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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.

Staying home

The government has said you must stay at home and avoid unnecessary contact with other people. They've said they’ll make changes to the rules on 1 June 2020.

You could be told to return home by the police or be fined if you're outside without a good reason. 

You can go outside to public spaces as often as you want – for example to walk or have a picnic. You can also exercise outside, including at private sports grounds if they're open. You can go out alone or with:

  • members of your household
  • a carer
  • 1 person from a different household

You don’t have to stay near where you live – you can drive to somewhere else in England. You should keep at least 2 metres away from people who aren’t members of your household.

You can also do things like:

  • getting money, for example from a cash machine, credit union or pawnbroker
  • shopping for basic things like food, medicine and pet supplies - you can also buy other things at the same time
  • topping up a prepayment meter
  • taking a child to school
  • any medical need - but contact your GP, dentist or health service by phone first, if you can
  • caring for a vulnerable person - for example they need help to stay safe, wash or eat 
  • moving house - including making arrangements to move house

You can also travel to and from work if it’s ‘not reasonably possible’ for you to work from home. This includes if you work as a volunteer or for a charity.

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 government guidance - this includes being told to return home by the police.

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.

You can also check the guide to staying safe on the SafeLives website.

Situations where you can leave home and gather with others

The government has said there are a few situations where you can gather with more than 1 other person.

The situations where you can gather include: 

  • 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
  • helping others care for a vulnerable person
  • attending a court or tribunal hearing - but check your hearing is still taking place in person

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

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
  • 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’. You'll need to stay at home and avoid face to face contact with other people until at least 30 June 2020.

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

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.

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 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.

Find out how the scheme works.

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’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.

Find out more about getting SSP.

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.

Taking your children to school

Schools, nurseries and sixth form colleges have closed for most children.

The government has said nurseries will open on 1 June 2020 and schools will open for some children. You can check the government’s information about schools opening on GOV.UK.

Right now, you can still take your 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.

Check the government’s advice on school closures 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 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 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.

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