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New national restrictions in place from Thursday 5 November


New national restrictions now in place

New national lockdown restrictions are in place from Thursday 5 November to help stop the spread of Covid-19.

You must now stay at home except for education, work (if it can't be done from home), exercise, medical reasons, shopping for food and essentials, or to care for others. 

The restrictions come in response to cases of Covid-19 rising rapidly across the whole of the UK and in other countries. They are expected to be in place for four weeks (until 2 December).

We are working through the new rules to establish what they mean for council services, and are publishing updated advice for residents and businesses. 

On Monday 2 November, Mayor John Biggs said: "We understand that coming to terms with another lockdown will be very difficult for our communities, and that it will come at a significant cost to local businesses that must close. We are pleased that the furlough scheme has been extended but it's clear more support is needed for families and businesses and we will continue to do whatever we can, and push government for this too.

"I want to remind you that while these are tough times, the East End is even tougher. Our communities showed great resilience, courage and camaraderie during the first peak, and I have no doubt we will do so again.

"As a council, we'll continue to work with our partners across the borough to make sure that our residents, particularly those most vulnerable, are supported. We are posting updates on social media using #TowerHamletsTogether, and we encourage you to do the same to help share positivity. 

"I urge you to follow the rules and do everything you can to protect yourself and others. Lives are at risk and we all must act now to control the spread of the virus. Equally, please remember to look after your mental health and wellbeing, and stay in touch with your friends, family and neighbours. We will get through this together." 

Summary of the changes:

  • You must stay at home except for education, work (if it can't be done from home), exercise and recreation, medical reasons, shopping for food and other essentials, or to care for others 
  • You can leave home for any medical concerns, appointments and emergencies, or to avoid or escape risk of injury or harm - such as domestic abuse. The NHS is still open - please attend your existing medical appointments and contact your GP or NHS 111 as normal if you need support 
  • Schools, nurseries, colleges and universities will remain open - please continue to send your children to school
  • All non-essential shops will close, as will all pubs and restaurants (takeaways and deliveries can continue)
  • Outdoor exercise and recreation will be allowed, but gyms will close. Playgrounds will stay open
  • Households will not be allowed to mix with others indoors or in private gardens. Individuals can meet one person from outside their household in an outside public space
  • Support bubbles for people who live alone and households made up of single parents and children can continue
  • Places of worship will generally close but funerals, with a maximum of 30 people attending, individual prayer, and a few other activities will be allowed
  • Weddings, civil partnership ceremonies will not be permitted to take place except in exceptional circumstances
  • Some workplaces can stay open if people cannot work from home - including construction and manufacturing
  • Those who are clinically extremely vulnerable are advised not to go to work if they are unable to work from home. Further government advice will be released this week and people who may need to register for support or advice will be able to do so online

Changes to council services:


  • Schools will remain open and children should attend as normal. 
  • Nurseries, colleges and universities are also allowed to stay open.
  • Childcare providers and child minders remain open. 
  • Our 12 children’s centres remain open.  

Parks and leisure

  • Parks will remain open for exercise and playgrounds will stay open.
  • Leisure centres, bowling clubs, tennis courts and skate parks will be closed.
  • Toilets in Victoria Park currently remain open. 
  • Cafés are open for takeaway only. 
  • Football/rugby pitches (grass, fenced and astroturf) are closed. No new bookings will be taken until after 2 December. 
  • Outdoor gyms should not be used.

Remember that there won't be any public firework displays for Bonfire Night on 5 November. It's vital our communities stay safe at home and avoid having bonfires on Thursday and over the weekend.

Idea Stores and libraries 

  • Our Idea Stores at Bow, Chrisp Street and Whitechapel are offering a limited service to enable people to order and collect books or access a computer. Other Idea Stores and libraries are closed. 
  • Local History Library and Archives have closed and all appointments have been suspended. The online service continues to operate. 
  • Adult Learning classes are continuing to be delivered either online or in store at their regular time. All fitness and dance classes will either move online or stop. 
  • Residents are encouraged to use our online services, including our extensive catalogue of e-books, audio books, magazines and much more. 


  • Columbia Road Flower Market and Petticoat Lane Market will be closed.
  • Other markets across the borough will remain open to sell food. All market stalls selling non-essential goods must close.
  • Victoria Park market will remain open for the sale of food and hot food takeaways.

Waste and recycling 

  • Council run waste and recycling services are running as normal.
  • Bulky waste collections are continuing. 
  • Food and garden waste collections are continuing. 
  • Please note waste collections may at times be delayed due to Covid-19 related illness and/or self-isolation.
  • The Reuse and Recycling Centre on Yabsley Street remains open. 
  • Residents will not be able to collect recycling sacks from Idea Stores, as they are now closed. For alternatives, please use our online guidance.


  • Parking enforcement is continuing as normal. 


  • We will continue to support families who need to register a death, and there are no changes to the current process - please visit our page for details.
  • Birth registrations are continuing at Bromley Public Hall and Mulberry Place. Births registration appointments can still be made and will be honoured for time being.
  • Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies are not permitted except in exceptional circumstances. We are contacting couples to reschedule. Notice appointments can still be made and will be honoured for the time being.
  • Group citizenship ceremonies are not permitted. People will be contacted regarding the option of individual virtual citizenship ceremonies or private citizenship ceremonies, which are for one person only and can be booked for a fee.
  • Certificate requests over one year are to be processed by the General Register Office.
  • Entry to the register office is by appointment only.

Please note, our Registrars Service is following government guidance but hasn’t received specific guidance from its governing body, The General Register Office (part of the Home Office) so these are the current local decisions in place, which may change. Please check our webpage for updates. Phone lines are extremely busy during this time and may not be answered due to volume of appointments.


The following arts venues are closed to the public:

  • The Brady Arts and Community Centre
  • The Kobi Nazrul Centre
  • The Ecology Pavilion, Mile End Park
  • The Art Pavilion, Mile End Park (Covid-19 test centre remains open)

Other services  

  • Other essential services, such as council tax and benefits, will continue as normal with all support provided online or over the phone.  

Please note, we continue to work through the new restrictions and this list will be updated, with further services likely to be affected.

Read about the new restrictions on the government's website.

Support for residents:

We have a dedicated phoneline to support vulnerable residents and people identified by the NHS as being at the highest risk of severe illness from Covid-19. The phoneline can be used by vulnerable residents (or their families or carers) that need help or have an urgent requirement during this difficult time including:

  • residents that have been identified as being extremely vulnerable,
  • those at the highest risk of severe illness,
  • the very elderly,
  • people with disabilities,
  • those self-isolating with underlying health conditions,
  • or those isolating as a result of NHS Test and Trace.

The phone line is open: Monday to Friday (9am - 5pm)

Tel: 020 7364 3030

Find out more about support for residents and local businesses.

More information will be published across our website as soon as possible. Please stay up to date at www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/coronavirus and sign up for email updates at www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/signup

Posted on Wednesday 4th November 2020