Your questions answered

Questions and answers regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Short answers to questions you might have about the virus and its impact on your life.

What can I do to help?

The single most important thing you can do is follow NHS advice. Wash hands, and self-isolate when you get symptoms - this is vital. 

Follow the expert advice. Wash hands, and self-isolate when you get symptoms and social-distance now - this is vital and will save lives. Good hygiene, social distancing and self-isolation are critical in the fight to slow the risk of infections - both for yourself and importantly for others - particularly those over 70, those with underlying health conditions and those who are pregnant.

Volunteer to help. There are now thousands of voluntary groups being run via Facebook and other social media sites. To join the national volunteer effort you can sign up here.

Where can I get the latest government information?

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

What can the police do if I don't follow the advice to stay at home?

If you do not comply the police may:

  • instruct people to go home, leave an area or disperse
  • ensure parents are taking necessary steps to stop their children breaking these rules
  • issue a fixed penalty notice of £60, which will be lowered to £30 if paid within 14 days
  • issue a fixed penalty notice of £120 for second time offenders, doubling on each further repeat offence

Individuals who do not pay a fixed penalty notice under the regulations could be taken to court, with magistrates able to impose unlimited fines.

If an individual continues to refuse to comply, they will be acting unlawfully, and the police may arrest them where deemed proportionate and necessary.

When should I self-isolate?

  • If you have a high temperature or new, continuous cough
  • You must self-isolate for 7 days if you live alone
  • You must all self-isolate for 14 days if you live with others (if someone gets symptoms during isolation all householders must remain symptom free for 7 days even if that means isolating for more than 14 days)

Self-isolation will save lives - it's important you follow the guidance if you're affected.- more information can be found here.

Do I need to call NHS 111 to self-isolate?

No - However if your symptoms worsen during isolation or are no better after 7 days contact the NHS online coronavirus service. If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999. 

Why should you self-isolate?

  • Self-isolation is the safest way to stop spread of the infection.
  • People in the most vulnerable groups should consider self-isolating even if they don't have symptoms.
  • Self-isolation saves lives - and while 90% of people will recover from this virus - some will get seriously ill and some will die - it is these people we need to protect.

How can I get a coronavirus sick note?

People unable to work for more than seven days because of coronavirus (COVID-19) can obtain an isolation note through a new online service.

Isolation notes will provide employees with evidence for their employers that they have been advised to self-isolate due to coronavirus, either because they have symptoms or they live with someone who has symptoms, and so cannot work.

As isolation notes can be obtained without contacting a doctor, this will reduce the pressure on GP surgeries and prevent people needing to leave their homes.

Get your isolation note here.

How should I look after myself when I self-isolate?

  • Get plenty of rest
  • Drink plenty of water (fluids)
  • Eat as health food
  • To reduce pain and fever take paracetamol (if you use other mediation get in touch with your care provider)
  • Keep in contact with friends and family by phone, video and online

Can I go to the theatre, cinema, the pub, a restaurant, clubs ...

The short answer is no - the following venues are closed and you are instructed to stay at home other than in particular exceptions.

  • pubs, cinemas and theatres.
  • all retail stores selling non-essential goods - such as - clothing and electronics stores; hair, beauty and nail salons; and outdoor and indoor markets, excluding food markets
  • libraries, community centres, and youth centres.
  • indoor and outdoor leisure facilities such as bowling alleys, arcades and soft play facilities.
  • communal places within parks, such as playgrounds, sports courts and outdoor gyms.
  • places of worship, except for funerals attended by immediate families.
  • hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, campsites, caravan parks, and boarding houses for commercial/leisure use, excluding permanent residents, key workers and those providing emergency accommodation, for example for the homeless.

At all times you must maintain a distance of 6 feet (2 metres) away from other people to reduce your risk of infection and reduce the number of deaths.

Why aren’t more people being tested?

The Government is fully aware of the importance of testing as many people as possible. They are rapidly increasing the number of tests that are carried out throughout the country. As of the 26th of March over 104,866 tests had been completed. Plans to test up to 25,000 per day have been announced.

The highest priority cases will be tested first, this includes those most at risk of severe illness and NHS staff. We are dramatically increasing the number of tests we can carry out every day, and this will ensure that healthcare and other critical workers can be tested very early on if they are ill.

It is not necessary, or indeed sensible, to test everyone in the country, because, as the medical experts have advised, the majority of people with the virus will have only mild symptoms. It is therefore far better to prioritise those most at risk, such as patients in critical care, when deciding who to test.

You may be interested to know that Public Health England is currently testing a new antibody test that may be able to show if a person has had Covid-19.

The overriding aim is to save lives, protect the most vulnerable and relieve pressure on the NHS.

