CORONAVIRUS INFORMATION

Combating the Covid-19 pandemic presents to our nation and the world at large an exceptional set of challenges. The government will be doing everything we can to protect lives, guided by the best scientists and clinicians in the world.

In this very fluid situation, official advice for families and individuals will be updated on a regular basis. The gov.uk website will therefore continue to be the best source of up-to-date information on every aspect of our national response - from health and travel advice to coordination of volunteer efforts, financial assistance, employment support and help for the most vulnerable. 

Nonetheless, I wish to provide constituents as much helpful advice as possible. My team have produced a series of helpful links that can be accessed on the homepage of this website. They will also be doing what they can to field constituents' queries at this challenging time, and I will be sharing regularly some of the briefings sent to MPs. 

Government and officials are working at speed to deal with a very complex situation that will temporarily affect many aspects of our lives. By planning for the worst and working for the best, we shall get through this. Until then, we hold in our hearts those in Havering who are suffering and those who are sacrificing. With each day that goes by, exceptional people are undertaking remarkable acts of service in this fight. NHS staff, community volunteers, delivery drivers, civil servants, supermarket workers, educators, carers, businesses - the list is unending, the efforts unparalleled. When this is over, their fortitude will stand as an everlasting tribute to their character. We are thankful for the tremendous efforts we are seeing.

Julia Lopez MP

LATEST NEWS 

The landing page for all COVID-19 information and guidance:

https://gov.uk/coronavirus

All Government information will be accessed through this portal, making it quicker and easier for people and businesses to access the information as it is published. My constituency team is trying to respond to constituents' queries as soon as possible but we are dealing with very large volumes of complex correspondence. Please bear with us at this difficult time.

GOVERNMENT BRIEFING & ADVICE SENT TO MPS 

While we have been publishing these briefings each day, as of 2 April we shall be posting as individual articles any new information we receive rather than the full briefing document. The document below is from 1 April. 

Stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives

The Coronavirus is the biggest threat this country has faced in decades – and this country is not alone.

All over the world we are seeing the devastating impact of this invisible killer. Which is why the Government is working to a scientifically-led, step-by-step action plan – taking the right measures at the right time. In dealing with this unprecedented challenge, what everyone must recognise is that our NHS – like any health service around the world – only has a limited number of doctors, nurses, and specialist equipment. This means it can only deal with so many sick people at once.

The more people that get sick with Coronavirus at any one time the harder it is for the NHS to cope – meaning more people are likely to die from the Coronavirus, as well as other serious illnesses. Therefore, if we can slow the spread of Coronavirus so fewer people are sick at any one time, we can protect the NHS’s ability to cope.

That’s why, in addition to lifting the capacity of the NHS, the Government is asking everyone to stay at home – unless they have one of the reasons that have been set out. It’s simply the best weapon we have to slow the spread of the virus. That way we can protect the NHS and save lives.

During this difficult time for the country, we recognise the extreme disruption the necessary actions are having on people’s lives, their businesses, their jobs and the nation’s economy. And that’s why we have produced a huge and unprecedented programme of support both for workers and for business, and we’ll do everything we can to ensure people can pay their bills, stay in their home and put food on their table.

We know this will not be a short battle – beating Coronavirus will take months, not weeks. But the Government is keeping all the current restrictions, and any further action that might be required, under constant review and they will be relaxed if and when the evidence shows we are able to. However, the reality is the way ahead is hard and many lives will sadly be lost.

But as we so many times in the past, the people of the United Kingdom will rise to this current challenge and we will beat the Coronavirus together. At this moment of national emergency – it is vital that we all stay at home, protect our NHS and save lives.

Stay at home

You must stay at home, 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.

Protect the NHS

You must stay at home to protect the NHS:

The NHS only has a limited number of doctors, nurses and specialist equipment.

 We are working around the clock to increase NHS capacity.

 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.

Save lives

You must stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives. The police will have the powers to enforce the following restrictions:

 Dispersing gatherings of more than two people in public, excluding people you live with.

 Issuing fines to anyone who does not comply with these rules.

 Closing shops that are not essential, as well as playgrounds and places of worship.

Recent action we have taken:

 Instructed the British people to stay at home – to protect the NHS and save lives.

 Extended visas for NHS frontline workers and their families for a year – demonstrating how valued overseas NHS staff are to the UK. Doctors, nurses and paramedics with visas due to expire before 1 October 2020 will have them automatically extended for one year, free of charge. By giving them the peace of mind that they do not need to apply for a visa extension, this will allow those at the frontline to focus fully on combatting coronavirus and saving lives.

 Waived import taxes on medical equipment crucial to the fight against coronavirus – reducing red tape to ensure equipment gets to frontline health workers faster. NHS suppliers will no longer have to pay customs duty and import VAT on specific medical goods coming from outside the EU, including ventilators, coronavirus testing kits and protective clothing.

 Launched a national voucher scheme to make sure children who usually benefit from free school meals still have access to healthy and nutritious meals while they are not attending school. Schools can continue to provide meals for collection or delivery themselves, but where this is not possible, the scheme will allow schools to provide vouchers worth £15 to families to spend at supermarkets while schools are closed due to coronavirus.

 Written to every household in the UK to urge them to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives. The Prime Minister has written to all 30 million households across the UK, to outline the guidance everyone should follow and the measures the Government has put in place to fight coronavirus and to support businesses and workers.

 Reached a new agreement with the airlines to help get British nationals back home. The Government has reached an agreement with Virgin, Easyjet, Jet2 and Tital Airways, so that they will offer passengers alternative routes where the original flight has been cancelled, and allow people to change tickets, including between carriers.

 Providing £75 million to charter special flights to bring British nationals home where commercial options do not exist. These flights will be operated by the airlines which have reached an agreement with the Government, and will fly to priority countries to bring back UK residents, especially those who are elderly or vulnerable. Special charter flights will be prioritised according to the number of stranded British travellers and their vulnerability, including an assessment of the local health provision.

 Ramped up delivery of Personal Protective Equipment to our frontline medical staff so they are fully equipped to tackle Coronavirus. We have established the national supply distribution response team, supported by the Armed Forces, to deliver equipment to people who need it the most. We have delivered 170 million FFP3 masks, surgical masks and other PPE equipment.

 Called on 65,000 former nurses and doctors to re-join the NHS to help tackle Covid-19 and save lives. 20,000 former NHS professionals have so far signed up to return to the NHS in the first few days.

 Working to increase our testing capacity to 25,000 hospital patients a day. The Prime Minister and Health Secretary promised industry leaders that they would be given whatever support they need to help government increase testing capabilities across the country – and our capacity is currently 10,000 tests a day.

 Launched a new scheme to recruit volunteers who can help the NHS support vulnerable people during the coronavirus pandemic – with 750,000 people now signed up. These volunteers will be to help up to 1.5 million people who have been asked to shield themselves from coronavirus because of underlying health conditions.

 Delivered the first food parcels to those people unable to leave their homes because of Covid-19. The first 2,000 food parcels have already been delivered to those who cannot leave their homes because severe health conditions leave them most vulnerable to the virus.

 Providing additional resources to help people with their mental health during the Covid-19 outbreak. We will provide £5 million to support leading mental charities and Public Health England has published new guidance to help people look after their mental wellbeing during these extraordinary times.

 Putting all parts of our country on an emergency footing – an unprecedented step in peacetime – and establishing strategic coordination centres to lead local responses. In each centre we will bring together senior members of the emergency services, local authorities, military planners and the NHS to lead communities.

 Ensuring that frontline NHS staff get the tests they need to keep safe and treat patients. Working with universities, research institutes and businesses, we are rolling out staff testing across the NHS, with plans for a full roll-out for health, social care and other frontline workers.

 Doing more to support companies that may be experiencing difficulties because of Covid-19. We will introduce measures to improve the insolvency system to help companies that need to undergo financial rescue or restructuring to keep trading.

 Made it easier for businesses to supply more personal protective equipment to the NHS and frontline health workers. We are also removing administrative barriers to the manufacturing of hand sanitizer, by reducing the amount of red tape to help firms bring their products to market in a matter of days.

 Allowed workers to carry over their statutory annual leave that they don’t use this year because of Covid-19. New regulations will allow up to 4 weeks unused leave to be carried into the next two leave years, meaning people don’t lose out.

 Opening temporary NHS Nightingale hospitals in London, Manchester and Birmingham.  Delivered a new scheme to support self-employed people. The fair, targeted and deliverable scheme will pay self-employed people a grant worth 80 per cent of their average monthly profits over the last three years if they get into coronavirus-related difficulties – and is one of the most generous schemes in the world.

 Given the police new enforcement powers to ensure people are staying at home, protecting the public and keeping as many people as possible safe from this terrible disease.

 Launched a gov.uk Coronavirus Information service on WhatsApp. The new free to use service aims to provide official, trustworthy and timely information and advice about coronavirus and will further reduce the burden on NHS services.

 Exempted estate agents, lettings agencies and bingo halls from paying business rates this coming financial year. We have already announced that the business rates retail discount would be increased to 100 per cent next year and would be expanded to the hospitality and leisure sectors. We have now gone further – some of the exclusions for this relief have been removed, so that retail, leisure, and hospitality properties that have closed as a result of the Covid-19 restriction measures will now be eligible for the relief.

 Granted a 6-month exemption for MOT testing, enabling vehicle owners to travel to work where this absolutely cannot be done from home, or shop for necessities. All cars, vans and motorcycles which usually would require an MOT test will be exempted from needing a test from 30 March 2020. Vehicles must be kept in a roadworthy condition, and garages will remain open for essential repair work. Drivers can be prosecuted if driving unsafe vehicles.

 Provided free car parking for our NHS and social care workers. These workers will be able to park in on street parking bays and council owned carparks without having to worry about cost or time restrictions.

 Giving businesses an additional 3 months to file accounts with Companies House, helping companies avoid penalties as they deal with the impact of COVID-19. All businesses will be able to apply for a 3 month extension for filing their accounts – with those citing issues around COVID-19 being automatically and immediately granted an extension. Applications can be made through a fast-tracked online system which will take just 15 minutes to complete.

 Extended Visas for those who cannot return home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This will apply to anyone whose leave expired after the 24 January and who cannot leave the country because of travel restrictions or self-isolation.

 Advised all British tourists and short-stay travellers to return to the UK now. International travel is becoming more difficult with the closure of borders, airlines suspending flights, airports closing, exit bans and further restrictions being introduced daily. For those who are currently struggling to fly home, the FCO is working around the clock to support all British travellers in this situation come back to the UK.

 Protected commercial tenants by ensuring that, if they cannot pay their rent because of coronavirus, they will not be evicted. These measures, included in the emergency Coronavirus Bill currently going through Parliament, will mean no business will be forced out of their premises if they miss a payment in the next three months.

 Announced Emergency Measures Agreements, so we can make sure our railways stay open. These agreements will suspend the normal franchise agreements and transfer all revenue and cost risk to the Government. This will last for an initial period of 6 months, with options for further extension or earlier cancellation as agreed.

 Unveiled a major new package of measures to protect up to 1.5 million people in England who are the most vulnerable – enabling them to shield themselves and stay at home. The people who are at the highest risk of being hospitalised should they contract the virus will be contacted by their GP practice or specialist shortly with detailed advice. In the first instance they will receive a letter this week and, where mobile number is known, the NHS will also send frequent text messages shortly to those in this group.

 Set out a Plan for People’s Jobs and Incomes to protect jobs, offer more generous support to those without jobs, strengthen the safety net for the self-employed and help people to stay in their homes. This includes helping pay people’s wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – offering grants to employers who promise to retain their staff, covering most of the cost of paying people’s wages.

 Relaxed competition laws to allow supermarkets to work together to ensure that everyone has access to food and essential supplies when they need them. Food retailers will now be able to share data on their stock levels, cooperate to keep stores open and share staff, distribution depots and delivery vehicles. This will help keep shops open and staffed and better able to meet high demand.

 Made it easier for workers to obtain an isolation note, which can be used as evidence for their employer if they have to take more than 7 days off work. Workers can now obtain an isolation note through the NHS website and NHS 111 online, and then emailed to the user

 Introduced new emergency measures with the energy industry to keep gas and electricity flowing, looking after vulnerable customers who may be in financial difficulty due to Covid-19. Any household in financial distress will be supported by their supplier so that their energy does not get cut off.

 Closed schools for the vast majority of children until further notice. This will mean there will be far fewer children in schools and that will help us to slow the spread of the disease.

 Introduced emergency legislation including measures to protect renters, so that no one gets evicted if they cannot pay their rent. Emergency legislation will be taken forward so that landlords will not be able to start proceedings to evict tenants for at least a three-month period

 Announced an unprecedented package of Government-backed loans and support for business.

 Introduced a three month mortgage holiday for those in difficulty due to coronavirus, so that people will not have to pay a penny towards their mortgage while they get back on their feet. We are extending the three month mortgage holiday to landlords whose tenants are experiencing financial difficulty due to coronavirus

 Announced a temporary relaxation of planning rules so that pubs and restaurants can operate as hot food takeaways to serve people having to stay at home.

 Spoken to leading manufacturing businesses to call on them to help the UK step up production of vital medical equipment, ensuring our NHS has it what needs to provide care to patients.

 The Prime Minister released a joint statement with the other leaders of G7 nations, committing to coordinating the global health response to coronavirus, and continuing to protect jobs, restore confidence and encourage science and research cooperation.

 Reaffirmed our commitment to giving councils the support they need to contribute to the national effort, including giving them more flexibility to focus their resources on the response to coronavirus.

