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
From 19 July
England has moved to Step 4 of the roadmap. Although most legal restrictions have been lifted at step 4, and many people have been vaccinated, it is still possible to catch and spread COVID-19, even if you are fully vaccinated, and we are still in the third wave of this pandemic in the UK.
COVID-19 will be a feature of our lives for the foreseeable future, so we need to learn to live with it and manage the risk to ourselves and others.
As COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, it is important that we all use personal judgement to manage our own risk. All of us can play our part by exercising common sense and considering the risks. While no situation is risk free, there are actions we can take to protect ourselves and others around us. Following this guidance will help you stay safe and protect others by controlling the spread. Every action to help reduce the spread will reduce any further resurgence of the virus in the coming months.
Most legal restrictions to control COVID-19 have been lifted at step 4. This means that:
- You do not need to stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with. There are also no limits on the number of people you can meet.
- However, in order to minimise risk at a time of high prevalence, you should limit the close contact you have with those you do not usually live with, and increase close contact gradually. This includes minimising the number, proximity and duration of social contacts.
- You should meet outdoors where possible and let fresh air into homes or other enclosed spaces.
- The Government is no longer instructing people to work from home if they can. However, the Government expects and recommends a gradual return over the summer.
- The requirement to wear face coverings in law has been lifted. However, the Government expects and recommends that people wear face coverings in crowded areas such as public transport.
- There are no longer limits on the number of people who can attend weddings, civil partnerships, funerals and other life events (including receptions and celebrations). There is no requirement for table service at life events, or restrictions on singing or dancing. You should follow guidance for weddings and funerals to reduce risk and protect yourself and others.
- There are no longer restrictions on group sizes for attending communal worship. COVID-19 has not gone away, so it’s important to remember the actions you can take to keep yourself and others safe. Everybody needs to continue to act carefully and remain cautious.
Coronavirus remains a serious health risk. It’s important to stay cautious and help protect yourself and others. In England:
- Meet up outside or if you’re indoors open windows or doors if you have visitors.
- If you think you might have COVID-19 symptoms, take a PCR test and stay home.
- Wear face coverings in crowded places to help protect others.
- Check in with the NHS COVID-19 app when you’re out.
- Wash your hands regularly and for at least 20 seconds with soap.
- Get vaccinated if you are 18 or over.
From 16 August
If you’re fully vaccinated or under 18, you will not need to self-isolate following close contact with someone who has COVID-19. You’ll still need to take a PCR test and self-isolate if it’s positive.
If you are clinically extremely vulnerable
Clinically extremely vulnerable people are advised to follow the same guidance as everyone else. However, as someone who is at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill if you were to catch COVID-19, you should think particularly carefully about precautions you can continue to take. These precautions are included in the guidance for the clinically extremely vulnerable.
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 and https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/testing/get-tested-f…
Order coronavirus (COVID-19) rapid lateral flow tests
You can also order free packs of rapid lateral flow tests to be sent to your home.
You can only use this service if:
- you do not have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms
- you’re 11 or older
- you have not been told to self-isolate
- you cannot get tests from your work, school, college or university (ask them for rapid lateral flow tests)
Order these here: https://test-for-coronavirus.service.gov.uk/order-lateral-flow-kits
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
The NHS is currently offering the COVID-19 vaccine to people most at risk from coronavirus.
In England, the vaccine is being offered in some hospitals and pharmacies, at local centres run by GPs and at larger vaccination centres. More centres are opening all the time.
You can use this service to book a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination or manage your appointments
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.
If you are eligible, you can use this service to book your vaccination: 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 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
Citizens Advice South Gloucestershire can be contacted on 03444 111 444.
This service is available on Mondays to Fridays from 10am to 2pm.
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:
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
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
There are no longer any restrictions on leaving England to travel internationally, however before travelling visit this page which lists countries and territories as red, amber or green and tells you what you must do if you have been in those countries or territories.
If you travel to one of these countries or territories, you should look at the rules in place at your destination and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) travel advice. You should do this even if you are returning to a place you’ve visited before.
Travelling to England from outside the UK
All visitors travelling to England are subject to the coronavirus restriction rules.
What you must do when you arrive in England from abroad depends on where you have been in the last 10 days before you arrive.
People planning to travel to England should follow the guidance on entering the UK.
More information is found HERE