Stay up to date with the latest guidance at https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
From 2 December, England will be living under a tiered system. There are 3 tiers. There are different rules depending on what tier an area is in.
To find out which tier you’re living in and the rules that apply to you, click HERE
What are the symptoms?
- A high temperature (37.8C or higher) – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
- A new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
- Loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you've noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal
I have symptoms, what do I do?
If you have symptoms, you need to stay at home for 10 days from when your symptoms start. Arrange to have a test for COVID-19 if you have not already had one. Information about booking a test can be found HERE
A positive test result means you must complete a 10-day isolation period.
If your test is negative, you can stop self-isolating as long as you are well.
If you do not have symptoms but have tested positive for COVID-19, stay at home and self-isolate for 10 days from the day the test was taken. If you develop symptoms after your test, restart your 10-day isolation period from the day the symptoms start.
If you live with other people, your entire household need to stay at home and self-isolate for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day the first person in your house developed symptoms or, if they do not have symptoms, from the day their test was taken.
You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you’re staying at home, and the Government is 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 social distancing 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.
You could be fined if you do not stay at home and self-isolate following a positive test result for COVID-19 and you are notified by NHS Test and Trace that you need to self-isolate.
What if I have no symptoms, do I still need to stay at home?
Even if you and your entire household do not have symptoms, you must still stay at home and self-isolate if you have tested positive for coronavirus or been notified by NHS Test and Trace that you have had close contact with a positive case.
You cannot get a free NHS test unless you have symptoms, have been asked to by your local council, live in England and have been told to by your hospital, or are taking part in a government pilot project.
This applies even if:
- you live with someone who has coronavirus
- you’ve had close contact with someone who has coronavirus
- you’ve come to the UK from a high risk country
- you’re planning to leave the country
- your employer or school has asked you to get a test
I’m clinically extremely vulnerable, what do I need to know?
In addition to the rules you and your community must follow at each tier, you can take additional precautions to protect yourself.
Continue to maintain strict social distancing, wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your face.
Try to keep the number of social interactions that you have low. The fewer social interactions you have, the lower your risk of catching COVID-19.
Avoid gatherings with large numbers of people, especially indoors, because it significantly increases the risk of viral transmission.
With regards to working arrangements, everyone is currently advised to work from home where possible.
If you need support to work at home or in the workplace you can apply for Access to Work. Access to Work will provide support for the disability-related extra costs of working that are beyond standard reasonable adjustments an employer must provide.
If you cannot work from home, you can still go to work in all tiers.
Your employer is required to take steps to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace and should be able to explain to you the measures they have put in place to keep you safe at work.
If you have concerns about your health and safety at work you can raise them with your workplace union, the Health and Safety Executive or your local authority.
If you have concerns you can get advice on your specific situation and your employment rights by visiting the Acas website or calling the Acas helpline on 0300 123 1100.
If you cannot make alternative arrangements, your employer may be able to furlough you under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which has been extended until the end of March 2021. You should have a conversation with your employer about whether this is possible.
All pupils and students should continue to attend education settings at all local tiers unless they are one of the very small number of pupils or students under paediatric or other NHS care and have been advised by their GP or clinician not to attend an education setting. Children and young people whose parents or carers are clinically extremely vulnerable can also continue to go to school.
For more information and guidance, click HERE
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?
The Government recognises 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
I can’t afford to self-isolate, is there any other financial support available?
If you are unable to work due to COVID-19, see guidance from the Department for Work and Pensions to find out about support available to you. You may be entitled to a one-off payment of £500 through the NHS Test and Trace Support Payment scheme if you are required to stay at home and self-isolate. You will be eligible if you live in England and meet all the following criteria:
- you have been asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace
- you are employed or self-employed
- you cannot work from home and will lose income as a result
- you are claiming at least one of the following benefits:
- Universal Credit
- Working Tax Credits
- income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income Support
- Pension Credit or Housing Benefit
Visit your local authority’s website for more information.
What support is available to self-employed people?
On 26th March, the Chancellor announced a new Self-Employed Income Support Scheme.
Through this scheme, the Government will pay self-employed people across the whole UK who have been adversely affected by coronavirus a grant worth 80 per cent of their average monthly profits over the last three years, up to £2,500 a month, for three months and will be extended for longer if necessary.
The Government 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. The Government expects people to access the scheme by the beginning of June.
