Stay at home to save lives - read what you need to do to stop the spread

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.

Tower Hamlets banner
Message from the mayor

Stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives

The Prime Minister yesterday announced strict new curbs on life in the UK. The advice is clear – stay at home to protect our NHS and save lives. Only leave your home if absolutely necessary.

You can only leave your home:

  • to shop for basic essentials – only when you really need to
  • to do one form of exercise a day – such as a run, walk or cycle, alone or with other people you live with
  • for any medical need – for example, to visit a pharmacy or deliver essential supplies to a vulnerable person
  • to travel to and from work – but only where this is absolutely necessary.

Remember, even if you’re fit and healthy you can still pass on coronavirus and put people at risk.

Shops selling non-essential goods are being told to shut and gatherings in public of more than two people who do not live together are prohibited.

The Prime Minister has said that the police will have powers to enforce these rules including through fines and dispersing gatherings.

We are supporting the nation's efforts to stop the spread of coronavirus, while focusing our resources on running the most critical services that our residents rely on. This includes supporting those most vulnerable.

We continue to review our approach following the government's announcement. 

Our Idea Stores are now closed and our parks must only be used for one form of daily exercise alone or with people you live with. Everyone must keep two metres between themselves and others.

We will keep updating you on further imminent changes to services as soon as we can.

Please be assured we continue to work with Public Health England, the NHS and a wide range of partners to ensure we're doing everything we can, in line with the government advice, and urging our residents to do the same.  

Please regularly check for the latest advice and subscribe to updates.

It’s vital that we all follow government and NHS advice.

We appreciate this is a difficult time but we must all do our bit to keep people safe. We will be rolling out further changes to our services to support and enforce these new measures.

Please read on for a copy of the government advice, my plea to shopkeepers and shoppers alike and more local updates.

Stay safe,

Mayor John Biggs

Stay at home

Coronavirus (COVID-19): what you need to do

Stay at home to stop coronavirus spreading 

It is crucial that we all follow NHS and government advice. Anyone can spread the virus. 

Everyone must stay at home. This includes people of all ages – even if you do not have any symptoms or other health conditions. 

You can only leave your home: 

  • to shop for basic essentials – only when you really need to  
  • to do one form of exercise a day – such as a run, walk or cycle, alone or with other people you live with  
  • for any medical need – for example, to visit a pharmacy or deliver essential supplies to a vulnerable person  
  • to travel to and from work – but only where this is absolutely necessary.  

If you must leave your home: 

  • Stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people  
  • Wash your hands as soon as you get home  

Don’t leave home and avoid close contact with those in your home if you’re at high risk of getting seriously ill from coronavirus.  

Don't forget good hygiene remains vital for all of us, especially washing your hands with soap and water. Do this often and for at least 20 seconds.  

Read the full guidance on staying at home and away from others.

What to do if you have coronavirus symptoms 

Regularly check and always follow the latest NHS advice, which you can find at

Continue to stay at home if you have either: 

  • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)  
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)  

To protect others, do not go to places like a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. Stay at home. Use the 111 online coronavirus service to find out what to do. 

Empty shelves due to panic buying

Shopkeepers and shoppers alike must do the right thing

We are very concerned to hear repeated complaints that some shops have increased their prices just as the coronavirus pandemic has begun to spread and people are feeling worried about buying food and other household goods.

We know that many of our shopkeepers are working hard to support us and provide goods at this vital time. But these stories of price increases have caused a great deal of worry in our communities here in Tower Hamlets.

We are of course one of the poorest borough’s in the UK, and our elderly people have the highest rate of poverty of anywhere in the country. We share the widespread community anger about this profiteering. We will not tolerate this happening in Tower Hamlets.

We are delivering this message to businesses in Tower Hamlets. Our advice to residents is clear:

On another note, we are disappointed to hear that people are still bulk buying in shops. This is unnecessary and can prevent others from having access to things they really need. Please do think before you shop and only buy what you and your family needs so that you leave enough for others.

There's more than enough food to go around. Stockpiling is preventing access to food for those who need it, including NHS staff. Supermarkets are implementing various measures to help, and our local, independent shops are also playing a key role at this time.

Read more >

Park in Tower Hamlets

Local advice and services


We have so far issued more than 1,000 parking permits for hospital medics, healthcare staff and other key workers. We’re working with retailers and other business to see what additional parking we can make available around key sites. We will do all we can to support those on the frontline in our NHS and our emergency services. Key workers can contact our parking team on 020 7364 5000 for further assistance.

