COVID-19: FAQs for Families and Communities

I have symptoms, what do I do?

If you have symptoms and live with other people, you and your entire household need to stay at home and self-isolate for 14 days. If you live alone, you need to stay at home for 7 days. This is because you are most contagious in the first four days.

Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital, and testing for coronavirus is not needed if you are staying at home.

You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you’re staying at home, and we are asking you to refrain from calling 111 or 999 unless you are seriously unwell. This is to ensure that the NHS’ resources can be focused on the people who need it most.

Use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service HERE if:

  • You feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home.
  • Your condition gets worse.
  • Your symptoms do not get better after 7 days.

Further advice about staying at home can be found HERE

If you live in a residential care setting, more advice can be found HERE


What does self-isolating mean? 

It means staying away from contact with people outside of your household. If you do not have symptoms but are self-isolating for your own protection, you can still leave the house to exercise. You should not go out, if possible, to situations where you mix with other people, even to buy food or essentials, other than for exercise which can be done at a safe distance from others. It is likely that you will need to rely on friends and others to do your food and essential shopping. At this time, it is ever more important that our communities come together and support friends and neighbours who may be self-isolating.


What if I have no symptoms, do I need to change my life?

Even if you and your entire household do not have symptoms, we still need you to help our communities make the most effective response to the outbreak.

Thank to your sacrifices, we have begun to turn the tide in our fight against the virus, but we still have a long way to go. As time passes we will learn more about how to manage and defeat the virus, but it is crucial that we proceed with caution. This means we cannot afford to make drastic changes in the near-term. 

Over the next weeks and months as we move through these three stages restrictions will be gradually adjusted so our lives can return to a form of normality, but the Government’s five tests will be closely monitored and if the data suggests the virus is spreading again, the Government will have to tighten restrictions, possibly at short notice.

I know that social distancing is very difficult to maintain, but I cannot emphasise enough how each of us doing our part will help bring down the peak of this wave of infection and make it easier for the NHS to cope with the continuing outbreak and save lives.

Updated Guidance as of Wednesday 13th May

SAGE has advised that the risk of transmission is significantly less outside than inside, so the Government is updating the rules so that as well as exercise, people can now also spend time outdoors subject to: 

  • Not meeting up with any more than one person from outside your household.
  • Continued compliance with social distancing guidelines to remain 2 metres (6 feet) away from people outside your household.
  • Good hand hygiene (particularly with respect to shared surfaces).
  • Those responsible for public places being able to put appropriate measures in place to follow the new COVID-19 Secure guidance. 


Do I need to wear a face-covering when outside my house?

As more people return to work, there will be more movement outside peoples immediate household. 

This increased mobility means the Government is now advising that people should aim to wear a face-covering in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not always possible and they come into contact with others they do not normally meet, for example on public transport or in some shops. 

A face covering is not the same as a facemask such as the surgical masks or respirators used as part of personal protective equipment by healthcare and other workers. These supplies must continue to be reserved for those who need it.

Homemade cloth face-coverings can help reduce the risk of transmission in some circumstances. Face-coverings are not intended to help the wearer, but to protect against inadvertent transmission of the disease to others if you have it asymptomatically.


I’m over 70 but am healthy, do I have to self-isolate?

The Government is asking people over 70 to refrain from all social contact for around 12 weeks. This is advised not enforced. 

The advice for those aged 70 and over continues to be that they should take particular care to minimise contact with others outside their household.

If they do go out more frequently, they should be careful to maintain distance from others. They and everyone should continue to comply with any general social distancing restrictions.

We know that those aged 70 and over can be absolutely fit and healthy and it’s not the case that everybody over 70 has a chronic health condition or an underlying disease.

But unfortunately, we also know that as you get older, there is a higher risk of coronavirus having a more serious impact with infection. Complications and deaths are more common in the elderly, even those without pre-existing conditions.

Anyone who has been advised to shield by the NHS or their GP, including those 70 and over, should continue to do this until at least the end of June.


Which chronic health conditions have been told to self-isolate? 

Please regularly check THIS WEBSITE which has the list of conditions for which the Government advises isolation. 


Who has been told to self shield?

On Sunday 22nd March, the Prime Minister announced that the NHS write to our country's 1.5 million most vulnerable people and advise them to enter into a period of self-shielding for 12 weeks, where they do not leave their house. This is necessary to save lives. 

