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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. You can check if there’s a local lockdown in your area on GOV.UK.

Meeting with people

It’s against the law to meet in a group of more than 6 people unless you're all from the same household – this includes children. In some situations you can meet in larger groups.

The police could tell you to go home or fine you if you meet in a group of more than 6 people. They can fine you up to £3,200 if you keep meeting in big groups, and up to £10,000 if you’d organised a meeting. If you have children under 18, you’re responsible for making sure they follow the rules.

The government guidance also says you should:

  • meet people outdoors if possible

  • keep at least 2 metres away from people who aren't members of your household - or at least 1 metre if that's not possible

You can find out more about meeting up with people.

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.

Check if you need to wear a mask or face covering

You usually have to wear a mask or covering for your mouth and nose for example when you're:

  • on public transport
  • in a shop or shopping centre
  • in a bank, building society or post office
  • in a religious building
  • in a court or tribunal

You can check the list of places you have to wear a face covering on GOV.UK.

If you refuse to wear a face mask or covering when you have to, the police can fine you. You won’t get a fine if you don’t wear one in a court or tribunal, but you won’t be allowed in the building.

You might not have to wear a mask or face covering, for example if:

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

If you’re disabled and can’t wear a mask or face covering in a shop, you should ask them to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ for you. You can find out what reasonable adjustments shops should make.

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

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
  • appealing exam results
  • taking your children to school
  • postponing or cancelling travel arrangements

Get help from an NHS volunteer 

You might be able to ask a volunteer to go shopping for you, top up a prepayment meter 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’ve been shielding

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

The government says you don’t have to shield at the moment. This means you can:

  • go outside as much as you like but should still try to avoid contact with people you don’t live with
  • travel to work if you can’t work from home and your workplace is safe enough
  • visit shops, supermarkets and restaurants

Find out more about shielding and what you can do to stay safe on GOV.UK.

If you registered to get care and essential supplies

If you’ve been getting food parcels from the government, these will stop on 31 July 2020.

If you’ve got priority access to deliveries from supermarkets, this will continue after 31 July.

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 can:

  • look online to see if there are any independent local food banks you can go to without a referral
  • ask a charity or someone like a GP or social worker to refer you to a food bank – find out more about getting referred to a food bank

If your child is off school because of coronavirus and usually gets free school meals because of your benefits, the school will provide food parcels.

Find out more about getting free food parcels 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 were furloughed for at least 3 weeks before 1 July
  • 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 symptoms of coronavirus or have tested positive for it 

  • someone you live with has symptoms of coronavirus or has tested positive for it  

  • someone from another household who you see regularly has symptoms of coronavirus or has tested positive for it 

  • 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 advising 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

You can check what to do if you’re worried about being safe at work because of coronavirus.

You won’t be able to get statutory sick pay (SSP) after 1 August if you’re shielding. You might still be able to get SSP if you can’t work from home and it’s not safe for you to go to work. You’ll need a fit note from your doctor to give to your employer.

Check if you can get 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 or you have a fit note from your doctor.

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.

If you’re not happy with your exam results

Because there were no exams this year, your final results will usually be the grades your school or college predicted you’d get.

If you’re not happy with your GCSE results

You should start by talking to your school or college about your options.

You might be able to take exams in autumn to try to get better results.

You or your school or college might also be able to appeal your results. You can check if you can appeal on GOV.UK.

If you’re not happy with your A level results

Ask your school or college for a copy of your predicted grades. The government have said your final result for each subject will be your highest grade from either:

  • the result you got on results day
  • the grade your school or college predicted you’d get

If your predicted grades are higher, the exam board will change your results automatically – you don’t need to contact them.

If you’re still not happy with your results, you should start by talking to your school or college about your options.

You might be able to take exams in autumn to get better results.

You or your school or college might also be able to appeal your results. You can check if you can appeal on GOV.UK.

Taking your children to school

The government says all children can go back to school full time at the end of summer. You can check the guidance about going back to school on GOV.UK.

Nurseries, childminders and summer clubs can stay open for all children in the summer.

If you're planning on travelling abroad

You should:

  • contact your insurer to check your travel insurance covers medical and travel problems caused by coronavirus

If you’re in an area with a local lockdown - check the advice for your area on travelling abroad 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 your visa is ending and you can’t leave the UK

If your visa expires at any time from 24 January to 31 August 2020, the Home Office will continue to let you stay until 31 August.

You should contact the Home Office if you can’t leave by 31 August because for example:

  • the government has told you to self-isolate
  • the country you need to go to won’t let you in because of coronavirus
  • you can’t arrange travel in time

You should tell the Home Office using the contact details on GOV.UK. You’ll need to give evidence of why you can’t leave in time.

If you’re entering the UK from abroad

There are special rules if you’re planning to arrive in the UK. This includes if you’re coming back to the UK after spending time abroad. Check if you have to follow the special rules on GOV.UK.

You’ll usually have to fill in a form on GOV.UK with details of where you’ll stay in the UK.

You also might have to stay inside at the address you put on the form for 14 days after you arrive – this is called ‘self-isolating’ or ‘quarantine’.

You won’t have to self-isolate if you’ve been in countries which are considered safe for the whole of the last 14 days – check which countries are considered safe on GOV.UK. You’ll still have to fill out the form.

The rules are different if you’re coming to the UK from Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man. You won’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 – the fine can be up to £3,200 if you give the wrong address. If you’re not a British or Irish citizen, you might not be allowed into the UK.

Self-isolating for 14 days

If you have to self-isolate, 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
  • acting illegally

Trading Standards might not reply to your complaint.

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