With the seriousness of the threat of Coronavirus to our safety and health, the government has been introducing and regularly updating guidance to in order to try and safeguard people and the NHS from the potential impacts of the virus.
This article will summarise the key points of current guidance for citizens and link to their sources. In addition, we’ve linked some of our own articles that may help you to cope with the measures outlined here.
Whats in this section?
Whats in this section?
The below is a summary of the latest government guidance on staying at home and away from others during this time. The full guidance can be found here.
National lockdown: Stay at Home
Summary: what you can and cannot do during the national lockdown
You must stay at home. The single most important action we can all take is to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives.
You should follow this guidance immediately. The law will be updated to reflect these new rules.
You must not leave, or be outside of your home except where necessary. You may leave the home to:
- shop for basic necessities, for you or a vulnerable person
- go to work, or provide voluntary or charitable services, if you cannot reasonably do so from home
- exercise with your household (or support bubble) or one other person, this should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.
- meet your support bubble or childcare bubble where necessary, but only if you are legally permitted to form one
- seek medical assistance or avoid injury, illness or risk of harm (including domestic abuse)
- attend education or childcare – for those eligible
Colleges, primary and secondary schools will remain open only for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers. All other children will learn remotely until February half term. Early Years settings remain open.
Higher Education provision will remain online until mid February for all except future critical worker courses.
If you do leave home for a permitted reason, you should always stay local in the village, town, or part of the city where you live. You may leave your local area for a legally permitted reason, such as for work.
If you are clinically extremely vulnerable you should only go out for medical appointments, exercise or if it is essential. You should not attend work.
You cannot leave your home to meet socially with anyone you do not live with or are not in a support bubble with (if you are legally permitted to form one).
You may exercise on your own, with one other person, or with your household or support bubble.
You should not meet other people you do not live with, or have formed a support bubble with, unless for a permitted reason.
Stay 2 metres apart from anyone not in your household.
If you break the rules
The police can take action against you if you meet in larger groups. This includes breaking up illegal gatherings and issuing fines (fixed penalty notices).
You can be given a Fixed Penalty Notice of £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400. If you hold, or are involved in holding, an illegal gathering of over 30 people, the police can issue fines of £10,000.
Travel to work
It is the law that you must wear a face-covering when travelling in England on a:
- bus or coach
- train or tram
- ferry or hovercraft or another vessel
- cable car
If you do not wear a face-covering you will be breaking the law and could be fined £200 for a first offence.
Ensure you maintain social distancing, wherever possible, including at busy entrances, exits, under canopies, bus stops, platforms or outside of stations.
Car sharing is also not currently recommended for those from different households, or for those outside of support bubbles.
Working in others homes
There is now specific guidance for those carrying out work in other peoples homes, such as:
- repair services
- meter readers
Childcare and children’s activities
There are several ways that parents and carers can continue to access childcare during the national restrictions:
- Early years settings and childminders remain open, and you can continue to use these settings as normal
- You can access other childcare activities (including wraparound care) where reasonably necessary to enable parents to work, seek work, attend education or training, or for the purposes of respite care for carers
- Nannies will be able to continue to provide services, including in the home
- Parents are able to form a childcare bubble with one other household for the purposes of informal childcare, where the child is 13 or under
- Some households will also be able to benefit from being in a support bubble, which allows single adult households to join another household
Guidance on protecting those more vulnerable to COVID-19
Does easing restrictions apply to 70 year olds and over?
The advice for those aged 70 and over continues to be that they should take particular care to minimise contact with others outside their household.
If they do go out, they should be careful to maintain distance from others. They and everyone should continue to comply with any general social distancing restrictions.
Those aged 70 and over can be absolutely fit and healthy and it’s not the case that everybody over 70 has an underlying disease, however, we also know that as you get older, there is a higher risk of coronavirus infection resulting in more serious disease. Complications and deaths are more common in the elderly, even those without pre-existing conditions.
Current Guidance for the clinically vulnerable
- The clinically vulnerable may, if they wish, meet in a group of up to six people outdoors, including people from different households, while maintaining strict social distancing
- no longer need to observe social distancing with other members of your household
- may form a ‘support bubble’ with one other household. All those in a support bubble will be able to spend time together inside each other’s homes, including overnight, without needing to socially distance
NHS COVID-19 app – download it today
Protect your loved ones. Download the app.
The new NHS COVID-19 app, now available to download for free in England and Wales, is the fastest way to see if you’re at risk from coronavirus. The faster you know, the quicker you can alert and protect your loved ones and community.
The app has a number of tools to protect you, including contact tracing, local area alerts and venue check-in. It uses proven technology from Apple and Google, designed to protect the user’s privacy.
Test and Trace
In order to avoid confusion, this guidance has been taken directly from the test and trace guidance on GOV.UK
Playing your part:
- if you develop symptoms, you must continue to follow the rules to self-isolate with other members of your household and get a test to find out if you have coronavirus
- if you test positive for coronavirus, you must share information promptly about your recent contacts through the NHS Test and Trace service to help us alert other people who may need to self-isolate
- if you have had close recent contact with someone who has coronavirus, you must self-isolate if the NHS Test and Trace service advises you to do so
- if you are returning from travel abroad it is important to check whether you need to self-isolate
How NHS test and trace service works:
There are two main scenarios on which the test and trace operates, either:
- You have symptoms
- You are contacted because you’ve been in contact with someone who has symptoms
Contact tracers will:
- call you from 0300 013 5000
- send you text messages from ‘NHS’
- ask you to sign into the NHS test and trace contact-tracing website
- ask for your full name and date of birth to confirm your identity, and postcode to offer support while self-isolating
- ask about the coronavirus symptoms you have been experiencing
- ask you to provide the name, telephone number and/or email address of anyone you have had close contact with in the 2 days prior to your symptoms starting
- ask you if you have family members or other household members living with you. In line with the medical advice they must remain in self-isolation for the rest of the 14-day period from when your symptoms began
- ask if you have had any close contact with anyone other than members of your household. We are interested in in the 48 hours before you developed symptoms and the time since you developed symptoms. Close contact means:
- having face-to-face contact with someone (less than 1 metre away)
- spending more than 15 minutes within 2 metres of someone
- travelling in a car or other small vehicle with someone (even on a short journey) or close to them on a plane
- if you work in – or have recently visited – a setting with other people (for example, a GP surgery, a school or a workplace)
We will ask you to provide, where possible, the names and contact details (for example, email address, telephone number) for the people you have had close contact with. As with your own details, these will be held in strict confidence and will be kept and used only in line with data protection laws.
Scenario 1 – If you have symptoms of coronavirus
- isolate: as soon as you experience coronavirus symptoms, medical advice is clear: you must self-isolate for at least 7 days. Anyone else in your household must self-isolate for 14 days from when you started having symptoms
- test: order a test immediately at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or call 119 if you have no internet access
- results: if your test is positive, you must complete the remainder of your 7-day self-isolation. Anyone in your household must also complete self-isolation for 14 days from when you started having symptoms. If your test is negative, you and other household members no longer need to self-isolate
- share contacts: if you test positive for coronavirus, the NHS test and trace service will send you a text or email alert or call you with instructions of how to share details of people with whom you have had close, recent contact and places you have visited. It is important that you respond as soon as possible so that we can give appropriate advice to those who need it. You will be told to do this online via a secure website or you will be called by one of our contract tracers.
Scenario 2 – if you are contacted by the NHS test and trace service because you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus
- alert: you will be alerted by the NHS test and trace service if you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus. The alert will usually come by text, email or phone call. You should then log on to the NHS test and trace website, which is normally the easiest way for you and the service to communicate with each other – but, if not, a trained call handler will talk you through what you must do. Under-18s will get a phone call and a parent or guardian will be asked to give permission for the call to continue to
- isolate: you will be told to begin self-isolation for 14 days from your last contact with the person who has tested positive. It’s really important to do this even if you don’t feel unwell because, if you have been infected, you could become infectious to others at any point up to 14 days. Your household doesn’t need to self-isolate with you if you do not have symptoms, but they must take extra care to follow the guidance on social distancing and handwashing and avoid contact with you at home.
- test if needed: if you develop symptoms of coronavirus, other members of your household must self-isolate immediately at home for 14 days and you must book a test at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or call 119 if you have no internet access. If your test is positive, you must continue to stay at home for at least 7 days and we will get in touch to ask about your contacts since they must self-isolate. If your test is negative, you must still complete your 14-day self-isolation period because the virus may not be detectable yet – this is crucial to avoid unknowingly spreading the virus.
Tests for Coronavirus are now available, below we have the latest available information on who is currently eligible for a test, and how to get one.
