Coronavirus

CORONAVIRUS INFORMATION

Please see below for information on the coronavirus outbreak:

From the government

For general information on the government’s response:

https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus 

For guidance for businesses and employers:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19 

For guidance for employees:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-guidance-for-employees 

For guidance on self-isolating if you believe you may have a possible coronavirus infection

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance 

For guidance on staying at home:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others

For guidance on protecting extremely vulnerable people:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19 

For travel advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus

From the NHS

General information:

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

NHS 111 Coronavirus Service: PLEASE ONLY CALL 111 IF YOU ARE UNABLE TO GET HELP ONLINE

https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19/ 

 

 

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. The approach of the government, supported by opposition parties, is guided by the Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Officer, Sir Patrick Vallance; their task is not easy, but as your local MP, I am 100% supportive. 

The UK's response is not reactionary, it is based on clinical, scientific and medical evidence. This section of the website sets out both the health advice and other efforts to help support businesses and our public services. 

The UK is however facing a serious pandemic. We should not down play this illness.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): what you need to do

 

Stay at home

Only go outside for food, health reasons or essential work

Stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people

Wash your hands as soon as you get home

 You do not need to call NHS 111 to go into self-isolation. If symptoms worsen or are no better after 7 days, you should contact NHS 111 online, by clicking here. If you have no internet access, call NHS 111. Contacting them online will help to free up call centres for those without internet access. Of course, in an emergency, dial 999.

There are precautions that we can all take to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

  • Wash your hands with soap and water often and for at least 20 seconds.
  • Always wash your hands when you get home or go into work.
  • Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sleeve.
  • Put used tissues in the bin straight away and wash your hands afterwards.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are unwell.
  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.

Additionally, if you have travelled to the UK from the following places, you should stay indoors and avoid contact with others, even if you do not have symptoms: Italy; Iran; Hubei province in China; Daegu, Cheongdo or Gyeongsan in South Korea. 

As your local MP, I am here to support our health services, individuals and businesses in any way I can who are affected by coronavirus. However, please understand that I have limited staff, and they are working flat out to help in whatever way they can. If you need any help or advice, please get in touch using the 'Contact' button at the top of this page. 

As the situation progresses, I will keep you updated. We will get through this. No matter how tough things feel now, Britain has got through many tough experiences before.

Coronavirus: Support for individuals and our public services

In both the Budget, and in a Downing Street Statement on 17th March 2020, Chancellor Rishi Sunak set out a number of measures to help individuals with the threats faced by Coronavirus. 

The Chancellor has made clear that our NHS will have the resources it needs, and that we will do whatever we can to support individuals and businesses. 

To support public services: 

  • A £5 billion Coronavirus Response fund for
    • The NHS to treat Coronavirus patients, including maintaining staffing levels.
    • Local Authority actions to support social care services and vulnerable people. 
    • Ensuring funding is available to other public services so that they are prepared and protected.
  • £40 million of new funding for the National Institute for Health Research and the Department for Health to enable further rapid research into Coronavirus - this follows the £91 million that the government has already pledged to the international response.

To support people affected by Coronavirus:

  • For those in difficulty due to coronavirus, mortgage lenders will offer at least a three month mortgage holiday. These people will not have to pay a penny towards their mortgage whilst they get back on their feet. 
  • Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) will be available for anyone diagnosed with Coronavirus, or who is unable to work became they are self-isolating from day 1, instead of day 4 for affected individuals. Those not eligible for SSP, or those earning below the Lower Earnings Limit of £118 per week, can make a claim for Universal Credit or Contributory Employment and Support Allowance more easily, which will be paid from day 1. 
  • People will be able to claim Universal Credit and access advance payments upfront without the current requirement to attend a Job Centre if they are advised to self-isolate. 
  • For the duration of the outbreak, the requirements of the Universal Credit Minimum Income Floor will be temporarily relaxed for those with Coronavirus, or those self-isolating, ensuring self-employed claimants will receive support. 
  • People who are advised to self-isolate will soon be able to a sick note by contacting NHS 111, rather than visiting a doctor when employers require evidence. 

To support businesses:

The government recognises the huge challenges faced by many businesses in light of the Coronavirus epidemic. In both the Budget, and a statement by the Chancellor on 17th March 2020, a set of measures were announced to help businesses at this difficult time. 