The Government is ensuring that support reaches those self-employed people who are most in need of it. The scheme will be open to those with trading profits up to £50,000, ensuring 95 per cent of people who are majority self-employed are 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.
The Treasury has confirmed that they are extending the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme. The Government will provide a third Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant, covering an overall level of 80 per cent of trading profits for November to January. This provides broadly equivalent support to the self-employed as we are providing to employees through the government contribution in the CJRS. It is calculated based on 80 per cent of 3 months’ average trading profits, paid out in a single instalment and capped at £7,500.
The Government have also confirmed that there will be a fourth SEISS grant to cover February to April; further details will be set out in due course.
Get more information on the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme HERE
Click HERE to check if you are eligible to make a claim.
What support is available to workers?
On 20th March, the Chancellor announced a plan to protect people’s jobs and income.
For the first time in our history – the Government 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. Government grants will cover 80% of the salary of retained workers, up to a total of £2,500 a month.
Through the scheme, any employer can apply to put workers on temporary leave or 'furloughed' status, and the employer will receive a grant from HMRC.
Furloughed employees can be on any type of contract, including:
- full-time employees
- part-time employees
- employees on agency contracts
- employees on flexible or zero-hour contracts
The Government recently confirmed that they are extending the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) not just by one month – but until the end of March 2021, with 80 per cent of wages for hours not worked covered by the Government and the employer will only have to cover National Insurance and Employer pension contributions. The Treasury will review the policy in January to decide whether economic circumstances are improving enough to ask employers to contribute more.
As the CJRS is being extended until the end of March, the Job Retention Bonus will therefore not be paid in February; the Government will instead redeploy a retention incentive at the appropriate time.
Get more information on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme HERE
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 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.
Contact Tewkesbury Borough Council
I am worried about being able to afford my rent payments during the outbreak, is there any protection for me?
The Coronavirus Act 2020 provides protection to social and private tenants by delaying when landlords can start proceedings to evict tenants. The provisions of the Coronavirus Act 2020, which increased the required notice period length, have now been extended through legislation.
This means that from 29 August 2020, with the exception of the most serious cases, landlords are not able to start possession proceedings unless they have given their tenants 6 months’ notice. These serious cases include those in relation to anti-social behaviour (including rioting), domestic abuse, false statement and where a tenant has accrued rent arrears to the value of over 6 months’ rent.
The stay on possession proceedings expired on 20 September 2020 and landlords will now be able to progress their possession claim through the courts. Courts will carefully prioritise the most egregious cases, such as those involving anti-social behaviour and other crimes. Longer notice periods and new court rules apply whilst the period of national restrictions is in place and apply in all local tiers when the national restrictions are lifted.
To protect against Coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission, the government has changed the law to ensure bailiffs do not to enforce evictions in England over the period of national restrictions, which are in force until the beginning of the day on 2 December, and, following the lifting of these restrictions, there will be no bailiff enforcement throughout December, and over Christmas, until 11 January 2021. This means that no eviction notices are to be served until 11 January at the earliest and, given the 14 day notice period required, no evictions are expected to be enforced until 25 January 2021 at the earliest. The only exceptions to this are the most serious circumstances: illegal occupation, false statement, anti-social behaviour, perpetrators of domestic abuse in social housing, where a property is unoccupied following the death of a tenant and extreme rent arrears equivalent to 9 months’ rent with any arrears accrued since 23 March discounted.
The Government has also put specific measures in place to help support you, including a £500 million Hardship Fund. Contact your local authority for more details about the Fund.
Contact Forest of Dean District Council
Contact Tewkesbury Borough Council
For any other questions about renting, you can find detailed government guidance HERE
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 if I have travel plans?
Travel in your area, including international travel, may be restricted because of domestic regulations. Different rules apply in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Follow all the rules that apply to you.
Other countries may close borders, restrict movement or bring in new quarantine rules with little warning. Check the travel advice for your destination and be prepared to stay overseas longer than planned.
Before you return to the UK you must provide your journey and contact details. Also check if you need to self-isolate.
You can read the Government’s travel advice HERE
You can find the FCO travel advice for your destination HERE
What do I do if I am stuck abroad?
My office team and I will work hard to help Forest of Dean constituents who are stuck overseas and are trying to return to the UK.
If you are a constituent in the Forest of Dean and in need of assistance, please email me with your details at email@example.com.
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.