The single most important action we can all take, in fighting coronavirus, is to stay at home in order to protect the NHS and save lives.
Everyone must now stay at home except in exceptional circumstances, only leaving for the following very limited purposes:
- Shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible.
- One form of exercise a day – for example, a run, walk or cycle – alone or with members of your immediate household.
- Any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person.
- Travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home.
The more people who get sick, the harder it is for the NHS to cope. We must slow the spread of the disease so that fewer people are sick at any one time.
Every citizen must comply with these new measures. The relevant authorities, including the police, will be given the powers to enforce them – including through fines and dispersing gatherings.
The Government will look again at these measures in three weeks, and relax them if the evidence shows this is possible.
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.
During this week, all constituents registered with GP surgeries in the area will be receiving contact via text, email or a telephone call regarding changes to the appointment system during the current coronavirus situation.
The surgeries are implementing digital technology for clinical consultations and once this is live, patients will be contacted by a clinician if they have an existing appointment booked or following contact with the surgery to request one. Each patient contact will be triaged over the telephone and then an appointment will be made for a telephone or video consultation wherever possible and those that need to see a clinician face to face may be asked to attend their practice or a primary care hub to be seen by a GP or Advanced Nurse Practitioner within their locality.
Patients are asked (other than for booked blood test appointments) not to attend the surgery until they have heard from a clinician.
Household Recycling Centres Closed
Following the announcement by the Prime Minister on the evening of Monday 23 March that everyone should stay at home to save lives, the council have closed all household waste recycling centres with immediate effect.
Recycling centres will not open from Tuesday 24 March onwards, for an indefinite period. Visiting recycling centres is not included in the reasons for leaving home.
All households should make full use of their kerbside waste collection service, which your local council is making every effort to keep operational for your recycling, green and food waste and general waste.
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.
The Prime Minister has announced new measures to combat coronavirus, including closing schools until further notice to help slow the spread of the disease.
Previously the scientific advice was that we should keep schools open, but this has always been a balanced judgement and kept under constant review.
Now the advice has been updated and we will close schools for the vast majority of pupils from Friday 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 be able to attend school.
I have received a number of emails over the last few days regarding the decision to close schools and childcare facilities. The Department for Education have now released advice to parents and carers which answers the most frequently asked questions.
Will I be counted as a critical worker?
Critical workers include NHS staff, police, farmers and food retail workers, who need to be able to go out to work.
In order to continue to offer critical services as part of the country’s ongoing response to the virus, children of workers who form a central part of effort - such as NHS workers, police and delivery drivers - will also continue to attend school, college or childcare provider.
A full list of critical workers and further information is available here: www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-edu…
If only one parent or carer is a critical worker, can I send my children in to school?
Children with at least one parent or carer who are identified as critical workers by the government can send their children to school if required.
For the latest government information for parents and carers please visit: www.gov.uk/government/publications/closure-of-educational-settings-information-for-parents-and-carers/closure-of-educational-settings-information-for-parents-and-carers
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.
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
This 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.
These grants will be made available through the local authority so I would recommend contacting your local authority to find out how to apply.
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
If you are still unsure how this will benefit your business, I would recommend that you contact the Business Support Line (www.businesssupport.gov.uk). 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.
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.
Further businesses and premises to close
To reduce social contact, the Government has ordered certain businesses and venues to close. More detailed information and exemptions can be found here, including the full list of those businesses and other venues that must close, but they include:
- pubs, cinemas and theatres
- all retail with notable exceptions – these closures include 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
Other businesses can remain open and their employees can travel to work, provided they cannot work from home.
How can I find out if my work is essential or not?
The government is not saying only people doing “essential” work can go to work. Anyone who cannot work from home can still go to work.
Separately, there is a list of critical workers who can still take their children to school or childcare. Provision has been prioritised for these workers.
Every worker – whether critical or not – should work from home if they can but may otherwise travel to work.
We have also asked certain businesses where people gather, such as pubs and most shops, to close. Separate guidance has been published on this.
I’m not a critical worker and I can’t work from home. What should I do?
If you cannot work from home then you can still travel to work. This is consistent with the Chief Medical Officer’s advice.
Critical workers are those who can still take their children to school or childcare. This critical worker definition does not affect whether or not you can travel to work – if you are not a critical worker, you may still travel to work provided you cannot work from home.
Anyone who has symptoms or is in a household where someone has symptoms should not go to work and should self-isolate.
My boss is forcing me to go to work but I’m scared of coronavirus. What should I do?
Employers must make all efforts to help people to work from home where possible, as this will help limit the spread of the virus by reducing the amount of contact between people.
In some circumstances this may be impossible – this would apply to those working for a business or organisation that we have not asked to close and requires them to travel and be at work, such as train or bus drivers, construction workers, restaurant workers handling deliveries or those on the frontline like NHS workers.
For these workers who need to be at work, do not have symptoms or live with anyone who has symptoms, and are not vulnerable people, we have outlined clear guidance for employers to help protect workers.
I can’t go to work because I need to look after my child, but my boss is threatening to sack me if I don’t. What should I do?
We would urge employers to take socially responsible decisions and listen to the concerns of their workforce – particularly when they have childcare responsibilities.
Employers and employees should come to an agreement about these arrangements.
If individuals need advice they should approach ACAS where they can get impartial advice about in-work disputes.
For answers to other FAQ please visit the governments website: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-wh…
The two most important messages are that it remains vital to wash our hands and of course even if things seem tough now, we will get through this, this country will get through this just as we have got through many tougher experiences. If we look out for each other and commit wholeheartedly to a full national effort.
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