National restrictions: November 2020 | University of Oxford
walking in a park
Walking in a park.

Guidance for students – National restrictions from Thursday 5 November

Last updated: Wednesday 11 November 2020

New National Restrictions were introduced from Thursday 5 November. From that point, all previous guidance, including requirements for social distancing and use of face coverings, remain in place, as well as the additional points below. 



  • The University will continue to offer a mix of in-person and online teaching, in line with Government guidance
  • In-person examinations will continue to take place, in COVID-secure settings
  • Libraries, museums and collections will remain open to students for study reasons (but most will close to the general public – see Student Life section)



It is essential that you follow all Government guidance when in college, including rules around socialising.

We are currently reviewing what the new law and guidance means for services provided by your college and we will publish more information as soon as we can.


 Student life

-        You must not meet socially with family or friends unless they are part of your household. You should not invite anyone else from outside your household into your accommodation

-        Student-led events should comply with all Government guidelines, and will most likely need to take place online. Please refer to Oxford SU’s hints and tips for managing online events.

-        You can exercise in, or visit, outdoor public places, including University Parks and Gardens, on your own, with the people in your household, or with one person from another household.  In line with national guidance you cannot meet in a private garden.


-        The Iffley Road sports complex and all other University sports facilities will close, and University team and individual sports will be suspended. University sports clubs should not arrange any in-person sporting activities – either indoors or outdoors – while the restrictions are in place.

-        The University is committed to helping students get active despite the restrictions. Oxford University Sport plans to bolster its Active Anywhere online streaming programme through its App, and will look to increase the live streaming of fitness classes, which will still take place while the building is closed.

Parks, gardens and museums

-        The Ashmolean Museum, Museum of Natural History, Pitt Rivers Museum, and History of Science Museum will close to the social visits from member of the public and the University  but will remain open for teaching and research needs. You can explore the museums’ online resources and collections.

-        The Botanic Garden & Harcourt Arboretum will remain open; please book before visiting. Wytham Woods remains open and is using a booking system for weekends.

-         The University Parks remain open; please practise social distancing while using the space.

Performing arts

Extracurricular performing arts

-        Extracurricular performing arts activities need to take place online only during the lockdown in England, from 5 November until 2 December 2020.
-        Choirs in colleges which support acts of worship: each college will consult the general government guidance on the national restrictions from 5 November and the guidance for higher education and make their own risk assessment. This may enable such choirs to rehearse and stream performances. It should be noted that the latest Government guidance on the safe use of places of worship during the pandemic states that its definition of a place of worship does not cover educational establishments.
-        Recognising the value and importance of performing arts for performers and audiences alike, the University is investing in piloting software to improve the experience of rehearsing online, and further details about this will follow. This will allow members of an ensemble to rehearse digitally from separate locations connected to the University’s network, with minimal latency allowing players to play in time and together, which improves the experience of using standard online meeting software. More details will be provided when the service is ready to launch.
-        For now, performing arts groups have seen the successes of many online projects over the past months, and this may be a viable alternative for many groups to continue to meet. A number of performing arts groups at Oxford have materials available on their websites with advice and examples of making the most of meeting online.
 Degree course performing arts
-        The position for performing arts as part of an educational course will be set by the relevant academic department (from which further information may be obtained). Departments will be guided by government regulations covering the new national restrictions as set out under the heading ‘performing arts’. Rehearsals for chamber music performance and solo performance (with an accompanist) within the Faculty of Music for the purpose of a degree remain possible: any queries should be addressed to the Faculty’s Director of Performance, Dr Peter Collyer. 


Welfare and wellbeing

-        We are acutely aware that these are unsettling times for all of us, and that the additional restrictions add to the challenges. 

-        We believe that maintaining a mix of online and in-person teaching, and supporting students to keep engaging with their studies, will be beneficial for mental health and wellbeing.

-        The University and colleges are strongly focused on supporting students’ wellbeing, and on providing COVID-safe activities where possible.  University welfare services are still operating and have been given additional funding recently.

-        We are also committed to strengthening our resources in this area, in particular through the new Mental Health Task Force.

-        You can find out more about the support available to students on the welfare and wellbeing page.



-        Government guidance states that you should not return home until the end of term. Residency requirements at Oxford remain in place until the end of term. 

-        We encourage you to stay in Oxford to make the most of your academic experience, unless you have specific reasons for needing to leave.

-        If you have any concerns about staying, you should speak to your college in the first instance (or your department if you don’t have a college) 

-        Receiving a negative COVID-19 test does not change whether you can travel or not. You must follow Government guidance at all times. 

For part-time students

-        If you live outside the Oxford City area, you can continue to commute on a daily basis. Part-time students taking part in short courses can travel to and stay in Oxford to take part in their courses.

For international students

-        We encourage international students to stay until the end of term, to make the most of your academic experience. If you have any concerns about staying, you should speak to your college in the first instance (or your department if you don’t have a college)

-        If you are planning to travel, you should adhere to all health advice while in the UK to ensure you travel safely. If you do agree with your college (or department if you do not have a college) a plan to leave the UK and remain enrolled whilst back in your home country, your student visa will remain valid.

-        You should not travel if you have symptoms of COVID-19, or are part of a household group which is self-isolating.

-        You should be mindful that the Government currently advises against all but essential international travel. If you do travel home, you should also consider whether you need to self-isolate when you return, and should check any restrictions in the country you are travelling to, and whether they will also need to undertake a period of self-isolation in that country.

-        If you are travelling back from countries not on the exemption (travel corridor) list you will need to self-isolate in their your accommodation for 14 days.


*UPDATED (11 November)* Christmas vacation information

On Wednesday 11 November the UK Government confirmed that it intends for students to be able to travel home for the Christmas period in early December. The University welcomes this announcement, and will provide further guidance for Oxford students as soon as possible.

-        If you need to stay in your college accommodation for COVID-19 related reasons (or self-isolate after the vacation if you are an international student returning from a country that is not on the travel corridor list), your college will aim to assist you. 

-        You will need to arrange that in advance and systems for doing so will vary from college to college, please do contact your college as soon as you know this may be required.

-        All colleges will be supportive and make sure you have somewhere to stay. However please note charges may apply for accommodation arranged for the vacation.

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