We must stay alert. We must continue to control the virus and save lives.
Thanks to the sacrifice and resilience of the British people that we have succeeded in slowing the spread of coronavirus. The death rate and hospital admissions are coming down, and we have protected the NHS and saved many thousands of lives.
To be clear, this is not the time simply to end the lockdown there is a very real risk of a second peak of the disease that could overwhelm the NHS and throw away all of our achievements to date.
Instead, the government is asking that we begin to take the first careful steps to modify our measures.
To chart our progress and to avoid going back to square one, the government are establishing a new Covid Alert System. That Covid Alert Level will be determined primarily by R and the number of coronavirus cases. It will tell us how tough we have to be in our social distancing measures. There will be five alert levels – the lower the level, the fewer the measures.
- Work from home if you can, and only go to work if you must. Anyone who can’t work from home, for instance those in construction or manufacturing, should be actively encouraged to go to work.
- From Wednesday 13th May, people will be able to take more and even unlimited amounts of outdoor exercise. For example, you can sit in the sun in your local park, drive to other destinations, and play sports. However, to be clear, only with members of your own household.
- Social distancing rules must continue to be obeyed and to enforce those rules we will increase the fines for the small minority who break them.
- At the earliest, by the 1st of June, the government believe that they may be in a position to begin the phased reopening of shops and to get primary pupils back into schools, beginning with reception, Year 1 and Year 6.
- The ambition is that secondary pupils facing exams next year will get at least some time with their teachers before the holidays.
- At the earliest by July - subject to these conditions and further scientific advice; the government hope to re-open at least some of the hospitality industry and other public places, if they are safe and enforce social distancing. However, this is if and only if the numbers support it.
Though the UK will be changed by this experience, we can be stronger and better than ever before. More resilient, more innovative, more economically dynamic, but also more generous and more sharing.
But for now we must stay alert, control the virus and save lives.
We can all help control the virus if we all stay alert. This means you must:
- Stay at home as much as possible
- Work from home if you can
- Limit contact with other people
- Keep your distance if you go out (2 metres apart where possible)
- Wash your hands regularly
- Self-isolate if you or anyone in your household has symptoms.
For the latest guidance on staying at home and away from others please visit the governments website: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others
What to do if you have a possible coronavirus (COVID-19) infection:
The symptoms are as follows:
- a high temperature
- a new, continuous cough
Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.
You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you're staying at home.
You should only use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service if:
- you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home
- your condition gets worse
- your symptoms do not get better after 7 days
If you live alone and you have symptoms of coronavirus illness (COVID-19), however mild, stay at home for 7 days from when your symptoms started.
If you, or anyone in your household, has either a high temperature or a new and continuous cough, then you should stay at home for fourteen days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill
It is likely that people living within a household will infect each other or be infected already. Staying at home for 14 days will greatly reduce the overall amount of infection the household could pass on to others in the community
That means that if possible, you should not go out even to buy food or essentials, other than for exercise, and in that case at a safe distance from others. If necessary, you should ask for help from others for your daily necessities. If that is not possible, then you should do what you can to limit your social contact when you leave the house to get supplies.
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.
For more information about staying at home please click here: www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance
The Emergency Coronavirus Act
On 25 March 2020, emergency legislation to strengthen the Government’s coronavirus response plans received Royal Assent.
The new Emergency Coronavirus Act will help the Government to protect life and the nation’s public health, and ensure NHS and social care staff are supported as they deal with significant extra pressure.
The emergency law deals with five elements:
- Containing and slowing the virus.
- Easing legislative and regulatory requirements.
- Enhancing capacity and the flexible deployment of staff across essential services.
- Managing the deceased in a dignified way.
- Supporting and protecting the public to do the right thing and follow public health advice
The measures in the Bill are temporary, proportionate to the threat, will only be used when strictly necessary and will be in place for as long as required to respond to the situation.
