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Information about coronavirus (COVID-19)


What is the current advice from the Government?

The Government has announced a new national lockdown in England. From Wednesday 6 January everyone will be required to stay at home as much as possible. We've outlined the guidance below. 

How long will the restrictions be in place?

The restrictions are expected to remain in place for at least 6 weeks. The Government has said they will next review the rules in mid-February.

Leaving the house

You should stay at home as much as possible. You should only leave the house for essential reasons, including:

  • to shop for supplies or access an essential service (e.g. to go to the bank or post office). You can also do these things on behalf of a vulnerable person or someone self-isolating
  • to exercise outdoors on your own, with people you live with (or in your support bubble) or with one person from another household
  • to go to work (but only if you can’t reasonably work from home)
  • to volunteer or provide charitable services
  • for medical reasons (such as regular appointments, urgent help or to get a COVID test or vaccine). You can also accompany someone else
  • to provide care or support to a vulnerable or disabled person
  • to attend a support group (or up to 15 people) or access care services (eg respite care)
  • for formally provided education and childcare (this includes childcare bubbles)
  • to avoid harm, illness or injury
  • to visit people for compassionate reasons (eg to visit someone due to give birth or who is dying)
  • to fulfil any legal obligations, including activities relating to buying, selling or renting a property
  • to visit places of worship or to attend a wedding or funeral (however restrictions do apply).

If you are extremely clinically vulnerable or have been previously advised to shield

 

The Government has advised anyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable to resume shielding.

This means you should not attend work, school or childcare, and limit the time you spend outside of your home. You should only go out for medical appointments, outdoor exercise or if it is essential.

You can find more guidance and information on how access to support here.

Meeting with others

You can only spend time indoors with those in your household or support bubble.

You can meet one to one with someone from another household outdoors, but this must be in a public place such as a park or beach. It can't be in a private garden. (Children under 5 and disabled dependent people who require round the clock care are not counted towards limit of 2 people meeting).

You can also continue providing care for a vulnerable person or for someone under 14 years old as part of a childcare bubble.

Rules apply on who can form a support or childcare bubble. Check whether you are eligible.

You can also visit people for compassionate reasons, such as visiting someone in hospital, in a care home or if they are dying.

Staying away from home

You should not stay away from home unless you have a reasonable excuse, including:

  • to visit your support bubble
  • to attend a funeral or commemorative event
  • to work or volunteer
  • to move house or if you cannot return home.

You cannot go on holiday either in the UK or abroad, this includes staying in a second home or caravan. If you are away from home you should return to your main residence as soon as reasonably possible.  

Travel and transport

You should only travel for essential reasons, including:

- to get to work (if you can't work from home)

- to shop for supplies or access essential services

- for education or caring responsibilities 

- to visit people in your support or childcare bubble

- to get to medical appointments

- to exercise.

You should stay local wherever possible and avoid traveling out of your area (eg your town or part of the city where you live).

You should also try to reduce the number of journeys, walk or cycle where possible and plan ahead to avoid busy times on public transport.

School and education

Schools and colleges will remain closed until at least February half term. Only vulnerable children or children of key workers will attend in person, other children will learn online.

Universities will only open for in person teaching for key course such as medicine and health care.

Going to work

You should work from home wherever possible.

You can go to work if you cannot reasonably do your job from home – eg if you work in childcare, construction or manufacturing.

You can also provide services in people’s homes where necessary – eg cleaners, nannies or tradespeople.

Shops

Only essential shops will remain open, such as supermarkets or pharmacies. You should wear a face covering in shops unless you're exempt from doing so.

Non-essential shops can continue to provide a ‘click and collect’ and delivery services.

Other essential businesses

 

Some of the other essential businesses which can remain open: Garden centres, hardware stores, petrol stations, car repair and MOT services, bike shops, banks, post offices, launderettes and dry cleaners.

NHS and care services

All NHS services remain open including GPs and dentists. If you need urgent help or advice call 111 or 999 in an emergency.

You can access social care services including home care, respite care and support groups (of up to 15 people).

Public services

The majority of public services will remain open, including job centres, waste or recycling centres, passport and visa services, registration offices, courts and services for victims.

Public libraries will remain open to provide access to IT and digital services for people who can’t access them from home. They can also provide ‘click and collect’ services.

Community centres and halls will close for most purposes but can continue to provide charitable services (e.g. foodbanks) or other permitted activities (e.g. childcare).

Hospitality

Restaurants, pubs, cafés and other hospitality venues will be closed. Though delivery (at all times) and takeaway (until 11pm) will still be available.  

Personal care facilities such as hairdressers and nail salons will be closed.

Indoor and outdoor entertainment venues such as theatres, cinemas, theme parks and zoos will be closed. 

Hotels and similar accommodation can only open for specific guests such as people traveling for work.  

Exercise and leisure activity

You can exercise outdoors on your own, with people you live with (or in your support or childcare bubble) or with one person from another household.

The guidance asks people to limit outdoor exercise to one session per day and to remain with their local area. People should not take part in other leisure activities in public places (e.g. picnics).