The following people should self shield: 

  • Solid organ transplant recipients
  • People with specific cancers
    • People with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy or radical radiotherapy for lung cancer
    • People with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment
    • People having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
    • People having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors.
  • People who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs.
  • People with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe COPD
  • People with rare diseases and inborn errors of metabolism that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as SCID, homozygous sickle cell disease)
  • People on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection
  • Women who are pregnant and who also have significant heart disease, congenital or acquired

If you are over 70 you should be staying home, this virus disproportionately affects those over 70. Although you may be extremely healthy, you may socialise with those who are not, and you will still find it affects you severely. 


What is self-shielding?

Self-shielding means you:

  • Strictly avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). These symptoms include high temperature and/or new and continuous cough;
  • Do not attend any gatherings. This includes gatherings of friends and families in private spaces e.g. family homes, weddings, parties and religious services.
  • Do not go out for shopping, leisure or travel and, when arranging food or medication deliveries, these should be left at the door to minimise contact.
  • Keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media.
  • Do use telephone or online services to contact your GP practise or other essential services as and when you need.


How will the Police enforce the new rules?

The police and local authorities have the powers to enforce the requirements set out in law if people do not comply with them. The police will act with discretion and common sense in applying these measures, but if you breach the law, the police may instruct you to go home, leave an area or disperse, and they may instruct you to take steps to stop your children breaking these rules if they have already done so. The police can also take you home or arrest you where they believe it is necessary.

If the police believe that you have broken the law – or if you refuse to follow their instructions enforcing the law – a police officer may issue you with a fixed penalty notice of £100 (reduced to £50 if paid within 14 days), an increase of £40 from the previous £60 fixed penalty amount. If you have already received a fixed penalty notice, the amount for further offences will increase as set out below:

  • First offence £100
  • Second offence £200
  • Third offence £400
  • Fourth offence £800
  • Fifth offence £1600
  • Maximum penalty £3200

For both individuals and companies, if you do not pay your fine you could be taken to court, with magistrates able to impose unlimited fines.


Do I still get paid if I have to self-isolate?

If you are eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) you can now claim from day one (rather than day four) of self-isolation.

From Friday 20th March onwards, those who are self-isolating because of COVID-19 will be able to obtain an 'isolation note' by visiting NHS 111 online and completing a form, rather than visiting a doctor. 

Get more information on SSP HERE


I’m self-employed, am I entitled to sick pay if I have to self-isolate?

We recognise that the self-employed need support. In the Budget, the Chancellor established that self-isolating self-employed people will be able to claim Universal Credit (UC) and access advanced payments without the current requirement to attend a jobcentre.

On Friday 20th March, the Chancellor announced that the Universal Credit standard allowance has been increased by £1,000 a year and the minimum income floor suspended, ensuring self-employed people can now access, in full, Universal Credit at the same rate as Statutory Sick Pay for Employees. 

Get more information on UC HERE


What other support is available to self-employed people?

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) is now open for applications, weeks earlier than planned.

The Scheme will allow eligible self-employed individuals to claim a taxable grant of 80% of their average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering 3 months, and capped at £7,500 altogether. This is a temporary scheme, but it may be extended.

You can claim if you’re a self-employed individual or a member of a partnership and:

  • You traded in the tax year 2018 to 2019 and submitted your Self Assessment tax return on or before 23 April 2020 for that year.
  • You traded in the tax year 2019 to 2020.
  • You intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020 to 2021.
  • You carry on a trade which has been adversely affected by COVID-19.

I welcome that eligible individuals can continue to work, start a new trade or take on other employment (including voluntary work), or duties such as an armed forces reservist while receiving income from the scheme.

I encourage residents to use the online eligibility checker HERE to see if you are eligible and have the money in your account by 25th May

I am extremely grateful for self-employed resident's patience as we sought to provide the right support. 



I am worried about being able to afford my mortgage payments during the outbreak, is there any help for me?

The Government has agreed with mortgage lenders that they will offer repayment holidays of 3 months to households in financial difficulty due to COVID-19.

If you are concerned about your current financial situation, please contact your lender at the earliest possible opportunity to discuss if this is a suitable option for you. 

If you think you may need financial support from your local authority, you may be entitled to support from the £500 million Hardship Fund which will mainly be used to provide council tax relief. Contact your local authority for more details. 


I am worried about being able to afford my rent payments during the outbreak, is there any help for me?

The Government are introducing emergency legislation so that landlords will not be able to start proceedings to evict tenants for at least a three month period. This applies to private and social renters.

At the end of this period, landlords and tenants will be expected to work together to establish an affordable payment plan, taking into account the tenant's individual circumstances. 

If you think you may need financial support from your local authority, you may be entitled to support from the £500 million Hardship Fund which will mainly be used to provide council tax relief. Contact your local authority for more details. 

