General Advice on Coronavirus
Self-isolating: stay at home if you think you have coronavirus
If you have symptoms of COVID-19, however mild, OR you have received a positive COVID-19 test result, the clear medical advice is to immediately self-isolate at home for at least 7 days from when your symptoms started. Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. You should arrange to have a test to see if you have COVID-19 – see below.
It is very important that people with symptoms that may be due to COVID-19 and their household members stay at home. Staying at home will help prevent the spread of the virus to family, friends, the wider community, and particularly those who are clinically extremely vulnerable. Controlling the spread of the virus will help us to protect the NHS and save lives.
If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and you live alone you must remain at home for at least 7 days after the onset of your symptoms (see ending self-isolation below). This will reduce the risk of you infecting others.
If you or anyone in your household has symptoms that may be caused by COVID-19, then you must avoid contact with other household members as much as possible.
The other members of your household, including those who do not have any symptoms, must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. You must not go out even to buy food or other essentials, and any exercise must be taken within your home. This 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in your house became ill. There is more information in the ending self-isolation section below.
Staying at home for 14 days will greatly reduce the overall amount of infection the household could pass on to others in the community.
Anyone who has symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) can get a free test to check if they have the virus. Some people without symptoms can have the test too.
You can get a test:
- for yourself, if you have coronavirus symptoms now (a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste)
- for someone you live with, if they have coronavirus symptoms
- for yourself, if you have been told to have a test before you go into hospital, for example, for surgery
You can get 1 test for each person with symptoms or one for yourself if your hospital tells you that you need it.
You can apply for a test online.
We’ll ask you:
- how you want to get the test – at a drive-through or walk-through test site or by ordering a home test kit
- for details such as your name, mobile phone number and address
- You can get a test at https://www.nhs.uk/ask-for-a-coronavirus-test
Stay alert – What you can and cannot do
It remains the case that you should not:
- socialise indoors in groups of more than two households (anyone in your support bubble counts as one household) – this includes when dining out or going to the pub
- socialise outdoors in a group of more than six people from different households; gatherings larger than six should only take place if everyone is from exclusively from two households or support bubbles
- interact socially with anyone outside the group you are attending a place with, even if you see other people you know, for example, in a restaurant, community centre or place of worship
- hold or attend celebrations (such as parties) where it is difficult to maintain social distancing, besides small wedding celebrations as outlined above
- stay overnight away from your home with members of more than one other household (your support bubble counts as one household)
Whilst recognising this will not always be possible, it is important to be aware that the risk of infection increases the closer you are to another person with the virus, and the amount of time you spend in close contact with them. Therefore, you are unlikely to be infected if you walk past another person in the street.
The government recommends that you keep two metres away from people as a precaution or one metre when you can mitigate the risk by taking other precautions in this list.
You should only stay overnight in groups of up to two households (anyone in the same support bubble counts as one household) and should ensure you maintain social distancing with anyone you do not live with or is not in your support bubble. Take particular care to maintain excellent hygiene – washing hands and surfaces – and avoid using shared facilities like bathrooms wherever possible.
If you are abroad, you should follow the rules of the country you are in. You should also follow the same principles to keep you and your loved ones safe. It is essential to maintain social distancing wherever possible from those you don’t live with and wash your hands regularly. These rules are important wherever you are in the world.
In England, you must by law wear a face covering in the following settings:
- Public Transport
- Shops and Supermarkets as of 24 July 2020
Measures can be taken if people do not comply with this law. Transport operators can deny service or direct someone to wear a face covering. If necessary, the police and Transport for London authorised officers can issue fines of £100 (halving to £50 if paid within 14 days). Shops and supermarkets will be expected to encourage compliance with the law (as they would do more generally) and can refuse entry. In both cases, if necessary, the police have the powers to enforce these measures, including through issuing a fine of £100 (halving to £50 if paid within 14 days).
You are also strongly encouraged to wear a face covering in other enclosed public spaces where social distancing may be difficult and where you come into contact with people you do not normally meet.
Shielding: protecting yourself if you’re clinically extremely vulnerable
From 1 August, the government will pause shielding unless the transmission of COVID-19 in the community starts to rise significantly.
- the government will no longer be advising you to shield
- the support from the National Shielding Service of free food parcels, medicine deliveries and care will stop
- NHS Volunteer Responders will carry on delivering the food you buy, prescriptions and essential items to you if you need it
- you will still be eligible for priority supermarket slots (if you have registered by 17 July)
You may still be at risk of severe illness if you catch coronavirus, so stay at home as much as you can and continue to take precautions when you do go out. You can do this by washing your hands regularly, avoiding touching your face and keeping 2 metres away from people outside of your household or bubble wherever possible.
Work and School
From 1 August, it will be at the discretion of employers as to how staff can continue working safely. Working from home is one way to do this, but workplaces can also be made safe by following COVID-19 Secure guidelines. Your employer should consult with you on how you can work safely, and must ensure workplaces are safe if they are asking you to return, as above.
The government is committed to doing everything possible to allow all children to go back to school safely, to support their wellbeing and education and help working parents. The government’s plan is for all students in England to return to education settings in September.
If you need further advice
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