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:
The government is today (23 March 2020) introducing three new measures:
Requiring people to stay at home, except for very limited purposes
Closing non-essential shops and community spaces
Stopping all gatherings of more than two people in public
More information and full guidance on these important measures can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others
These measures are effective immediately. The Government will look again at these measures in three weeks, and relax them if the evidence shows this is possible.
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/
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/
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 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
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 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
UPDATE: 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
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