Coronavirus: An introduction

Information about COVID-19 

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Do you know someone in England who is 65 or over with symptoms of coronavirus? They can book a test now by clicking here.

If you're an essential worker who is self-isolating (not able to leave home), you can now apply for you and your household to get tested for coronavirus (COVID-19).

Click here to find out more on how to apply for a test if you're an essential worker.

If you’re invited to book a coronavirus (COVID-19) test, this is because we believe you’re an essential worker who is self-isolating (not able to leave home). The test is only for people who have symptoms of coronavirus – whether that’s you, or someone you live with. It involves taking a swab sample from your nose and throat. The test will tell whether you currently have coronavirus. While you wait for your results, you (and anyone you live with) must continue to self-isolate.

Click here if you have an essential worker invitation code.

If you want access to all Government advice on coronavirus you'll find it here.

What is coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a ‘type’ of virus. The coronavirus we are all affected by is called COVID-19, but you may also hear it called - coronavirus.

How serious is COVID-19?

Most people who get the virus will make a full recovery, but the virus can cause more severe symptoms and death. This is particularly true for people with a weakened immune system, for older people and for those with long term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.

The more people who become infected - the more our NHS will not cope - so stay at home and save lives.

A lot of false information about this virus is being shared - it’s very important that you make sure that the information you use comes from a trusted source - all of the information on this page has been sourced from the NHS.

What are the symptoms?

If you are infected you experience a range of symptoms but the two symptoms to look out for are:

  • new continuous cough
  • A fever or high temperature

What should I do if I have either of the above symptoms?

  • Protect others - don't call NHS 111 (unless your symptoms have severely worsened)
  • Protect others - don't call or go to your GP
  • Protect others - don't go to your local hospital

If you live alone - stay at home without any visitors (self-isolate) immediately and for 7 days

If you live with others - you should all isolate yourselves at home for 14 days - this 14-day period starts from the day the first person in the home noticed the symptoms.

You staying at home for 7 or 14 days will stop you causing other people to get sick and possibly die - don't risk it.

For anyone in your home who starts displaying symptoms, they need to stay at home for 7 days from when the symptoms appeared, regardless of what day they are on in the original 14-day isolation period.

If at-risk people share your home - such as those who are older and those with underlying health conditions - ideally they should move out, perhaps to stay with friends or family for the whole isolation period. If they can't move out, they must keep as much distance as possible from others in the home during this period. Use disinfectant to keep surfaces clean, wash hands and keep them away from your face.

For further information read this government advice on staying at home and isolating.

What should I do if self-isolation is difficult?

  • You can't manage with your symptoms at home
  • Your conditions get worse
  • Your symptoms do not get better after 7 days

You should use the online 111 service or if you can't use the online service call 111.

How can you avoid getting and spreading the virus?

Scientists think the virus spreads via droplets from coughs and sneezes and we know it spreads easily and can stay on surfaces for a while. Follow the advice below to reduce your risk and the risk to others.

  • Avoid non-essential contact with others - work from home if you can and don't socialising with others - if you do go out keep 6 feet (2metres) distance.
  • Wash your hands - with soap and water often, for at least 20 seconds. Do this before leaving home and after returning home, before eating and drinking, and after coughing or sneezing.
  • Cover your mouth and nose - with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze - tissue in the bin and wash, or disinfect, your hands immediately.
  • Don't touch your face - especially your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Clean surfaces - disinfect surfaces around you  - especially mobiles, computers, keyboards, worktops, desks, handles...

Keep up-to-date with government emails about coronavirus (COVID-19) here.

The Government's roadmap to lift restrictions step-by-step

The Government has a carefully planned timetable for lifting restrictions, with dates that should help people to plan. This timetable depends on successfully controlling the spread of the virus; if the evidence shows sufficient progress is not being made in controlling the virus then the lifting of restrictions may have to be delayed.

We cannot predict with absolute certainty what the impact of lifting restrictions will be. If, after lifting restrictions, the Government sees a sudden and concerning rise in the infection rate then it may have to re-impose some restrictions. It will seek to do so in as limited and targeted a way as possible, including reacting by re-imposing restrictions in specific geographic areas or in limited sectors where it is proportionate to do so.

Step One:

The changes to policy in this step will apply from Wednesday 13 May in England. As the rate of infection may be different in different parts of the UK, this guidance should be considered alongside local public health and safety requirements for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.


