Your questions answered

Questions and answers regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Short answers to questions you might have about the virus.

What can you do to help?

The single most important thing you can do is follow NHS 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.

Where can I get the latest government information?

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

When should you 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.

You do not need to call NHS 111 to  self-isolate.

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 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 ...

From the 20th March the following venues will be closed until further notice:

  • Food and drink venues for consumption on-site, such as restaurants and cafes.
  • Drinking establishments, including pubs, bars, nightclubs.
  • Entertainment venues, including cinemas, theatres, concert halls, and bingo halls.
  • Museums and galleries.
  • Spas and massage parlours.
  • Casinos and betting shops.
  • All indoor leisure and sports facilities, including gyms.

The Government has changed the law so pubs and restaurants without a licence can offer take away services. Keeping physically distant from others is essential to reducing spread of the infection and will help save lives.

Why aren’t more people being tested?

The Government is trying to delay the spread of infection so has prioritised testing for the most at risk of severe illness from the virus rather than divert resources to widespread testing. As at the 20th of March over 64,000 tests had been completed. Plans to test up to 25,000 per day have been announced. Testing is being prioritised for certain groups to make sure we are using our valuable NHS resources as well as we can. By focusing our testing on the most vulnerable we help relieve pressure on the NHS and save more lives.

Do I need to wear a face mask?

When you're doing normal day-to-day activities face masks will do little to protect you 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 others.

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.

What financial support can I get?

The Government have introduced significant measures to protect the financial resilience of individual and businesses and will likely take more steps over the coming days and weeks. The following two organisations provide updated and detailed support and advice about your money in light of coronavirus (COVID-19).

  • This up-to-date guide from the Money Advice Service is easy to follow and filled with good advice about Government initiatives, 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 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.

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  - where self-employed people can access full statutory sick pay equivalent.

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 arrangement
  • suspending debt collection proceedings
  • cancelling penalties and interest

Self-assessment tax payments are deferred until January 2021.

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

Yes sign up here  (check your junk mail for the confirmation email).

You can also register to the Government free to use WhatsApp information service.  To use the free GOV.UK Coronavirus Information Service on WhatsApp, simply add 07860 064422 in your phone contacts and then message the word ‘hi’ in a WhatsApp message to get started.

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.

 

LAST UPDATED 25/03/2020

See Also

Coronavirus Advice

This page has been designed to provide up-to-date information, guidance and advice with regards to Coronavirus (COVID-19).

If you need medical help, please use the 111 online coronavirus service.

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