Government guaranteed loans

  • The government is making available an initial £330 billion of guarantees - equivalent to 15% of our GDP. That means that businesses who need access to cash to pay their rent, salaries, suppliers or purchase stock will be able to access a government-backed loan, on attractive terms. If demand is greater than the initial £330bn, the Chancellor will go further and provide as much capacity as required.
  • These loans will be available through two main schemes, which will be up and running by the start of next week: 
    • For larger firms, to support liquidity, a new lending facility will be created to provide low cost, easily accessible commercial paper. 
    • To support lending to Small and Medium Sized businesses, the new Business Interruption Loan Scheme will be extended, providing loans of up to £5 million, with no interest due for the first six months. 

In the coming days, a potential support package for airlines and airports will be discussed. 

Insurance, business rate relief and cash grants

  • For pubs, clubs, theatres and other hospitality, leisure and retail venues which have a policy that covers pandemics, the government's action is sufficient and will allow businesses to make an insurance claim against their policy. 
  • For businesses which don't have insurance, those with a rateable value of less than £51,000 will receive an additional cash grant of up to £25,000 per business to bridge through this period. 
  • All businesses in these sectors, regardless of their rateable value will pay no business rates this year. 
  • The government will provide an additional £2.2 billion funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no Business Rates, because of Small Business Rate Relief. This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to around 700,000 businesses who currently receive Small Business Rate Relief or Rural Rate Relief, to help meet their business costs. Local authorities will be fully compensated for these measures. 

Statutory Sick Pay

  • The government will legislate to allow small and medium-sized businesses (SME's) to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to Coronavirus for up to two weeks.

Support with tax liabilities

  • All businesses and the self-employed in financial distress with outstanding tax liabilities may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through the HMRC's Time To Pay service. We all have to play our part in tackling this virus and slowing the spread. As with any new illness, information about the virus spreads is still emerging, but symptoms of Coronavirus include a cough, high temperature and shortness of breath.

 

Coronavirus: Social distancing guidance

This guidance is for everyone. It advises on social distancing measures we should all be taking to reduce social interaction between people in order to reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19). It is intended for use in situations where people are living in their own homes, with or without additional support from friends, family and carers. If you live in a residential care setting - guidance is available at residential care setting

The government are advising those who are at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) to be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures.

This group includes those who are:

Note: there are some clinical conditions which put people at even higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. If you are in this category, next week the NHS in England will directly contact you with advice the more stringent measures you should take in order to keep yourself and others safe. For now, you should rigorously follow the social distancing advice in full, outlined below.

People falling into this group are those who may be at particular risk due to complex health problems such as:

  • People who have received an organ transplant and remain on ongoing immunosuppression medication
  • People with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy or radiotherapy
  • People with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia who are at any stage of treatment
  • People with severe chest conditions such as cystic fibrosis or severe asthma (requiring hospital admissions or courses of steroid tablets)
  • People with severe diseases of body systems, such as severe kidney disease (dialysis)

What is social distancing?

Social distancing measures are steps you can take to reduce the social interaction between people. This will help reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19).

They are:

  1. Avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). These symptoms include high temperature and/or new and continuous cough;
  2. Avoid non-essential use of public transport, varying your travel times to avoid rush hour, when possible; 3.Work from home, where possible. Your employer should support you to do this. Please refer to employer guidance for more information;
  3. Avoid large gatherings, and gatherings in smaller public spaces such as pubs, cinemas, restaurants, theatres, bars, clubs
  4. Avoid gatherings with friends and family. Keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media.
  5. Use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services.

Everyone should be trying to follow these measures as much as is pragmatic.

For those who are over 70, have an underlying health condition or are pregnant, we strongly advise you to follow the above measures as much as you can, and to significantly limit your face-to-face interaction with friends and family if possible.

This advice is likely to be in place for some weeks.

Handwashing and Respiratory Hygiene

There are general principles you can follow to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:

  • washing your hands more often - with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitiser when you get home or into work, when you blow your nose, sneeze or cough, eat or handle food
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • avoid close contact with people who have symptoms
  • cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in a bin and wash your hands
  • clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces in the home

What should you do if you develop symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19)

The same guidance applies to the general population and those at increased risk of severe illness form coronavirus (COVID-19). If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 (high temperature and/or new and continuous cough), self-isolate at home for 7 days. You can find the full guidance at stay at home

How can I get assistance with foods and medicines if I am reducing my social contacts?