For awareness: The Prime Minister’s health

The Prime Minister has coronavirus and is self-isolating at home in Downing Street. He began experiencing mild symptoms on Thursday afternoon and was tested on the advice of England’s Chief Medical Officer. The Prime Minister is continuing to lead the Government’s response to coronavirus, chairing meetings and communicating with key members of his team through video conferencing.

Q: Will this lockdown last for six months? Our message is clear – people should stay at home. This will save lives, protect the vulnerable and protect the NHS. As the PM said in his address to the nation last week, ‘we will keep these restrictions under constant review. We will look again in three weeks, and relax them if the evidence shows we are able to.’

Plan for People’s Jobs and Incomes

Plan for People’s Jobs and Incomes Issue: On 20 March 2020, the Chancellor announced our Plan for People’s Jobs and Incomes.

We know people are deeply worried about the Coronavirus – the impact it will have on their jobs, their incomes and their ability to provide for their families. We said we would support the British people – and we meant it. We will do whatever it takes and we will get through this.

Our Plan for People’s Jobs and Incomes, will protect people’s jobs; offer more generous support to those who are without jobs; strengthen the safety net for the self-employed; and help people stay in their homes. The Government is standing behind employers – and we are asking that they do their bit and stand behind workers.

• We will help pay people’s wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – offering grants to employers who promise to retain their staff, covering most of the cost of paying people’s wages.

• We are also deferring the next three months of VAT until the end of the financial year – an injection of over £30 billion of cash to businesses to help businesses pay people and keep them in work.

• We are also acting so that, if the worst happens, there is a stronger safety net to fall back on. So we are increasing Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit by £1,000 a year for the next 12 months – that’s nearly £7 billion of extra support. We will ensure people get the support they need to do the right thing, to stay at home, protect our NHS, save lives.

Protecting people’s jobs:

• Stepping in and helping pay people’s wages – through a scheme which is one of the most generous of any in the world – paying grants to support as many jobs as necessary. Any employer in the country – large, small, charitable or for profit – who promises to retain their staff, can apply for a grant to cover most of the cost of paying people’s wages. Government grants will cover 80 per cent of the salary of retained workers up to a total of £2,500 a month – above the median income. We will place no limit on these grants. The cost of wages will be backdated to 1st March and will be open initially for at least three months – and we will extend the scheme for longer if necessary.

• Deferring the next three months of VAT tax, a direct injection of over £30 billion of cash to employers, equivalent to 1.5 per cent of GDP. That means no business will pay any VAT from now until the end of June, and they will have until the end of the financial year to repay those bills.

• Extending the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme so that is interest free for twelve months, an extension from the initial announcement of six months. We have already introduced and announced an extension to the Business Interruption Loan Scheme, which is for small and medium-sized businesses. On Tuesday, the Chancellor expanded the amount that can be borrowed from £1.2 million to £5 million, and we are now extending the time frame of no interest on these loans from six months to twelve months.

Offering more generous support to those who are without employment:

• Strengthening the safety net for those who need it – increasing Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit by £1,000 a year – a cash injection of nearly £7 billion in the welfare system.

We are increasing the Universal Credit standard allowance, for the next 12 months, by £1,000 a year. We will also increase Working Tax Credit by the same amount for the next 12 months. Together these measures will benefit over 4 million of our most vulnerable households.

Helping people stay in their homes:

• Providing nearly £1 billion of support for renters, by increasing the generosity of housing benefit and Universal Credit, so that the Local Housing Allowance will cover at least 30 per cent of market rents in local areas.

Other announcements to support businesses and workers:

We are standing behind businesses:

• Standing behind businesses small and large – providing a £330 billion package of loans and guarantees – that’s worth 15 per cent of our GDP. And if demand is greater than the initial £330 billion we are making available, we will go further and provide as much capacity as required. That means any good business in financial difficulty who needs access to cash to pay their rent, the salaries of their employees, pay suppliers, or purchase stock, will be able to access a government-backed loan, on attractive terms.

o We will support liquidity amongst large companies, with a major new scheme being launched by the Bank of England.

o We will support lending to small and medium-sized businesses by extending the Business Interruption Loan Scheme announced in the Budget. This means that, rather than providing loans of £1.2 million, it will provide loans of up to £5 million, with no interest for the first twelve months.

o Both of these schemes will be up and running by the start of next week – and the Chancellor is also taking a new legal power in the Covid Bill to offer whatever further financial support is necessary.

• Helping all businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors – meaning that none of these companies will have to pay business rates. All businesses in this sector are exempt from business rates for 12 months – that’s every single shop, pub, theatre, music venue, restaurant, and any other business in the retail, hospitality or leisure sectors. In addition, we will provide small businesses in these sectors with an additional grant scheme of up to £25,000. Any business with a rateable value of less than £51,000 can now get access to a government grant.

• Exempting estate agents, lettings agencies and bingo halls from paying business rates this coming financial year. We have already announced that the business rates retail discount would be increased to 100 per cent next year and would be expanded to the hospitality and leisure sectors. We have now gone further – some of the exclusions for this relief have been removed, so that retail, leisure, and hospitality properties that have closed as a result of the Covid-19 restriction measures will now be eligible for the relief.

• Giving businesses an additional 3 months to file accounts with Companies House, helping companies avoid penalties as they deal with the impact of COVID-19. All businesses will be able to apply for a 3 month extension for filing their accounts – with those citing issues around COVID-19 being automatically and immediately granted an extension. Applications can be made through a fast-tracked online system which will take just 15 minutes to complete.

• Providing grants to the smallest of businesses of £10,000. We are providing £10,000 grants to the 700,000 of our smallest businesses.

• Protecting commercial tenants by ensuring that, if they cannot pay their rent because of coronavirus, they will not be evicted. These measures, included in the emergency Coronavirus Bill currently going through Parliament, will mean no business will be forced out of their premises if they miss a payment in the next three months.

• Supporting small and medium-sized businesses to cope with the extra costs of paying Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) by refunding eligible SSP costs.

The criteria for eligible businesses are:

o The refund will be limited to two weeks per employee who has claimed SSP as a result of Covid-19.

o Employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible.

o Employers should keep records but should not require employees to provide a doctor’s note.

o The eligible period will commence from the day on which regulations extending SSP come into force.

o We will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible.

• Businesses and self-employed people may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time to Pay service. Arrangements are agreed case-by-case. Businesses can contact HMRC’s new dedicated COVID-19 helpline from 11 March 2020 for advice.

• Relaxing planning rules so pubs and restaurants can operate as hot food takeaways during the coronavirus outbreak. Planning permission is normally required for businesses to carry out a change of use to a hot food takeaway. The Government has confirmed regulations will be temporarily relaxed to enable businesses to deliver this service without a planning application.

• Doing more to support companies that may be experiencing difficulties because of Covid-19. We will introduce measures to improve the insolvency system which provides the legal options for companies running into major difficulties, in order to help companies that need to undergo financial rescue or restructuring to keep trading. New rules will mean companies undergoing restricting can continue to get hold of supplies and raw materials.

o Temporarily suspending wrongful trading provisions for company directors. We will remove the threat of personal liability during the pandemic (with retrospective respect from the 1 March 2020). All other checks and balances will remain in force.

o Making it easier to hold Annual General Meetings. We will ensure the AGMs can be held safely, including postponing, or moving the AGMs to phone or online using only proxy voting.

We are standing behind individuals:

• Allowing workers to carry over their statutory annual leave that they don’t use this year because of Covid-19. New regulations will allow up to 4 weeks unused leave to be carried into the next two leave years. The changes will also ensure all employers affected by Covid-19 have the flexibility to allow workers to carry over leave at a time when granting annual leave could leave them short-staffed in some of Britain’s key industries, such as food and healthcare.

• Introducing a three month mortgage holiday for those in difficulty due to coronavirus – so that people will not have to pay a penny towards their mortgage while they get back on their feet. We will work with trade unions and businesses to develop new forms of employment support to help protect people’s jobs and incomes through this period.

• Making Statutory Sick Pay available for people diagnosed with COVID-19 or who are self-isolating, helping people with their finances – and a doctor’s note can be obtained via NHS 111. We have already set out that SSP will be available from day one for people who have COVID-19. But the Budget sets out that this will now cover those who are unable to work because they have been advised to selfisolate as well as for people within the same household who display symptoms. Those who are advised to self-isolate will able to obtain a doctor’s note via NHS 111 as medical evidence for SSP.

o Allowing people to obtain a new isolation note online. 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 because they live with someone who has symptoms. The notes can be accessed through the NHS website and NHS 111 online, and then emailed to the user (or a trusted friend or family member, or directly to an employer, if someone doesn’t have email).

We are making our benefits system more generous and supporting the self-employed:

• Supporting people who are not eligible for Statutory Sick Pay, like the self-employed, through the welfare system so that nobody is penalised for doing the right thing. We will make it quicker and easier to access benefits. Those on contributory ESA will be able to claim from day 1, instead of day 8. To make sure that time spent off work due to sickness is reflected in people’s benefits, we are also temporarily removing the minimum income floor in Universal Credit. This means self-employed people who fall out of work will still get their full payment. And we are relaxing the requirement for anyone to physically attend a jobcentre – everything can be done by phone or online.

o Suspending face-to-face assessments for all sickness and disability benefits for the next 3 months. This temporary move (effective from 17 March) is being taken as a precautionary measure to protect vulnerable people from unnecessary risk of exposure to coronavirus. We will ensure those who are entitled to a benefit continue to receive support, and that new claimants are able to access the safety net.

o Suspending new reviews or reassessments across all benefits for three months. This includes Universal Credit (UC), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance and the Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit. Where awards are due to expire, we will be extending end-dates so that claimants continue to receive financial support at their current rate during this period.

Q: What about people on zero-hours contracts?

People on zero-hours contacts are eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and can have 80 per cent of their salaries paid by the Government if they are furloughed. If the employee has been employed (or engaged by an employment business) for a full 12 months prior to the claim, employers can claim for the higher of either:

• The same month’s earnings from the previous year

• Average monthly earnings from the 2019-20 tax year If the employee has been employed for less than a year, you can claim for an average of their monthly earnings since they started work.

Supporting self-employed workers

Issue: On 26 March 2020, the Chancellor announced new measures to help those who are self-employed.

• The Government said we would do whatever it takes to protect people’s jobs and incomes – and we meant it. We know many self-employed people are deeply anxious about the support available for them.

• That is why the Chancellor has announced a new Self-Employed Income Support Scheme – helping many of our country’s self-employed workers: the musicians, the sound engineers, the plumbers, the electricians, the taxi drivers, the hairdressers, the childminders, the driving instructors, and many others.

• Through this scheme, the Government will pay self-employed people a taxable grant worth 80 per cent of their average monthly profits over the last three years, up to £2,500 a month – that’s unlike almost any other country and makes our scheme one of the most generous in the world.

• We know there are challenging times ahead, but we are confident that the measures we 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.

The Government’s support is fair, targeted at those who need it the most, and crucially, it is deliverable:

• We are launching the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, to make sure people who work for themselves are getting the financial support they need. The Government will pay self-employed people across the whole UK who have been adversely affected by coronavirus a taxable grant worth 80 per cent of their average monthly profits over the last three years, up to £2,500 a month, for three months – but we will extend it for longer if necessary.

• We will make it simple for self-employed people to get the financial support they need. Self-employed people who are eligible will be contacted by HMRC directly, asked to fill out a simple online form, and HMRC will pay the grant directly into their bank account. We expect people to access the scheme by the beginning of June.

• We are ensuring our support reaches those self-employed people who are most in need of it. The scheme will only be open to those with trading profits up to £50,000, leaving 95 per cent of people who are majority self-employed eligible for the scheme. HMRC will also ask people to demonstrate that the majority of their income comes from self-employment, and, to minimise fraud, only those who are already in self-employment, and who have a tax return for 2019, will be able to apply.

This builds on the support that is available to self-employed people:

• For self-employed people who are struggling now, we’ve also made sure that many will be able to access loans through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans Scheme. This scheme provides loans of up to £5 million, which will be interest free for twelve months.

• Supporting people through the welfare system so that nobody is penalised for doing the right thing. We will make it quicker and easier to access benefits. Those on contributory ESA will be able to claim from day 1, instead of day 8. And we are relaxing the requirement for anyone to physically attend a jobcentre – everything can be done by phone or online.

• Suspending the minimum income floor for twelve months – meaning self-employed people can now access, in full, Universal Credit at a rate that is equivalent to Statutory Sick Pay for employees.

• Deferring income tax self-assessment payments for July until the end of January 2021.

Q: Why are you making this change now? We have already announced unprecedented measures to support people and businesses. These include the Coronavirus Interruption Loan Scheme set out at the Budget, and last week we announced £330 billion of loans and guarantees for businesses and a £7 billion boost to our welfare system, among others. We have been working with the Federation of Small Businesses, the association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed, and the Trades Union Congress. Now we will give assurance. Providing such unprecedented support for self-employed people is operationally very challenging. The selfemployed are a very diverse population. They have a wide mix of different levels of income, which even in normal times can vary hugely from month to month.

Q: Support not available until June? HMRC are working day and night to get this scheme up and running. HMRC are also delivering other key schemes to a similar timescale, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Statutory Sick Pay rebate for employers. The Self-Employed Income Support Scheme also allows late tax filers a month to get their 2018-19 tax returns in within 4 weeks of the announcement of the scheme, which also creates some delay.