The government are doing everything that they can to protect lives and support the NHS, guided by the best scientists and clinicians in the world. By planning for the worst and working for the best, we will get through this.
As the Health Secretary made clear, the government have a plan, based on the expertise of world-leading scientists. Herd immunity is not a part of it. That is a scientific concept, not a goal or a strategy. The goal is to protect life from this virus, our strategy is to protect the most vulnerable and protect the NHS through contain, delay, research and mitigate.
What can I do from Wednesday 13th May that I couldn’t do before?
There will be a limited number of things you can do on Wednesday that you cannot do now:
- spend time outdoors – for example sitting and enjoying the fresh air, picnicking, or sunbathing
- meet one other person from a different household outdoors - following social distancing guidelines
- exercise outdoors as often as you wish - following social distancing guidelines
- use outdoor sports courts or facilities, such as a tennis or basketball court, or golf course – with members of your household, or one other person while staying 2 metres apart
- go to a garden centre
At all times, should continue to observe social distancing guidelines when you are outside your home, including ensuring you are 2 metres away from anyone outside your household. As with before, you cannot:
- visit friends and family in their homes
- exercise in an indoor sports court, gym or leisure centre, or go swimming in a public pool
- use an outdoor gym or playground
- visit a private or ticketed attraction
- gather in a group of more than two (excluding members of your own household), except for a few specific exceptions set out in law (for work, funerals, house moves, supporting the vulnerable, in emergencies and to fulfil legal obligations)
If you are showing coronavirus symptoms, or if you or any of your household are self-isolating, you should stay at home - this is critical to staying safe and saving lives.
I don’t have to stay at home anymore?
You should stay at home as much as possible. The reasons you may leave home include:
- for work, where you cannot work from home
- going to shops that are permitted to be open - to get things like food and medicine
- to exercise or spend time outdoors
- any medical need, including to donate blood, avoid injury or illness, escape risk of harm, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
These reasons are exceptions and a fuller list is set out in the regulations. Even when doing these activities, you should be minimising time spent away from the home and ensuring that you are two metres apart from anyone outside of your household.
Food deliveries- How can you get assistance with foods and medicines if you are shielding?
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. Please discuss your daily needs during this period of staying at home with carers, family, friends, neighbours or local community groups to see how they can support you. Please visit gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable to register for the support that you need. This includes help with food, shopping deliveries and additional care you might need.
The government is helping pharmacies to deliver prescriptions. Prescriptions will continue to cover the same length of time as usual. If you do not currently have your prescriptions collected or delivered, you can arrange this by:
- Asking someone who can pick up your prescription from the local pharmacy (this is the best option, if possible).
- Contacting your pharmacy to ask them to help you find a volunteer (who will have been ID checked) or deliver it to you.
You may also need to arrange for collection or delivery of hospital specialist medication that is prescribed to you by your hospital care team.
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.
Together with the food industry, the government will do everything they can to rise to the challenge ahead and ensure food stocks keep flowing and people can access the groceries they need.
Additionally, Gloucestershire County Council have set up a community help hub. If you need help with shopping I would suggest signing up as they will pass on the information to the relevant district or borough council to connect you to people who can help or if appropriate refer you to an existing service.
To sign up please visit their website: https://www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/gloucestershires-community-help-hub/
If you are unable to use the online forms we have a phone line available, please call 01452 583519. The lines are open Monday – Friday 8.30am – 5pm and Saturday - Sunday 9am-4pm. This is a priority telephone line for people who need help or are volunteering, please do not use it for reporting other issues.
Can children go back to early years settings, schools or university?
The Government initially urge those who are currently eligible to use school provision (children of critical workers and vulnerable children) to attend. As soon as it is safe to do so we will bring more year groups back to school in a phased way when it is safe to have larger numbers of children within schools, but not before. Keeping children and staff safe is our utmost priority.
Schools should prepare to begin opening for more children from 1 June. The government expects children to be able to return to early years settings, and for Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 to be back in school in smaller class sizes from this point.