Ask family, friends and neighbours to support you and use online services. If this is not possible, then the public sector, business, charities, and the general public are gearing up to help those advised to stay at home. It is important to speak to others and ask them to help you to make arrangements for the delivery of food, medicines and essential services and supplies, and look after your physical and mental health and wellbeing.

If you receive support from health and social care organisations, for example if you have care provided for you through the local authority or health care system, this will continue as normal. Your health or social care provider will be asked to take additional precautions to make sure that you are protected. The advice for formal carers is included in the Home care provision.

What should you do if you have hospital and GP appointments during this period?

We advise everyone to access medical assistance remotely, wherever possible. However, if you have a scheduled hospital or other medical appointment during this period, talk to your GP or clinician to ensure you continue to receive the care you need and consider whether appointments can be postponed.

What is the advice for visitors including those who are providing care for you?

You should contact your regular social visitors such as friends and family to let them know that you are reducing social contacts and that they should not visit you during this time, unless they are providing essential care for you. Essential care includes things like help with washing, dressing, or preparing meals.

If you receive regular health or social care from an organisation, either through your local authority or paid for by yourself, inform your care providers that you are reducing social contacts and agree a plan for continuing your care.

If you receive essential care from friends or family members, speak to your carers about extra precautions they can take to keep you safe. You may find this guidance on  Home care provision useful.

It is also a good idea to speak to your carers about what happens if one of them becomes unwell. If you need help with care but you’re not sure who to contact, or if you do not have family or friends who can help you, you can contact your local council who should be able to help you.

What is the advice if I live with a vulnerable person?

If you live in a house with a vulnerable person refer to our household guidance

How do you look after your mental wellbeing?

Understandably, you may find that social distancing can be boring or frustrating. You may find your mood and feelings are affected and you may feel low, worried or have problems sleeping and you might miss being outside with other people.

At times like these, it can be easy to fall into unhealthy patterns of behaviour which in turn can make you feel worse. There are simple things you can do that may help, to stay mentally and physically active during this time such as:

  • Look for ideas of exercises you can do at home on the NHS website
  • Spend time doing things you enjoy – this might include reading, cooking, other indoor hobbies or listening to/watching favourite radio or TV programmes
  • Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, drink enough water, exercise regularly, and try to avoid smoking, alcohol and drugs
  • Keep your windows open to let in fresh air, get some natural sunlight if you can, or get outside into the garden. You can also go for a walk outdoors if you stay more than 2 metres from others

Further information on looking after your mental health during this time is available.

What steps can you take to stay connected with family and friends during this time?

Draw on support you might have through your friends, family and other networks during this time. Try to stay in touch with those around you over the phone, by post, or online. Let people know how you would like to stay in touch and build that into your routine. This is also important in looking after your mental wellbeing and you may find it helpful to talk to them about how you are feeling.

Remember it is OK to share your concerns with others you trust and in doing so you may end up providing support to them too. Or you can use a NHS recommended helpline.

What is the advice for informal carers?

If you are caring for someone who is vulnerable, there are some simple steps that you can take to protect them and to reduce their risk at the current time. Ensure you follow advice on good hygiene such as:

  • Wash your hands on arrival and often, using soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze.
  • Put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards.
  • Do not visit if you are unwell and make alternative arrangements for their care.
  • Provide information on who they should call if they feel unwell, how to use NHS111 online coronavirus service and leave the number for NHS 111 prominently displayed.
  • Find out about different sources of support that could be used and access further advice on creating a contingency plan is available from Carers UK
  • Look after your own well-being and physical health during this time. Further information on this is available here

 

Coronavirus: guidance for employers

1. Background and scope of guidance

This guidance will assist employers and businesses in providing advice to staff on:

  • the novel coronavirus, COVID-19
  • how to help prevent spread of all respiratory infections including COVID-19
  • what to do if someone with suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 has been in a workplace setting
  • what advice to give to individuals who have travelled to specific areas, as outlined by the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) (full list is available here)
  • advice for the certification of absence from work resulting from COVID-19

2. Information about the virus

A coronavirus is a type of virus. As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world. COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan City, China in January 2020.

The incubation period of COVID-19 is between 2 to 14 days. This means that if a person remains well 14 days after contact with someone with confirmed coronavirus, they have not been infected.

3. Signs and symptoms of COVID-19

The following symptoms may develop in the 14 days after exposure to someone who has COVID-19 infection:

  • cough
  • difficulty in breathing
  • fever

Generally, these infections can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.