Supporting British nationals abroad to get home

Issue: On 30 March 2020, the Foreign Secretary announced new measures to help British people who are abroad to get home.

 As more and more countries around the world impose travel restrictions and bans in an attempt to slow the spread of coronavirus, we know many British people are struggling to get home.

 We have reached a new agreement with the airlines, which will see them provide more commercial options and make it easier for people to switch tickets between providers in order to get home. Where commercial options are not available, we will provide £75 million to support special charter flights.

 British nationals abroad should know that their Government has not forgotten them, and is doing everything it can to support and bring them home.

We are doing this by:

 Reaching a new agreement with the airlines to help get British nationals back home. The Government has reached an agreement with Virgin, Easyjet, Jet2 and Tital Airways, so that they will offer passengers alternative routes where the original flight has been cancelled, and allow people to change tickets, including between carriers.

 Providing £75 million to charter special flights to bring British nationals home where commercial options do not exist. These flights will be operated by the airlines which have reached an agreement with the Government, and will fly to priority countries to bring back UK residents, especially those who are elderly or vulnerable. Special charter flights will be prioritised according to the number of stranded British travellers and their vulnerability, including an assessment of the local health provision.

 Ensuring British people abroad have the information they need to get home. When special return flights become available, these will be advertised by the Embassy and British nationals on Travel Advice Pages and Embassy social media and those who have registered for updates will be contacted via email. British nationals will be asked to register their interest through the FCO’s booking agents, called CTM.

 Tripling the capacity of the Foreign Office’s call centre, in order to help more British people who are looking for guidance and support abroad. Demand for the call centre has been unprecedented – with 15,000 calls in a single day, up from an average of 1,000 a day in normal times. By redeploying more staff to the call centre, the FCO can assist more British people abroad.

Advice for British nationals abroad:

 British tourists stranded abroad who want to return to the UK should first check if there are commercial routes available by visiting the airline websites, FCO Travel Advice pages for the country they are in and local British Embassy social media.

 If there are no commercial options, they should visit the Travel Advice pages and sign up to alerts for their location and follow Embassy social media and email updates. When special return flights become available, these will be advertised by the Embassy and British nationals on Travel Advice Pages and Embassy social media and those who have registered for updates will be contacted via email. British nationals will be asked to register their interest through the FCO’s booking agents CTM.

Supporting the NHS

 The over-riding object is to protect life and protect our NHS – we have a plan, based on the expertise of world-leading scientists, and we have already bought valuable time for our NHS to prepare.

 We are taking all of the action necessary to ensure the NHS has what it needs to deal with Covid-19. This includes an initial response fund of £5 billion and additional funding for research into test and surveillance around the virus.

 The NHS will be at the frontline of our efforts against Covid-19, and we will ensure that whatever it needs, it will get.

We are doing this by:

 Providing any extra resource the NHS needs to tackle the virus. We have created a new £5 billion Initial COVID-19 Response Fund so the NHS can treat coronavirus patients; councils can support vulnerable people; and ensure funding is available for other public services.

o Providing £1.3 billion to help the NHS discharge patients who no longer need care more quickly, freeing up vital space. Of the £5 billion we are providing, £1.3 billion will be used to enhance the NHS discharge process. The will help to free up 15,000 hospital beds across England and ensure more staff have capacity to treat people needed urgent care, including those being cared for with coronavirus.

 Working with British manufacturers to support the production of essential medical equipment for the NHS. The Prime Minister has spoken with manufacturers, including Unipart Group, and called on them to support the nationwide effort to fight the virus. We are asking businesses to support with the production of equipment such as ventilators for the NHS.

 Ensuring NHS workers have the personal protective equipment (PPE) they need. Over the weekend more than 200 organisations, including all NHS hospitals, received fresh supplies of facemasks and other PPE along with ambulance trusts and other NHS organisations. From this week the army will play its part, helping to distribute and deliver urgent PPE supplies to the frontline.

 Ensuring the NHS has the support and the people it needs to fight the virus. We have called for extra NHS staff to help the fight against Covid-19, including retired doctors, nurses and final year students joining frontline services. 5,500 final-year medics and 18,700 final-year student nurses will move to the frontline to help our efforts.

 Increasing our testing capacity to 25,000 hospital patients a day. The Prime Minister and Health Secretary promised industry leaders that they would be given whatever support they need to help government increase testing capabilities across the country. The increased capacity is expected to be ready within 4 weeks, with highest-priority cases being tested first.

 Bolstering NHS 111 to provide advice to people who need it. While people with mild symptoms should not call NHS 111, we need to make sure the service is available for those who need it, with severe symptoms or if they are not getting better after 7 days. Around 500 additional call handlers have already been trained to staff the NHS 111 service, representing an increase of 20 per cent. In addition, the new NHS 111 online service is also available to provide advice and will free up call handlers’ time, so they are able to prioritise those experiencing symptoms.

 Opening new temporary NHS Nightingale hospitals, at the ExCel centre in London, the NEC in Birmingham and the Central Convention Complex in Manchester, to provide support for thousands more patients. The NHS Nightingale Hospital in East London, for example, will comprise two wards, each of 2,000 people. With the help of the military and with NHS clinicians, we will make sure that we have the capacity that we need so that everyone can get the support that they need.

o NHS Nightingale Birmingham will have an initial 500 beds, but with the capacity to increase beds up to 2,000 if needed. 

o NHS Nightingale Manchester will have an initial 500 beds, but with capacity to increase beds up to 1,0000 if needed.

 Extending visas for NHS frontline workers and their families for a year – demonstrating how valued overseas NHS staff are to the UK. Doctors, nurses and paramedics with visas due to expire before 1 October 2020 will have them automatically extended for one year, free of charge. By giving them the peace of mind that they do not need to apply for a visa extension, this will allow those at the frontline to focus fully on combatting coronavirus and saving lives.

 Researching the virus to look for cures and better testing methods. We have provided £40 million of new funding to enable further rapid research in COVID-19, with the aim of increasing the capacity and capability of testing and surveillance.

o The first British patient has been put into a randomised trial for a treatment of coronavirus. Experts are rapidly getting a better understanding of coronavirus, and how to treat it. Trials of a possible vaccine are expected to start within a month.

o Working to bring forward a brand-new type of antibody test – which can tell people if they’ve had the virus and are immune. More testing is critical to stopping this virus and getting life back to normal as soon as possible. We’re in negotiations for a brand new type of antibody test – which can tell if a person has had the virus and is immune. We will buy hundreds of thousands.

o Investing £20 million to discover breakthroughs that will help the UK respond to Coronavirus and future pandemics, and save lives. We are backing the UK’s leading clinicians and scientists to map how the virus spreads and behaves by using whole genome sequencing – which will help guide treatments in the future and see the impact of interventions.

 Working with international partners to tackle the virus. We will provide a contribution of up to £150 million to the International Monetary Fund’s Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust, to help the effort to stop further transmission, including into the UK.

 Placing up to 20,000 Armed Forces personnel at a higher state of readiness to support our vital public services, if required. Up to 10,000 personnel are being placed at a higher readiness, so they are able to assist with supporting public services. This is on top of the 10,000 already held at higher readiness.

 Training 150 military personnel to drive oxygen tankers in order to support the NHS. These personnel began training on Monday 23 March 2020 - ensuring that the NHS always has the resources it needs to deliver world class care to those most in need.

 Providing free car parking for our NHS and social care workers. These workers will be able to park in on street parking bays and council owned carparks without having to worry about cost or time restrictions.25

Delivering more personal protective equipment for NHS staff

Issue: On 23 March 2020, we announced that we were ramping up delivery of personal protective equipment for NHS staff fighting coronavirus.

In the face of this unprecedented global emergency, never has the need to bolster our workforce and arm them with the vital tools they need to save lives been more crucial.

• That is why we are taking urgent action to ensure our dedicated frontline NHS and social care staff – who are working tirelessly to tackle this outbreak – feel supported by delivering millions more PPE kits to them.

• We are working round the clock to make all NHS who need protective equipment have access to it, so they are well-equipped to continue to fight this disease, protect themselves and save lives.

We are doing this by:

• Distributing millions more pieces of equipment to NHS staff, so that everyone who needs personal protective equipment can get it. We have established the national supply distribution response team, supported by the Armed Forces, to deliver equipment to people who need it the most.

We have delivered

170 million FFP3 masks, surgical masks and other PPE equipment:

o 23 million surgical face masks

o 42.8 million gloves

o 13.7 million aprons

o 182,000 gowns

o Almost 10 million items of cleaning equipment

o 2.3 million pairs of eye protectors

• Every single GP practice, dental practice, and community pharmacy has had a PPE delivery. All care homes, hospices, and home care providers have, or will shortly have, a deliver

• Ensuring that frontline NHS staff get the tests they need to keep safe and treat patients. We will be rolling out staff testing across the NHS from next week, starting with critical care nurses and staff in intensive care and emergency departments, and expanding to those working in ambulance services and GPs. We will then expand testing to a wider range of essential public care workers, including social care staff.

• Working with British manufacturers to support the production of essential medical equipment for the NHS. The Prime Minister has spoken with manufacturers, including Unipart Group, and called on them to support the nationwide effort to fight the virus. We are asking businesses to support with the production of equipment such as ventilators for the NHS.

• Waived import taxes on vital medical equipment including ventilators, coronavirus testing kits and protective clothing – helping to speed up and increase the supply of critical items going to our frontline health workers. NHS suppliers will no longer have to pay customs duty and import VAT on specific medical goods coming from outside the EU, including ventilators, coronavirus testing kits and protective clothing.3

• Setting up a 24-hour NHS-run hotline, so NHS staff can always have access to the equipment they need. The new dedicated PPE supply hotline allows organisations to order more PPE 24 hours a day.

• Issuing new guidance on the supply and use of PPE, meeting the needs of NHS staff. As part of the new guidance, trusts will also be asked to ensure that all relevant staff have received the necessary fit-test training – with new courses put on for staff using PPE.

• Increasing the number of coronavirus tests to 25,000 a day, helping to get NHS and other critical public sector staff back to work. We have also called on companies to work with the government to rapidly develop a test to establish whether people have developed immunity. This will help get NHS and other critical public sector staff back to work as fast as they can.

• Making it easier for businesses to supply more personal protective equipment to the NHS and frontline health workers. We are also removing administrative barriers to the manufacturing of hand sanitizer, by reducing the amount of red tape to help firms bring their products to market in a matter of days

Launching NHS Volunteers Responders

Issue: On 24 March, the Health Secretary launched NHS Volunteers Responders, seeking 250,000 volunteers to help the NHS for shopping, delivery of medicines and to support those who are shielded.

 In these extraordinary times, it’s essential that we all pull together as part of the national effort to protect the most vulnerable, reduce pressures on our NHS and care system and save lives.

 That is why we are seeking 250,000 volunteers to help up to 1.5 million people who have been asked to shield themselves from coronavirus because of underlying health conditions. Help from volunteers has the potential to make a real difference to some of those most affected by this outbreak – from delivering essential prescriptions to calling to check on the wellbeing of those self-isolating.

 The whole country is coming together to help one another – and, through this national effort, we can truly make a difference.

We are doing this by:

 Launching a new scheme to recruit 250,000 volunteers who can help the NHS support vulnerable people during the coronavirus pandemic. These volunteers will be to help up to 1.5 million people who have been asked to shield themselves from coronavirus because of underlying health conditions. They will be asked to do simple but vital tasks, including:

o Delivering medicines from pharmacies;

o Driving patients to appointments;

o Bringing them home from hospital;

o Or making regular phone calls to check on people isolating at home.

 People can become an NHS Volunteer Responder and join the NHS’s trusted list of volunteers by visiting goodsamapp.org/NHS and adding their details to the NHS section. GoodSam is a great way to connect volunteers with people in need quickly and safely and the Government is urging people who can to register today, support our NHS and help vulnerable people shielding at home.

Q: What is the criteria for volunteers? Volunteers must be 18 or over, and fit and well with no symptoms. Those in higher-risk groups (including those over 70, those who are pregnant or with underlying medical conditions) will be able to offer support by telephone. Patient transport drivers will require an enhanced DBS check and will receive guidance to do this role safely.

Q: Will volunteers be social distancing? Safety of volunteers is a priority. The majority of tasks can be undertaken while social distancing and volunteers will receive guidance. 

Boosting the number of Covid-19 tests

Issue: On 18 March 2020, we announced that we will increase the number of people tested for COVID-19 to 25,000 hospital patients a day.

• Public safety is our top priority, and radically ramping up testing for coronavirus is a key part of our plan to protect lives and stopping this disease.

• That is why we are increasing the number of tests that can be conducted by Public Health England and the NHS to 25,000 a day – with those most of risk of severe illness rightly being our priority.

• This will help us to protect life, protect the most vulnerable, and relieve pressure on our NHS. We will always do the right thing at the right time, based on the best scientific advice, and will do whatever it takes to protect life.

We are doing this by:

• Increasing our testing capacity to 25,000 hospital patients a day. The Prime Minister and Health Secretary promised industry leaders that they would be given whatever support they need to help government increase testing capabilities across the country. The increased capacity is expected to be ready within 4 weeks, with highest-priority cases being tested first.

• Ensuring that frontline NHS staff get the tests they need to keep safe and treat patients. We will be rolling out staff testing across the NHS from next week, starting with critical care nurses and staff in intensive care and emergency departments, and expanding to those working in ambulance services and GPs. We will then expand testing to a wider range of essential public care workers, including social care staff.