Secondary schools and further education colleges should also prepare to begin some face to face contact with Year 10 and 12 pupils who have key exams next year, in support of their continued remote, home learning.
The government’s ambition is for all primary school children to return to school before the summer for a month if feasible.
To read my statement on this please click here.
For more information on schools please visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/closure-of-educational-setti…
Who is allowed to go to work?
In the first instance, employers should make every effort to support working from home, including by providing suitable IT and equipment as they have been already. This will apply to many different types of businesses, particularly those who typically would have worked in offices or online.
Where work can only be done in the workplace, the government have set out tailored guidelines for employers to help protect their workforce and customers from coronavirus while still continuing to trade or getting their business back up and running. The government will be publishing even more detailed COVID-19 secure guidelines in the coming days, which has been developed in consultation with businesses and trades unions.
These ‘back to work’ guidelines apply to those in essential retail like:
- those in construction and manufacturing
- those working in labs and research facilities
- those administering takeaways and deliveries at restaurants and cafes
- tradesmen, cleaners and others who work in people’s homes
- those who are facilitating trade or transport goods
- and so on
Non-essential retail, restaurants, pubs, bars, gyms and leisure centres will remain closed. They will reopen in a phased manner provided it is safe to do so.
Can I re-open my business?
As an office we are not qualified to give individual business, legal or financial advice.
Businesses will be required to read the latest government guidance and apply it to their business.
If you are not sure where to find the relevant guidance please get in touch and a member of the team will be able to point you in the right direction.
If you have read the relevant guidance and are still unsure if you can or should re-open, we recommend that you speak to your industry body for advice.
Alternatively, Tewkesbury Borough Council have set up a team to support businesses wishing to re-open. They can be contacted on 01684 272195 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Support for Business
I understand that this is a worrying time for business owners but please be assured that the government are at the forefront of the effort to back business, to back our economy and to make sure that we get through this. The Chancellor has set out a package of timely and targeted measures to support businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19. If you have not already, I would recommend reading the government’s latest guidance for business in relation to COVID-19 This offers advice on:
- Support for businesses who are paying sick pay to employees
- Support for businesses who pay business rates
- Support for businesses who pay little or no business rates
- Support for businesses through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
- Support for businesses paying tax
More information for businesses can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19
If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559.
The Government has launched a new ‘support finder’ tool which will help businesses and self-employed people across the UK to quickly and easily determine what financial support is available to them. For more details, please visit this link: https://www.gov.uk/business-coronavirus-support-finder
Most grants will be made available through the local authority so I would recommend contacting your local authority to find out how to apply.
If you are still unsure how this will benefit your business, I would recommend that you contact the Business Support Line (https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus/business-support). They will be able to look at your personal situation and talk through what you would be entitled to. They are the experts so will be best placed to answer any questions you may have. As an office we are unable to give legal or financial advice.
The coronavirus outbreak is the biggest public health emergency in a generation. The Government are committed to doing whatever it takes to protect people's jobs and incomes. That is why the Chancellor has announced a new Self-Employed Income Support Scheme. Through this scheme, the Government will pay self-employed people a grant worth 80% of their average monthly profits over the last three years, up to £2,500 a month.
If you have not done so already I would recommend that you look at the government's latest guidance for the self-employed: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme
If your business is not eligible for the latest package, the government is also providing the following additional help for the self-employed:
- deferral of Self Assessment income tax payments due in July 2020 and VAT payments due from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020
- grants for businesses that pay little or no business rates
- increased amounts of Universal Credit
- Business Interruption Loan Scheme
There are challenging times ahead, but the government are confident that the measures they have put in place will support millions of people, businesses and self-employed workers to get through this, and emerge on the other side both stronger and more united as a country.
For answers to other FAQ please visit the governments website: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-wh…
Throughout this time, I am available as your Member of Parliament to help with any issues so please don't hesitate to get in contact if there is anything I can do to help.
For the most up to date information about COVID-19 please visit: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus