2 December. At the end of this period, the Government have said they will look to return to a regional approach, based on the latest data.

Full details of the list of measures can be found here.

Essential Retail will remain open

The latest advice is that everyone who can work from home should do so. Where workplaces are closed due to the restrictions, employers may choose to place staff onto the Job Retention Scheme.  

With the exception of those who are clinically extremely vulnerable, people who work in key roles such as those who work in essential retail and manufacturing should continue to attend their workplace. Workplaces should still be following strict social distancing and hygiene measures.

The following retail establishments can remain open:
  • Food retailers, including supermarkets, convenience stores and corner shops. And fresh food retailers (such as butchers, bakers, greengrocers, and delicatessens)
  • Off licenses
  • Pharmacies and chemists
  • Newsagents
  • Hardware stores
  • Petrol stations, car and bicycle repair shops
  • Car parks and motorway service areas
  • Banks, building societies and credit unions
  • Post offices
  • Laundrettes and dry cleaners
  • Garden centres and agricultural supplies shops. This does not include florists.
  • Storage and distribution facilities, including delivery drop off or collection points, where the facilities are in the premises of a business allowed to remain open. For example, you can return an order to a drop box in a supermarket or drop it off for collection in a newsagent.

Non-essential Retail

All non-essential retail must close to shoppers. But they may continue offering delivery and click-and-collect services (where items are pre-ordered and collected without entering the premises).

Mixed Retail

A business selling a significant amount of essential retail may also continue to sell goods typically sold at non-essential retail. For example, a supermarket that sells food is not required to close off or cordon off aisles selling homeware.

Where a business selling essential retail has another, separate business embedded within it that is required to close, the embedded business must close. For example, an electronics business operating a concession within a supermarket must close, as would a bookshop business inside a garden centre. However, embedded businesses will be able to operate a click and collect service.

Where a business has sufficiently distinct parts, and one section provides essential retail and one section provides non-essential retail, the non-essential sections should close to limit interactions between customers and the opportunity for the disease to spread. Sufficiently distinct sections might involve operating in separate buildings, across separate floors, a door between sections, using separate cashiers, or another clear demarcation between sections. For example a food shop may stay open, but a homeware section on a separate floor or separate building should close. This may affect supermarkets with mezzanine floors.

Face coverings

Anyone travelling to work by bus, train, ferry or plane in England must wear a face covering, if they are not exempted.

Since 24 July, it has been compulsory to wear face coverings in shops, including supermarkets, shopping centres, banks, building societies and post offices. It extends to railway and bus stations as well as airports.

From 8 August face coverings have become mandatory in a greater number of public settings, such as museums, galleries, cinemas and public libraries.

Some people do not have to wear face coverings including:

  • Children under 11.
  • Those unable to put on or wear a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or disability.
  • People for whom wearing or removing a face covering will cause severe distress.
  • Anyone assisting someone who relies on lip reading to communicate.

For more information on face coverings, see our information page here.


New measures are in place for clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) people during this latest lockdown in England. From 5 November to 2 December, you are strongly advised to work from home. If you cannot work from home, you should not attend work for this period of restrictions.
If you cannot work from home, you should speak to your employer to discuss how you will be paid for this period away from work.
Some employers who recognise Usdaw have already made arrangements for clinically extremely vulnerable staff to be off work on full pay for the duration of the lockdown. Alternatively, you may be eligible to be placed onto the furlough scheme for the period of the lockdown.

The Government has said they will write to everyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable with detailed guidance on precautions they should be taking in order to stay safe.
If you are clinically extremely vulnerable and you are still being asked to go into work, or if you are not being properly paid while you are at home following the Government guidelines, please contact your local Usdaw office for support.
More advice for clinically extremely vulnerable and clinically vulnerable members can be found on our FAQs for people with underlying health conditions and their carers page.

You can read the latest Government guidance for extremely vulnerable people here.

Social Distancing

We expect employers who are able to remain open to carry on implementing social distancing measures, and to support our members when they are enforcing them with customers.

We will continue to raise this with employers and are also putting out a clear message to the public, that they should keep following social distancing when shopping. All employers should have carried out a full risk assessment and taken measures to keep staff safe. These measures should be reviewed to make sure that they are being properly implemented,

As always, if you are an Usdaw member and have any concerns about your safety at work, please contact your workplace rep or local official.


You must not leave your home if:

If any of the above apply to you, do not go to work and inform your employer straight away.

If you have symptoms or have tested positive for Coronavirus, you'll usually need to self-isolate for at least 10 days.

You'll usually need to self-isolate for 14 days if:
  • someone you live with has symptoms or tested positive
  • someone in your support bubble has symptoms or tested positive
  • you've been told by NHS Test and Trace that you've been in contact with someone who has coronavirus

If you need to self-isolate, you can get an isolation note to send to your employer as proof you need to be off work. You do not need to get a note from a GP.

You should refer to your own employer’s policies and procedures for more information on what to do, and contact to your Union Rep or local official if you need advice.

Job Retention Scheme

The Job Retention Scheme has been extended to March 2021. This means furlough pay will be available for those who need it throughout the 4-week lockdown restrictions and beyond. 
If you are unable to work due to the latest restrictions you may still be ‘furloughed’ under the Job Retention Scheme for some or all of your normal hours. If you are on furlough status, your pay for any unworked hours may be reduced to 80% of your average earnings. 
Because this is a new period of lockdown, the scheme is re-opening so new people can be placed on the scheme by their employers. To be eligible for the scheme, you must have been employed and paid through PAYE before 30 October 2020.

The scheme will continue to run until March. Companies can furlough workers on a part-time basis and access the scheme to cover any unworked hours. The scheme will carry on paying 80% of workers’ wages, with the Government paying the full 80% of wages, and employers paying pension and national insurance contributions. Employers can choose to top-up this payment.

The contributions employers will need to make to the scheme will be reviewed in January, but workers will receive a minimum of 80% of their pay until March 2021.

You must not do any work for your employer for any hours or periods where you are furloughed, Speak to your Union rep or official if you need any further advice on this.

Usdaw can help 

If you are a member of Usdaw and you require any support because you are being placed on furlough, or if you are returning to work following a period of furlough, or if you have any concerns arising out of the latest lockdown restrictions please contact Usdaw as soon as possible.
If you are not a member of Usdaw, please consider joining us today!

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