• Calling on the private sector to assist in our national effort, so that as many people as possible can get tested. The Prime Minister has called on companies to work with the government to rapidly develop a test to establish whether people have developed immunity. This will help get NHS and other critical public sector staff back to work as fast as they can.

• Researching the virus to look for cures and better testing methods. We have provided £40 million of new funding to enable further rapid research in COVID-19, with the aim of increasing the capacity and capability of testing and surveillance.

o The first British patient has been put into a randomised trial for a treatment of coronavirus. Experts are rapidly getting a better understanding of coronavirus, and how to treat it. Trials of a possible vaccine are expected to start within a month.

o Working to bring forward a brand-new type of antibody test – which can tell people if they’ve had the virus and are immune. More testing is critical to stopping this virus and getting life back to normal as soon as possible. We’re in negotiations for a brand new type of antibody test – which can tell if a person has had the virus and is immune. We will buy hundreds of thousands.

o Investing £20 million to discover breakthroughs that will help the UK respond to Coronavirus and future pandemics, and save lives. We are backing the UK’s leading clinicians and scientists to map how the virus spreads and behaves by using whole genome sequencing – which will help guide treatments in the future and see the impact of interventions.

Q: Why are you not testing like Germany, as the WHO says? The UK has carried out a significant number of tests and we have done very well in the containment phase. We have had a clear plan to move from containment to delay. When the WHO talks about testing, it is addressing the global system. Not all countries have the same infrastructure as the UK and there are countries that the WHO needs to press on testing. We are united in wanting to push forward and do more.

Protecting the most vulnerable

Issue: On 21 March, the Government announced measures to protect England’s most vulnerable.

 Our top priority is public safety and making sure that those most at risk from the virus continue to get the support they need throughout this period.

 That is why we have urged up to 1.5 million people who are considered to be extremely vulnerable to stay at home for at least 12 weeks – and have introduced a range of measures to ensure they have the support they need. This will significantly reduce the risk of them ending up in hospital with complications – helping us protect our NHS and save lives.

 We will ensure that vulnerable and older people in our society are left in no doubt of their importance to us and our determination to protect them as best we can. More people will be required to be by themselves at home. While they are on their own, let’s guarantee that they are never alone.

We are doing this by:

 Urging up to 1.5 million of England’s most vulnerable people to stay at home for at least 12 weeks. The people who are at the highest risk of being hospitalised should they contract the virus – such as those with specific underlying health conditions – will be contacted by their GP practice or specialist shortly with detailed advice. In the first instance they will receive a letter this week and, where mobile number is known, the NHS will also send frequent text messages shortly to those in this group.

Delivering the first food parcels to those people unable to leave their homes because of Covid-19. The first 2,000 food parcels have already been delivered to those who cannot leave their homes because severe health conditions leave them most vulnerable to the virus. Depending on demand, hundreds of thousands of boxes could be delivered each week.48

 Introducing a new Local Support System to make sure those individuals self-isolating at home and who are without a support network of friends and family will receive basic groceries and medicine. The Government is working with a partnership of the groceries industry, local government, local resilience and emergency partners, and voluntary groups, to ensure that essential items can start to be delivered as soon as possible to those who need it. The people identified as the most vulnerable in their communities will be contacted directly – including in person where necessary – as a priority.

 Setting up a helpline for the most in need of support. This will help to ensure people know exactly how to care for themselves and others in the coming months.

 Full guidance is available online from Public Health England. This includes the full list of conditions considered to be in the extremely vulnerable category, and advice for family members, friends and carers. A link to the guidance can be found here.

 Launching a ‘TechForce 19’ challenge, providing £500,000 of funding for technology companies who come up with digital solutions to support those who need to stay at home. Funding of up to £25,000 per company is available. The programme is looking for digital solutions that can be launched in the next few weeks, and could include providing remote social care and improving mental health support.

 Launching a new scheme to recruit 250,000 volunteers who can help the NHS support vulnerable people during the coronavirus pandemic. These volunteers will be to help up to 1.5 million people who have been asked to shield themselves from coronavirus because of underlying health conditions.

They will be asked to do simple but vital tasks, including: o Delivering medicines from pharmacies; o Driving patients to appointments;

o Bringing them home from hospital;

o Or making regular phone calls to check on people isolating at home. 

Protecting rail services for passengers

Issue: On 23 March 2020, we announced emergency measures to support and sustain necessary rail services for key workers.

• In these uncertain times, the railway has an important role to play in ensuring Britain’s critical workers can travel and that vital supplies can get to where they are needed.

• That is why train operators are moving onto Emergency Measures Agreements, enabling greater flexibility and transferring revenue and cost risk to the Government so we can guarantee our railways stay open.

• This will give operators the stability and certainty they need so they can play their part in the national interest, and protect the critical workers who depend on our railways to carry on their vital roles.

We are doing this by:

• Introducing Emergency Measures Agreements, so we can make sure our railways stay open. These agreements will suspend the normal franchise agreements and transfer all revenue and cost risk to the Government. This will last for an initial period of 6 months, with options for further extension or earlier cancellation as agreed.

• Providing greater flexibility to the train operators and the Government, making sure the railway can continue to react quickly to changing circumstances. By suspending the normal franchise arrangements, we will ensure vital services continue to operate for critical workers who are keeping the nation running and that we are able to reinstate a normal service quickly when the situation improves.

• Minimising disruption to the rail sector in the long term, guaranteeing that services and staff can be sustained over this difficult period. Suspending the usual financial mechanisms will not only guarantee that services can be sustained over this difficult period, it will also provide certainty for staff working on the railways, many of whom are working hard every day in difficult conditions to make sure we keep the railway running.

• Ensuring that hardworking commuters - who have radically altered their lives to combat the spread of coronavirus, are not left out of pocket. Anyone holding an Advance ticket bought before today will be able to refund it free of charge, while the Government advises against non-essential travel. All season ticket holders can claim a refund for time unused on their tickets in the usual way. Ticket holders should contact their retailer or train operator for details.

Supporting small businesses:

• Providing grants to the smallest of businesses of £10,000. We are providing £10,000 grants to the 700,000 of our smallest businesses.

• Deferring the next three months of VAT tax, a direct injection of over £30 billion of cash to employers, equivalent to 1.5 per cent of GDP. That means no business will pay any VAT from now until the end of June, and they will have until the end of the financial year to repay those bills.

• The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme will now be interest free for twelve months, an extension from the initial announcement of six months. We have already introduced and announced an extension to the Business Interruption Loan Scheme, which is for small and medium-sized businesses. On Tuesday, the Chancellor expanded the amount that can be borrowed from £1.2 million to £5 million, and we are now extending the time frame of no interest on these loans from six months to twelve months. Helping people with the cost of living during this time: • Introducing emergency legislation to protect renters, so that no one gets evicted if they cannot pay their rent. Emergency legislation will be taken forward as an urgent priority so that landlords will not be able to start proceedings to evict tenants for at least a three-month period. As a result of these measures, no renters in private or social accommodation needs to be concerned about the threat of eviction.

• Announcing nearly £1 billion of support for renters, by increasing the generosity of housing benefit and Universal Credit, so that the Local Housing Allowance will cover at least 30 per cent of market rents in local areas.

• Introducing a three month mortgage holiday for those in difficulty due to coronavirus – so that people will not have to pay a penny towards their mortgage while they get back on their feet. And in the coming days, we will go much further to support people’s financial security. We will work with trade unions and businesses to develop new forms of employment support to help protect people’s jobs and incomes through this period.

• Introducing new emergency measures with the energy industry to keep gas and electricity flowing, looking after vulnerable customers who may be in financial difficulty due to Covid-19. Any household in financial distress will be supported by their supplier so that their energy does not get cut off.

Delaying the spread of the virus

Issue: On 20 March 2020, the Government announced entertainment, hospitality and indoor leisure premises would temporarily close.

• We will do whatever it takes to protect people across this country as we tackle the coronavirus outbreak. 

• That is why we are now telling entertainment and hospitality premises to close temporarily, and people to only travel if absolutely essential, to help protect each other from the further spread of the virus.

• As far as possible, we want people to stay home – that is how we protect our NHS and save lives. We are doing this by: • Instructing some businesses and venues to close in order to slow the spread of coronavirus. From Saturday 21 March, venues including all pubs, bars and restaurants have been told to close. This follows expert advice that more needs to be done in order tackle the spread of infection - following the call to action to isolate or socially distance.

Business included are:

o Food and drink venues for consumption on-site, such as restaurants and cafes.

o Drinking establishments, including pubs, bars, nightclubs.

o Entertainment venues, including cinemas, theatres, concert halls, and bingo halls.

o Museums and galleries.

o Spas, wellness centres and massage parlours.

o Casinos and betting shops.

o All indoor leisure and sports facilities, including gyms.

• Reviewing the closures on a monthly basis. The measures will be reviewed on a monthly basis, and are being implemented across the whole of the UK in agreement with the devolved administrations. If needed, the government will enforce these measures by law.

• Continuing to allow pubs and restaurants operate as hot food takeaways to support people staying at home. This measure will not impact the relaxation of planning rules announced earlier this week which will allow pubs and restaurants to operate as hot food takeaways during the coronavirus outbreak, which will help to support people who are staying at home through this period.

Q: How long will closures last? We are asking the businesses outlined above to close at 12:00pm (noon) on Saturday 21 March 2020. These measures will be in place for 28 days and reviewed on a monthly basis to consider their effectiveness in light of changing circumstances.

Q: How will the restrictions be policed? The Government expects all businesses that are in the list above to comply with this request. In the case of seeing businesses on this list open and subject to operational constraints, local police forces will remind owners that they must close. The Government will keep in close contact with local partners to understand what is happening in their areas to inform further decisions on this matter. If necessary the Coronavirus Bill when enacted, or the Public Health Act (Control of Disease) Act 1984 provide suitable powers to make directions and regulations for enforcement in relation to the above request.

Q: Why not suspend all public transport to stop the spread of coronavirus? It is important to ensure limited services continue to run for passengers working in essential roles, including emergency services and the NHS. Preventing all public transport would only serve to deny access to jobs, healthcare and restrict the flow of goods and services. Running only specialised services may also have the adverse effect.

Publishing emergency legislation

On 19 March 2020, we introduced to Parliament emergency legislation to strengthen the Government’s coronavirus response plans.

 • We are doing everything we can to protect lives and support the NHS, guided by the best scientists and clinicians in the world.

• The new Emergency Coronavirus Bill 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 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 emergency law will deal 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.

We are doing this by:

• Allowing retired NHS staff to return to work. Powers within the Bill will allow recently retired NHS staff and social workers to return to work without any negative repercussions to their pensions. NHS staff will also be covered by a state-backed insurance scheme to ensure they can care for patients if, for example, they are moving outside their day-to-day duties.

• Reducing administrative burdens to help doctors discharge patients more quickly. Paperwork and administrative requirements will be reduced to help doctors discharge patients more quickly when clinically appropriate, to free up hospital space for those who are very ill.

• Making it easier to volunteers and help the NHS respond to this virus. Volunteers will have extra employment safeguards, allowing them to pause their main jobs for up to 4 weeks while they help care for patients in the health and care system, and will receive a flat rate of compensation to mitigate lost earnings and expenses.

• Ensuring older and more vulnerable people receive the best care available. Changes to councils’ duties under the Care Act will enable them to prioritise people with the greatest care needs and make the best use of the adult social care workforce.

• Allowing police and immigration officers to support and enforce public health measures. This will include powers to detain people and put them in appropriate isolation facilities if necessary to protect public health.

• Making arrangements for statutory sick pay for those self-isolating without symptoms from day one. SSP will be made available from day one for both people off work with Covid-19 symptoms, and also for those who are unable to work because they are self-isolating on PHE advice.

• Allowing small businesses to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay payments from HMRC. SMEs will be able to reclaim the costs of providing SSP. The refund will be limited to two weeks per employees who has claimed SSP as a result of Covid-19.

• Allowing more phone or video hearings for court cases. This will help stop the spread of the virus in courts. All court trials underway should proceed as planned, unless those involved are showing symptoms consistent with Covid-19 or are self-isolating. The minority of Crown Court cases that have been listed for trial but which have not yet commenced, and which are also expected to last for more than three days, will be postponed.

• Working as one United Kingdom to fight the spread of this virus. The Bill allows the four UK governments to switch on these new powers when they are needed and, crucially, to switch them off again once they are no longer necessary, based on the advice of the four Chief Medical Officers.

Supporting individuals

Issue: On 17 March, the Chancellor announced a range of measures to support individuals affected by Covid19.

• We are doing everything we can to keep this country, and our people, healthy and financially secure. No one will be penalised for doing the right thing.

• We are introducing a range of measures to help families affected by Covid-19, including making Statutory Sick Pay available from day one, ensuring the welfare system can support people who need it, and introducing emergency measures with the energy industry to protect those most in need.

• We will give every British citizen the tools they need to get through this. We will support jobs, we will support incomes, we will support businesses, and we will help people to protect their loved ones.

We are doing this by:

• Introducing new emergency measures with the energy industry to keep gas and electricity flowing, helping those who are financially impacted or in vulnerable circumstances. New emergency measures with the energy industry will protect those most in need. Customers with pre-payment meters who may not be able to add credit can speak to their supplier about options to keep them supplied, benefitting over 4 million customers. More broadly, any household in financial distress will be supported by their supplier, which could include debt repayments and bill payments being reassessed, reduced or paused.

• Making Statutory Sick Pay available for people diagnosed with COVID-19 or who are self-isolating, helping people with their finances. Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) will be now be available for eligible individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 who are unable to work because they have the virus or are selfisolating in line with PHE guidance. This is in addition to the change announced by the Prime Minister that SSP will be payable from day 1 instead of day 4 for affected individuals.