4. How COVID-19 is spread

From what we know about other coronaviruses, spread of COVID-19 is most likely to happen when there is close contact (within 2 metres or less) with an infected person. It is likely that the risk increases the longer someone has close contact with an infected person.

Respiratory secretions produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes containing the virus are most likely to be the main means of transmission.

There are 2 main routes by which people can spread COVID-19:

  • infection can be spread to people who are nearby (within 2 metres) or possibly could be inhaled into the lungs.
  • it is also possible that someone may become infected by touching a surface, object or the hand of an infected person that has been contaminated with respiratory secretions and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes (such as touching door knob or shaking hands then touching own face)

There is currently little evidence that people who are without symptoms are infectious to others.

5. Preventing spread of infection

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus.

Public Health England (PHE) recommends that the following general cold and flu precautions are taken to help prevent people from catching and spreading COVID-19:

  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze. See Catch it, Bin it, Kill it
  • put used tissues in the bin straight away
  • wash your hands with soap and water often – use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available. See hand washing guidance
  • try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell
  • clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
  • do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean

If you are worried about symptoms, please call NHS 111. Do not go directly to your GP or other healthcare environment.

Further information is available on the PHE blog and NHS.UK.

Face masks for the general public are not recommended to protect from infection, as there is no evidence of benefit from their use outside healthcare environments.

People who have returned from Hubei Province, including Wuhan, in the last 14 days should stay at home whether they have symptoms or not. This includes avoiding attending an education setting or work until 14 days after they leave Hubei Province.

People who have returned from Hubei Province, including Wuhan, in the last 14 days should avoid attending work. They should call NHS 111 for advice and stay at home.

Advice is in place for what to do if you have returned in the last 14 days from specified countries or areas which is being updated on an ongoing basis.

With regards to travel information to China or other countries for individuals working in the UK, we recommend following the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) country advice pages.

At present, FCO advises against all travel to Hubei Province due to the ongoing novel COVID-19 outbreak. The FCO also advises against all but essential travel to the rest of mainland China (not including Hong Kong and Macao).

6. How long the virus can survive

How long any respiratory virus survives will depend on a number of factors, for example:

  • what surface the virus is on
  • whether it is exposed to sunlight
  • differences in temperature and humidity
  • exposure to cleaning products

Under most circumstances, the amount of infectious virus on any contaminated surfaces is likely to have decreased significantly by 72 hours.

We know that similar viruses are transferred to and by people’s hands. Therefore, regular hand hygiene and cleaning of frequently touched surfaces will help to reduce the risk of infection.

See hand washing guidance.

7. Guidance on facemasks

Employees are not recommended to wear facemasks (also known as surgical masks or respirators) to protect against the virus. Facemasks are only recommended to be worn by symptomatic individuals (advised by a healthcare worker) to reduce the risk of transmitting the infection to other people.

PHE recommends that the best way to reduce any risk of infection is good hygiene and avoiding direct or close contact (closer than 2 metres) with any potentially infected person.

Any member of staff who deals with members of the public from behind a full screen will be protected from airborne particles.

8. What to do if an employee or a member of the public becomes unwell and believe they have been exposed to COVID-19

If the person has not been to specified areas in the last 14 days, then normal practice should continue.

If someone becomes unwell in the workplace and has travelled to China or other affected countries, the unwell person should be removed to an area which is at least 2 metres away from other people. If possible find a room or area where they can be isolated behind a closed door, such as a staff office. If it is possible to open a window, do so for ventilation.

The individual who is unwell should call NHS 111 from their mobile, or 999 if an emergency (if they are seriously ill or injured or their life is at risk) and explain which country they have returned from in the last 14 days and outline their current symptoms.

Whilst they wait for advice from NHS 111 or an ambulance to arrive, they should remain at least 2 metres from other people. They should avoid touching people, surfaces and objects and be advised to cover their mouth and nose with a disposable tissue when they cough or sneeze and put the tissue in a bag or pocket then throw the tissue in the bin. If they don’t have any tissues available, they should cough and sneeze into the crook of their elbow.

If they need to go to the bathroom whilst waiting for medical assistance, they should use a separate bathroom if available.

9. Returning from travel overseas to affected areas

People who have returned from Hubei Province, including Wuhan, Iran, Daegu or Cheongdo in the Republic of Korea, and any area within Italy under containment measures in the last 14 days should avoid attending work. They should call NHS 111 for advice and stay at home.

Advice is in place for what to do if you have returned in the last 14 days from specified countries or areas which is being updated on an ongoing basis.

All other staff should continue to attend work.

10. What to do if a member of staff or the public with suspected COVID-19 has recently been in your workplace

For contacts of a suspected case in the workplace, no restrictions or special control measures are required while laboratory test results for COVID19 are awaited. In particular, there is no need to close the workplace or send other staff home at this point. Most possible cases turn out to be negative. Therefore, until the outcome of test results is known there is no action that the workplace needs to take.

11. What to do if a member of staff or the public with confirmed COVID-19 has recently been in your workplace

Closure of the workplace is not recommended.

The management team of the office or workplace will be contacted by the PHE local Health Protection Team to discuss the case, identify people who have been in contact with them and advise on any actions or precautions that should be taken.

A risk assessment of each setting will be undertaken by the Health Protection Team with the lead responsible person. Advice on the management of staff and members of the public will be based on this assessment.

The Health Protection Team will also be in contact with the case directly to advise on isolation and identifying other contacts and will be in touch with any contacts of the case to provide them with appropriate advice.

Advice on cleaning of communal areas such as offices or toilets will be given by the Health Protection Team. and is outlined later in this document.

12. When individuals in the workplace have had contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19

If a confirmed case is identified in your workplace, the local Health Protection Team will provide the relevant staff with advice. These staff include:

  • any employee in close face-to-face or touching contact
  • talking with or being coughed on for any length of time while the employee was symptomatic
  • anyone who has cleaned up any bodily fluids
  • close friendship groups or workgroups
  • any employee living in the same household as a confirmed case

Contacts are not considered cases and if they are well they are very unlikely to have spread the infection to others:

  • those who have had close contact will be asked to stay at home for 14 days from the last time they had contact with the confirmed case and follow the home isolation advice sheet
  • they will be actively followed up by the Health Protection Team
  • if they develop new symptoms or their existing symptoms worsen within their 14-day observation period they should call NHS 111 for reassessment
  • if they become unwell with cough, fever or shortness of breath they will be tested for COVID-19
  • if they are unwell at any time within their 14-day observation period and they test positive for COVID-19 they will become a confirmed case and will be treated for the infection

Staff who have not had close contact with the original confirmed case do not need to take any precautions and can continue to attend work.

13. Certifying absence from work

By law, medical evidence is not required for the first 7 days of sickness. After 7 days, it is for the employer to determine what evidence they require, if any, from the employee. This does not need to be fit note (Med 3 form) issued by a GP or other doctor.

Your employee will be advised to isolate themselves and not to work in contact with other people by NHS 111 or PHE if they are a carrier of, or have been in contact with, an infectious or contagious disease, such as COVID-19.

We strongly suggest that employers use their discretion around the need for medical evidence for a period of absence where an employee is advised to stay at home due to suspected COVID-19, in accordance with the public health advice being issued by the government.

14. Advice for staff returning from travel anywhere else in the world within the last 14 days

Currently, there are minimal cases outside the listed areas and therefore the likelihood of an individual coming into contact with a confirmed case is extremely low.

These staff can continue to attend work unless they have been informed that they have had contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19

If individuals are aware that they have had close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 they should contact NHS 111 for further advice.

The latest country information is available on the NaTHNac Travel Pro website.

15. Handling post, packages or food from affected areas

Employees should continue to follow existing risk assessments and safe systems of work. There is no perceived increase in risk for handling post or freight from specified areas.

16. Cleaning offices and public spaces where there are suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19

Coronavirus symptoms are similar to a flu-like illness and include cough, fever, or shortness of breath. Once symptomatic, all surfaces that the person has come into contact with must be cleaned including:

  • all surfaces and objects which are visibly contaminated with body fluids
  • all potentially contaminated high-contact areas such as toilets, door handles, telephones

Public areas where a symptomatic individual has passed through and spent minimal time in (such as corridors) but which are not visibly contaminated with body fluids do not need to be specially cleaned and disinfected.

If a person becomes ill in a shared space, these should be cleaned using disposable cloths and household detergents, according to current recommended workplace legislation and practice.

17. Rubbish disposal, including tissues

All waste that has been in contact with the individual, including used tissues, and masks if used, should be put in a plastic rubbish bag and tied when full. The plastic bag should then be placed in a second bin bag and tied. It should be put in a safe place and marked for storage until the result is available. If the individual tests negative, this can be put in the normal waste.