Do I need to wear a face mask?

When you're doing normal day-to-day activities face masks do little to protect people from viruses. The best way to reduce any risk of infections is with good hygiene, like washing your hands, not touching your face and avoiding social contact (within 2 metres) with any potentially infected person.

Healthcare professionals may wear special masks if they're spending hours each day looking after people who have tested positive for coronavirus, or may have been infected. If someone has been told they have coronavirus, they may be advised to wear a mask to protect others.

Can I get a refund on my train ticket?

Advance tickets will be refunded free of charge. Season ticket holders will be refunded time unused with no administrative charges. Contact the organisation from which you purchased your ticket for details.

What financial support can I get?

The Government have made a number of changes to benefits and sick pay and will likely take more steps over the coming days and weeks. The following two organisations provide detailed support and advice about your money in light of coronavirus and new government measures.

  • This up-to-date guide from the Money Advice Service is easy to follow and filled with good advice about sick pay and changes to claiming your benefits during this challenging time.
  • The advice and benefits and grants calculators at Turn2Us are useful to get support if the coronavirus has had a negative impact on your finances.

Can I claim sick pay?

Will my employer be obliged to pay me while I stay at home? 

Statutory Sick Pay will be paid from day 1 instead of day 4 for those affected by the virus.

What if I have a 'zero hours' contract?

You may be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay. Check with your employer in the first instance and if you're not entitled to Statutory Sick Pay, you may be able to apply for Universal Credit  or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) .

What if I’m self-employed?

You can apply for Universal Credit  - the Government have changed certain rules governing this benefit during the coronavirus period.

What if the whole family has to stay at home so we have no income?

If no one is getting Statutory Sick Pay, the family can apply for Universal Credit  -  the Government have changed certain rules governing this benefit during the coronavirus period.

I'm worried about paying my tax - is there any help?

Yes - there are 2000 staff supporting a COVID-19 dedicated helpline for businesses and self-employed being run by HMRC Monday-Friday 8am-8pm, Saturday 8am-4pm - 0800 0159 559 who will discuss possible remedies such as:

  • agreeing an instalment arrangment
  • suspending debt collection proceedings
  • cancelling penalties and interest

Self-assessment tax payments are deferred until January 2021.

I am a home cleaner/employ a home cleaner - can I continue to enter homes for work?

People can leave their home to work where that work can't be done at home. That includes a cleaner leaving home to work. Employers of home cleaners shouldn't ask their cleaner to keep coming to work unless it is essential. Keeping your home clean is also essential though people should reconsider whether they can do this themselves and whether asking someone in is absolutely essential. The risk of transmission from having someone else into your home is high.

What about cleaners in workplaces?

Keeping a workplace or place of worship clean is essential especially at this time.

How much can I put on a contactless bank card?

To help manage through the coronavirus the limit has been increased to £45.00

What can I do about getting an MOT?

MOTs are suspended for lorries, buses and trailers for up to three months. The Government has announced that cars, motorbikes and vans will be given an MOT exemption from the 30th March 2020. But you must still keep your car roadworthy and in a good condition.

Can I still shop online and is it safe?

Yes. Online sites, postal and delivery services will run as usual. You won't have to sign for goods and they should be delivered leaving a safe distance.

Can I take my pet to the vet?

Vets are open but practices have been asked to provide emergency services only and face-to-face contact should be limited. So only use the vet for urgent or emergency medical care.

My partner doesn't live with me can I visit them?

No. From the 23rd March government instructions advise not. You should not be meeting friends or even family who do not live in your home, unless you are providing essential care for your partner, friend or family or vice versa and even then you should maintain social distancing.

Should I use hand sanitiser gel or soap and water?

You should wash your hands with soap and water for at last 20 seconds regularly but particularly when you return home. If you're out and about and cannot get access to soap and water cleaning your hands thoroughly with hand sanitiser gel can be effective against the virus.

I'm an NHS or social care worker do I have to pay for parking?

All on-street parking and open, council-run car parks including pay and display and will suspend charges for health workers, social care workers and NHS volunteers..Councils will set up local arrangements so NHS and care workers and volunteers can provide suitable evidence that they can display in their windscreen to ensure they avoid parking tickets. Find out more here.

Can I move house?

Following advice from the Law Society, buyers and renters should, as far as possible, delay moving to a new house while emergency measures are in place. If you are self-isolating, or in a more at risk group it's more important for you to delay. If moving is unavoidable because you're contracted to do so and the other parties aren't able to agree a delay, you must follow advice on social distancing throughout your move.

Can I get up-to-date news about coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Yes sign up here and check your junk mail for confirmation.

 

Last updated 27th March