COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It's caused by a virus called coronavirus. The Government’s response is evolving as the situation develops.
The Government is updating official advice regularly, and I know my ministerial colleagues and others are working around the clock to ensure the public is protected.
I will continue to closely follow this issue and, where appropriate, provide further updates.
Government advice and response:
For the latest Government advice and information on how the UK is responding, including guidance on social distancing for everyone in the UK and protecting older people and vulnerable people, please see: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
Guidance on social distancing, self isolation and shielding for vulnerable people can be found at:
People can also form a support bubble which is a close support network between a household with only one adult or a household with one adult and one or more people who were under the age of 18 on 12 June 2020 in the home (known as a single-adult household) and one other household of any size.
Once you’re in a support bubble, you can think of yourself as being in a single household with people from the other household. It means you can have close contact with that household as if they were members of your own household.
Further guidance and details on this is found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/making-a-support-bubble-with-another-househ…
Find out if you have coronavirus now
Anyone with coronavirus symptoms can get a test. Coronavirus symptoms are:
- a high temperature
- a new, continuous cough
- a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
Guidance on how to get a test to check if you have coronavirus can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test
THE TIERING SYSTEM HAS NOW BEEN SUSPENDED: NATIONAL LOCKDOWN from 5th January
The Prime Minister has now announced a national lockdown and instructed people to stay at home to control the virus, protect the NHS and save lives.
The decision follows a rapid rise in infections, hospital admissions and case rates across the country, and our hospitals are now under more pressure than they have been at any other point throughout the pandemic.
This drastic jump in cases has been attributed to the new variant of COVID-19, which scientists have now confirmed is between 50 and 70 per cent more transmissible.
Full details, including guidance on what you can and cannot do at this time, can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-lockdown-stay-at-home
(suspended for the moment) SOUTH GLOUCESTERSHIRE: TIER 3
The Health Secretary has set out in Parliament the tier which each local authority in England will fall under when our national restrictions end on 2 December, in line with the measures set out in the COVID-19 Winter Plan.
South Gloucestershire has been placed in Tier 3.
The current tier allocations will be reviewed every 2 weeks and the first review will take place by Wednesday 16 December.
Guidance on what you can and cannot do in a Tier 3 area can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/tier-3-very-high-alert
There are some places where you must wear a face covering by law. In England, you must wear a face covering in some indoor settings, including:
- public transport
- taxis and private hire vehicles
- shops and supermarkets
- premises providing hospitality (bars, pubs, restaurants, cafes), except when seated at a table to eat or drink (see exemptions)
- post offices, banks, building societies, high-street solicitors and accountants, credit unions, short-term loan providers, savings clubs and money service businesses
- estate and lettings agents
The full list of premises and details on face covering guidance and exemptions can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/face-coverings-when-to-wear-…
Everyone in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland with coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms can now get a test.
To check eligibility and to book your test please visit: https://self-referral.test-for-coronavirus.service.gov.uk/test-type and https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/testing-and-tracing/ask-for-a-test-to-check-if-you-have-coronavirus/
TEST AND TRACE SERVICE
An overview of the NHS test and trace service, including what happens if you test positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) or have had close contact with someone who has tested positive can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/nhs-test-and-trace-how-it-works
Two vaccinations – Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford AstraZeneca – have now been approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for use in the UK. The approval of vaccines is a significant milestone in our response to Covid-19. It follows months of rigorous clinical trials and a thorough analysis of data by experts at the MHRA who have concluded that the vaccines meet strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness.
The NHS will let you know when it’s your turn to have the vaccine. It’s important not to contact the NHS for a vaccination before then.
For more information on this visit: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccinat…
To find out how to protect yourself and others, please consult the NHS website at:
If you have any concerns about your own health or symptoms, please call 111.
This online tool can also be useful to check if you have Coronavirus symptoms:
Updates from our local health services and guidance for visitors can be found at:
Local response and advice:
The latest advice from South Gloucestershire Council, including local response, and guidance for health professionals and clinicians, can be found at:
Further information for South Glos residents, including financial support they may be able to access, can be found here:
Information and support for businesses and employers from South Gloucestershire Council can be found at: https://beta.southglos.gov.uk/information-for-businesses-and-employers/
A Freephone number has been set up to provide priority support to those who do not have access to South Gloucestershire Council's website and have questions about local response to the outbreak, community groups, changes to key services or support for residents.
The number is 0800 953 7778
The line is open 08.45 to 17.00 Monday to Thursday and 08.45 to 16.30 Fridays
For more information on how to contact the Council at this time please also see: https://www.southglos.gov.uk//documents/Covid-19-Keeping-In-Touch.pdf
People aged over 70, pregnant people, and people with underlying health conditions are most at risk in this situation.
