When the first nationwide coronavirus lockdown was announced last spring, some of life’s most basic household chores suddenly became much more difficult.
We have listed 12. Now that different parts of the UK are once again subject to the strictest restrictions, it is time to revisit these practical matters.
Much has changed since the start of the pandemic, but most things are still far from straightforward.
Can I register a birth?
Under normal circumstances, it is a legal obligation to register the birth of a child, in person, within 42 days.
This period has been relaxed since the outbreak of the pandemic.
During the first national confinement, it was impossible to register a birth. Now there may be online booking options but, again, many parents may find that they have to wait. In Scotland, you are still allowed to go out to register a birth.
Parents usually cannot apply for family allowances or universal credit until a birth is registered, but this rule has also been relaxed.
Unfortunately, but inevitably, registration of a death is still possible and can usually be done over the phone.
Is it still possible to write a valid will?
The pandemic led to an amendment of a law in England and Wales which has been in place since 1837.
This law was strict. For a will to be valid, it had to be signed in front of two witnesses and that two people sign it in your presence.
Now, witnessing a signature can be done by video link, but it must be done in real time. The Bar says the conventional (social distancing) method remains better and safer – but until the end of January 2022, video-witness signatures are allowed.
How to pay by check?
Among the premises that can remain open – as during the first confinement – are banks and the Post Office.
Hours of operation may be shorter, and those who protect shouldn’t take such a trip.
Many banks allow people to pay by check by submitting a photo of it through their mobile app. Others accept checks sent, with payment slip or account number, by post.
Bank customers can also pay by check, check their balance and withdraw money at the Post Office.
How to recharge the electric meter?
Four million people have prepaid energy meters and, before the pandemic, some would normally have gone to a store to top up their credit. Many of these stores remain open.
However, in mid-December, new rules from the regulator Ofgem forced providers to offer emergency credit to customers who cannot top up prepayment meters.
If customers are in debt, suppliers should put them on “realistic and sustainable” repayment plans.
This formalized a voluntary agreement in place over the summer.
My sink is clogged, can I call a plumber?
Your personal circumstances will determine how risky it will be to seek professional help. Clearly, if you can unlock it yourself, or even leave it if possible, then that would be better.
The guidelines mean that traders must follow social distancing rules, wear appropriate face coverings, must not work if they are showing symptoms, and must not accept refreshments like a cup of tea.
In Scotland traders are allowed to visit houses, but only for essential services.
Surveyors can visit and house visits are possible – because this time people can still move to their homes during the lockdown.
Will the bailiffs still come and call?
The threat of bailiffs coming to the door to force an eviction of tenants was an unnecessary risk, according to some charities.
The rules may vary in the decentralized countries of the United Kingdom, but temporary bans have been put in place for judicial officer actions of this type in areas where the restrictions are the strictest.
Some of these temporary bans are expected to end in the coming days.
Bailiffs pursuing unpaid bills such as parking fines or municipal taxes typically use other means to chase payments and there are industry guidelines on how they should behave, including the obligation not to shout.
Can I still collect my pension from the Post Office?
People who like to receive their pension in cash may be protected and unable to do so.
However, they will usually have a postcard account, so they will always receive the money.
Thousands of people have a trusted friend or designated family member who can withdraw money from this account on their behalf. This option is now possible to configure via the phone – a change from the start of the first lock.
Do I still have to pay my regular bills?
Bills cannot be ignored even in these financially difficult times, otherwise there is a serious risk of indebtedness.
Last year, with the agreement of the lenders, some 2.5 million people deferred their mortgage payments, two million delayed payments on credit cards or loans and several thousand people delayed paying rent.
Help, such as reduced repayments, is always available for those who have difficulty paying but with conditions. Unlike much of the past year, continuing to take a so-called payment holiday can affect your credit rating, which can make borrowing more difficult in the future.
I lost my job, how do I register?
Applicants for universal credit – the main collective unemployment benefit and housing assistance – do not need to go to an employment office.
Requests can be made online or by phone.
There is a wide range of benefits available, and they may be different depending on where you live in the UK.
It’s especially important to do your research or seek independent, free advice before starting an application, in part because any existing benefits you receive can be affected.
My inspection is due, what should I do?
During the first nationwide lockdown, the government granted owners of cars, motorcycles and vans a six-month exemption from roadworthiness testing.
This time, you are allowed to exit in order to bring your vehicle to its examination.
How do I pay my home lender or my rent with an option to buy?
Borrowers have the option of taking a month-long payment holiday with payday loans anytime before the end of March, provided they haven’t already taken one.
Anyone who has already done this and is still struggling to repay should contact their lender to arrange a repayment plan. Simply not paying can lead to heavy charges.
For rental products with an option to buy, the rules are the same – except that a payment holiday can be extended up to six months.
My hair is getting very long, can I get it cut?
For now, hairdressers are closed, as they were in the spring of last year.
Some people may have taken the opportunity to have their hair cut quite recently. Others may go back to last spring’s style – or bring out the scissors and trimmer again.