Coronavirus (COVID-19): Guidance and Support

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Guidance and Support


This will be updated as the Government releases new information.

13/05 – Outdoor Activities allowed in England from 13th May 2020, subject to social distancing rules

From today (13 May 2020) people in England can spend more time outdoors and enjoy a wider range of activities for any length of time, subject to social distancing rules.

  • From today, people are allowed to spend more time outdoors.
  • They will be able to go to parks and beaches to sunbathe, have a picnic and go fishing.
  • Outdoor sports courts can reopen, including tennis and basketball courts as well as golf courses.
  • People will also be able to see one person from another household, as long as they follow social distance guidance
  • This follows scientific advice that the risk of infection outside is significantly lower than inside
  • All of the new regulations are subject to social distancing rules
  • The advice is strictly limited to spending time with your household or with one other person and is subject to social distancing rules.

It remains the case that you cannot gather with more than one member of another household for example to play sports. You also cannot:

  • Go on holiday.
  • Visit and stay overnight at a holiday home or second home.
  • Visit the homes of friends and family, unless it’s to help a vulnerable person, for medical reasons, or to take a child to another household with whom parental responsibilities are shared

12/05 – Chancellor extends furlough scheme until October 2020

In complete contradiction to the rumours that the government furlough scheme could be reduced to 60%, today Rishi Sunak said the furlough scheme would be extended by a further four months with workers continuing to receive 80% of their current salary.

  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will continue until end of October.
  • Furloughed workers across UK will continue to receive 80% of their current salary, up to £2,500.
  • New flexibility will be introduced from August to get employees back to work and boost economy.

11/05 – Government of England sets out its conditional plan to return to normal

This guidance applies in England – people in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should follow the specific rules in those parts of the UK

The government has set out its plan to return life to as near normal as we can, for as many people as we can, as quickly and fairly as possible in order to safeguard livelihoods, but in a way that is safe and continues to protect our NHS. The government has set out a conditional roadmap for lifting further restrictions and opening more businesses and venues. The roadmap is dependent on successfully controlling the spread of the virus. If the evidence shows sufficient progress is not being made in controlling the virus, then the lifting of restrictions may have to be delayed. If, after lifting restrictions, the government sees a concerning rise in the infection rate, then it may re-impose some restrictions. Here is a breakdown of the eight key parts of the governments guidance:

Protecting Different Groups of People

This guidance is for the general public who are fit and well. There is separate, specific guidance on isolation for households with a possible coronavirus infection. Those aged 70 and over, those with specific chronic pre-existing conditions and pregnant women are clinically vulnerable. This means that they are at a higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus’. As restrictions are relaxed, this group who are clinically vulnerable should continue to take particular care to minimise contact with others outside of their household. There is a separate group of people who are defined, on medical grounds due to specific serious health conditions, as clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus. This group is advised to continue shielding measures to keep themselves safe by staying at home and avoiding all contact with others, except for essential medical treatment or support.

Staying at Home

It is still very important that people stay at home unless necessary to go out for specific reasons set out in law. These include:

  • For work, where you cannot work from home
  • Going to shops that are permitted to be open – to get things like food and medicine, and to collect goods ordered online or on the phone
  • To exercise or, from Wednesday 13 May, spend time outdoors for recreation
  • Any medical need, to donate blood, avoid injury or illness, escape risk of harm, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
  • Where parents or someone with parental responsibility do not live in the same household, children under 18 can be moved between their parents’ homes to continue existing arrangements for access and contact.
  • School for children of critical workers – the government has also identified a number of critical workers whose children can still go to school or their childcare provider. This critical worker definition does not affect whether or not you can travel to work – if you are not a critical worker, you may still travel to work if you cannot work from home. However, if you, or a member of your household are unwell with symptoms of coronavirus, you should isolate and should not travel to or attend the workplace.
  • Critical workers and parents or guardians of vulnerable children may leave their home to take children to and from school or their childcare provider.
  • You can also attend the funeral of a close family member or member of your household (or, of a friend, if no one from their close family or household is attending).
  • Religious ministers or leaders can leave their homes to go to their place of worship, but these should remain closed to the public
  • You may also leave or be outside of your home in order to access other critical public services, such as social services, support provided to victims, services provided by the Department for Work and Pensions, to fulfil a legal obligation, or to move home in line with the government’s guidance.

A fuller list of the reasons you can leave home is set out in the regulations. When you do need to go out, you should follow the guidelines on staying safe outside your home.

