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Last update: 02/07/20
London is slowly easing the lockdown rules and allowing travel once again – but with some key differences.
What exactly are these differences? Well, when we started to ask ourselves this question, there wasn’t a single guide out there. We had to look at so many different websites just to get some information together. In doing this research we decided to create a complete guide on things to do in London during & after COVID lockdown. We will be updating this guide as more information is released.
This guide will cover everything you need to know before you visit London. It includes all the current rules in place that you will need to follow.
We update this guide x2 times a week so remember to check back to get the latest information.
1.0 CURRENT LONDON RULES FOR TRAVELLERS
1.1 Key/General City Rules
1.2 Travelling into London
1.3 Travelling Around London using Public Transport
1.3.1 Transport for London (TFL) Bus Service
1.3.2 Transport for London (TFL) Underground (Tube) Service
1.4 Hotels & staying overnight in London
2.0 WHAT CAN YOU CURRENTLY DO IN LONDON?
2.1 Shopping around London
2.2 Eating & Drinking around London
2.3 Things to do in London
CURRENT LONDON RULES FOR TRAVELLERS
Key/General City Rules
Social Distancing rules still apply (stay 2 meters apart) & stay at home as much as possible. All shops have clear markers for where to stand, along with a limit on the number of people allowed inside a store.
People in England are allowed to meet in groups of up to six people in outdoor spaces such as a park or private gardens.
England residents are allowed to form a ‘support bubble’ with one other household if you live alone or are a single parent with dependent children. Those in a ‘support bubble’ will be able to act as if they live in the same household – meaning they can spend time together inside each other’s homes and do not need to stay 2 metres apart.
From 15th June 2020, anyone using public transport must wear face coverings. There is no stipulation as to what grade this must be. Except that the mouth and nose must be covered. More about London public transport
If you are travelling from London to Wales or Scotland, both have different regional rules which we advise you check before setting off.
Travelling into London
Q: What rules apply to travellers entering the UK by plane, ferry or train?
A: Whilst flights and ports remain active at a reduced capacity, travellers arriving to the UK by plane, ferry or train – including UK nationals – will have to self-isolate for 14 days. They will have to fill out a form to provide an address, indicating where they will self-isolate for the next 14 days. Travellers can be fined £100 for failing to fill in the form with the correct details. Surprise visits will be used to check travellers are supposed to be self-isolating. Those in England could be fined up to £1,000 if they fail to self-isolate.
Q: Can I travel to London if I live in Scotland or Wales?
A: Since lockdown measures differ in each nation of the UK, it is advised not to travel between them and instead must “respect” each area’s measures.
Q: What must I do before I arrive into London?
A: Travelling from within the UK there are no additional rules apart from the Key/General City Rules mentioned above. However, travelling from outside of the UK, you will have to fill out a form to provide an address showing where you intend to self-isolate for 14 days.
Q: What if I don’t have an address to self-isolate in?
A: If you don’t provide an address, the government will arrange accommodation at your expense.
Q: What can I do in those 14 days?
A: Travellers must not leave the premises or have visitors except for essential support. Where you can, rely on others.
Q: Is anyone exempt from self-isolating?
A: Anyone arriving from the Common Travel Area (CTA) – the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man – does not have to enter quarantine, only if they have been in the CTA for at least 14 days.
Those also exempt includes:
Road haulage and freight workers
Medical and care professionals providing essential healthcare
Those arriving for pre-arranged medical treatment
Passengers in transit as long as they do not pass through border control
Seasonal agricultural workers if they self-isolate where they are working
UK residents who ordinarily travel overseas at least once a week for work
Travelling Around London using Public Transport
Q: Are there any changes to using public transport?
A: Face coverings must now be worn for your entire journey on the London Underground and London bus services. Face coverings can be a simple cloth that covers the nose and mouth. You can buy one from a shop or online. Free face masks are available at certain Tube and bus stations for a couple of weeks – since Monday, June 8.
Q: Are there any changes to paying on public transport?
A: Most Tube stations are only accepting contactless or Oyster card payments for travel. Ticket machines at all London Overground and DLR stations are accepting cash. Some Tube stations are also still accepting cash, but it is important to use card payment where possible to reduce the spread of the Covid-19.
Q: What do I need to do before using public transport in London since COVID-19?
