Coronavirus: your questions answered
With our services busier than ever, we've decided to answer some of the questions we're being asked the most all in one place.
How can I get my shopping and medication if I’m self-isolating?
If you're self-isolating as you have symptoms of coronavirus then you should not be going shopping for your essential supplies, you should speak to friends, family and trusted neighbours to see if they can support you to get the supplies you need during this time, whether prescriptions or food when doing this they should leave any supplies on your doorstep to avoid spreading the virus.
Alternatively you can look at online delivery slots, most supermarkets are prioritising their online delivery slots for the most vulnerable so you should check with individual supermarkets for more information.
You can also speak to your pharmacy about organising a medication delivery.
If you have been advised to shield then the letter you receive will include information about how you can register for support to get the essentials you need.
I’m worried about everything going on, what can I do?
It’s completely understandable to be worried during this time – you won’t be alone in feeling this way.
There’s lot going on at the moment and lots of things are being affected. Also, while it’s important to stay up to date with the latest information, staying glued to the news all day can be overwhelming.
Our Coronavirus hub has lots of information which will hopefully answer questions you have – we’re updating this regularly with the most up to date information. There’s also lots of tips on how to maintain your wellbeing during this difficult time and what to do if you’re worried about others.
If you can’t find what you’re looking for there are a couple of numbers you can call:
Can I still visit older loved ones?
You shouldn’t be going to a loved one’s house unless you're providing essential care. Essential care includes help with washing, dressing or feeding. You can also visit to drop off essentials such as groceries and medication – however you should leave this on the doorstep, knock on the door and step at least 2 metres away.
You can meet up with one person outside of your household in an outdoor public space, such as a park or beach, so long as you stay at least two metres away from each other at all times.
However, if you or your loved one has been advised to shield then you should not meet up outside. You also should not go outside if you have symptoms of coronavirus and are self-isolating.
If you can’t see your loved ones it can be difficult. Why not still keep in contact safely over the phone, via text or a video call?
If you’re self-isolating because you or someone you live with has coronavirus symptoms, then you can’t even provide this essential support. You should look into a plan B to provide what support is needed – this may be through another loved one or trusted neighbour or by contacting the person’s local council.
If your relative lives in a care home, then under that guidance you can still support them to get the essentials they need. However, many care homes have introduced new visiting measures to protect their residents, so check with them for what’s allowed.
Download me and pop me on the fridge
We've created a resource with handy information and helpful contact numbers that you can give it someone you might be worried about.
How can I volunteer?
We have been overwhelmed with offers of support for older people which has been amazing. For some ideas on how you can help in your area, please see our neighbourly volunteering page or you can help your Local Age UK, details can be found here.
The government have advised that people over 70, under 70 with underlying health conditions and people who are pregnant should not be volunteering outside the home. However, there are still ways you can volunteer online or over the phone.
Does someone over 70 need to self-isolate?
Everyone, whatever their age, should self-isolate for 7 days if they have any coronavirus symptoms, or for 14 days if you live with someone displaying symptoms. Symptoms include a high temperature, a loss of or change in smell and taste and a new, consistent cough.
You don’t have to self-isolate just because you’re over 70 – only if you are displaying symptoms. This means you can still go out to get essential supplies, exercise for one hour daily (staying 2 metres from others) and for any medical needs.
However, if you are over 70 you are more vulnerable to more severe coronavirus symptoms and so you should consider whether it’s best someone else – a love done or trusted neighbour – gets your essentials for you.
If this isn’t possible and you have to go out for essential supplies, follow social distancing measures and hand washing, you may also want to consider using special hours of shopping which have been protected for vulnerable customers.
If you care for someone over 70 or are providing essential items such as groceries or medication, you should be very careful about regularly washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water and keep your distance wherever possible.
Some people with particular health conditions or on specific medications have been contacted as they are extremely vulnerable and so have been advised to shield until the end of June. This means not leaving the house and reducing face-to-face contact.
I can't get my food delivered. What can I do?
More people are having their food delivered at the moment which means it can be tricky to get a delivery slot. However, some supermarkets are providing priority delivery slots to those that are more vulnerable and you should contact your supermarket or visit their website for more information about this.
If you're still struggling to get what you need, you can contact the following:
- Speak to your Local Age UK
- Community mutual aid groups
- Trussel Trust (emergency food)
- Local authority
I am aged 70 or over, can workers such as cleaners, repair services, plumbers enter my home?
As a general rule, workers such as cleaners, repair services, plumbers, home delivery operatives and others should not enter households where:
- someone in the household is self-isolating because one or more household members has symptoms of coronavirus
- where an individual in a household is clinically extremely vulnerable and has been advised to shield.
However, where the work is essential to the safety and wellbeing of the household it should go ahead if possible. This would include emergency repairs or essential help to maintain a hygienic and safe home. What constitutes ‘essential’ work may vary depending on each household’s circumstances, and it is important to consider the balance of risk before any tradespeople come into your house.
Cleaners and tradespeople must be made aware if someone in the household is self-isolating or shielding BEFORE entering the household, preferably at the time the visit is being arranged.
Workers have been advised by the Government to take extra precautions when working in a household where somebody is clinically vulnerable but has not been asked to shield. For example, the home of someone over 70. Where possible, prior arrangements should be made with vulnerable people to avoid any face-to-face contact, for example, when answering the door. Workers should also be particularly strict about handwashing, coughing and sneezing hygiene, such as covering your nose and mouth and disposing of single-use tissues.
If you wish or need to have a worker enter your home, there are a number of things you need to think about:
- If you are shielding you should stay in a separate room while the work is taking place and should take precautions to avoid face to face contact.
- If, for example, your cleaner usually brings their own cleaning supplies including cloths or a vacuum cleaner then you may want to consider using supplies provided by you or disposable supplies (e.g. cloths and gloves) where appropriate as they may be cleaning other premises.
- Make arrangements ahead of time to avoid face to face contact as much as possible, especially if you are clinically vulnerable e.g. over 70 or with underlying health conditions.
- Following the work clean areas where work has taken place and frequently touched areas thoroughly.
- Keep all doors open to avoid people having to touch doors and door handles where possible.
- Workers have been advised to ensure they are frequently washing their hands.
- Maintain a distance of 2 metres from the worker where possible.
- Keep the activity time as short as possible.
- It's advisable to wear a face covering when you are indoors with someone from outside of your household, and it is not possible to maintain a distance of two metres.
If you employ a worker directly (e.g. a carer) then you should look at Government guidance or advice provided by any relevant supporting organisations and discuss what measures can be taken with your employee.
I’m self-isolating, how do I collect my pension?
If you’re self-isolation because you or someone you live with is displaying coronavirus symptoms, or you’ve been told to shield for 12 weeks as you’re considered extremely vulnerable, you have other options to collect your pension.
- If your pension is paid into a Post Office Card Account (POCA), you can make a friend or relative your ‘Permanent Agent’ which means they can collect your pension for you. Your POCA card can also be used to withdraw your pension from ATMs outside post office branches.
- If your pension is paid into a bank account, your card can be withdraw money at a post office and at a post office ATM. Though you should never give out your PIN to anyone you don’t completely trust.
- The post office have a service available to customers from several banks allowing a nominated person to cash a cheque on behalf of someone else.
If none of these options are available to you, your local Age UK, Royal Voluntary Service or British Red Cross may be able to help.
Unless you're shielding or self-isolating, you can still collect your pension as usual – though you may still want to consider the above options to minimise any face-to-face contact.
Can I visit older relatives in other parts of the country?
You should not be visiting relative’s houses unless it is to provide essential care or to drop off supplies.
You can meet up with a relative you do not live with in an outdoor space, such as a park, as long as you remain 2 metres apart from each other at all times. You can travel to another part of the country to meet someone outdoors by foot, bike, or car, but you should not be travelling on public transport.