Businesses and Venues

For the time being, certain businesses and venues are required by law to stay closed to the public. These include:

  • Restaurants and cafes, other than for takeaway
  • Pubs, cinemas, theatres and nightclubs
  • Clothing and electronics stores; hair, beauty and nail salons; and outdoor and indoor markets (not selling food)
  • Libraries, community centres, and youth centres
  • Indoor and outdoor leisure facilities such as bowling alleys, gyms, arcades and soft play facilities
  • Some communal places within parks, such as playgrounds and outdoor gyms
  • Places of worship (except for funerals)
  • Hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, campsites, caravan parks, and boarding houses for commercial/leisure use, excluding use by those who live in them permanently, those who are unable to return home and critical workers where they need to for work

Food retailers and food markets, hardware stores, garden centres (from Wednesday 13 May) and certain other retailers can remain open.

VISITING PUBLIC PLACES

  • From Wednesday 13th May, the “one exercise per day” rule is lifted and you can exercise as often as you want. You are also able to sit and rest outside. Exercise or recreation can be alone, with members of your household, or with one other person from outside your household, while keeping two metres apart at all times.
  • From Wednesday 13 May, you can drive to outdoor public open spaces irrespective of distance, but should follow social distancing guidance whilst you are there. When travelling to these outdoor spaces, it is important that people respect the rules in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and do not travel to different parts of the UK where their intended activities there would be prohibited by legislation passed by the relevant devolved administration.

Public gatherings

The government has prohibited by law all public gatherings of more than two people, except for reasons set out in the regulations. These include:

  • Where the gathering is of a group of people who live together in the same household – this means that a parent can, for example, take their children to the shops, although you are advised to do so only if there is no option to leave them at home
  • Where the gathering is essential for work purposes – but workers should try to minimise all meetings and other gatherings in the workplace

Going To Work

You should travel to work, including to provide voluntary or charitable services, where you cannot work from home and your workplace is open.

ENFORCING THE LAW

From Wednesday 13th May, the government is introducing higher fines for those who do not comply. Once these new limits are in place, if the police believe that you have broken the law – or if you refuse to follow their instructions enforcing the law – a police officer may issue you with a fixed penalty for £100 (reduced to £50 if paid within 14 days). If you have already received a fixed penalty notice, the amount will increase to £200 and double on each further repeat offence, up to a maxmium of £3,200.

In comparison, the fixed penalty notice until Wednesday 13th May is £60 (reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days). If you have already received a fixed penalty notice, the amount will increase to £120 and double on each further repeat offence, up to a maxmium of £960.

Clinically Vulnerable People

If you have any of the following health conditions, you are clinically vulnerable, meaning you are at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus. You are advised to stay at home as much as possible and, if you do go out, take particular care to minimise contact with others outside your household. Clinically vunerable people are those who are:

  • Aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions)
  • Under 70 with an underlying health condition listed below (that is, anyone instructed to get a flu jab as an adult each year on medical grounds)
  • Chronic (long-term) mild to moderate respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis
  • Chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
  • Chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), or cerebral palsy
  • Diabetes
  • A weakened immune system as the result of certain conditions, treatments like chemotherapy, or medicines such as steroid tablets
  • Being seriously overweight (a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above)
  • Pregnant women

As above, there is a further category of people with serious underlying health conditions who are clinically extremely vulnerable, meaning they are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus. You, your family and carers should be aware of the guidance on shielding which provides information on how to protect yourself still further should you wish to.

10/05 – Key points from today’s briefing

Mr Johnson thanked the public for their efforts in social distancing but said it would be “madness” to allow a second spike in the coronavirus pandemic by removing the lockdown completely. Instead, he announced the government’s new plan – but stressed the plan is “conditional” and would be led by science. The message has now changed from “stay at home” to “stay alert” in order to help control the spread of the virus, protect the NHS and save lives. Here are the eight key points from today’s briefing:

