Coronavirus: What are social distancing and self-isolation?

Strict rules have been placed on people’s personal movement to limit the spread of coronavirus.
Under the restrictions, everybody must stay at home and only leave if they have a “reasonable excuse” which includes:
 to exercise – either alone, or with members of your household (guidelines suggest once a day, and in Wales that is the law)
 shopping for basic necessities (the guidelines say this should be done as infrequently as possible)
 any medical need, including to donate blood, avoid or escape risk of injury or harm, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
 travel to or from work, but only when you cannot work from home
Other valid reasons include attending the funeral of a close family member, key workers taking children to childcare, and because of access arrangements for a child.
If you have to go outside you should stay more than 2m (6ft) apart from anyone other than members of your own household. This is what’s known as social distancing.
Shops selling non-essential items are closed, along with cafes, pubs, restaurants, nightclubs and other places where people meet in groups. Gatherings of more than two people not from the same household are banned.
The restrictions were introduced on 23 March, initially for three weeks. But England’s deputy chief medical officer, Dr Jenny Harries says it could take six months to see “whether we can get back to normal” and “it is plausible that it could go further than that”.
Police have the power to enforce these measures, by the use of fines and by dispersing gatherings. However, the new emergency laws in all four UK nations say enforcement should only be used if “necessary and proportionate”.
 What powers do the police have?
What are the rules on exercise?
People are being told only to take one form of exercise a day. The guidelines say:
 Maintain a social distance of more than 2m from anyone outside your household, wherever you go
 Exercise alone or with members of your own household
 Gatherings of more than two in parks or other public spaces have been banned (ruling out most team sports)
 Take hygiene precautions when you are outside, and wash your hands as soon as you are back indoors
 Stay local and use open spaces near to your home where possible – do not travel unnecessarily
The guidelines do not explicitly define what counts as “local” and whether people can drive somewhere to take exercise. However, some police forces have tried to discourage this.
No mention is given to how long you can exercise for. But the Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove has advised: “I would have thought for most people a walk of up to an hour, a run of 30 minutes or a cycle ride of between that, depending on their level of fitness, is appropriate.”
Some outdoor spaces, including playgrounds, outdoor gyms and some parks are closed. Victoria Park in east London has been closed because of “the failure of some visitors to follow social distancing guidance”.
Dogs can be walked as part of a person’s daily exercise. There is nothing in government guidance on the subject to say whether pets have to be kept on a leash although some parks – including the Royal Parks – are insisting on this, as a way of ensuring people maintain social distancing.