Citizens Advice have published useful advice and information on how coronavirus may affect you which can be found at:
Citizens Advice South Gloucestershire can also be contacted on 03444 111 444.
This service is available on Mondays to Fridays from 10am to 2pm.
Age UK South Gloucestershire can also be contacted on 01454 411707 and more information can be found at their website: https://www.ageuk.org.uk/southgloucestershire/
Asthma UK has a page with specific health advice which people with asthma may find useful, this can be found at:
Community support and help:
South Gloucestershire Council has now published a Community Information Pack aimed at Parish and Town Councils, Community and Voluntary Groups and the broader community, and includes useful resources and lists of key contacts and information. This can be found here:
The Council is also building a directory of the current help available, so people are able to check information on where and how people can volunteer or access help locally during this period. This information is being updated regularly and can be found at:
You can now register your name on the Government's website if you have a medical condition that makes you extremely vulnerable to coronavirus. For example, you’ll be able to ask for help getting deliveries of essential supplies like food. People can register their details at:
Can you volunteer to help vulnerable people stay safe and well at home?
The nation is looking for up to 250,000 volunteers to help up to 1.5 million people who have been asked to shield themselves from coronavirus because of underlying health conditions.
Members of the public can sign up quickly and easily at goodsamapp.org/NHS to become NHS Volunteer Responders, and can be called on to do simple but vital tasks such as:
– delivering medicines from pharmacies;
– driving patients to appointments;
– bringing them home from hospital;
– or making regular phone calls to check on people isolating at home.
NHS Volunteer Responders is not intended to replace local groups helping their vulnerable neighbours but is an additional service provided by the NHS.
Schools and education:
The Department for Education has a dedicated coronavirus helpline for any queries about coronavirus relating to schools and other educational establishments in England.
Staff, parents and young people can contact the helpline by phoning 0800 046 8687.
Lines are open Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm and weekends 10am to 4pm.
UPDATE ON SCHOOL REOPENINGS:
From 1 June schools, colleges and nurseries are set to open to more children.
Primary schools will welcome back children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6, while nurseries and other early years providers will begin welcoming back children of all ages.
Secondary schools, sixth forms and colleges will also provide face-to-face contact for Year 10, Year 12 and equivalent 16-19 further education students to help them prepare for exams next year. It is expected this will begin from 15 June, with around a quarter of these secondary students in at any point.
For more information on school reopenings, exams, safe practice and guidance for parents, teachers and students, please see: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus/education-and-childcare
Support for individuals and businesses:
You can get coronavirus support for your business or if you’re self-employed, and find out how to keep your business and your employees safe.
Coronavirus (COVID‑19) support is available to employers and the self-employed, including sole traders and limited company directors. You may be eligible for loans, tax relief and cash grants, whether your business is open or closed. Check what support is available at: https://www.gov.uk/business-coronavirus-support-finder
Full details can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus/business-support
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has launched a dedicated business support helpline, where small business owners in England can get advice on how to minimise/cope with the impacts of coronavirus. The number is 0300 456 3565.
Lines are open Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm.
You can also email email@example.com.
A dedicated helpline has been set up to help businesses and self-employed individuals in financial distress and with outstanding tax liabilities receive support with their tax affairs. Through this, businesses may be able to agree a bespoke Time to Pay arrangement. If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559 or on 0800 024 1222
WECA also have a webpage dedicated to business support:
The new business information campaign has gone live with updated info on business and self-employed support available at:
Offers of support from businesses
The Government has launched a portal for the registration of offers of help: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus-support-from-business
There is a BEIS Business Support Helpline for any queries: 0300 456 3565
Support for Charities
The government has recently announced £750m of funding to support charities affected by Coronavirus, including £370 million of that funding which will support small, local charities working with vulnerable people and up to £200million for hospices.
More information on this announcement can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/chancellor-of-the-exchequer-rishi-sunak-on-economic-support-for-the-charity-sector
Landlords and renters:
A package of measures was also recently announced to protect renters and landlords affected by coronavirus, more information can be found here:
For local and regional public transport information, please visit the Travelwest website, which also includes information on temporary changes to local bus services. This can be accessed at: https://travelwest.info/travel_update/coronavirus-travel-advice
For travel advice during the Coronavirus pandemic please visit: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus
The government is satisfied that it is now safe to ease these measures in England and has introduced travel corridor exemptions for some countries and territories. Guidance and a full list of countries covered by this exemption can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-travel-corridors