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
The Government also recently launched a public information campaign setting out how everyone can take steps to minimise risk to them and their families: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-public-information-campaign-launched-across-the-uk
Guidance on social distancing, self isolation and shielding for vulnerable people can be found at:
UPDATE 13 May:
The government has now set out its plan to return life to as near normal as we can, for as many people as we can, as quickly and fairly as possible in order to safeguard livelihoods, but in a way that is safe and continues to protect our NHS.
The government has published staying safe outside your home for guidance on what the new rules will mean. These will take effect on Wednesday. This page sets out key FAQ to inform the public and help you prepare for these changes.
This can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/staying-safe-outside-your-home/
Further information on what you can and cannot do and key FAQ to inform the public and help you prepare for these changes can be found at:
Full guidance and plan can also be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/our-plan-to-rebuild-the-uk-governments-covid-19-recovery-strategy/our-plan-to-rebuild-the-uk-governments-covid-19-recovery-strategy
On 9 June, the Business Secretary confirmed that we would proceed with reopening non-essential shops Monday 15 June, as we continue to meet the five tests set out by the Prime Minister, meaning it is safe to cautiously and gradually reopen parts of the economy.
- From Monday 15 June, non-essential shops, department stores and shopping centres will be able to reopen, provided they put in place the necessary steps to keep their workers and customers safe. However hairdressers, beauty salons and the hospitality sector must remain closed for now, because the risk of transmission in these environments is higher where long periods of person to person contact is required.
UPDATE 23 JUNE - EASING OF RESTRICTIONS
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set out further changes to lockdown measures to enable people to see more of their friends and family, help businesses get back on their feet and get people back in their jobs.
From Saturday 4th July, pubs, restaurants and hairdressers will be able to reopen, providing they adhere to COVID Secure guidelines.
From the same date, two households will be able to meet up in any setting with social distancing measures. Some leisure facilities and tourist attractions may also reopen, if they can do so safely – this includes outdoor gyms and playgrounds, cinemas, museums, galleries, theme parks and arcades, as well as libraries, social clubs, places of worship and community centres.
However, “close proximity” venues such as nightclubs, soft-play areas, indoor gyms, swimming pools, water parks, bowling alleys and spas will need to remain closed for now.
2m rule: where it is not possible to stay two metres apart, guidance will allow people to keep a social distance of ‘one metre plus’. This means staying one metre apart, plus mitigations which reduce the risk of transmission.
From Monday 6 July, Clinically extremely vulnerable people, those shielding from coronavirus, can gather in groups of up to 6 people outdoors and form a ‘support bubble’ with another household. Government shielding support package will remain in place until the end of July when people will no longer be advised to shield.
Everyone in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland with coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms can now get a test.
The extension in testing eligibility comes ahead of the rollout of the new test and trace service and is possible thanks to increased testing capacity across the country.
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
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.
The Government has asked parents to keep their children at home, wherever possible, and asked schools to remain open only for those children who absolutely need to attend.
A list of key workers whose children will be prioritised for schooling during this period has now been published. These include people who work in health and social care and in other key sectors, full details outlined below:
Further details on exams and grades have also been announced, and can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/further-details-on-exams-and-grades-announced
And for info on cancellation of exams for 2020 please see: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-cancellation-of-gcses-as-and-a-levels-in-2020/coronavirus-covid-19-cancellation-of-gcses-as-and-a-levels-in-2020
Integra Schools and South Gloucestershire Council have recently launched a new online resource to support parents, carers and teachers. This can be accessed at: https://beta.southglos.gov.uk/education-resources/
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 please see: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus/education-and-childcare
Support for individuals and businesses:
At the recent Budget, the Chancellor set out the first stage of our response to tackle Coronavirus with a £30 billion package of support for people and businesses.
More recently the Chancellor has now also announced a further package of government-backed loans and guarantees to support business. An initial £330 billion of guarantees will be made available so any businesses who needs access to cash to pay their rent, the salaries of employees, pay suppliers or purchase stock, will be able to access a government-backed loan.
The UK Government’s 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
Further guidance for employees, employers and businesses can be found here:
WECA also have a webpage dedicated to business support:
There is also a factsheet with additional information regarding the recent Budget announcement for individuals and businesses impacted by the coronavirus. In the coming days, this factsheet will be updated with further information to ensure the public can access the support they need.
This is available at www.gov.uk/government/publications/support-for-those-affected-by-COVID-…
UPDATE: On 20 March, the Chancellor unveiled a further series of measures to support people, jobs and businesses. These can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/the-chancellor-rishi-sunak-provides-an-updated-statement-on-coronavirus?fbclid=IwAR3ixHWSkf_V3SYg9nKTaG5ABWJ54tedyBVwXaaHVkwSxIiXuyN6ZIpJn7U
The online service to make a claim for wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is now live.
For the Government's updated guidance on the scheme, and a step by step guide for employers on how to claim, please see: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wages-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme
The new business information campaign has gone live with updated info on business and self-employed support available at:
Offers of support
The Government has launched a portal for the registration of offers of help: https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/L5B32S/
There is a BEIS Business Support Helpline for any queries: 0300 456 3565
HELP FOR THE SELF EMPLOYED
The Chancellor has now announced a new Self-Employed Income Support Scheme – helping many of our country’s self-employed workers.
The government will pay self-employed people, who have been adversely affected by the virus, a taxable grant worth 80% of their average income over the last three years, up to £2,500 per month, for at least three months. This scheme will be open to those with income of £50,000 or less, who make the majority of their income from self-employment.
For more information on this, please see: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme
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 important guidance for British people travelling and living overseas during the Coronavirus outbreak, or if you are currently abroad and would like some advice on how to return, please visit: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus
UPDATE: The Foreign Secretary has today (23 March 2020) advised all British tourists and short-stay travellers currently abroad to return to the UK where commercial flight options are still available. More information can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/foreign-secretary-advises-all-british-travellers-to-return-to-the-uk-now
On 30 March, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office has also announced a new government partnership with airlines to fly back more tourists stranded abroad due to the coronavirus pandemic. More information on this and what to do can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-government-partnership-with-airlines-to-fly-back-more-tourists-stranded-abroad
UPDATE ON FACE COVERINGS
From 15 June, face coverings will be required while using public transport in England.
- government asks transport operators in England to make wearing face coverings a requirement of using public transport from 15 June to coincide with the next stage of carefully easing restrictions
- bus, coach, train, tram, ferry and aircraft passengers must wear a face covering on their journey to help reduce the risk of transmission when social distancing is not always possible - with government also working with operators to ensure staff are provided with face coverings where appropriate
- guidance remains to work from home if you can and avoid public transport where possible
For more information on this announcement please visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/face-coverings-to-become-mandatory-on-public-transport