Should the individual test positive, you will be instructed what to do with the waste.

For advice on business support made available in the Budget, please click here.

Coronavirus: Advice for schools

On 18 March 2020, the Education Secretary announced schools would be closed for the vast majority of pupils until further notice. 
 
• So far the advice has been that that we should keep schools open to reduce the pressure on the NHS and on other public services. But this has always been a balanced judgement and kept under constant review.  
 
• Based on the latest advice, we will now close schools for the vast majority of pupils until further notice. In order to allow health and other critical workers to continue working, their children, and those who are vulnerable, will continue to attend school.  
 
• Closing schools for the vast majority will help in our efforts to suppress the upward trend of the virus, while continuing to look after the children of key workers will be a critical part of our fightback against coronavirus. 
 
We are doing this by:  
 
• Closing schools for the vast majority of children until further notice. This will mean there will be far fewer children in schools and that will help us to slow the spread of the disease. 
 
• Continuing to provide school places for the children of key workers to ensure our NHS and vital services continue to have the workforces they need. We need health workers and other critical workers – from police officers to supermarket delivery drivers– to keep going to work. So schools are being asked to make provision for the children of these people. These measures are crucial to make sure the critical parts of the economy keep functioning and public services keep functioning. 
 
• Looking after the most vulnerable children. Schools will also be asked to make provision for vulnerable children.  For those children who rely on free school meals we will ensure that meals and vouchers are available.  
 
• Asking private providers to follow the Government’s actions. We are asking nurseries and private schools to follow the Government’s lead in closing except for the children of key workers.  
 
Children should not be looked after by older grandparents or relatives who may be particularly vulnerable to the virus.  
 There is a dedicated helpline number for educational settings – please call 0800 046 8687 for any specific question not covered on this page.

Public Health England has created resource materials that contain public health advice about how you can help stop the spread of viruses, like those that cause coronavirus (COVID-19), by practising good respiratory and hand hygiene. To access, download and share this information, you will need to register for an account which only takes a couple of minutes.

Use e-Bug resources to teach pupils about hygiene.

Coronavirus: extension of Statutory Sick Pay and Benefit Measures

In the Budget on Wednesday 11th March, changes to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) and Benefit Measures were announced to ensure you are not penalised for doing the right thing in self-isolating. These change have already come into effect and will: 

  • Extend Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) to those who are self-isolating in line with Government health guidance.

 

  • Adjust the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Universal Credit (UC) rules to ensure you are entitled to money from day 1, and those who are self-employed are supported, including in the gig-economy, to receive welfare payments for periods of self-isolation. 

This change helps to provide certainty that (if eligible) you are entitled to receive Statutory Sick Pay if you are following government advice in relation to coronavirus. This includes if you are self isolating as a precautionary measure without symptoms. 

If you are on a zero hour contract, you may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay. This will depend how many hours you have worked regularly and income received, but you should contact your employer directly to find out more. 

These changes also mean that if you are affected by Coronavirus, will be able to access the benefit system without the need for medical evidence or to attend a work capability assessment. The seven waiting days for Employment and Support Allowance for new claims will not apply. It will be payable from day one. 

These changes will ensure that if you are affected by Coronavirus, work search and work availability requirements within Universal Credit are switched off. They will also provide access to other support within Universal Credit, such as a work allowance and childcare support for if you have a partner who is still able to work. If you are self-employed, you will also not have a Minimum Income Floor (an assumed level of income) applied for a period of time within Universal Credit.

For more details on Statutory Sick Pay, click here to visit gov.uk.

 

Coronavirus: Face to Face Assessments for Health and Disability Benefits

Following the Coronavirus outbreak, face-to-face assessments for all sickness and disability benefits have been suspended for the next three months. 

It is a precautionary measure to protect the most vulnerable from unnecessary risk of exposure to coronavirus. It ensures those entitled to receive the benefit receive support, and new claimants are able to access a safety net. 

It covers claimants of Personal Independence Payments (PIP) and those on Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), as well as some on Universal Credit, and recipients of Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit. It also covers new claims to these benefits. 

Anyone who has a face-to-face assessment appointment scheduled from Tuesday 17th March onwards does not need to attend and will be contacted to discuss next steps and alternative arrangements, which could involve telephone or paper-based assessments. These measures will be in place for the next three months, but the position will be reviewed regularly. No further action is required by any claimant. 

