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Coronavirus - what it means for you

This advice applies to England

This page is regularly updated as government advice becomes available.

There are things you can do to help you avoid getting coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. There are also things you can do to stop the virus spreading if you think you have it.

You can read more about the symptoms of coronavirus and how to avoid it on the NHS website.

You can also watch British Sign Language versions of government advice on the SignHealth website. 

Check if something is a scam

Make sure you only use trusted sources of information about coronavirus.

If you see emails about coronavirus from someone you don't know, don't click on any links or buy anything.

Don’t give money or personal details to anyone you don’t know or trust – for example, if someone knocks on your door and offers to help.

You can check if something is a scam.

If you’re in an area with a local lockdown 

You’ll need to follow stricter rules if there’s an increase in people testing positive for coronavirus in your local area. This is called a local lockdown.

If you’re in an area with a local lockdown, you should check the rules on your local council’s website. 

Find your local council’s website on GOV.UK.

Going out and meeting people

The government have said you should keep at least 2 metres away from people who aren’t members of your household.

You can meet indoors with one other household at a time - for example, at home or somewhere public like a restaurant.

You can go outside alone or:

  • with members of your household
  • with 1 other household - as long as there are fewer than 30 people there
  • with a carer
  • in a group of up to 6 people - they can all be from different households

You can go outside for any reason – for example to someone’s garden. You can also do things like shopping or taking your child into a school or nursery.

You don’t have to stay near where you live – you can drive to somewhere else in England.

If you travel on public transport, you usually have to wear a face mask or covering for your mouth and nose. You might not have to wear a face mask or covering, for example if:

  • you’re under 11 years old
  • you’ve got an illness or disability which means you can’t wear one

You can check who doesn’t have to wear a face mask on GOV.UK.

You might be able to join with 1 other household and treat them like part of your household.

If you have children under 18

If you’re separated from their other parent, you can still see your children under your usual arrangements. Find out how to change child arrangements if you’re self-isolating.

You’ll also be responsible for making sure your children follow the rules - this includes being told to return home by the police.

Joining with another household

You might be able to join up with 1 other household – this is called a ‘support bubble’.

You can only join a support bubble if either:

  • you live with no other adults
  • there’s only 1 adult in the other household

You can treat people in your support bubble like part of your household. For example, this means you:

  • don’t need to stay 2 metres away from them
  • can go to each other’s homes and stay overnight  
  • count as 1 household if you’re meeting other people

You can only be in one support bubble and you can’t change the household you’re in a bubble with.

If you live with children under 18, they’re also part of your support bubble.

If you’re separated from your children’s other parent and your children see both of you, they can be part of 2 different support bubbles.

Check if you can meet with larger groups

In some situations you can still:

  • meet with people from more than 1 other household indoors
  • gather in groups of more than 6 people

The situations when you can meet indoors with more than 1 other household or gather in large groups include:

  • working or volunteering
  • caring for a vulnerable person – for example if they need help to stay safe, wash or eat 
  • going to a funeral – this can be for someone you lived with, close family or a friend with no close family
  • at a place of worship
  • helping someone in an emergency
  • visiting someone in a hospital, hospice or care home – if they’re dying you can visit them anywhere
  • going with someone who is getting medical treatment or giving birth
  • moving house – including making arrangements to move house

If you break the rules, you could be fined or told to go home by the police.

You should read the government’s latest guidance on what you can and can’t do on GOV.UK. This guidance is updated regularly.

If your partner or family member makes you feel anxious or threatened

You can still get help during this time. Contact a domestic abuse organisation to check what services are available.

Help you can get

The government have also announced other ways they’re helping people. 

We’ll publish new advice to help you understand any changes when they’re announced. We’ll also update our existing advice.

 Advice so far includes things like:

  • getting essential items and care if you’re ‘extremely vulnerable’
  • paying bills, including your rent
  • getting paid if you can’t work because of coronavirus
  • getting an online isolation note if you need to prove you’re sick
  • taking your children to school if you’re a key worker, for example if you work in the NHS, the police or do food deliveries
  • postponing or cancelling travel arrangements

Get help from an NHS volunteer 

You might be able to ask a volunteer to go shopping for you or collect a prescription. For example you might be able to get help if you’re:

  • sick or injured
  • disabled
  • pregnant
  • old enough to get a state pension

You can also talk to a volunteer on the phone if you’re feeling lonely because you’re self-isolating. You don’t have to be classed as vulnerable to talk to a volunteer. 