People who have been identified as extremely vulnerable and advised to shield should not leave their house to meet someone. Older people who are at greater risk of severe illness from coronavirus may also want to reduce the time they spend outside.
If you are worried about how older relatives far away can get support then you might want to consider contacting their Local Age UK, their local council or look as to whether there are any Community mutual aid groups in their area.
You can find those here:
Can I still take my dog for a walk?
Yes, you can still take your dog out for a walk if you’re able to.
From Wednesday 13 May you do not have to limit the number of times you leave your home, as long as you stay 2 metres from people outside of your own household.
You should also try and keep your dog on a lead so it doesn't approach other people.
If you're having to shield or self-isolate at home, see whether a family member, friend or trusted neighbour would mind walking your dog for you.
Dog's Trust has lots of specific information for dog owners.
I care for my parents, what happens if I get coronavirus and can’t care for them?
If you care for your parents or a loved one you may be particularly worried about what will happen if you become unwell.
If you're a carer, you should think about a plan B, just in case.
They may be entitled to support from the local council. You should start by contacting the person’s local council and asking for a needs assessment. This assessment can be requested even if the carer isn’t unwell.
This assessment will look at the person’s care needs and see if their needs meet the eligibility criteria. A financial assessment is used to work out if the person will have to contribute to the cost of any care.
If the person is entitled to care, a care and support plan will be drawn up detailing what services will be arranged.
The carer should also be offered an assessment of their own to see what support may help them in their role as a carer.
Due to the situation with Coronavirus, some local authorities may be acting under emergency powers, which mean they only have to meet urgent needs. However, they must still carry out a needs assessment on request and decide whether the person is entitled to help.
An alternative option is making arrangements with a private care provider. This may be particularly relevant to people who are not entitled to help from their local authority. As part of planning ahead, a care provider may be able to advise whether they can put services in place in the event a family carer became unwell at short notice.
If there is concern that a person is at risk, for example because they are not receiving the care they need, a safeguarding concern can be raised with the local council. They have a duty to investigate concerns.
Can an older relative move in with me?
The current guidance form the Government suggests households shouldn't be mixing. So you should consider ways you can support an older relative in their own home where possible. This may include arranging online deliveries and dropping off essential supplies such as food and medication on their doorstep or keeping in touch over the phone or via video call.
If you look after an older relative in their home, you can continue to do so. We have more specific information about that here.
However, we do realise that you may be particularly worried about an older relative and how they might cope on their own, without their usual support networks. So, you may decide moving the person in with you for the time being is the best thing to do — however you should make this decision as a family and be sure to include the person who might be moving. If you make the decision, it's important to stick with it until restrictions are lifted.
I live with an older relative, should I still being going out or going to work?
If you live with an older relative you can still go out for essentials, such as groceries and medication.
If you’re working, the Government has advised that if you can you should work from home. However, this isn’t possible, you can still travel to work. If possible you should travel to work by foot, bike, or car. If you need to use public transport, try and travel at off-peak times when there will be fewer people. Your workplace should be encouraging members of staff to sit 2 metres apart where possible and to wash their hands regularly with soap and warm water for 20 seconds.
If you’re worried about someone you live with, do what you can to keep your distance, reduce the use of shared spaces and regularly clean places such as the kitchen and bathroom after use.
If someone in your household has been advised to shield then you don’t also have to shield. However, you should follow the guidance very strictly – which can be found here.
Anyone that displays coronavirus symptoms should remain off work for at least 7 days, or 14 days if someone you live with has symptoms.
I want to update or make a will, how can I do it?
With the coronavirus pandemic causing many of us to worry, you may be thinking about updating your will.