DWP will continue to accept new claims for all benefits. Anyone already receiving PIP, ESA, Universal Credit or Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit, will continue to receive their current payments as normal while alternative arrangements are put in place to review or reassess their claim.

A letter from the Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, Justin Tomlinson MP, sets out the changes in more detail below. 

Letter from Minister for Disabled People

Coronavirus: Foreign Office Travel Advice

In response to coronavirus measures, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office are advising against all but essential foreign travel to tackle the spread of coronavirus. These restrictions will be in place for 30 days, but could be extended. 

Check travel advice and sign up for email alerts for your destination

If your travel it essential, it is your responsibility to make sure you check travel advice before travelling. Use the link above to check advice and sign up for email alerts. You should: 

  • Make sure you have the appropriate travel insurance. If you have concerns about coronavirus, contact your travel provider to check what will be covered should you become sick or are required to self-isolate or quarantine by the local authorities. 

 

  • Check with your airline, tour operator, cruise line, or other transport and accommodation providers for any coronavirus-related changes. 

 

  • Plan ahead for any potential disruption. 

 

  • If you are older, or have pre-existing medical conditions, you are likely to become severely ill if you catch coronavirus. You should check NHS guidance before travelling. 

Planning your trip

Travel Insurance

Make sure you have appropriate travel insurance for overseas travel, and purchase it as soon as you book your holiday. Read the Foreign Office guidance on purchasing insurance for more information. 

Early restrictions

Many countries and territories have introduced screening measures such as temperature checks and health/travel questions, and entry restrictions at border crossing and transport hubs. 

If you have recently been in a country affected by the virus, you may need to be quarantined, or may not be allowed to enter or travel through a third country. Make sure you check the travel advice for all the countries you are planning to visit or travel through. 

Air Travel

As governments and local authorities bring in measures to control the spread of coronavirus, some airlines are changing their schedules or suspending flights for some destinations. If you're due to travel to an area affected by coronavirus, make sure you check the latest information with your travel company or airline. 

International cruises

If you are planning to go on a cruise, be aware that a coronavirus outbreak on board is possible, and your travel may be disrupted. 

If you are aged 70 or over, or have underlying health conditions, the Foreign Office advise you against cruise ship travel at this time.

If you are due to go on a cruise, check with your travel company for the latest information. 

International education trips

If you are planning a trip overseas, you should read the Department for Education guidance. The government advises against all overseas education trips for children under 18 until further notice. 

When you’re abroad

If travel advice changes when you are abroad

If Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice changes, you are advised to follow the advice of the local authorities. Your safety and security is the responsibility of the local authority where you are. 

If you are abroad when the advice changes, contact your airline or travel company, and your insurance provider as soon as you are able to.

You should also keep checking Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice. If they advise people to leave a company they will say so, but only organise assisted departures in exceptional circumstances. 

Quarantine while you are abroad

If the local authority where you are proposes to quarantine you for your own protection, you should follow their advice. When you are abroad, your safety and security is their responsibility.

If there are suspected cases of coronavirus where you are, you may need to remain in your hotel room or accommodation for 14 days, move to quarantine facilities, take tests for coronavirus and, if positive in some cases, be hospitalised abroad.

You should also contact your airline or travel company, and your insurance provider as soon as you can. We only organise assisted departure in exceptional circumstances.

Consular help

If you require consular assistance, you can contact them at any time by calling your nearest British embassy, high commission, or consulate.

 

Coronavirus: Changes to TV Licences for over-75's

On 16th March 2020, the government and the BBC also announced that changes to the Licence Fee for people over the age of 75 that had been due to come into effect on 1st June have been delayed. 

In the coming weeks and months, the BBC will have a vital role to play in supplying factual and timely information to the public. That's why both the BBC have agreed to the government's request to change the start date to August 1st, and review the situation in due course

Coronavirus: Don't stockpile!

In recent days, none of us will have escaped the headlines showing shops with empty shelves with people stockpiling everything from toilet rolls to pasta. 

There is enough for everyone, and the government are working closely with the supermarkets to keep the nation fed. But they need everybody's help to do this. 

he letter below - signed by all the major supermarkets - asks us to stop stockpiling. This is important advice. If you stockpile, it can mean there isn't anything left for others, who can often be the most vulnerable in society. 

Supermarkets Feed the Nation