  • A new Covid alert system – The system will be run by a new Joint Biosecurity Centre. The UK is currently at level four of the five-tier system, just below the “most critical” threat – the kind that would have seen the NHS swamped by coronavirus cases. The further down the ladder the country goes, the more lockdown measures could be eased.
  • Construction and manufacturing workers to go back to work – People in the construction and manufacturing industry are being “actively encouraged” to go back to work. This also extends to anyone who is not able to work from home.
  • Avoid public transport and instead use cars, walk or cycle – Mr Johnson urged people to avoid public transport when travelling to work. Mr Johnson also stated, “But just as with workplaces, public transport operators will also be following COVID-secure standards.”
  • Unlimited outdoor exercise – This lifts the “one daily exercise per day” rule and will begin on Wednesday, May 13th.
  • Fines for lockdown flouters will be increased – The increase in fines has not been announced yet.
  • Phased reopening of schools – Mr Jonhson said the aim is to open the schools for reception, year one and year six pupils. However this plan is conditional depending on the rate of new infections and the progress the country has made in regards to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Reopening of hospitality industry and public places – The Prime Minister said: “Step three – at the earliest by July – and subject to all these conditions and further scientific advice; if and only if the numbers support it, we will hope to re-open at least some of the hospitality industry and other public places, provided they are safe and enforce social distancing.”
  • Imposed quarantine on people flying into the country – Lastly, Mr Johnson announced plans to impose quarantine on people flying into the country.

06/05 – Business rates revaluation postponed

The postponement comes on top of the government’s support package for business and workers during the economic emergency including:

  • Businesses are set to receive a discount of almost £10 billion on their rates bills this financial year in response to coronavirus, after the business rates retail discount was increased to 100% from 50% for 2020 to 2021
  • Over £12 billion for local authorities to deliver grants of up to £25,000 to eligible businesses. As of 3 May, over £8.6 billion has been paid out to over 697,000 business properties
  • Protections for UK high street shops and other companies under strain will be protected from aggressive rent collection and asked to pay what they can during the coronavirus pandemic
  • The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme where small and large employers will be eligible to apply for a government grant of 80% of workers’ salaries up to £2,500 a month, backdated to March 1 and available for at least 3 months. The first grants have been paid.
  • A deferral of the next quarter of VAT payments for firms, until the end of June – representing a £30 billion injection into the economy
  • A total of £330 billion worth of government backed and guaranteed loans to support businesses

30/04 – VAT exemption for PPE

From tomorrow (1 May 2020), PPE purchased by care homes, businesses, charities and individuals to protect against Covid-19 will be free from VAT for a three-month period.

  • A zero-rate of VAT will apply to sales of personal protective equipment (PPE) for Covid-19 from 1 May 2020 until 31 July 2020
  • Move will save care homes and businesses more than £100 million
  • Comes after import duty also removed from PPE

28/03 – Further expansion of access to coronavirus testing helps protect the most vulnerable

  • Anyone in England with coronavirus symptoms who either has to leave home to go to work or is aged 65 and over will now be able to get tested.
  • Symptomatic workers who are unable to work from home also eligible for testing
  • Testing of all asymptomatic NHS and social care staff and care home residents also being rolled out
  • New expansion of testing made possible due to rapidly increasing testing capacity.
  • For more information regarding coronavirus testing or to book a test using the government’s online portal, click here

23/03 – Key points from today’s briefing

There is a clear message to stay at home and you are only to go out for:

  • Shopping for essentials.
  • One form of exercise a day.
  • Medical need/caring for a vulnerable person.
  • Travelling to/from work – where this is absolutely necessary and you cannot work from home.

Further points include:

  • Do not meet up with friends or family members you do not live with.
  • Closure of all shops selling non-essential goods.
  • Closure of libraries, outdoor gyms, places of worship.
  • No gatherings of more than 2 people in public, apart from those you live with.
  • The police will have power to enforce rules – this includes fines and dispersing gatherings.
  • Measures will be reviewed in three weeks.

Who this guidance is for:

  • This guidance is for people planning to visit second homes or holiday premises during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
  • Essential travel does not include visits to second homes, camp sites, caravan parks or similar, whether for isolation purposes or holidays. People should remain in their primary residence. Not taking these steps puts additional pressure on communities and services that are already at risk.

The main message:

  • Following on from the government’s guidance on social distancing in relation to COVID-19, people should avoid traveling unless it is essential.
  • The UK Government has also announced people must follow virus advice or ‘tougher measures’ are likely.
  • Measures to close entertainment, hospitality and indoor leisure premises across the country to take place from the end of trading hours today (Friday 20 March) to limit spread of coronavirus
  • New measures will further limit people’s sustained social contact as we tackle the spread of coronavirus, guided by scientific evidence
  • Public urged to stay at home and limit all but essential travel – people who can work from home should do so

20/03: The UK Government has introduced guidance for households with possible coronavirus (COVID-19) infection.

