How does the third national coronavirus lockdown compare to the first?

How does the latest national lockdown compare to the first? People can buy a coffee and go for a jog with a friend during third full shutdown as Covid cases surge

While England has now entered its third lockdown in less than a year, there are various differences between the latest one and the first last March.

From support bubbles to exercising with people from other households, there are more options to safeguard the mental health of those living by themselves.

Other changes include elite sport carrying on, meaning football fans can continue to watch the Premier League on TV, and playgrounds remaining open this time. 

In addition, places of worship can stay open for services in the third lockdown, unlike during the first and second, while garden centres can also stay open. 

And the biggest difference is the vaccination programme which is now well underway with 1.3million people across Britain now given the Covid-19 jab.

Here, MailOnline looks at some of the differences between the two lockdowns:

Support bubbles

Support bubbles were first introduced in England on June 13, meaning that adults who live alone can visit someone else’s home and stay overnight.

These were prompted following concerns for the mental health and isolation of those living alone, and were not in place for the first three months of lockdown.

The Government advises that bubbles are formed with a local household, and those who have a child aged under one as of December 2 last year count as single adults.

People are also allowed form a support bubble as a single adult if they are aged 16 or 17 and are living with others of the same age and without any adults. 

Support bubbles will still be allowed despite the third lockdown starting today. 

Grandmother Susan Hamilton was reunited with her grandchildren Robbie Benson, six, and Victoria Benson, nine, in Northern Ireland in June last year after they formed a support bubble

Playgrounds will remain open 

Playgrounds and outdoor gyms were all closed at the start of the first lockdown in March last year to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

They were then allowed to reopen on July 4 when the first lockdown was eased – and the Government says playgrounds will not be taped off during the new lockdown.

This will provide a welcome relief to parents stuck indoors with their children after the closure of schools to most pupils. However, outdoor gyms will be closed.

A children’s playground is closed off at Virdin Park in Northwich, Cheshire, in March last year

Exercise with one other person from another household

People on their own will be allowed to exercise with one other person from another household during the third lockdown in parks, beaches, countryside and forests.

They will also be allowed to exercise in the grounds of a heritage site, playground or public gardens, whether or not they pay to enter them.

However the Government has insisted that this should only be done once a day and people should avoid travelling outside their local area to do so.

People have also been warned against picnics or social meetings. During the first lockdown last March, you could not exercise with anyone from another household.

Joggers and walkers on a footpath at Hyde Park in London during the first lockdown last May

Premier League football will continue

All professional sport stopped at the start of the first lockdown, before Premier League football returned on June 17 last year behind closed doors.

The football has continued during the pandemic, with last season ending on July 26 and this season starting on September 12, having been delayed from August 8.

The Government has confirmed that elite sport can continue during the lockdown, meaning fans will still be able to watch live matches on the BBC, Sky and BT Sport.

However there are concerns over the Premier League and Football League carrying on due to rising numbers of Covid-19 cases which have led to postponements.  

Southampton’s Danny Ings scores against Liverpool at St Mary’s Stadium last night. Premier League football will continue behind closed doors during the third lockdown

Places of worship will be open

One of the more surprising elements of the third lockdown is that places of worship will be allowed to stay open both for private prayer and communal worship.

This is despite them being closed for both the first and second lockdowns, with many churches moving to online services while their buildings remained closed.

The Government was urged by church leaders and former prime minister Theresa May to reopen churches last year after closing them during the November lockdown.

While churches and other places of worship can continue with services, people from different households have been warned against mixing with each other. 

People wearing face masks attend Christmas Day mass last month at St Mary’s Church, Dublin

Garden centres will be open

Garden centres were closed for the first two months of the first lockdown, eventually being among the first non-essential retailers to be allowed to reopen, on May 13.

The Horticultural Trades Association produced safe trading guidance for the sector, and it has stayed open since – and can continue during the third lockdown. 

Many of the shops diversified into selling other products such as food, drink and clothing – while some began home delivery services for the first time last year.

A hand sanitising station at a garden centre near Basingstoke in Hampshire on May 13 last year

Cafes open for takeaway

Cafes gradually reopened for takeaway in May during the first lockdown, with chains such as Starbucks and Pret among those who carried out a staggered reopening.   

During the third lockdown, cafes will still be allowed to serve takeaway – meaning you could go out for a coffee and drink it while walking around a park, for example. 

However alcohol takeaways will be banned until at least mid-February in England  during the third lockdown to clamp down on socialising between households.

People wait at a cafe serving takeaway in the Derbyshire village of Eyam on June 5 last year

The vaccination programme

The biggest difference between the first and third lockdowns is the presence of a coronavirus vaccine which is now being rolled out to the most vulnerable groups.

More than 1.3 million people have now been vaccinated against Covid-19 across the UK, Boris Johnson said today, after the drive began last month on December 8.

He said that ‘with a fair wind in our sails’ it should be possible to vaccinate 13million of the most vulnerable people by mid-February, paving the way for rules to be eased.

Margaret Keenan, 90, becomes the first person to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at University Hospital Coventry on December 8 last year

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