Who is eligible
- patients with suspected symptoms of COVID-19
- essential workers including NHS and social care workers with symptoms
- people over 65 with symptoms
- people with symptoms whose work cannot be done from home (including construction workers, shop workers, emergency plumbers and delivery drivers)
- anyone with symptoms of coronavirus who lives with any of the groups identified above
- social care workers and residents in care homes (with or without symptoms) to investigate outbreaks
- NHS workers and patients without symptoms, in line with NHS England guidance
Arranging a test
You can select a regional test site drive-through appointment or home test kit, the guide for using the self-referral portal is available here.
Home testing availability is initially limited, but involves a swab of the nose and back of the throat.
The NHS is aiming to return results of tests within 48 hours, or 72 hours for a home test.
Employers can also refer their essential workers who are self isolating for testing, the portal allows employers to securely upload full lists of names and contact details for self isolating workers.
In order to obtain a login, employers of essential workers should email email@example.com with:
- organisation name
- nature of the organisation’s business
- names (where possible) and email addresses of the 2 users who will upload essential worker contact details
Isolation – staying safe and well
Looking after your health and wellbeing during these times of lockdown and self-isolation is essential, so we’ve put together some tips and links to our related articles to help you cope during this period.
Getting essential groceries
To support those having difficulty getting food and essential supplies, some shops are still setting aside special times for NHS workers, and older and vulnerable customers, including carers, to shop; as well as giving priority for on-line shopping deliveries and other community support. Many of these now decide on a store by store basis so best to ask instore for more details.
Some local restaurants are still operating as takeaway or delivery services if they are unable to reopen due to not being able to meet social distancing measures. There may be local Facebook groups with details or try checking the Websites/ Facebook pages of local restaurants.
Accessing food and supplies if youre clinically vulnerable
If you’re clinically extremely vulnerable you should have received a letter from the NHS asking you to self isolate, the letter should also tell you how to register for deliveries of food parcels to your home.
If you have not yet registered for support, you can either:
- register online
- call 0800 028 8327
You need your NHS number to hand when you register. This will be at the top of the letter you have received letting you know you are clinically extremely vulnerable or on any prescriptions.
With so many of us now either working from home or self-isolating, staying in touch with family and friends has become more important than ever, here we outline our top tips for staying connected.
1. Try and regularly contact friends or family either by phone, email or social media, perhaps once a day. Video calling from smartphone apps over WIFI is a great way of staying in touch, the BBC recently released a short video on how to do so with WhatsApp, which is available on most smartphones:
For more information on staying connected, you can also see our article on digital skills for older people
2. If you feel like you need emotional support and cannot contact a friend or family member, there are a number of helplines available:
- Samaritans can provide emotional support – call FREE on 116 123
- Mind can support those with mental health problems and advise where to get help – 0300 123 3393
- Silverline provide a helpline for older people – 0800 4 70 80 90
You can also see our article on combatting loneliness in older people for more information on how to recevie similar support.
3. If you have children, try to involve them in plans for good health during this time, try to explain the fact to them without alarming them with over-exposure, mentalhealth.org has a great article on how to talk to your children about the coronavirus pandemic: https://mentalhealth.org.uk/coronavirus/talking-to-children
Want to help your local community? You could sign up for the national care workforce: https://www.carechoices.co.uk/join-the-national-care-force/
If you’re interested in trying to help those local to you, you may want to first read the new GOV.UK guidance on How to Help Safely
Also of note is that Car, Van and Motorcycle MOT’s whose expiry date is on or after 30th March 2020 have their expiry date extended by 6 months, however, you must keep your vehicle safe to drive. So should you have to drive somewhere, you can do so during this period. You MUST still keep your vehicle tax up to date during this time.
Keeping fit and well
Looking after your physical health when you’re only allowed out once per day in most cases may seem difficult, but there are some simple tips you can follow to make things easier and more manageable:
There are a number of simple exercises that can be done from home, Women’s Health recently shared a video on a simple 10 minute home workout for older people:
Some of the examples in our article on fitness tips for older people could also help here (obviously bear in mind the suggestions on group activities are not currently appropriate).
Protect your mental health
While it’s important to keep abreast of the news and up to date guidance from the government during these times, its also important to remember that news outlets can sometimes sensationalise stories to create a larger response, in these times this can be more stressful than usual.
