COVID-19 is an illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It's caused by a virus called coronavirus.
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
SOCIAL DISTANCING AND SUPPORT BUBBLES
Guidance on social distancing, self isolation and shielding for vulnerable people can be found at these links:
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
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 HERE
22/02 UPDATE: The Prime Minister has now set out a four-step roadmap for easing lockdown restrictions in England. According to Step 1 of the plan:
🗓 From 8 March
- Pupils return to face-to-face education in school and further education in England
- Outdoor recreation, such as a picnic, is allowed. This can be on your own, with one other person, or with your household or support bubble
- Indoor visits to care homes start again for a single named visitor
🗓 From 29 March
- Outdoor gatherings of either six people or two households will be allowed
- Outdoor sports facilities such as tennis and basketball courts, and open-air swimming pools, will also be allowed to reopen, as well as formally organised outdoor sports
- The ‘stay at home’ rule will end on 29 March but people should continue to work from home where they can and minimise the number of journeys they make where possible
- Travel abroad will continue to be prohibited, other than for a small number of permitted reasons.
🗓 Step 2 will take place no earlier than 12 April and will see the opening of non-essential retail, personal care premises, and public buildings, indoor leisure facilities (but only for use by people on their own or in household groups), outdoor attractions. Hospitality venues will be allowed to serve people outdoors.
🗓 Step 3, no earlier than 17 May, could see most legal restrictions on meeting others outdoors lifted, although gatherings of over 30 people will remain illegal. Indoor hospitality will reopen. Most businesses in all but the highest risk sectors will be able to reopen, including indoor entertainment venues.
🗓 By Step 4, which will take place no earlier than 21 June, the government hopes to be in a position to remove all legal limits on social contact, reopen remaining premises, including nightclubs, and ease the restrictions on large events and performances.
For more information on the roadmap out of lockdown, and more details on all Steps, visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-response-spring-2021
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
Several vaccinations – including 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 the NHS Vaccine information page
For information about the vaccine roll-out locally, including where the vaccination sites are, and a list of FAQs, please visit the Healthier Together website.
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 the South Gloucestershire Council Covid Information page
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 has also built 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 HERE
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: Schools are currently closed due to the National lockdown. The Prime Minister has announced that it’ll not be possible to resume face-to-face learning for the majority of pupils and students until 8 March at the earliest.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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:
A business information campaign is also now live with updated info on business and self-employed support available at THIS LINK
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
UPDATE: During the current lockdown you must not leave your home unless you have a reasonable excuse (for example, for work or education purposes).
If you need to travel you should stay local. This means you should avoid travelling outside of your village, town or the part of a city where you live. You should reduce the number of journeys you make overall.
You can only travel internationally – or within the UK – where you first have a legally permitted reason to leave home. In addition, you should consider the public health advice in the country you are visiting.
If you do need to travel overseas (and are legally permitted to do so, for example, because it is for work), even if you are returning to a place you’ve visited before, you should look at the rules in place at your destination and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) travel advice.
Further information on travel rules during the period of national restrictions can be found at this link.