COVID-19 alert system - What is it and how does it affect you?

Yesterday evening (Monday 10 October) the Prime Minister announced a new three-tiered system of COVID Alert Levels in England. Healthwatch Swindon asks, what is an alert level, and how it will affect you, and your family?
Man holding phone displaying Covid-19 app

What is a COVID Alert Level?

The COVID Alert level tells the local authorities, residents, and workers what they can and cannot do in their area.  

What is the three-tiered system?

The system operates on a three-level basis with Medium the lowest and Very High the highest. The level applied to your area is determined by the infection rate. The lower the COVID-19 infection rate the lesser the level.

How will it affect me?

Swindon has been graded as a Medium alert level. This means COVID-19 is still present in the area however the infections rates are not high. Therefore, everyone should continue to follow guidance on:

  • Washing your hands regularly and for 20 seconds
  • Wearing a face covering in settings where it is required and where it is difficult to maintain social distancing
  • Staying 2 metres apart from people you do not live with or 1 metre with extra precautions, such as a face covering
  • Rule of Six - To not participate in social gatherings of more than six people in any setting, indoors or outdoors.

Can my children still go to school?

Yes, unless your child or someone they live with develops one of the main symptoms of coronavirus, then your child must not attend their school or college

If this happens:

  • anyone with symptoms must self-isolate and book a test on GOV.UK
  • household members without symptoms must self-isolate for 14 days, or until the person with symptoms receives a negative test
  • you must tell your child’s school or college as soon as possible

Does the Rule of Six still apply?

Yes, Swindon has been graded as Medium level therefore we are still operating under the national guidelines which include the Rule of Six. 

How does it affect businesses? 

All businesses and venues can continue to operate, in a COVID-19 Secure manner, other than those that remain closed in law, such as nightclubs.

  • Certain businesses selling food or drink on their premises are required to close between 10pm and 5am. Businesses and venues selling food for consumption off the premises can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-thru. 

  • Weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of attendees

Can I still exercise and play sport? 

Yes, organised indoor sport and exercise classes can continue to take place, provided the Rule of Six is followed. 

How often will the alert level change and why are we medium level not low? 

The alert level especially in high-level areas will be kept under constant review. 

COVID-19 is still a threat therefore those who are not in high infection areas must still live under the national restrictions which makes us medium level, not low. 

Both the NHS COVID-19 app and will show which alert level applies in your area. 

See below, for the alert levels across the UK, and the restrictions that apply to each level. 


See the Full list of Local COVID Alert Levels by area 


See the Local COVID Alert Level restrictions - Table Comparison

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