Who this guidance is for:

  • people with symptoms that may be caused by coronavirus, and do not require hospital treatment, who must remain at home until they are well
  • those living in households with someone who shows symptoms that may be caused by coronavirus

The main messages:

  • if you live alone and you have symptoms of coronavirus illness (COVID-19), however mild, stay at home for 7 days from when your symptoms started
  • if you live with others and you are the first in the household to have symptoms of coronavirus, then you must stay at home for 7 days, but all other household members who remain well must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill
  • for anyone else in the household who starts displaying symptoms, they need to stay at home for 7 days from when the symptoms appeared, regardless of what day they are on in the original 14 day isolation period
  • it is likely that people living within a household will infect each other or be infected already. Staying at home for 14 days will greatly reduce the overall amount of infection the household could pass on to others in the community
  • if you can, move any vulnerable individuals (such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions) out of your home, to stay with friends or family for the duration of the home isolation period
  • if you cannot move vulnerable people out of your home, stay away from them as much as possible
  • if you have coronavirus symptoms: do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you are staying at home. Testing for coronavirus is not needed if you are staying at home
  • plan ahead and ask others for help to ensure that you can successfully stay at home and consider what can be done for vulnerable people in the household
  • ask your employer, friends and family to help you to get the things you need to stay at home
  • wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds, each time using soap and water, or use hand sanitiser
  • if you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home, or your condition gets worse, or your symptoms do not get better after 7 days, then use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service. If you do not have internet access, call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999

Further details on exams and grades announced:

  • This year’s summer exam series, including A levels, GCSEs and other qualifications, and all primary assessments, have been cancelled.
  • The exam regulator, Ofqual, and exam boards will work with teachers to provide grades to students whose exams have been cancelled this summer.
  • There will also be an option to sit an exam early in the next academic year for students who wish to.
  • Ofqual and exam boards will be discussing with teachers’ representatives before finalising an approach, to ensure that it is as fair as possible. More information will be provided as soon as possible.
  • The Government will not publish any school or college level educational performance data based on tests, assessments or exams for 2020.
  • You can find out more here

Online isolation notes launched – providing proof of coronavirus absence from work:

  • People unable to work for more than seven days because of coronavirus (COVID-19) can obtain an isolation note through a new online service.
  • An isolation note can be obtained without contacting a doctor, this will reduce the pressure on GP surgeries and prevent people needing to leave their homes.
  • For the first seven days off work, employees can self-certify so they don’t need any evidence for their employer. After that, employers may ask for evidence of sickness absence. Where this is related to having symptoms of coronavirus or living with someone who has symptoms, the isolation note can be used to provide evidence of the advice to self-isolate.
  • The notes can be accessed through the NHS website and NHS 111 online. After answering a few questions, an isolation note will be emailed to the user. If they don’t have an email address, they can have the note sent to a trusted family member or friend, or directly to their employer. The service can also be used to generate an isolation note on behalf of someone else.
  • For further information please click here

WHO Health Alert brings COVID-19 facts to billions via WhatsApp:

  • WHO is launching a messaging service with partners WhatsApp and Facebook to keep people safe from coronavirus.
  • This easy-to-use messaging service has the potential to reach 2 billion people and enables WHO to get information directly into the hands of the people that need it.
  • The service can be accessed through a link that opens a conversation on WhatsApp. Users can simply type “hi” to activate the conversation, prompting a menu of options that can help answer their questions about COVID-19.

Further announcements include:

19/03 – The UK Government has announced the following:

18/03 – School Closures

The Prime Minister has said schools will close from Friday, March 2020 until further notice as a response to the coronavirus pandemic, except for looking after the children of keyworkers and vulnerable children. Read more here.

16/03 – Further social distancing guidance

The Government is advising those who are at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) to be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures.[2]

This includes people:

  • aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions)
  • adults under 70 with an underlying health condition including diabetes, chronic (long-term) respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis, chronic heart disease, chronic kidney disease, being seriously overweight, or pregnant.
  • If you are instructed to get a flu jab as an adult each year on medical grounds, then you are part of this advice.

What is social distancing?

Social distancing measures are steps you can take to reduce the social interaction between people. This will help reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19).

  • Avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). These symptoms include high temperature and/or new and continuous cough;
  • Avoid non-essential use of public transport, varying your travel times to avoid rush hour, when possible; Work from home, where possible. Your employer should support you to do this.
  • Avoid large gatherings, and gatherings in smaller public spaces such as pubs, cinemas, restaurants, theatres, bars, clubs
  • Avoid gatherings with friends and family. Keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media.
  • Use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services.



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