Coronavirus - what it means for you
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.
Going out and meeting people
The government has said you should keep at least 2 metres away from people who aren’t members of your household.
You can go outside alone or:
- with members of your household
- with a carer
- in a group of up to 6 people 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.
You can’t usually meet up with people from other households indoors or stay overnight somewhere that isn’t your home.
Check if you can meet indoors or gather with larger groups
In some situations you can still:
- meet with people from other households indoors
- stay overnight somewhere that isn’t your home
- gather in groups of more than 6 people
The situations when you can meet indoors, gather in large groups or stay somewhere overnight 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
- helping someone in an emergency
- taking part in a court or tribunal hearing – but check your hearing is still taking place in person
- moving house – including making arrangements to move house
You can also stay overnight somewhere that isn’t your home:
- to get medical help
- to avoid injury, illness or risk of harm – for example, if your house isn’t safe to stay in
- if it’s not safe to go home – for example if you’re at risk of domestic abuse
- if the law doesn’t let you to go home
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.
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.
Help you can get
The government has 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
- 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, 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Going to work
The government has said you can go to work if it’s ‘not reasonably possible’ for you to work from home.
If your employer tells you not to work because of coronavirus
If your place of work has shut down or there’s no work for you because of coronavirus, you can carry on getting paid.
Your employer might use the government Coronavirus Job Retention scheme to pay you while there’s no work to do.
If you’re off work because you're self-isolating or shielding
You might get statutory sick pay (SSP) if you’re following government guidance to self-isolate or you’re shielding.
You could get SSP if:
you have coronavirus or symptoms of coronavirus - find out more about self-isolating on GOV.UK
someone you live with has coronavirus or symptoms of coronavirus
- the NHS has sent you a letter advising you to shield because you’re ‘extremely vulnerable’ - find out more about shielding on GOV.UK
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 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.
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
- an Education, Health and Care Plan
If you’re not sure, check if your child’s considered vulnerable on GOV.UK.
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 you need to take time off to look after your children
You might be able to get paid while you’re off work - check what your options are.
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 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 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.
If you’re worried a business isn’t being fair with their prices or is acting illegally, you can report them to Trading Standards. Trading Standards might not reply to your complaint.
If you think a shop is open when it shouldn’t be, you can check which businesses should be closed on GOV.UK.