• Making it easier for people to obtain a sick note. People who are advised to self-isolate will be able to obtain an alternative to the sick note to cover this by contacting NHS 111, rather than visiting a doctor. This can be used by employees where their employers require evidence.

• Supporting people who are not eligible for Statutory Sick Pay, like the self-employed, through the welfare system so that nobody is penalised for doing the right thing. We will make it quicker and easier to access benefits. Those on contributory ESA will be able to claim from day 1, instead of day 8. To make sure that time spent off work due to sickness is reflected in people’s benefits, we are also temporarily removing the minimum income floor in universal credit. This means self-employed people who fall out of work will still get their full payment And we are relaxing the requirement for anyone to physically attend a jobcentre – everything can be done by phone or online. Taken together, these measures on ESA and universal credit provide a boost of almost £0.5 billion to our welfare system.

• Helping local authorities support more vulnerable people. We are providing £500 million more funding so local authorities can support economically vulnerable people and households. We expect most of this funding to be used to provide more council tax relief, either through existing Local Council Tax Support schemes, or through complementary reliefs.

• Suspending face-to-face assessments for all sickness and disability benefits for the next 3 months. This temporary move (effective from 17 March) is being taken as a precautionary measure to protect vulnerable people from unnecessary risk of exposure to coronavirus. We will ensure those who are entitled to a benefit continue to receive support, and that new claimants are able to access the safety net.

Closing schools

Issue: On 18 March 2020, the Education Secretary announced schools would be closed for the vast majority of pupils until further notice.

 We will now close schools for the vast majority of pupils 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 attend school.

 Closing schools for the vast majority will help in our efforts slow the spread of the virus.

We are doing this by:

 Closing schools for the vast majority of children until further notice. This will mean there will be far fewer children in schools and that will help us to slow the spread of the disease.

 Continuing to provide school places for the children of key workers to ensure our NHS and vital services continue to have the workforces they need. We need health workers and other critical workers – from police officers to supermarket delivery drivers– to keep going to work. So schools are being asked to make provision for the children of these people. These measures are crucial to make sure the critical parts of the economy keep functioning and public services keep functioning.

 Looking after the most vulnerable children. Schools will also be asked to make provision for vulnerable children. For those children who rely on free school meals we will ensure that meals and vouchers are available.

 Asking private providers to follow the Government’s actions. We are asking nurseries and private schools to follow the Government’s lead in closing except for the children of key workers. Children should not be looked after by older grandparents or relatives who may be particularly vulnerable to the virus. A list of key workers, whose children will continue to attend school, can be found here.

Supporting children on free school meals:

 Launching a national voucher scheme to make sure children who usually benefit from free school meals still have access to healthy and nutritious meals while they are not attending school. Schools can continue to provide meals for collection or delivery themselves, but where this is not possible, the scheme will allow schools to provide vouchers worth £15 to families to spend at supermarkets while schools are closed due to coronavirus

 Ensuring no child has to go without food while their school is closed or if they are self-isolating at home. Schools will be able to provide meals or vouchers for supermarkets or local shops, which can be sent directly to families who are either self-isolating at home or whose schools are closed on government advice.

 Helping families with increased costs. The total value of vouchers offered to each eligible child will exceed the rate the Government pays to schools for free school meals, recognising that families will not be buying food in bulk and may therefore incur higher costs.

 Making the process of providing meals to pupils eligible for free school meals as easy as possible for schools. Effective immediately, schools will be able to order vouchers directly from supermarkets or shops in their communities to be emailed or printed and posted to families, and they will have their costs covered by the Department for Education.

 Giving headteachers the power to decide what’s best and most appropriate for their local area. Government guidance states that schools can choose to support eligible children however they believe is most appropriate and headteachers can decide which of the available options will be best for families in their area.

Working with teachers, universities and pupils on the issue of exams:

 Working with the exam regulator, exam boards and teachers to provide grades to students whose exams have been cancelled. Ofqual will develop and set out a process that will provide a calculated grade to each student which reflects their performance as fairly as possible, and will work with the exam boards to ensure this is consistently applied for all students. The exam boards will be asking teachers, who know their students well, to submit their judgement about the grade that they believe the student would have received if exams had gone ahead.

 Ensuring this year’s cohort of students aren’t disadvantaged by not sitting exams in the summer. The aim is to provide these calculated grades to students before the end of July. In terms of a permanent record, the grades will be indistinguishable from those provided in other years.

 Giving students the chance to an exam in the autumn if they want to. If students don’t feel that correct process has been followed in their case, they will be able to appeal. In addition, if they do not feel their calculated grade reflects their performance, they will have the opportunity to sit an exam at the earliest reasonable opportunity.

 Asking higher education providers not to change their offers to students for two weeks to maintain stability. We are asking providers to refrain from changing their offers made to undergraduate students for the next two weeks, such as converting conditional offers to unconditional offers or changing entry requirements. This is because a small number of universities have changed a significant proportion of their offers to undergraduate students from ‘conditional’ to ‘unconditional’ to secure their attendance for the academic year.

Q: Will teachers still get paid? Yes. Schools will continue to receive their budgets for the coming year – regardless of any periods of partial or complete closure. This means they can continue to pay their staff.

Q: What will happen with exams? We will not go ahead with primary assessments or GCSEs, AS Levels or A Levels this summer and we will not be publishing performance tables for 2020. The aim is to make sure pupils receive their grades in August as normal, with a thorough appeals process. Grades will be calculated based on a range of data including mock exams and teacher assessment.

Supporting homeowners and renters  

Supporting homeowners and renters Issue: On 17 and 18 March 2020, we announced support to homeowners, renters and landlords who may be impacted by coronavirus.

• No one who has been impacted by coronavirus should have to worry about getting back on their feet – including homeowners, renters and landlords.

• We have announced a package of measures to help these people. No homeowner in difficulty due to coronavirus will have to worry about their mortgage. No renter who has lost income due to coronavirus will be forced out of their home, nor will any landlord face unmanageable debts.

• These changes will protect all renters and private landlords ensuring everyone gets the support they need at this very difficult time.

We are doing this by:

• Introducing emergency legislation to protect renters, so that no one gets evicted if they cannot pay their rent. Emergency legislation will be taken forward as an urgent priority so that landlords will not be able to start proceedings to evict tenants for at least a three-month period. As a result of these measures, no renters in private or social accommodation needs to be concerned about the threat of eviction.

• Introducing a complete moratorium on evictions for the next three months, meaning people do not need to worry about losing their home during this difficult time. The provisions in our emergency legislation mean that landlords must give people three months’ notice if they plan to evict them, and cover most tenants in the private and social rented sectors. However, to give people more certainty, we have now introduced a complete moratorium on evictions, meaning that cases already in the system, or about go through the system, can progress to the stage where somebody could be evicted.

o Housing charity Shelter said this action means ‘people can now stay safe in their homes’. They tweeted: ‘the government has changed its approach and is now introducing a FULL ban on evictions, giving much-needed protection for renters at this critical time during the #coronavirus crisis. @RobertJenrick should take a lot of credit for having listened and taken further action – as a result many thousands of people can now stay safe in their homes’

• Announcing nearly £1 billion of support for renters, by increasing the generosity of housing benefit and Universal Credit, so that the Local Housing Allowance will cover at least 30 per cent of market rents in local areas.

• Introducing a three month mortgage holiday for those in difficulty due to coronavirus – so that people will not have to pay a penny towards their mortgage while they get back on their feet. And in the coming days, we will go much further to support people’s financial security. We will work with trade unions and businesses to develop new forms of employment support to help protect people’s jobs and incomes through this period.

• Extending the three month mortgage holiday to landlords whose tenants are experiencing financial difficulty due to coronavirus. This will alleviate the pressure on landlords, who will be concerned about meeting mortgage payments themselves, and will mean no unnecessary pressure is put on their tenants as a result. At the end of this period, landlords and tenants will be expected to work together to establish an affordable repayment plan, taking into account tenants’ individual circumstances. Moving home during the coronavirus outbreak

• Encouraging people to delay moving house where possible. Home buyers and renters should, where possible, delay moving to a new house while measures are in place to fight coronavirus. If your home is on the market, you should not let perspective buyers visit your home.

o The Government’s advice is that if you have already exchanged contracts and the property is currently occupied then all parties should work together to agree a delay or another way to resolve this matter. If moving is unavoidable for contractual reasons and the parties are unable to reach an agreement to delay, people must follow advice on staying away from others to minimise the spread of the virus.

Supporting businesses

Issue: On 17 March 2020, the Chancellor announced the latest package of measures to support businesses.

•At the Budget last week, the Chancellor set out the first stage of our response to tackle Coronavirus with a £30 billion package of support for people and businesses. But we promised to do whatever it takes to support our economy through this crisis – and we will do whatever it takes.

•So, we have now announced an unprecedented package of government-backed loans and guarantees to support business.

•We will make available an initial £330 billion of guarantees – equivalent to 15 per cent of our GDP

– so any businesses who needs access to cash to pay their rent, the salaries of employees, pay suppliers or purchase stock, will be able to access a government-backed loan. We will also provide tax cuts for British businesses by exempting some sectors from business rates for 12 months.

•The measures announced today provide a comprehensive, coordinated and coherent response to what is a serious and evolving economic situation. We have never faced an economic fight like this one but we are well prepared. We will do whatever it takes and we will get through this.

We are doing this by:

•Standing behind businesses small and large – providing a £330 billion package of loans and guarantees – that’s worth 15 per cent of our GDP. And if demand is greater than the initial £330 billion we are making available today, we will go further and provide as much capacity as required. That means any good business in financial difficulty who needs access to cash to pay their rent, the salaries of their employees, pay suppliers, or purchase stock, will be able to access a government-backed loan, on attractive terms.

o We will support liquidity amongst large companies, with a major new scheme being launched by the Bank of England.

o We will support lending to small and medium-sized businesses by extending the Business Interruption Loan Scheme announced in the Budget. This means that, rather than providing loans of £1.2 million, it will provide loans of up to £5 million, with no interest for the first six months.

o Both of these schemes will be up and running by the start of next week – and the Chancellor is also taking a new legal power in the Covid Bill to offer whatever further financial support is necessary.

•Helping all businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors – meaning that none of these companies will have to pay business rates. Last week, we said that any business in this sector with a rateable value of less than £51,000 can have a 100 per cent discount on their business rates. Today, we are going further – so all businesses in this sector, irrespective of their rateable value, are exempt from business rates for 12 months – that’s every single shop, pub, theatre, music venue, restaurant, and any other business in the retail, hospitality or leisure sectors.

o In addition, we will provide small businesses in these sectors with an additional grant scheme of up to £25,000. Any business with a rateable value of less than £51,000 can now get access to a government grant.

•Increasing grants for the smallest businesses from £3,000 to £10,000. In the Budget last week, we announced that we would be providing £3,000 grants to the 700,000 of our smallest businesses. To support their cash flow, today we are increasing those grants to £10,000.

Taken together, the Chancellor is today announcing tax cuts and grants for British businesses worth more than £20 billion. This is in addition to the measures we announced in the Budget last week to support businesses:

•Supporting small and medium-sized businesses to cope with the extra costs of paying Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) by refunding eligible SSP costs. The criteria for eligible businesses are:

o The refund will be limited to two weeks per employee who has claimed SSP as a result of Covid- 19.

o Employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible

o Employers should keep records but should not require employees to provide a doctor’s note.

o The eligible period will commence from the day on which regulations extending SSP come into force.

o We will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible.

•Businesses and self-employed people may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through

HMRC’s Time to Pay service. Arrangements are agreed case-by-case. Businesses can contact HMRC’s new dedicated COVID-19 helpline from 11 March 2020 for advice.

The Communities Secretary has announced a relaxation of planning rules to support pubs and restaurants:

•Planning rules will be relaxed so pubs and restaurants can operate as hot food takeaways during the coronavirus outbreak. Currently, planning permission is required for businesses to carry out a change of use to a hot food takeaway. The government has confirmed regulations will be temporarily relaxed to enable businesses to deliver this service without a planning application. This will support businesses and help people who need to self-isolate, as well as vulnerable groups and older people who have been strongly advised to avoid social contact outside their homes to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Giving the police new powers and support

Issue: On 26 March 2020, we announced new enforcement powers for the police to ensure people stay at home.

• The Prime Minister has been clear on what we need to do, stay at home to protect our NHS and save lives – and we are committed to ensuring that people only leave their home for very limited purposes.

• That is why we are giving the police the powers they need to enforce these rules, including the ability to issue fines and disperse gatherings – and announcing that we have recruited 1,500 more officers and are relaxing tax and pension rules so we can boost police capacity further.

• By giving the police the powers and resources they need – we are protecting the public and keeping as many people as possible safe from this terrible disease.

We are doing this by:

• Giving our police the powers they need to ensure everyone stays at home, so we can protect the NHS and save lives. If members of the public are not staying at home – except under specific circumstances, the police now have the powers to instruct them to go home, leave an area or disperse.

• Issuing fixed penalty notices to deter people from breaking the rules. Officers can issue a fixed penalty notice of £60, which will be lowered to £30 if paid within 14 days, and a further fixed penalty notice of £120 for second time offenders, doubling on each further repeat offence.

• Recruiting more police officers to keep our streets safe and enforce these powers. Around 1,500 police officers have already joined forces across England and Wales since September 2019 – as part of our drive to recruit 20,000 more officers by 2023.