Making a will
Writing a will requires preparation and potentially difficult decisions about who you want to benefit from your estate. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the normal rules and advice for writing and amending a will still apply. A will is the only way to make sure your money, property, possessions and investments (your estate) go to the people and causes you care about. If you die without making a will, you are said to have died ‘intestate’. In this situation, your estate is divided up according to the rules of intestacy. This takes away any personal decisions and means you have no control over how things are distributed.
Although it can be difficult to talk about wills, inheritance and what happens after someone dies, clear and frank conversations with loved ones now can make things a lot easier down the line. A will can help reassure loved ones that they are respecting your wishes after your die, which can make things easier for everyone involved. A properly written will also helps avoid disputes. Badly drafted or outdated wills can cause arguments among loved ones and these disputes may need to be resolved by a solicitor. Your will should remove any doubt about who you want to benefit from your estate, and help avoid further stress for family and friends at an already difficult time.
It’s usually best to get advice from a solicitor or chartered legal executive. You may wish to speak to a lawyer who specialises in wills and probate (applying for the legal right to deal with someone’s property, money and possessions). Check they are licensed with the relevant professional body, such as the Solicitors Regulation Authority or Law Society.
For a will to be valid:
- it must be in writing and signed by you and two witnesses who will not benefit from it
- you must have the mental capacity to make the will and understand the effect it will have
- you must have made the will voluntarily and without pressure from anyone else.
The beginning of the will should state that it revokes all others. If you have an earlier will, you should destroy it.
Signing and witnessing the will
You must sign your will in the presence of two independent witnesses, who must also sign it in your presence – so all three people should be together when each one signs. If the will is signed incorrectly, it is not valid. Beneficiaries of the will, their spouses or civil partners shouldn't act as witnesses, or they lose their right to the inheritance. Beneficiaries shouldn't even be present in the room when the will is signed. It’s also best not to ask an executor to act as a witness.
Current rules around social distancing may make witnessing particularly challenging. Consult a solicitor for their advice on what steps you can take. It may be possible for a will to be witnessed from the other side of a door, window or from at least 2m distance. It’s really important to consider how everyone can be kept at a safe distance from each other, including the handling of documentation.
Making a will if you have an illness or dementia
If you can’t sign the will, it can also be signed on your behalf, as long as you’re in the room and it is signed at your direction. However, you must have the mental capacity to make the will, otherwise the will is invalid. Any will signed on your behalf must contain a clause saying you understood the contents of the will before it was signed.
If you have a serious illness or a diagnosis of dementia, you can still make a will, but you need to have the mental capacity to make sure it is valid. A solicitor should make sure of this, and you may need a medical practitioner’s statement at the time the will is signed, certifying that you understand what you are signing.
Amending a will
You should review your will every five years and after any major change in your life such as a new grandchild or moving house. Never make alterations on the original document.
Any amendment to a will is subject to the same conditions as when writing the original. If you are making a minor amendment to your will, you can add a supplement, known as a codicil. This must be signed and witnessed in the same way as the will, although the witnesses don’t have to be the same as the original ones.
If anything substantial needs to be changed, you should make a new will and cancel your old one.
Someone I love lives in a care home, how will they be tested?
We would recommend speaking to the care staff in your loved one’s care home to find out whether there are plans already in place to test residents and staff. The government has announced a network of mobile testing units that is travelling around the country to reach care homes and other key public services.
I rent my home – can I be evicted?
This information has been updated due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Most renters are protected from eviction until at least 25th June 2020.
This is due to a ban on eviction cases being heard in court. The ban covers you if your landlord needs to get a court order to evict you – most renters are entitled to a court order and so are covered.
However, there are exceptions, including:
- if you share accommodation with your landlord (including a friend or family member),
- if you don’t pay any rent.
If you’re in this position and worried about your security you should seek advice.
Even if you are covered by the ban, you may still get a notice from your landlord saying they want you to leave as landlord notices aren’t covered by the ban. If you rent from a council, a housing association or a private landlord who you don’t live with, then you are probably entitled to a longer – three-month – notice period at the moment.