A: Wear a face mask (this is compulsory, and you will be fined otherwise), keep two metres apart from others where possible, wash your hands before and after your journey, carry hand sanitiser and/or use sanitiser points available at stations.
London Bus Service
Q: What’s changed with the London Buses since COVID-19?
A: People can now board on the front of the buses after improvements were made to bus driver’s screens to help keep you and drivers safe. New limits on the number of people allowed on buses at one given time have been implemented. On double-decker buses, 20 people will be allowed on board at once. Single decker buses will allow six to ten people on at once.
Q: Are London Buses running during the lockdown?
A: Buses are operating with reduced services. 124 bus routes have reintroduced payment on their busses. You can find a full list of the buses accepting payment here
London Underground Service
Q: What’s changed with the London Underground since COVID-19?
A: New markers at London Underground stations show how far apart people must stand. Signs have also been installed on escalators asking customers to stand six steps apart, as well as in station lifts to ensure a maximum of four people uses them at a time. Certain areas in underground stations have been blocked off to ensure a smooth flow of people.
No Waterloo & City line service
No Night Tube or Night Overground service
A reduced service is operating on the Tube, London Overground, DLR, TfL Rail and London Trams
Updated daily more information
Q: What stations are still closed because of COVID-19?
A: Closed stations: Borough, Chalk Farm, Charing Cross, Clapham South, Covent Garden, Gloucester Road, Goodge Street, Great Portland Street, Hampstead, Heathrow Terminal 4, Hyde Park Corner, Kilburn Park, Lancaster Gate, Manor House, Queensway, Redbridge, Regent’s Park, South Wimbledon, Southwark, St James’s Park, Stepney Green, Swiss Cottage, Temple, Tufnell Park
Updated daily more information
Q: What lines are the busiest during a lockdown?
A: It is advised to avoid travelling on the Central line between South Woodford/Redbridge and Stratford – Jubilee line between Stratford and Westminster – District line between Dagenham Heathway and Aldgate East – Victoria line – London Overground between Stratford and Willesden Junction – DLR between Woolwich Arsenal and Canning Town
Updated daily more information
Accommodation in London
Q: Are there any changes to hotels, short-term let apartments (Airbnb) and hostels?
A: Hotels, short-term let apartments & hostels are complying with government regulations to ensure they remain safe for travellers. Businesses providing holiday accommodation (including hotels, hostels, B&Bs, campsites, caravan parks, boarding houses, and short term lets) are to remain closed for leisure-related stays.
Most hotels, short-term let apartments & hostels have drastically changed the way in which they operate. Here at Safestay for example, we are implementing some key changes to our 2 London Hostels – Safestay London Kensington Holland Park & Safestay London Elephant & Castle.
Rigorous deep cleaning is being carried out during lockdown within our hostels and hotels by our trained teams. We have reinforced the frequency of cleaning which involves the housekeeping team disinfecting rooms, common spaces & private areas of the hostel, and particularly shared-use objects and areas (lobby, elevators, door handles, public bathrooms, room cards, etc).
Q: How is Safestay protecting guests?
A: On top of rigorous & frequent deep cleaning, we’ve introduced a contact-free check-in service via WhatsApp. When you next make a booking at Safestay you will be sent a confirmation via Email and also WhatsApp. Our WhatsApp service will allow you to check-in online before you arrive. This will make it very quick to check-in and collect your key, whilst maintaining social distancing.
Also, there are no mixed dorms. We’ve changed our room configurations to make sure, when you book, you are booking a whole room. We are currently not providing single beds in mixed dormitory rooms until we know it’s safe to do so.
WHAT CAN YOU CURRENTLY DO IN LONDON?
Shopping around London
Supermarkets continue to be open with timings altered and social distancing measures in place.
Non-essential retail shops in England were allowed to reopen from Monday 15th June.
Retail shops will have 2m markings and arrows on the floor in showing customers how far apart they need to stay and which way to walk. People will also be asked to keep a set distance between each other on escalators. Some retailers are only allowing you to shop alone where possible and some retailers, such as Primark, will allow a group of people into their shops from Monday but they must be from the same household. You are also advised to only touch products you are going to buy. Lastly, just like supermarkets, retailers will ask shoppers to queue to prevent overcrowding in stores and allow people to maintain 2m social distancing.
When shopping in supermarkets, you should maintain a 2m distance between yourself and others, and only buy what you need. This can include monitoring the number of customers within the store and limiting access to avoid congestion. They may also implement queue management systems to limit crowds gathering at entrances and to maintain social distancing.