• Boosting police capacity so that excessive work pressures are not placed on officers. We will ensure that existing Civil Servants who are already volunteering as Special Constables are able to assist in the national effort to the greatest extent possible.

• Committing to relaxing tax and pensions rules for officers, so that more people can return or stay in the force during this challenging time. In recognition of their value and expertise and to increase capacity and resilience, we have committed to relaxing tax and pensions rules which could deter officers nearing retirement and those recently retired from returning to serve.

• Encouraging the private security sector to support our response to coronavirus, easing pressure on frontline police officers. We are in contact with the Security Industry Authority about what more they can do to encourage the private security sector to support the national response to coronavirus.

Q: Why are some police forces more heavy handed than others?

Having asked the police to do this job we would expect them to exercise their own discretion over how they use their powers. We police by consent in this country – and that is not changing. We are confident that the majority of people will stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives. However, there will be a small number who do not, and the police will engage with them, explain to them and encourage them to go home. If they still refuse to do the right thing, the police are fully prepared to use these new powers if they need to enforce these rules.

Protecting people in social care

Issue: On 13 March 2020, we offered updated guidance to people working and living in social care.

•Elderly people and those with underlying health conditions are much more likely to develop serious complications from Covid-19.

•The Government has published new guidance which sets out that anyone with symptoms should not visit care homes or vulnerable people, while those receiving care should be isolated in their rooms if they have symptoms of Covid-19.

•This will be a challenging time for people living and working in care, but we are working closely with industry experts to do everything we can to limit the impact of Covid-19 has on the most vulnerable.

We are doing this by:

•Publishing new guidance for adult social care in relation to Covid-19. The guidance covers a variety of scenarios relating to care homes, staff, and providers who care for people in their own homes to ensure older people and those with pre-existing conditions and care needs who receive support are best protected.

oAnyone who is suspected of having Covid-19, with a new continuous cough or high temperature, should not visit care homes or people receiving home care, and should self-isolate at home.

oPeople receiving care will be isolated in their rooms if they have symptoms of Covid-19. To ensure they can continue to receive the care they require, care staff will use protective equipment to minimise the risk of transmission.

•Working with the NHS and care providers to make sure people can stay in their communities wherever possible. Building on existing strong local relationships, the NHS will work with care providers where necessary to make sure people have the best possible care and remain in the community.

•Asking GPs to do what they can to support patients and their families. GPs have been asked to look at the possibilities of offering digital appointments to provide advice and guidance to patients and potentially their families.

•Working with local councils to prioritise people who are at the highest risk. Councils have been told to map out all care and support plans to prioritise people who are at the highest risk and contact all registered providers in their local area to facilitate plans for mutual aid.

Managing pressures on the food supply chain

•We know people are concerned about pressures on the food supply chain during this difficult time.

•We are working closely with representatives across the food supply chain, together with local authorities and charities, to ensure that those who need to stay at home will have continued access to food, and we have already made changes so that supermarkets can replenish their shelves more quickly.

•Together with the food industry, we will do everything we can to rise to the challenge ahead and ensure food stocks keep flowing and people can access the groceries they need.

We are doing this by:

•Working closely with the retail industry to establish any additional support they may need. The Environment Secretary is speaking regularly with industry, including the British Retail Consortium, to determine what additional support the Government can provide. Under discussion are additional measures to support the continued flow of groceries into our shops and steps to ensure people staying at home can get the food and groceries they need.

•Issuing guidance to help supermarkets keep the supply of food flowing. We have issued guidance to local authorities advising them to extend the hours that deliveries can be made to supermarkets and other food retailers, making it easier for shelves to be replenished and to help the industry respond to Covid- 19.26

•Announcing a temporary relaxation of the rules governing delivery drivers’ hours. The Transport Secretary has authorised a temporary relaxation of the rules on drivers’ hours, so they can continue to help deliver vital goods to shops across the country, while also continuing to be mindful of driver welfare.

•Closely monitoring the resilience of food retailers’ supply chains. UK retailers already have highly- resilient supply chains, and they are working around the clock to ensure people can access the products they need. Food supply into the UK has continued, and we are monitoring the situation very closely to ensure this continues and will provide an update if anything changes.

Supporting rough sleepers

Issue: On 17 March 2020, we announced £3.2 million in emergency support for rough sleepers during the coronavirus outbreak.

• Public safety and protecting the most vulnerable people in society from coronavirus is our top priority.

• We have announced an initial £3.2 million to ensure councils are able to put emergency measures in place to help rough sleepers to successfully self-isolate. It is a first step to ensure local authorities and frontline services are fully prepared with emergency measures in place.

• Combating this virus will require a huge national effort. We must do all we can to save lives, protect the NHS and keep the most vulnerable people in our society safe.

We are doing this by:

• Providing £3.2 million to help rough sleepers, or those at risk of rough sleeping, to successful selfisolate. The funding will be available to all local authorities in England and will reimburse them for the cost of providing accommodation and services to those sleeping on the streets to help them successfully self-isolate.

• Working with councils to ensure all those people who are sleeping rough are housed in safe accommodation as soon as possible. The Government wrote to local authorities to set out that it was imperative that rough sleeping and other vulnerable homeless are supported into appropriate accommodation. Local authorities should use government support to urgent procure accommodation for people on the streets.

• Supporting local authorities to put emergency measures in place to deal with the spread of coronavirus. The funding is an initial step and the Government will continue to work closely with local authorities to keep this under review and ensure people have access to the support they need.

• Helping shelters and hostels with the latest advice on tackling coronavirus. Public Health England has released guidance for providers of hostels and day centres on how to handle suspected cases of coronavirus to assist staff and visitors in dealing with the impact of the virus.

Keeping the public informed

Issue: On 15 March 2020, the Government announced new daily press conference would be held to keep the public informed on how to protect themselves.

•We are committed to keeping the public informed every step of the way about what we’re doing to fight the spread of coronavirus, when we’re doing it and why we’re doing it.

•The Prime Minister and other senior ministers will hold daily press conferences on coronavirus pandemic, supported by scientific and medical experts including the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Adviser.

•At all times we will be led by the science to bring forward the right responses at the right time to this global pandemic.

We are doing this by:

•Writing to every household in the UK to urge them to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives. The Prime Minister has written to all 30 million households across the UK, to outline the guidance everyone should follow and the measures the Government has put in place to fight coronavirus and to support businesses and workers.

Cracking down on the spread of false coronavirus information online through the Government’s Rapid Response Unit. The unit is working with departments across Whitehall and social media companies to combat the spread of false information about coronavirus – tackling a range of harmful narratives online, from purported ‘experts’ issuing dangerous misinformation to criminal fraudsters running phishing scams.69

• Launching a GOV.UK Coronavirus Information service on WhatsApp – giving people official and timely information and reducing the burden on NHS services. An automated ‘chatbot’ service will allow people to get answers to the most common questions about coronavirus direct from government. The service provides information on topics such as coronavirus prevention and symptoms, the latest number of cases in the UK, advice on staying at home, travel advice and myth busting.

o 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.

•Holding daily press conferences to keep the public informed on Covid-19. The conferences will be hosted by the Prime Minister and senior Minister, supported by scientific and medical experts including the Chief Medical Office and Chief Scientific Adviser and form part of the Government’s commitment to clarity and transparency in order to ensure British people are fully informed about the steps they can take to protect themselves and others.

•Launching new TV adverts to keep the public informed about the steps they need to take to tackle the spread of Covid-19. The adverts will feature the Chief Medical Officer and actor Mark Strong, who will explain that individuals will still be asked to self-isolate for seven days from the onset of symptoms, but any individuals in the household will now be asked to self-isolate for 14 days from that moment as well.

Publishing the scientific evidence underpinning the Government’s response and advice to the coronavirus outbreak. Transparency is key during times like this, which is why the Government has published the evidence behind its approach, provided by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE). The evidence can be viewed online here

The Prime Minister is coordinating action across the Government:

•Setting up four new implementation committees to feed into a new daily C-19 meeting, which will be chaired by the Prime Minister. The C-19 meeting of key ministers and officials will monitor progress and refine the measures agreed by COBR. The four implementation committees are:

oHealthcare. Chaired by the Health Secretary to focus on the preparedness of the NHS, notably ensuring capacity in the critical care system for those worst affected.

oGeneral Public Sector. Chaired by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster to look at preparedness across the rest of the public and critical national infrastructure, excluding the NHS.

oEconomic and business. Chaired by the Chancellor, with the Business Secretary as deputy chair, to consider the economic and business impact and response, including supply chain resilience. It will also coordinate roundtables with key sectors to be chaired by relevant Secretaries of State.

oInternational. Chaired by the Foreign Secretary, to consider our international response to the crisis through the G7, G20 and other mechanisms, including like-minded groups, and the UK five-point plan.

Supporting people’s mental health

Issue: On 29 March 2020, the Government and Public Health England launched new guidance to support people with their mental health during the Covid-19 outbreak.

• The actions we need to take to tackle coronavirus are hugely disruptive to people’s lives and routines, and we know that much of the news at the minute is worrying, and at times overwhelming, for a lot of people.

• That’s why Public Health England has launched new guidance on how to look after mental wellbeing, and we are providing £5 million to leading mental health charities to expand their support services.

• It’s imperative that we stay home to protect our NHS and save lives. But people should not be left to suffer on their own and we will make sure everyone has the support they need.

We are doing this by:

• Making more support available to help people with their mental health during the Covid-19 crisis. Public Health England has published new online guidance setting out principles to follow to help people to manage their mental health during this difficult time, such as:

o Maintaining contact with friends and family via phone and video calls, or social media.

o Keeping a regular routine and sleeping pattern.

o Focusing on a hobby or learning something new.

o How people already living with mental health problems can better cope

• Providing tailored advice to parents and carers on how best to support children and young people with stress during the Covid-19 outbreak. This will include providing parents with clear information, asking them to be aware of their own reactions around children and encouraging them to create a new routine for our changed circumstances.

• Providing £5 million to leading mental health charities, to fund additional services for people struggling with their mental wellbeing during this time. The grant will be administered by Mind, and could be used to improve telephone and online services for the most isolated and vulnerable in our communities.

• Updating Public Health England’s Every Mind Matters platform with specific advice for dealing with the Covid-19 outbreak. Public Health England has updated its world-leading Every Mind Matters platform with specific advice on maintaining good mental wellbeing during the outbreak. People can also complete a ‘Mind Plan’, a quick and free tool that has already been completed over 1.8 million times.Coordinating a major volunteering push

Coordinating a major volunteering push

Issue: On 18 March 2020, the Culture Secretary announced a major volunteering push to help support people through Covid-19.31

•The British public, alongside our brilliant charities and volunteers, are already rising to the challenges presented by Covid-19, and supporting each other through this challenging time.

•We know many people want to do more to help those who are more vulnerable, which is why we will work with the charity sector to channel this outpouring of support to where its most needed.

•By coming together as a society, and with the Government doing whatever it takes to support people, businesses and public services, our country will get through this period.

We are doing this by:

•Working with the civil society sector to galvanise volunteers and coordinate help to those who need it most. We are working with groups including National Emergencies Trust, the National Council of Voluntary Organisations and the British Red Cross.

•Bringing together civil society leaders to ways to support the Government’s response to Covid-19. The Civil Society Minister chaired a forum of 40 leaders from across the civil society sector last week, where representatives from charities, disability groups, faith-based groups and the voluntary sector discussed their response plans to the Covid-19 outbreak and their willingness to support the Government’s efforts.

Leading international efforts

Issue: On 16 March 2020, all G7 leaders including the Prime Minister participated in a call to discuss international efforts.

• The United Kingdom is playing a crucial role in leading the international response to Covid-19 – ensuring we can make a very real difference to countries which are most vulnerable to the disease.

• We are in close contact with our counterparts, around the world, in the G7 and the G20 – and the Prime Minister will continue this engagement to ensure a coordinated global response to the outbreak. In total, the UK has committed £544 million to help fight coronavirus alongside our international partners.

• We want fellow leaders to support the WHO response, provide funding and expertise for research to help develop a vaccine and drive forward support to mitigate the economic impacts of the crisis.

We are doing this by:

• Donating more than any other country in the world to the international coalition trying to find a coronavirus vaccine. We have donated more than £210 million to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, which is supporting the development of vaccines that will be available throughout the world, including to the NHS at the lowest possible price.

• Engaging with world leaders to ensure a coordinated global response to the outbreak. The Prime Minister is continuing to speak to world leaders, joining a call with the G20 nations, which also discussed international efforts to protect the global economy from the long-term effects of the virus.

• Providing up to £150 million to the IMF’s Catastrophe Containment and Relief Fund to support developing countries affected by Covid-19. Up to £150 million of new UK Aid will go towards helping developing countries deal with the short term economic disruption caused by coronavirus, allowing them to focus their spending on tackling the outbreak.

• Providing £40 million to develop affordable treatments for coronavirus patients. This will support the Therapeutic Accelerator, a fund for the rapid development of anti-retrovirals or immunotherapies against coronavirus which is already backed by the UK-based Wellcome Trust, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Mastercard. It aims to make 10 million treatments available in the coming months globally, including in the UK. This funding is for all stages of the development process – the development, manufacture, trialling and approval of the new medicines.

• Launching a £50 million joint campaign with Unilever to tell up to a billion people about the importance of handwashing in developing countries. The programme will also distribute over 20 million hygiene and cleaning products.