For the foreseeable future, workers should continue to work from home rather than their normal physical workplace, wherever possible.

But all workers who cannot work from home should travel to work if their workplace is open.

Sectors of the economy that are allowed to be open should be open. For example, this includes food production, construction, manufacturing, logistics, distribution and scientific research in laboratories.

The only exceptions to this are those workplaces such as hospitality and non- essential retail which during this first step the Government is requiring to remain closed.


The rate of infection remains too high to allow the reopening of schools for all pupils yet.

However, it is important that vulnerable children and the children of critical workers are able to attend school, as is currently permitted. 

The Government is amending its guidance to clarify that paid childcare, for example nannies and childminders, can take place subject to being able to meet the appropriate public health principles. This should enable more working parents to return to work.


As more people return to work, the number of journeys on public transport will also increase. 

Everybody (including critical workers) should continue to avoid public transport wherever possible. 

If they can, people should instead choose to cycle, walk or drive. 

The Government will increase funding and provide new statutory guidance to encourage local authorities to widen pavements, create pop-up cycle lanes, and close some roads in cities to traffic (apart from buses).


Homemade cloth face-coverings can help reduce the risk of transmission in some circumstances. 

The Government is now advising that people should aim to wear a face-covering in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not always possible, for example on public transport. These are not intended to help the wearer, but to protect against transmission of the disease to others if you have it asymptomatically.

A face covering is not the same as a facemask such as the surgical masks or respirators used as PPE by key workers. These supplies must continue to be reserved for those who need it.

Face-coverings should not be used by children under the age of two, or by those who may find it difficult to manage them correctly.

Public spaces:

As well as exercise, people can now also spend time outdoors subject to: 

  • Not meeting up with any more than one person from outside your household
  • Continued compliance with social distancing guidelines to remain two metres (6ft) away from people outside your household
  • Good hand hygiene, particularly with respect to shared surfaces;
  • Those responsible for public places being able to put appropriate measures in place to follow the new COVID-19 Secure guidance.

People may exercise outside as many times each day as they wish. For example, this would include angling and tennis. You will still not be able to use areas like playgrounds, outdoor gyms or ticketed outdoor leisure venues, where there is a higher risk of close contact and touching surfaces.

You can only exercise with up to one person from outside your household. This means you should not play team sports, except with members of your own household.

People may drive to outdoor open spaces irrespective of distance, so long as they respect social distancing guidance while they are there.

When travelling to outdoor spaces, it is important that people respect the rules in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and do not travel to different parts of the UK where it would be inconsistent with guidance or regulations issued by the relevant devolved administration.

Please keep in mind that some of the above measures, such as increased time spent outdoors, may come with some risk. It is important that everyone continues to act responsibly, as the large majority have done to date. 

The infection rate will increase if people begin to break these rules and, for example, mix in groups in parks, which will trigger the need for further restrictions.

Protecting the clinically vulnerable:

It remains the case that some people are more clinically vulnerable to COVID-19 than others. These include those aged over 70, those with specific chronic pre-existing conditions and pregnant women. These clinically vulnerable people should continue to take particular care to minimise contact with others outside their households, but do not need to be shielded.

Those in the clinically extremely vulnerable group are strongly advised to stay at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact; this is called ‘shielding’. It means not leaving thehouse or attending gatherings at all, with very limited exceptions.

Along with the support the Government is providing to those shielding, it will provide vital support for other vulnerable people, such as those at risk of loneliness. The Government is continuing to work to further support these groups, including by providing vital financial support to frontline charities working in these areas. The GOV.UK website provides information about the huge range of support that is available including from local authorities and the voluntary and community sector.The Government will continue to update the website as new services and support become available.

As the UK recovers, the Government will ensure people with disabilities can have independent lives and are not marginalised. This will include making sure that they can access public services and will consider their needs as the Government creates safe work environments and reopen the transport system. The Government will ensure their overall health outcomes do not suffer disproportionately.

Delivering these measures

Everyone is instructed to comply with these new measures. 

The Government have given the Police and other relevant authorities, powers to enforce these measures, including through fines and dispersing gatherings where people do not comply..

The Government has determined that current measures must remain in place for at least the next 3 weeks.

Stay alert - Control the virus - Save lives


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OUR PLAN TO REBUILD: The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy 1.73 MB