The Government has also increased the generosity of housing benefit so the Local Housing allowance will cover at least 30% of market rents in Rutland and Melton.


I am worried about being able to afford personal loan/credit card repayments during the outbreak, is there any help for me?

The Financial Conduct Authority has called on lenders to use flexibility built into their rules to support consumers, taking into account customers' individual circumstances. Many major lenders have already made statements to this effect, so make sure you check your lender's website for details. 

If you are experiencing difficulties paying back loans or credit card bills because of COVID-19, you should talk to your lender directly. If you do agree on a payment holiday with your lender, they should record these in such a way that will not impact on your credit score. 


What help is there locally?

Locally, a Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Local Resilience Forum has formed and is working to support our communities. If we follow scientific guidance, look out for each other, and commit wholeheartedly to the national effort, we will reduce the potential impact of this virus locally.

I have published a list of local organisations who you can go to for help if you need HERE

RUTLAND AND MELTON'S FOOD DELIVERY DIGEST also has a list of local suppliers who are able to deliver food and other essentials.


Why has the Government changed its testing approach? 

Increasing testing is the Government's top priority, it is the key to unlock the puzzle of COVID-19, and how we defeat it in the end. That is why the Government has increased capacity to over 100,00 a day. 

We have also extended and expanded access to testing, making it available to all symptomatic NHS and care workers, symptomatic essential workers, and, most recently, to everyone aged over 65 or who must leave the house to go to work and who is displaying symptoms. We will also test symptomatic members of people’s households if they fit into one of these categories.

Our plan is to test, track and trace. That is why we are developing a contact tracing app, with a pilot launching on the Isle of Wight. Testing is not only key to getting essential workers back to work but also ensuring we can get Britain back on its feet.


What is being done about supermarket shortages?

The Government has said there is no need for anyone to stockpile items and the Prime Minister is urging people to "behave responsibly and think about others".

In a joint letter, UK retailers have reminded customers to be considerate in their shopping so that others are not left without much-needed items. Some supermarkets have now limited the sale of some products and restricted customers to buying a maximum number of each item.

The Government is relaxing restrictions on delivery hours for shops to make sure shops remain stocked with basic items amid stockpiling concerns. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has said it will work with local councils to increase the frequency of deliveries.

The Environment Secretary, George Eustice, said by allowing night-time deliveries, stock would be able to move more quickly from warehouses to shelves.


What about online traders who stockpile overcharge for essential products?

I have personally raised the issue of profiteering with the Chief Inspector and I hope we see action against these individuals. 

Officials at the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said sellers must not try and “take advantage of people” and have warned that retailers and traders inflating prices could face prosecution.

The CMA has urged retailers to behave responsibly throughout the coronavirus outbreak and not to make misleading claims or charge vastly inflated prices. They have also reminded members of the public that these obligations may apply to them too if they resell goods, for example on online marketplaces.


What if I have travel plans?

The most important thing to do is to check the FCO’s travel guidance before you go anywhere. The Government is asking everyone to limit any unnecessary travel.

The FCO's travel guidance can be found HERE

It is advised to be prepared to follow the advice of local authorities abroad. Be ready to comply with local isolation or quarantine requirements, and to rely on the local health system. Furthermore, it is advised to read the details of your travel insurance carefully and check that you are covered. Contact your insurer if you are uncertain and contact your airline, travel company, cruise line or other transport and accommodation providers to check for any coronavirus-related changes.

If you are aged 70 and over, or if you have underlying health conditions, we advise you against cruise ship travel at this time. Find out more in our cruise ship travel guidance HERE


What do I do if I am stuck abroad?

Britons stuck abroad due to travel restrictions have been advised to contact their airline, as well as the Foreign Office by calling +44 (0)207 008 1500, so that the Government knows they are trying to get home.


Why are we not screening at the airport?

As has been shown in the comparative decisions of other countries, screening measures have been shown to be ineffective. For example, the first recorded case in the USA passed into the country through an airport screening undetected.


Are you isolating people at the border now?

The scientific advice shows that when domestic transmission is high, cases from abroad represent a small amount of the overall total and make no significant difference to the epidemic. Now that domestic transmission within the UK is coming under control, and other countries begin to lift lockdown measures, it is the right time to prepare new measures at the border.

We will be asking people travelling to the UK to make some sacrifices to stop coronavirus cases from being imported. In the same way as people in the UK have made large sacrifices to control the spread of coronavirus.

All arrivals including British nationals will be required to provide their contact information and self-isolate upon arrival, other than those on a short list of exemptions.