Getting a notice from your landlord is, usually, the first stage of the eviction process. Getting one doesn’t mean you have to leave your home.
In most cases, your landlord must refer this case to court after your notice period is up, which isn’t possible at the moment because of the ban. However, you should still seek advice immediately if you are asked to leave.
You’re still expected to pay rent during this time
Landlords have been encouraged by the government not to serve notices for rent arrears, but landlords are entitled to still collect rent.
If you’re struggling, the government advice is to speak to your landlord as soon as possible and ask them to agree to some form of temporary relief. This could be a rent reduction, a rent holiday, or an agreement to pay back the arrears at a later stage. Make sure you are claiming all the benefits you’re entitled to and speak to your local council about whether there is any emergency money available. You can check you're claiming everything you can, using our benefits calculator.
When can I go outside?
You are now able to spend as much time in outside public spaces as you would like. In addition to exercising outside, you can visit parks and beaches to sunbathe, have a picnic, and go fishing. You can swim in lakes or the sea as part of your daily exercise, so long as social distancing guidelines are followed. Outdoor sports courts, such as tennis, basketball and golf courses, are reopening.
You can spend time outside by yourself or with other members of your household. You can also meet up with one other person outside of your household, so long as you stay two metres away from each other at all times.
If you travel to an outside space, you should do so by car, bike, or foot. You should not use public transport to do this or share a car with anyone who is outside of your household.
The guidelines in Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland are different so you should not be driving to outside spaces in these countries. Before visiting an outdoor space, check that facilities, such as car parks, are open for the public.
You should not be visiting people in their households, including their garden. This means you cannot invite people round even if you are outside and able to stay 2 metres away from each other.
I am clinically vulnerable, should I be leaving my home to go to work?
This question is aimed at those in clinically vulnerable groups (over 70, under 70 with underlying health conditions) that do not fall into the extremely clinically vulnerable group who have been advised to shield. If you're employed and have been advised to shield because you are extremely clinically vulnerable you should be entitled to statutory sick pay. If you are a care worker aged 70 or over please see the general guidance for people working in social care.
The government has published guidance about how employers can make safer for workers and minimise the risk of Coronavirus infections.
Workers aged 70 or over, people with long-term health conditions, and pregnant women are considered to be ‘clinically vulnerable’, which means they are more likely to have a severe illness if they become infected with the coronavirus.
For this reason, workers aged 70 are over should be helped to work from home, either in their current role or in an alternative role.
If workers aged over 70 cannot work from home, they should be offered the option of the ‘safest available on-site roles’, this means roles which enable workers to stay 2m away from others.
If workers aged 70 or over have to spend time within 2m of others, employers have been advised to carefully assess whether this involves an acceptable level of risk. Guidance acknowledges that no one is obliged to work in an unsafe work environment. Particular attention should also be paid to people who live with clinically extremely vulnerable individuals.
If you do have to go into your place of work, the government has advised that you should try to cycle, walk or drive wherever possible, only using public transport if absolutely necessary.
It remains the case that anyone who has symptoms, however mild, or is in a household where someone has symptoms, should not leave their house to go to work. Those people should self-isolate.
Things you should know as a worker:
- Employers have a duty to consult their people on health and safety.
- Employers must consult with the health and safety representative selected by a recognised trade union or, if there isn’t one, a representative chosen by workers. Employers cannot decide who the representative will be.
- Employers must consider actions which mitigate risks such as
- increasing the frequency of hand washing and surface cleaning
- keeping the activity time involved as short as possible
- using screens or barriers to separate people from each other
- using back-to-back or side-to-side working (rather than face-to-face) whenever possible
- reducing the number of people each person has contact with by using ‘fixed teams or partnering’ (so each person works with only a few others).
If you're a worker and you are concerned about your ability to work safely then you can raise a concern with you employee representative, contact your trade union if you have one, or contact Health and Safety Executive (HSE) online or by phone on 0300 003 1647.