Good news: How our country is coming together

 There are 9,398 more nurses and 5,188 more doctors in the NHS than last year, and more people will join the NHS in the coming weeks to support our response to coronavirus. In addition to the 20,000 former NHS professionals who are returning to the frontline, from this week 5,750 final year medics and 17,000 final year nursing students in England will also be asked to consider moving into frontline placements, with appropriate support.

 750,000 people have answered the call to be an NHS volunteer. The target of 250,000 volunteers has been surpassed – showing just how much the British public want to help and are pulling together in the national effort.

 The UK has donated more than any other country in the world to the international coalition trying to find a coronavirus vaccine. We have donated more than £210 million to the international coalition to find a coronavirus campaign.

 A new hospital is to be established at the Excel centre – the Nightingale Hospital – with capacity for 4,000 people. Nightingale hospitals will also be established in Birmingham and Manchester.

 The Government is distributing millions more pieces of equipment to NHS staff, so that everyone who needs personal protective equipment can get it. We have established the national supply distribution response team, supported by the Armed Forces, to deliver equipment to people who need it the most. We have delivered 170 million FFP3 masks, surgical masks and other PPE equipment.

 We have more than 8,000 ventilators deployed in NHS hospitals - more than when the outbreak began. But we need more - buying from abroad and developing new ones at home. The first thousands of new ventilators will roll off the production line and be delivered to the NHS next week.

 As well as increasing capacity for ventilation, which supports the patients worse affected, we're also increasing the capacity to provide oxygen to affected patients at an earlier stage in the process of the disease, helping to avert the deterioration of their condition. A team led by UCL working with Mercedes Benz will produce 10,000 new CPAP devices to support affected patients.

Party campaign issues

Issue: On 13 March 2020, the Government announced it was postponing all elections due to be held in May 2020 for one year.

•In the weeks ahead, it’s right that local authorities can focus on their vital role in delivering public services.

•That’s why the Government took the decision to reschedule local, mayoral, and Police and CrimeCommissioner elections until May next year.

•We will continue to work with councils across the country to ensure they have the support they need at this difficult time.

We are doing this by:

•Postponing elections until May 2021, to ensure local authorities can focus on delivering vital local

services in the months ahead. By postponing the elections for a year, we can respect the annual cycle of local government.41

•Acting on the advice of the Electoral Commission to postpone May’s elections. It said: ‘We've written to the UK government to recommend that the May polls be postponed … This is due to growing risks to the delivery of the polls and to mitigate the impact on voters, campaigners & electoral administrators’

Advice for MPs

Issue: On 16 March 2020, Parliament issued updated guidance for MPs.47

•Parliament has stopped all non-essential visitor access to both Houses and introduced overseas travel restrictions in order to preserve the operation of Parliament.

•With the nation currently facing extremely challenging circumstances due to coronavirus, steps have been taken to allow Parliament to continue to fulfil its important constitutional duties.

Steps taken to preserve the operation of Parliament

•MPs, Peers, Parliamentary staff and other members of the Parliamentary community will continue to be able to work on the Estate where necessary, but are being strongly encouraged to work from home where possible.

•All visitor access to the Parliamentary Estate will stop from tomorrow. Access will be restricted to passholders and those on essential Parliamentary business.

Access to the Parliamentary Estate

The access measures include:

•All non-essential access to both Houses will stop from Tuesday 17 March.

•There will be no access to the public gallery.

•The Education Centre will be closed and school visits will cease from Tuesday 17 March.

•Members tours for constituents will be stopped.

•No new banqueting bookings will be accepted. Existing bookings taking place from Monday onwards are to be cancelled but deposits will be refunded.

•No new commercial tour bookings will be accepted. Existing bookings taking place from Monday onwards are to be cancelled but tickets will be refunded.

•Members of the public wishing to enter the Parliamentary Estate solely to view Westminster Hall will not be admitted.

•Mass lobbies (which usually take place in Westminster Hall or in the larger committee rooms) will not be facilitated during the period.

Select committee witnesses will be unaffected. Witnesses will need to show the invitation sent to them by the Committee’s staff.

Holding surgeries

•The Conservative Party is advising that all surgeries (both MP and council) should now take place over the phone.

Constituents who can support the national effort

•If MPs have businesses in their constituencies who may be able to support our national effort for ventilator production, they should ask them to contact 0300 456 3565 or ventilator.support@beis.gov.uk.

•If MPs have businesses in their constituencies who may be able to help with other aspects, whether it be with property, logistics, food supply or other equipment, they should ask them to contact gcfcovid19enquiries@cabinetoffice.gov.uk.

Other useful numbers:

•Business support/ventilators: 0300 456 3565

•HMRC: 0800 015 9559

•Universal Credit: 0800 328 5644

•School closures: 0800 046 8687

•NHS: Only call 111 if you cannot get help online at 111.nhs.uk

Annex 1: How to access government financial support

We are providing this in a separate article on our website.

Annex 2: Government and NHS guidance

Guidance for staying at home

What you need to know

•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. (The ending isolation section below has more information)

•if you live with others and you are the first in the household to have symptoms of coronavirus, then then you must stay at home for 7days, but all other household members who remain well must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill. See explanatory diagram

•for anyone else in the household 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. (The ending isolation section below has more information, and see explanatory diagram

•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

•if you can, move any vulnerable individuals (such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions) out of your home, to stay with friends or family for the duration of the home isolation period

•if you cannot move vulnerable people out of your home, stay away from them as much as possible

•if you have coronavirus symptoms:

o do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital

o you do not need to contact 111 to tell them you’re staying at home o testing for coronavirus is not needed if you’re staying at home

•plan ahead and ask others for help to ensure that you can successfully stay at home and consider what can be done for vulnerable people in the household

•ask your employer, friends and family to help you to get the things you need to stay at home

•wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds, each time using soap and water, or use hand sanitiser

•if you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home, or your condition gets worse, or your symptoms do not get better after 7 days, then use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service. If you do not have internet access, call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999

For more information visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home- guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-households-with-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection

Guidance on social distancing and for vulnerable people

Those who are at increased risk of severe illness from Covid-19 should be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures:

•aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions)

•under 70 with an underlying health condition listed below (ie anyone instructed to get a flu jab as an adult each year on medical grounds):

o chronic (long-term) respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis

o chronic heart disease, such as heart failure o chronic kidney disease

o chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis

o chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), a learning disability or cerebral palsy

o diabetes

o problems with your spleen – for example, sickle cell disease or if you have had your spleen removed

29

o a weakened immune system as the result of conditions such as HIV and AIDS, or medicines such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy

o being seriously overweight (a BMI of 40 or above)

•those who are pregnant

Note: there are some clinical conditions which put people at even higher risk of severe illness from COVID-

19.If you are in this category, next week the NHS in England will directly contact you with advice the more stringent measures you should take in order to keep yourself and others safe. For now, you should rigorously follow the social distancing advice in full, outlined below.

People falling into this group are those who may be at particular risk due to complex health problems such as:

•People who have received an organ transplant and remain on ongoing immunosuppression medication

•People with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy or radiotherapy

•People with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia who are at any stage of treatment

•People with severe chest conditions such as cystic fibrosis or severe asthma (requiring hospital admissions or courses of steroid tablets)

•People with severe diseases of body systems, such as severe kidney disease (dialysis)

What is social distancing:

Social distancing measures are steps you can take to reduce the social interaction between people. This will help reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19).

They are:

•Avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). These symptoms include high temperature and/or new and continuous cough

•Avoid non-essential use of public transport, varying your travel times to avoid rush hour, when possible

•Work from home, where possible. Your employer should support you to do this. Please refer to employer guidance for more information

•Avoid large gatherings, and gatherings in smaller public spaces such as pubs, cinemas, restaurants, theatres, bars, clubs

•Avoid gatherings with friends and family. Keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media

•Use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services

Everyone should be trying to follow these measures as much as is pragmatic.

We strongly advise you to follow the above measures as much as you can and to significantly limit your face- to-face interaction with friends and family if possible, particularly if you:

•are over 70

•have an underlying health condition

•are pregnant

This advice is likely to be in place for some weeks.

Advice for informal carers:

If you are caring for someone who is vulnerable, there are some simple steps that you can take to protect them and to reduce their risk at the current time.

Ensure you follow advice on good hygiene such as:

•wash your hands on arrival and often, using soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser

•cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze

•put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards

•do not visit if you are unwell and make alternative arrangements for their care

•provide information on who they should call if they feel unwell, how to use NHS 111 online coronavirus service and leave the number for NHS 111 prominently displayed

•find out about different sources of support that could be used and access further advice on creating a contingency plan is available from Carers UK

•look after your own well-being and physical health during this time. Further information on this is available here

For more information visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-social- distancing-and-for-vulnerable-people/guidance-on-social-distancing-for-everyone-in-the-uk-and-protecting- older-people-and-vulnerable-adults

Guidance for staff in the transport sector

What you need to know:

•if someone becomes unwell while at a transport hub or on their journey with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, they should be sent home

•passengers should wash their hands for 20 seconds before and after they have been on public transport and catch coughs and sneezes in tissues

•frequently clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, using your standard cleaning products

•advise passengers they should not travel if they are feeling unwell with symptoms of coronavirus (COVID- 19) - a new, continuous cough or high temperature. This will also help to protect others from infection

•use announcements in transport hubs to reinforce key messages, such as washing hands before and after travel, and what to do if unwell

For more information visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-staff-in-the- transport-sector/covid-19-guidance-for-staff-in-the-transport-sector

Guidance for residential care

Steps care home providers can take to maintain services:

Care home providers are advised to work with local authorities to establish plans for mutual aid, including sharing of the workforce between providers, and with local primary and community health services providers, and with deployment of volunteers where that is safe to do so.

Care home providers are invited to consider ways in which they can contribute to keeping people safe across the local area, including the following where possible:

•use tools to report capacity for bed vacancies (such as the Capacity Tracker or Care Pulse) to support system resilience

•use tools for the secure transfer of information, such as NHSMail, recognising that not all providers currently have access to NHSMail

•increase the use of Skype and other tools for secure virtual conference calls, to ensure advice from GPs, acute care staff, and community health staff can be given

Care home providers will routinely be procuring personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves and aprons. In addition, there will be a free issue of PPE to support adult social care providers to support compliance with the updated advice. This will be issued from the pandemic influenza stockpile. Arrangements will be put in place for adult social care providers to access further PPE as necessary.

If a resident has symptoms of Covid-19

Care homes are not expected to have dedicated isolation facilities for people living in the home but should implement isolation precautions when someone in the home displays symptoms of COVID-19 in the same way that they would operate if an individual had influenza. If isolation is needed, a resident’s own room can be used. Ideally the room should be a single bedroom with en suite facilities.

All staff will be trained in hand hygiene. Much of the care delivered in care homes will require close personal contact. Where a resident is showing symptoms of COVID-19, steps should be taken to minimise the risk of transmission through safe working procedures. Staff should use personal protective equipment (PPE) for activities that bring them into close personal contact, such as washing and bathing, personal hygiene and contact with bodily fluids. Aprons, gloves and fluid repellent surgical masks should be used in these situations. If there is a risk of splashing, then eye protection will minimise risk.

New PPE must be used for each episode of care. It is essential that used PPE is stored securely within disposable rubbish bags. These bags should be placed into another bag, tied securely and kept separate from other waste within the room. This should be put aside for at least 72 hours before being disposed of as normal. Care homes have well-established processes for waste management.

Clean frequently touched surfaces. Personal waste (such as used tissues, continence pads and other items soiled with bodily fluids) and disposable cleaning cloths can be stored securely within disposable rubbish bags. These bags should be placed into another bag, tied securely and kept separate from other waste within the room. This should be put aside for at least 72 hours before being disposed of as normal.

Do not shake dirty laundry – this minimises the possibility of dispersing virus through the air. Wash items as appropriate in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Dirty laundry that has been in contact with an ill person can be washed with other people’s items. Items heavily soiled with body fluids, such as vomit or diarrhoea, or items that cannot be washed, should be disposed of, with the owner’s consent.

Personal protective equipment

If neither the care worker nor the individual receiving care and support is symptomatic, then no personal protective equipment is required above and beyond normal good hygiene practices.

General interventions may include increased cleaning activity to reduce risk of retention of virus on hard surfaces, and keeping property properly ventilated by opening windows whenever safe and appropriate.

For more information visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-residential-care- supported-living-and-home-care-guidance/covid-19-guidance-on-residential-care-provision

Guidance for supported living provision

Steps that supported living providers can take to maintain services

To maintain service delivery, providers of supported living are advised to:

1.review their list of clients, and ensure that it is up to date, including the levels of informal support available to individuals. Providers should consider how they could share this information electronically, if they receive a legitimate request, including what the dataset might be.

2.work with local authorities to identify people who fund their own care and help them to establish the levels of informal support available. It may be helpful for providers to share the number of hours of care they provide to help with planning, but they will want to satisfy themselves that it is lawful for them to share that information.

3.map all care and support plans commissioned by the local authority, to inform planning during an outbreak.

4.work with local authorities to establish plans for mutual aid, including sharing of the workforce between supported living and home care providers, and with local primary and community health services providers; and with deployment of volunteers where that is safe to do so.

5.note the arrangements that local authorities and CCGs and NHS 111 are putting in place to refer vulnerable people self-isolating at home to volunteers who can offer practical and emotional support.

Personal protective equipment

The risk of transmission should be minimised through safe working procedures. Care workers should use personal protective equipment for activities that bring them into close personal contact, such as washing and bathing, personal hygiene and contact with bodily fluids.