To protect your mental health and manage your anxiety over the current situation, try to do the following:
- Limit the amount of time you spend watching or reading things which aren’t making you feel better, maybe try deciding on a specific time to check the news each day.
- Stick to trusted sources of information with regards to situation updates, such as government and NHS websites.
- Have breaks from social media and try to mute or block topics and hashtags which increase your anxiety.
- Keep busy, it’s an ideal time for all those things around the house you’ve been meaning to do, you can also see our article on the 6 best brain training apps available, to help keep your mind sharp while you’re stuck at home.
The impact of false information
(added May 5th)
Be careful about what you share online. Things aren’t always what they seem, and there is still a large amount of false information about COVID-19 floating around.
False information about symptoms etc can cause people to panic and act out, and escalate an already difficult situation. Do your research before sharing information with others.
Are care home visits allowed?
The decision of whether to allow visits rests with the individual providers and manager of each home, based on assessment and advice from local directors of public health.
Care Act Easements
During this time, some temporary changes have been made to the powers Local Authorities have when conducting care assessments and financial assessments for care.
In general terms, they do not have to carry out detailed assessments of peoples care and support needs during this time, they will undertake simpler, more streamlined checks instead. The same applies to financial assessments. This is so that requests for care and support from those isolated at home and in need can be responded to and met more quickly.
However it also means that Local Authorities will be able to charge people retrospectively for the care they receive during this time, should they be deemed able to pay for it themselves under a later financial assessment.
Local Authorities also will not have to prepare or review care plans during this time, as long as they carry out proportionate care planning for those involved.
Finally, Local Authorities now have the “power to meet care needs”, allowing them to, during this time, prioritise the needs of the most vulnerable and at-risk, even to the extent of temporarily reducing or delaying other care provision.
With this issue being so potentially complicated, the full terms of the Care Act Easement are outlined here, they have been updated as of the 20th May, with specific guidance on a large number of scenarios.
Guidance for carers
Updated 9th April
During this time, as with many other healthcare professionals, care workers and family carers have been identified as critical workers, meaning they are being asked, where possible, to continue working and supporting their service users and care receivers, as long as it is safe for them to do so.
What should you be doing as a carer
As a carer, unless you are self-isolating alongside the person you are caring for, it is recommended you do the same. This includes:
- If you believe you are showing symptoms of COVID-19, or someone you live with does (if you are not living with the person you are caring for) try and organise someone to take over for you while you self isolate.
- Utilising good, regular hand hygiene. Do this when arriving and leaving care receivers properties, when preparing food etc.
- Using standard PPE where available. If you are caring for a family member you may be able to access these through your GP or local carers support organisation.
- If carers or care workers undertake cleaning duties, they should ensure they are using household products effective at killing off germs and viruses, such as antibacterials, detergents and bleach.
- All waste should be placed into bags, then another bag, and put aside for 72 hours before being placed into the normal household bins for collection.
- With regards to the laundry for people suspected of having COVID-19, DO NOT SHAKE IT. This minimises the potential of dispersing the virus through the air. If the individual does not have a washing machine, put the items to one side and wait seven days after the 7 day isolation period before taking them to a laundrette.
As a family carer, you should also consider the following:
Create an emergency plan, laying out the needs of the person you care for, including setting out:
- The cared-for individuals contact details
- Who yourself and the person being cared for would like to be contacted in the event of an emergency
- Details of any medication the person being cared-for is taking
- Information about any ongoing treatment they need
- Details of upcoming medical appointments
Try to ensure it is in a format that can be easily shared with other people who will need to discuss the plan.
If you are struggling to organise alternative care for a loved one while you are self-isolating, try contacting one of the services listed within our Homecare providers section: https://www.carechoices.co.uk/care-location-type/homecare/
You can also look into our Carers section in our Service Directory for additional help and guidance from organisations offering carers respite and support services: https://www.carechoices.co.uk/contact-category/carers/
What else you should be doing as a care worker
Care workers have additional responsibilities during this time (on top of those listed for carers above), which include:
- First and foremost, any care worker believing they have symptoms of COVID-19, or who lives with someone who does, should, as with all other citizens, follow the NHS advice and self isolate immediately. Follow the stay at home guidance, and do not visit or care for any individuals until safe to do so.
- Using standard PPE should you come into contact with a care receiver believed to have or potentially have COVID-19, this includes disposable gloves, apron and mask, with a risk assessment for a visor if needed. If you are a formal care worker these should be available to you through your employer/ agency.