Tesco & Sainsbury
Supermarkets such as Tesco and Sainsbury have introduced new social distancing measures in stores. Currently there are rules to limit the flow of people coming into stores. Some stores have introduced directional floor markings and new signs to create a safe flow of movement around the store as well as seperate entrances and exits. It is advised to shop on your own and pay with contactless where possible.
Eating and Drinking around London
Restaurants & Pubs
From 4 July, pubs and restaurants in England will be allowed to reopen with certain restrictions, including changes to shift patterns, mandatory table service and more use of hand sanitiser. Customers will also have to give their details to staff to make contact tracing easier if another customer tests positive for the virus.
Wetherspoon pubs across London will reopen on the 4th of July. There are some certain changes to ensure social distance and customer safety. Customers do not need to book a table, ahead of visiting and are encouraged to order using the Wetherspoon app, where possible, directly from their table. Where unable to order from the table (ie they have no smartphone), customers are able to order from one of the designated till points at the bar, but customers may not remain at the bar. Once they have ordered and paid – they should return to their table. You are also not allowed to move furniture around as it has been placed to meet with social distancing standards.
For a full list of all the London Markets open check out our list below!
Things to do around London?
1. Visit one (or all) of London’s famous markets!
In light of the announcement on the 15th of June, outdoor markets were given the green light to open. However, whilst some have reopened, some have continued to remain closed. So here are some of the best markets that are currently open in London.
Camden Market was one of the first outdoor markets around London to reopen. Camden Market has therefore implemented a one-way system that operates across the entire site, in order to keep all visitors flowing in the same direction. They’ll also be using floor markings to keep customers two metres apart, placing tables and chairs a distance apart from one other, setting up hand sanitiser stations, enhancing their cleaning regime, and using market security guards to prevent crowds from gathering at certain attractions. While not all of the market vendors will reopen, restaurants and street food vendors including Kuku Riku, Magic Falafel, Makatcha, Only Jerkin’, Camden Pizza, and StakeHAUS will be open for collection and delivery only.
Borough Market has been partially open throughout lockdown, to supply fresh produce to local residents. You can’t get the full experience of the many street food vendors but some hot food and coffee is available to take away.
Mercato Metropolitano is London’s popular Italian food hall—found in Mayfair and Elephant & Castle. They are back with their brilliant street food, Wednesday through till Sunday, for takeaway and deliveries only. The grocery section of Mercato Metropolitano will continue to stay open throughout the week. In terms of keeping customers safe, hand sanitisers will be out in both venues and social-distancing measures will apply.
This is the perfect market if plants and flowers are what you’re after. It is usually busy pre lockdown so expect social distance queues when you make a trip. The market usually runs every Sunday from 8am to 3pm. Keep an eye on their website for more updates
Lloyd Park Market
Lloyd Park Market in Walthamstow actually reopened on 23rd May. It’s a foodie’s paradise with street grub, homemade cakes and biscuits, farm-made pies and much more. You’ll leave stuffed wanting to come back the next day.
Flea Vintage Market
For those of you who’ve been craving a sift through vintage wares for a fresh look, we’ve got good news! Flea has reopened at Vinegar Yard. They will now be open every Saturday and Sunday with the new opening hours of 12 noon until 5pm.
2. Spend the day in one of London’s parks!
In accordance with new government guidelines, you can leave your home to exercise and spend time in parks for recreation, sports and other activities only with your household or support bubble and only in groups of up to 6 people from another household or support bubble. Parks will also have limited toilet facilities open so please take this into consideration when planning your visit.
All Royal Parks have reverted to their regular opening times as of 1st June. Hyde Park is open to the public but will now close at 10 pm.
3. Or visit London’s Amazing Zoo
ZSL London and Whipsnade Zoos reopened on Monday 15 June.
Both Zoos will operate as outdoor-only experiences, which is a great opportunity to see amazing animals and to reconnect with nature.
To keep you safe some safety measures are in place. The Zoos are limiting the number of visitors per day and all visitors (including our supporters) must pre-book tickets online. One-way routes around London Zoo are installed to help with visitor flow and to ensure social distancing.
Toilets are open with new hygiene measures. Card or mobile device payments (e.g. Apple Pay, Google Pay) are the only form of payments accepted.