We are disappointed that our parking enforcement teams have been subjected to unacceptable abuse in recent days. We would like to remind residents that parking restrictions are in place for everyone’s safety and we will continue to enforce them. Our officers are keeping the highways open for emergency vehicles, enabling food deliveries for the vulnerable and supporting key workers trying to get to work. They must be able to work safely. 


Following discussions with organisers and operators, a number of markets in Tower Hamlets will close until further notice:

  • Brick Lane, Columbia Road, Petticoat Lane, Roman Road Sclater Street and Victoria Park markets will be closed until further notice.
  • Bethnal Green, Chrisp Street, Roman Road Square, Watney Market and Whitechapel markets will be limited to sales of non-prepared food and household items only. 

We are also limiting the number of stalls at these remaining markets. These measures are important to ensure traders and customers can follow social distancing guidance.


We love our parks and we know you do too. We want to keep them open to help people get some fresh air and for daily exercise.

In line with the new government advice, you must:

  • Only go outside for food, health reasons or essential work.
  • Stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people.
  • Wash your hands as soon as you get home.

You are not permitted to visit parks in groups, but under the guidance you are able to leave your home to do one form of exercise a day – such as a run, walk or cycle, alone or with other people you live with.  

All visitors must maintain social distancing guidance and stay at least two metres away from all other visitors at all times.

Playgrounds, outdoor gyms, tennis courts and cafes are all closed until further notice.

Read more >

Idea Stores and libraries

Our Idea Stores and libraries are now closed until further notice, in line with the government’s latest advice.

All items on loan will be automatically renewed until 30 April 2020. There will be no charges for any overdue items.  

We’ll look forward to reopening when the time is right, but for now, online membership is free and we have a wide range of materials available for you. From e-magazines, e-comics and audio books, we’re upping our offer every day. Check it out at

We are also continuing to explore other ways that we can reach out and support our residents who need us most. 

A reminder that council services can be accessed on our website, but if you need further assistance, please call us on 020 7364 5000 (Monday to Friday, 9am - 5pm).

Become an online member >

Restaurants, pubs, cafes and more

On 20 March, the government announced that all cafes, pubs, bars, restaurants should close to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

This is a difficult time for local premises affected, but together, our first priority must be to protect the public.

Support is being given to businesses in relation to the payment of wages and grants to small businesses to continue to keep staff employed. 

For businesses:

For residents:


Housing options

The housing options counter service at Albert Jacob House in Bethnal Green will be closed until further notice. Residents who are homeless or who are at risk of becoming homeless, should call 0207 364 7474 where a member of the housing team will be able to assess their case and advise on their housing options. 

Any other enquiries should be directed to

Business rates

In response to coronavirus, the government has announced a range of measures to help. We have identified properties that we think will benefit from these measures and we started issuing new bills last night (Monday 23 March).

If you do not receive a bill showing the new discounts by Friday 3 April 2020 and think that you should have received one, please get in touch with us at

Find out more >

School closures

If it is possible for a child to be at home, then they should be. Do not rely on childcare from those who should be socially distancing themselves, such as grandparents and family, friends or others with underlying health conditions.

If a child needs specialist support, is vulnerable or has a parent who is a key worker then education provision will be available to them.

Schools remain safe places for children but the fewer children who are in school the lower the risk that the virus can spread and infect vulnerable people in wider society.

More information >

Reuse and recycling centre

The reuse and recycling centre in Yabsley Street will be closed until further notice. 

Household waste and recycling collections will continue as normal across Tower Hamlets, but we would ask residents to think carefully about how they might reduce the amount of waste and recycling they are producing during this time. 

View local advice >

Empty tube

Do not use public transport

Do not travel unless it is absolutely essential. This is to stop the spread of coronavirus and save lives.

If you do travel, follow the expert advice on hand washing and other health measures.

Read Transport for London advice >

Government advice is available in multiple languages, including Bengali

If you, your family or someone you know may benefit from accessing the guidance in another language, please share these links:

Coronavirus: useful links

Thank you for reading

We hope you have found this bulletin useful. Share this with your family and friends to ensure they have the latest advice on coronavirus. Anyone can subscribe using this link

Spread the word