- If you work with multiple care receivers, review your list of and ensure you have their information up to date and are aware of their specific needs and care plans are. These can affect how susceptible to the virus they are. It also means should you become affected by COVID-19, and your employer has to source a temporary replacement to cover your duties, they can be handed over more efficiently.
Your rights as a carer or care worker
As a carer, you may be worried about what rights you have available to you during this time, so remember the following:
Health and safeguarding
Your employer has a responsibility to protect your health and safety while at work. If you or one of your dependents (care receiver) have a pre-existing condition which would make them very vulnerable to coronavirus, you should be able to argue that you should be able to work from home or take some form of leave if your employer has not already asked you to do so.
For more information on this see the government guidance for employees during COVID-19.
If you are self-isolating because either yourself or someone you care for either has coronavirus or symptoms of, you may be eligible for additional financial support. The Universal Credit website has a great explanation on what you may be entitled to if you are either off work and not currently claiming benefits, or are already claiming benefits, see https://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/coronavirus/
Safeguarding vulnerable dependents for keyworkers
Under government guidance, if you are a key worker, you should be able to continue sending your children to school during this time, so you can continue working, however, if you have dependents at home that are more susceptible to coronavirus, you may not feel that is appropriate, and that you should be keeping your children at home instead.
If this is the case, you may need to look into applying for your statutory available parental leave of up to 4 weeks per child per year, in order to protect your family. Its recommended you discuss this with your employer first, to see if they can make other arrangements for you.
Guidance for care facilities
(updated June 1st)
The government has also released guidance on how to maintain care in the event of an outbreak of COVID-19 for care providers. This includes guidance for:
- Providers of residential care such as care homes, nursing homes, and facilities for those with disabilities.
- The supported living provision by local authorities, CCG’s, community health services and providers of care that deliver support within supported living facilities.
- Homecare provision by local authorities, CCG’s, community health services and registered providers.
Note this guidance was updated on the 6th April, the original guidance on “residential care provision” was withdrawn, and updated guidance on “admission and care of people in care homes” has replaced it.
The new guidance relates specifically to admitting new residents for care during this time, as well as the management of cases of COVID-19 within care homes.
If you previously used the former document to update policies, please check the replacement to confirm you are in line with current guidance.
To access this guidance see: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-residential-care-supported-living-and-home-care-guidance
You should also check out the latest GOV.UK guidance on infection prevention and control. It includes guidance on dealing with PPE shortages, principles of infection control and how to reduce risk of transmission. (Updated September 16th)
Coronavirus tests for care homes
Test kits are now available for every care home for the over 65’s or those with dementia in England. the tests can now be ordered for all residents and staff regardless of symptoms, this allows individuals who are potentially asymptomatic to be tested, and helps to prevent and control outbreaks.
To apply you need:
- the care home’s CQC location ID
- total number of residents, including the number of residents with coronavirus symptoms
- total number of staff, including agency staff
- your contact details
A new task force has been set up to tackle the spread of COVID-19 in the social care sector, and begin implementing a care home support package to help end transmission in the community, as well as to advise on a plan to support the sector moving forward.
It will be headed up by Former ADASS president and Director of Adult Social care of DHSC, David Pearson CBE, and will consist of representatives from PHE, CQC, Care Providers Alliance, LGA, ADASS, HealthWatch England, MHCLG, Cabinet office and DHSC.
End of life care planning and arrangements
Obviously, none of us wants to consider worst-case scenarios, and we’re not going to draw you into the if’s and maybe’s of what this virus could mean for some us. But if you are in a potentially at-risk group, and haven’t considered any formal plan or arrangements, now wouldn’t be the worst time to get it set up.
One of our more recent articles highlights how to organise a person’s end of life care plan, and features some questions you may not have considered, and some resources that should make setting this up easier to deal with. See https://www.carechoices.co.uk/organising-a-persons-end-of-life-care/
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The summaries of guidance and articles listed here are not a full and complete recitation of the original policies and guidance as provided by the government, health authorities and associated organisations. These summaries have been prepared in an effort to highlight key elements of these documents and articles, and bring them together in a single accessible location, NOT to replace them in any way shape or form. Every effort has been made to avoid mischaracterizations and to present these policies and guidance in an unbiased manner. Any failure to do so is unintentional. The full versions of every document mentioned can be viewed in their entirety through the relevant links.