Aprons, gloves and fluid repellent surgical masks should be used in these situations.

In particular cases, if there is a risk of splashing then eye protection will minimise risk.

New personal protective equipment must be used for each episode of care. It is essential that personal protective equipment is stored securely within disposable rubbish bags.

These bags should be placed into another bag, tied securely and kept separate from other waste within the room. This should be put aside for at least 72 hours before being put in the usual household waste bin for disposal.

If neither the individual in supported living nor care worker have symptoms of Covid-19

If neither the care worker nor the individual receiving care and support is symptomatic, then no personal protective equipment is required above and beyond normal good hygiene practices.

General interventions may include increased cleaning activity to reduce risk of retention of the virus on hard surfaces, and keeping property properly ventilated by opening windows whenever safe and appropriate.

Care workers should follow advice on hand hygiene.

For more information visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-residential-care- supported-living-and-home-care-guidance/covid-19-guidance-for-supported-living-provision

Guidance on home care provision

Steps for home care providers to maintain delivery of care

Home care providers are advised to:

1.review their list of clients, and ensure that it is up to date, including levels of informal support available to individuals. Providers should consider how they could benefit from sharing this information electronically with local partners, if they receive a legitimate request, including what the dataset might be

2.work with local authorities to establish plans for mutual aid, taking account of their business continuity plans, and consider arrangements to support sharing of the workforce between home care providers, and with local primary and community services providers; and with deployment of volunteers where that is safe to do so

3.note the arrangements that local authorities, CCGs, and NHS 111 are putting in place to refer vulnerable people self-isolating at home to volunteers who can offer practical and emotional support

Home care providers will routinely be procuring personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves and aprons. In addition, there will be a free issue of PPE to support adult social care providers (residential care and domiciliary care) to comply with the updated advice on use of PPE to support management of symptomatic patients presenting in these settings. This will be issued from the pandemic influenza stockpile. Arrangements will be put in place for adult social care providers to access further PPE as necessary.

Personal protective equipment

Care workers should use personal protective equipment (PPE) for activities that bring them into close personal contact, such as washing and bathing, personal hygiene and contact with bodily fluids.

Aprons, gloves and fluid repellent surgical masks should be used in these situations. If there is a risk of splashing, then eye protection will minimise risk.

New personal protective equipment must be used for each episode of care. It is essential that personal protective equipment is stored securely within disposable rubbish bags.

These bags should be placed into another bag, tied securely and kept separate from other waste within the room. This should be put aside for at least 72 hours before being put in the usual household waste bin.

If neither the individual in supported living nor care worker have symptoms of Covid-19

If neither the care worker nor the individual receiving care and support is symptomatic, then no personal protective equipment is required above and beyond normal good hygiene practices.

General interventions may include increased cleaning activity and keeping property properly ventilated by opening windows whenever safe and appropriate.

Care workers should follow advice on hand hygiene.

For more information visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-residential-care- supported-living-and-home-care-guidance/covid-19-guidance-on-home-care-provision

Guidance for health care professionals

Advice for a wide range of health care professions can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/wuhan-novel-coronavirus

Guidance for employers and businesses

What you need to know

•businesses and workplaces should encourage their employees to work at home, wherever possible

•if someone becomes unwell in the workplace with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, they should be sent home and advised to follow the advice to stay at home

•employees should be reminded to wash their hands for 20 seconds more frequently and catch coughs and sneezes in tissues

•frequently clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, using your standard cleaning products

•employees will need your support to adhere to the recommendation to stay at home to reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) to others

•those who follow advice to stay at home will be eligible for statutory sick pay (SSP) from the first day of their absence from work

•employers should use their discretion concerning the need for medical evidence for certification for employees who are unwell. This will allow GPs to focus on their patients

•employees from defined vulnerable groups should be strongly advised and supported to stay at home and work from there if possible

For more information visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and- businesses-about-covid-19/guidance-for-employers-and-businesses-on-coronavirus-covid-19

Travel advice

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) now advises British people against all non-essential travel worldwide. This advice takes effect immediately and applies initially for a period of 30 days.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to unprecedented international border closures and other restrictions. All countries may restrict travel without notice. 

If you now need to change or cancel your travel plans, follow these steps:

•contact your airline, travel company, cruise line or other transport and accommodation providers

•get in touch with your insurance provider

•continue to follow the NHS coronavirus guidance

•The FCO was already advising against all but essential travel or all travel to some areas or countries due to risks that do not relate to COVID-19. This advice remains in place. Check FCO travel advice pages for the latest information.

For more information visit: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus

Annex 3: Frequently Asked Questions

For the latest guidance and information, visit gov.uk/coronavirus.

Q: When am I allowed to leave the house?

You should only leave the house for very limited purposes:

• shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible

• one form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle - alone or with members of your household

• any medical need, including to donate blood, avoid or escape risk of injury or harm, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person

• travelling for work purposes, but only where you cannot work from home.

Q: Can I go to the dentist, my GP or another medical appointment?

You can leave home for medical appointments. GP practices may postpone non-urgent health checks or routine appointments. You should go to the doctor if there is an essential medical need.

Q: Can I walk my dog / look after my horse?

Yes – provided it is alone or with members of your household. People must stay at home as much as possible to reduce the spread of the virus. But you can also still go outside once a day for a walk, run, cycle. When doing this you must minimise the time you are out of your home and stay at least two metres away from anyone else that isn’t from your household.

Q: Should I stay at home or go to work?

You may travel for work purposes, but only where you cannot work from home. Certain jobs require people to travel to their place of work – for instance if they operate machinery, work in construction or manufacturing, or are delivering front line services such as train and bus drivers. Employers and employees should discuss their working arrangements, and employers should take every possible step to facilitate their employees working from home, including providing suitable IT and equipment to enable remote working.

Q: 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.

Q: 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. The Government has also asked certain businesses where people gather, such as pubs and most shops, to close. Separate guidance has been published on this.

Q: Can I see my friends? We must all stay away from each other to stop spreading the virus, and that means you should not be meeting friends unless you live in the same household. Instead, you could keep in touch with your friends using phone or video calls.

Q: Can I visit elderly relatives?

No, you should not be visiting family members who do not live in your home. You should keep in touch with them using phone or video calls. Where your relatives are elderly or vulnerable, you may leave your house to help them, for example by dropping shopping or medication at their door. You can also help them to order online.

Q: Can I go out to help a vulnerable person?

You can only provide support to vulnerable people if you fulfil all of the conditions below:

• you are well and have no symptoms like a cough or high temperature and nobody in your household does

• you are under 70 • you are not pregnant

• you do not have any long-term health conditions that make you vulnerable to coronavirus If the answer is yes to everything above, you may leave your house to provide care or to help a vulnerable person, following the advice set out here. When outside the home, you should stay at least two metres away from others wherever possible. We have seen an incredible effort across the country already, and the Government is hugely grateful to those who support the vulnerable in their communities by volunteering day-to-day.

Q: 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, the Government has outlined clear guidance for employers to help protect workers.

Q: 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?

The Government is urging 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.

Q: Can I move house? Homebuyers and renters should, where possible, delay moving to a new house while measures are in place to fight coronavirus. If moving is unavoidable for contractual reasons and the parties are unable to reach an agreement to delay, people must follow advice on staying away from others to minimise the spread of the virus.

Q: Can I go to the park?

You can still go to the park for outdoor exercise once a day but only alone or with members of your household, not in groups. Communal places within parks such as sports courts, playgrounds and outdoor gyms have been closed to protect everyone’s health. The Government asks that households use parks responsibly and keep 2 metres apart from others at all times. Unless you are with members of your household, gatherings of more than two people in parks and other public spaces have been banned. The police have the powers to disperse gatherings and issue fines if necessary.

Q: Can I drive to a national park or other green space to walk?

The Government advises you to stay local and use open spaces near to your home where possible – do not travel unnecessarily. You can still go to the park for outdoor exercise once a day but only by yourself or within your household, not in groups. The Government asks you to keep 2 metres apart from others outside your household at all times when outdoors.

Q: What will happen to me if I break the rules?

The Government appreciates all the effort people are putting into containing the spread of coronavirus which will help protect our NHS and save lives. However, if you leave your home or gather in public for any reason other than those specified, the police may:

• instruct you to go home, leave an area or disperse

• instruct you to take steps to stop your children breaking these rules if they have already done so

• take you home – or arrest you – if you do not follow their instructions or where they deem it necessary

• issue a fine (fixed penalty notice) of £60, which will be lowered to £30 if paid within 14 days.

• issue a fine (fixed penalty notice) of £120 for second time offenders, doubling on each further repeat offence Individuals who do not pay their fine could be taken to court, with magistrates able to impose unlimited fines.

 

Annex 4: Useful links

Coronavirus – homepage

www.nhs.uk/coronavirus

www.gov.uk/coronavirus

Guidance for Members of Parliament

https://www.parliament.uk/business/news/2020/march/uk-parliament-coronavirus-update/

How to access government financial support if you or your business has been affected by Covid-19

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uplo… 

Guidance for staying at home

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-households-with-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection

Guidance for social distancing and for vulnerable people

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-social-distancing-and-for-vulnerable-people/guidance-on-social-distancing-for-everyone-in-the-uk-and-protecting-older-people-and-vulnerable-adults

Guidance for educational settings

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-educational-settings-about-covid-19/guidance-to-educational-settings-about-covid-19

Guidance for staff in the transport sector

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-staff-in-the-transport-sector/covid-19-guidance-for-staff-in-the-transport-sector

Guidance for freight transport industry

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-freight-transport

Guidance for residential care

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-residential-care-supported-living-and-home-care-guidance/covid-19-guidance-on-residential-care-provision

Guidance for supported living provision

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-residential-care-supported-living-and-home-care-guidance/covid-19-guidance-for-supported-living-provision

Guidance on home care provision

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-residential-care-supported-living-and-home-care-guidance/covid-19-guidance-for-supported-living-provision

Guidance for households with a possible infection

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance

Guidance for cleaning of non-healthcare settings

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings

Guidance for hostel or day centres for people rough sleeping

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-services-for-people-experiencing-rough-sleeping

Guidance for mass gatherings

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/covid-19-guidance-for-mass-gatherings

Guidance for prisons and other places of detention

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-prisons-and-other-prescribed-places-of-detention-guidance

Guidance on prison visits

Https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-and-prisons

Guidance of shipping and sea ports

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-shipping-and-sea-ports-guidance

Guidance for health care professionals – Primary care

Https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/wn-cov-guidance-for-primary-care

Guidance for health care professionals - Infection and prevention and control

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-infection-prevention-and-control

Guidance for health care professionals – First responders

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-interim-guidance-for-first-responders

Guidance for health care professionals –Investigation and initial management of possible cases

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-initial-investigation-of-possible-cases

Guidance for health care professionals – Ambulance trusts

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-ambulance-trusts

Guidance for health care professionals – Clinical diagnostic laboratories

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-guidance-for-clinical-diagnostic-laboratories

Guidance for health care professionals – Healthcare providers with a case in their family

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-healthcare-providers-who-have-diagnosed-a-case-within-their-facility

Guidance for adult social care

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-adult-social-care-guidance-to-protect-the-most-vulnerable-against-covid-19

Guidance for employees,employers and businesses

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19

Guidance on Immigration

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-immigration-guidance-if-youre-unable-to-return-to-china-from-the-uk

Guidance for Courts and Tribunals

Https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-courts-and-tribunals-planning-and-preparation

Guidance for use of rapid tests in community pharmacies or at home

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-rapid-tests-for-use-in-community-pharmacies-or-at-home

Guidance for UK Businesses

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-uk-businesses

Guidance on impact on UK seafarer services

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/min-611-mf-guidance-and-information-to-follow-in-the-event-of-covid-19-outbreak-impacting-uk-seafarer-services

Guidance for Local Government

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-local-government

Guidance to Planning Inspectorate

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-planning-inspectorate-guidance

Guidance on Radioactive waste management

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/radioactive-waste-management-and-covid-19

Contingency and emergency planning for Traffic Commissioners

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/traffic-commissioners-contingency-and-emergency-planning-covid-19

Guidance for Cruise ship travel

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/cruise-ship-travel

Maritime and Coastguard Agency: Approach to survey and certification of vessels

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/min-612-mf-coronavirus-covid-19-mca-approach-to-survey-and-certification-of-uk-vessels

Guidance for Individuals and Businesses in Wales

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-individuals-and-businesses-in-wales

Guidance on Driving Tests

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-driving-tests-and-theory-tests

Guidance for Companies House customers, employees and suppliers

Https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-guidance-for-companies-house-customers-employees-and-suppliers

Failure to File Company accounts due to virus

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-if-your-company-cannot-file-accounts-with-companies-house-on-time

Healthcare for UK nationals visiting EU

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/uk-residents-visiting-the-eueea-and-switzerland-healthcare

Healthcare for UK nationals visiting Ireland

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/healthcare-for-uk-nationals-visiting-ireland

NHS entitlements for migrants (updated with Coronavirus)

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/nhs-entitlements-migrant-health-guide

Guidance on ReportingNotifiable diseases

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/notifiable-diseases-and-causative-organisms-how-to-report

Position Statement of theGroceries Code

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/gca-position-statement-on-current-supply-arrangements

FCO Travel Advice

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus

Statutory Sick Pay (updated with Coronavirus)

https://www.gov.uk/statutory-sick-pay

https://www.gov.uk/employers-sick-pay

Support for those affected:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/support-for-those-affected-by-covid-19