Check if you can get help from an NHS volunteer on the Royal Voluntary Service website.

If you’re extremely vulnerable because of a medical condition

You’re ‘extremely vulnerable’ if you have certain medical conditions – for example, severe asthma or cancer.

The NHS will have contacted you if you’re ‘extremely vulnerable’. They’ll tell you how to avoid coming into contact with coronavirus. This is called ‘shielding’.

If you think you’re extremely vulnerable but the NHS hasn’t contacted you, contact your GP or hospital clinician.

If you're shielding, the government say you should stay at home and avoid face to face contact with other people until at least 30 June 2020. You can check the government’s guidance on what to do if you want to spend time outside.

Find out more about shielding and if you’re classed as extremely vulnerable on GOV.UK.

If you need help to get care or essential supplies like food

You should register to get help if:

  • you have a medical condition that makes you extremely vulnerable
  • the NHS have advised you to shield

You should register even if you don't think you need help. 

You can register yourself or someone else on GOV.UK.

If you’re a carer

You can still be a carer as long as you don’t have coronavirus symptoms.

Check the guidance on the Carers UK website to find out what support is available to you.

If you need to take time off work to care for someone who is normally cared for in a different way, find out what options you have.

If you’ve got less money because of coronavirus

You can check what help you can get if you can't pay your bills. This includes things like your mortgage, energy bills, council tax or court fines.

You can also find out what to do if you can’t pay your rent or have problems with your rented home.

Getting benefits

You might be able to claim benefits or get more money if you’re already getting benefits. This includes any statutory sick pay (SSP) your employer might give you.

Check what benefits you can get.

If you’re already getting benefits, check if the government has made any changes to your benefits.

If you have no money for food

You might be able get help from a food bank. You’ll need to be referred to a food bank. If you have a referral, you’re still allowed to travel to a food bank - either for yourself or someone who’s vulnerable. 

Find out more about getting referred to a food bank.

If your child is off school and usually gets free school meals because of your benefits, you can get food or supermarket vouchers while they're off school. This includes during the 2020 summer holiday.

Find out more about getting food or vouchers for your child.

If you’re sleeping outside or in a shelter where you can’t self-isolate

This is sometimes known as ‘rough sleeping’. Your local council might help you now, even if you wouldn’t usually be entitled to help. 

You can get help applying for homeless help from the council.

Going to work 

The government have said you can go to work if you can't work from home.

Being furloughed if you can’t work

If your work has shut down or there’s no work because of coronavirus, your employer might use the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme to pay you. This is known as being ‘furloughed’.

You can now only be furloughed if either:

  • you’ve already been furloughed before 11 June 2020
  • you’re returning from maternity leave, adoption leave, paternity leave, shared parental leave or parental bereavement leave

Find out how the scheme works.

If you’re off work because you're self-isolating

You might get statutory sick pay (SSP) if you’re following government guidance to self-isolate. Find out more about self-isolating on GOV.UK.

You could get SSP if:

  • you have coronavirus or symptoms of coronavirus
  • someone you live with has coronavirus or symptoms of coronavirus
  • you're self-isolating because you’ve been told by the NHS that you’ve come into contact with someone who has coronavirus
  • the NHS has sent you a letter telling you to shield because you’re ‘extremely vulnerable’ - find out more about shielding on GOV.UK

Find out more about getting SSP.

If you’re shielding because you’re extremely vulnerable

The government have said you should work from home if you can. If this is difficult for you, your employer should help - for example, while you’re shielding they could:

  • give you a different role 

  • change your working patterns

If you can’t work from home and your employer hasn’t furloughed you, you might be entitled to statutory sick pay (SSP).

Read the government’s guidance on shielding on GOV.UK.