Indoor and outdoor leisure facilities will be closed, such as gyms, swimming pools, dance studios and golf courses. 

Outside public spaces including beaches, parks, public gardens, and playgrounds will remain open.

Organised sport for disabled people is also allowed to continue.

Places of worship

You can attend places of worship for services or individual prayer. However you can’t mix with anyone outside of your household or support bubble.

Weddings and civil partnerships

Weddings and civil partnerships can only take place in exceptional circumstances, for example, if one partner is seriously ill. These are limited to 6 people.

Funerals

Up to 30 people can attend someone’s funeral and those in attendance must maintain social distancing measures with those not in their household or support bubble.

Linked ceremonies or events can take place with up to 6 people (excluding anyone working at a venue).

Care home visits

Each care home is responsible for setting the visiting policy in that home, but government guidance says that all care homes should allow:

  • Outdoor visiting
  • Visiting at a window
  • Visiting in a specially designated secure visiting room or pod.

If the care home is experiencing an outbreak of coronavirus, then the government has told care homes they must stop all visiting immediately.

In all cases (including during an outbreak), visits between loved ones in exceptional circumstances, such as when someone is coming towards the end of their life, should be allowed.

 

This page outlines the main guidance we all have to follow. However, if you want more information then we have specific pages that go into more detail.

The rest of this page answers some questions about the new guidance, explains what coronavirus is, how it spreads and what you can do to reduce the risk to yourself and others. 


What is coronavirus?

Novel Coronavirus, formally called COVID-19, is part of a family of viruses that include the common cold and respiratory illnesses such as SARS. 

It affects your lungs and airways. For many people, it causes mild symptoms while for others it can be much more serious and require hospital treatment.

Cases of coronavirus first emerged in Wuhan City in China in December last year and have quickly spread. 


How does coronavirus spread?

Coronavirus is very infectious, which means it spreads very easily.

It spreads in much the same way as the common cold or flu - through infected respiratory droplets like coughs and sneezes – and passes from person to person. This can happen when: 

  • an infectious person gets the virus on their hands (for example by coughing in their hand) and then touches a commonly used surface, such as a door handle, which someone else then touches. 
  • someone gets close to (less than 1-2 metres) someone who is infectious.

This is why we are being advised to avoid close contact with others, wash our hands thoroughly and frequently, and wipe down surfaces with disinfectant.

The average ‘incubation period’ – the time between coming into contact with the virus and experiencing symptoms – is 5 days, but it could be anything between 1 and 14 days. This is why the Government is asking everyone who has come into contact with the virus to self-isolate.

People are most likely to spread the virus to other people when they are experiencing symptoms, which is why it is important to follow guidance on staying at home if you have symptoms, have tested positive for coronavirus or have been advised by the test and trace service to self-isolate.

However, don’t forget people can be infectious before they know they are ill.


What are the symptoms of coronavirus and what should I do if I develop symptoms?

The most common symptoms include:

  • a persistent, dry cough - where you have been coughing a lot for more than an hour or have had 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • a high temperature, where you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
  • a loss or changed sense of taste or smell

Other symptoms people are reporting include:

  • shortness of breath
  • a sore throat
  • a blocked/runny nose
  • stomach discomfort and diarrhoea
  • confusion or delirium.

If you develop any coronavirus symptoms, you must self-isolate and book a test as soon as possible. You can get a test by visiting the NHS website or by calling 119. 

We have more information about getting a coronavirus test and what you should do if you develop symptoms here.

If your symptoms get worse, feel unmanageable or you feel breathless then you should call 111 or use NHS online.


Are some people more at risk from coronavirus?

While we're all at risk of catching coronavirus, for most people (around 4 in 5) the symptoms will only be mild to moderate.

However, we do know that some people are much more likely than others to become seriously unwell. This includes:

  • people aged over the 70, even if you're otherwise fit and well
  • people of any age living with long-term health conditions which mean you'd normally be offered the flu jab.

Government guidance also applies to these groups. However, you may also want to consider keeping your social interactions lower and visit busy places at quieter times. For example, some supermarkets have a designated hour of shopping for vulnerable customers.

At the start of the pandemic, some people were advised to shield because they were considered particularly high risk. There is new guidance for these people during the national lockdown, you can find more information here.  

Also, other charities that help people affected by specific conditions have put together their own helpful information that might be relevant for you:

Other medical conditions and upcoming appointments

The health service is still open for you. You might be worried about the strain the NHS is under or be avoiding the GP or hospital because of coronavirus. But your medical needs are just as important as before. We have information about accessing the health service at the moment.


How can I reduce my risk of catching or spreading coronavirus?

The best way to reduce the risk of catching or spreading coronavirus is by following the Government guidance outlined above. This includes:

  • Washing your hands regularly – particularly when you get home after being out, before handling or eating food and after sneezing or blowing your nose
  • Keeping your distance from others
  • Not meeting up in groups of more than six
  • Avoiding busy places where possible
  • Wearing a face covering when you're supposed to
  • Self-isolating in line with current guidance if you or someone you've been in contact with develops symptoms or tests positive for coronavirus.

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Last updated: Jan 18 2021

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