If you’re ‘vulnerable’ but not extremely vulnerable

You’re ‘vulnerable’ if you’re aged 70 or over, pregnant or have certain health conditions - it’s different from being extremely vulnerable. You might have to work if you’re vulnerable. Find out if you’re classed as vulnerable on GOV.UK. 

If you want to stop working, you won’t get statutory sick pay (SSP) unless you’re following government guidance to self-isolate.

If you’re worried about going to work because of coronavirus

If you’re worried about having to go to work, there are things your employer should be doing to make sure you’re safe.

If you decide not to work, there might be ways to keep getting paid.

If you’re worried about working and you’re pregnant or disabled, there might be other things your employer has to do. 

Check what to do if you’re worried about working.

If you’ve got young children

If you need to take time off to look after your children, speak to your employer. Read more about taking time off to look after children.

You should only leave your children at home on their own if they’ll be safe – check the government’s guidance on leaving children on their own on GOV.UK.

Taking your children to school

Nurseries can open and schools can open for some children. You can check the government’s information about schools opening on GOV.UK.

You can also take other children to school if you’re a ‘critical worker’. This means your job keeps an important service running, like the NHS, police or food deliveries. Check if you’re a critical worker on GOV.UK.

You should also still take your children to school if they’re considered vulnerable, for example:

  •  they have a social worker
  • they have an Education, Health and Care Plan and the local council decide it’s safe for them to go to school

The school will tell you if your children need to go to a different school. If the school has closed, contact your local council – find your local council on GOV.UK.

If your child can’t go to school

You can check the government’s advice about learning from home on GOV.UK.

Your child’s school might give them work to do at home on a computer or online. Contact the school if there isn’t a computer with internet access your child can use. The school might:

  • give your child a computer or internet access
  • change the work your child has to do

If you're planning on travelling abroad

Government advice is not to travel right now unless you really have to - you can read the latest travel advice on GOV.UK.

If you've booked a holiday

If you already have a holiday booked it’s worth checking guidance from your travel agent, airline or other holiday provider. You might be able to rebook your holiday and go later in the year.

You can find out more about getting a refund because of coronavirus

You can also find out what to do if your package holiday is cancelled. If you need more help, you can get advice from the consumer service.

If you’re entering the UK from abroad

If you’re planning to arrive in the UK, you’ll probably have to:

  • fill in a form on GOV.UK with details of where you’ll stay in the UK
  • stay at the address you put on the form for 14 days after you arrive – this is called ‘self-isolating’

This includes if you’re coming back to the UK after spending time abroad.

These rules are sometimes called ‘quarantine’ – check if you have to quarantine on GOV.UK.

The rules are different if you’re coming to the UK from Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man. You don’t have to fill in the form or self-isolate unless you travelled from somewhere else in the last 14 days.

Filling in the form

You must fill in the form on GOV.UK with details of the address where you’ll be staying in the UK.

It’s best to fill in the form before you travel – you can fill it in up to 48 hours before you arrive in the UK. You can also fill in the form when you arrive – there will be computers you can use.

When you complete the form you’ll get an email confirmation to print or show on your phone. You’ll need to show the confirmation to immigration officials when you arrive in the UK.

If you don’t fill in the form, you might get a fine of up to £100. If you’re not a British or Irish citizen, you might not be allowed into the UK.

Self-isolating for 14 days

You must stay at the address you put on the form.

You can only leave the address for certain reasons, including:

  • getting basic things like food, medicine or pet supplies – if you can’t get them delivered
  • getting medical help – if it’s urgent or your doctor has told you to get help
  • going to the funeral of a close relative
  • if there’s an emergency – for example if it’s not safe to stay inside

You must not meet anyone except the people you’re staying with.

If you don’t self-isolate, you might get a £1,000 fine.

If you need to move to a different address in the 14 days, you must fill in a new form on GOV.UK.

You can check the rules on self-isolation on GOV.UK.

If you think shops aren’t acting fairly 

Shops and businesses can put up their prices if they want to. If you’ve noticed that things cost more than usual, you’ll need to decide if you want to pay for the item or not. 

You can report a business to Trading Standards if you think they’re:

  • not being fair with their prices
  • open when they shouldn’t be
  • acting illegally

Trading Standards might not reply to your complaint.

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