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Coronavirus: National information and guidance

A yellow and red image from the Government and NHS, with the message: Stay home, protect the NHS, save lives

Don't forget....You can keep up to date with all the national guidance on the Government and NHS websites.

Coronavirus is a virus that causes an illness called Covid-19, which can affect your lungs and airways.  For most people, it only causes mild symptoms, but for others, especially those in higher risk groups, it can be more serious.

As it's a new illness, it’s not currently known exactly how coronavirus spreads between people, but similar viruses tend to be spread through cough or sneeze droplets.

The most common symptoms of Covid-19 are:

  • A high temperature, which means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you don't need to take your temperature) 

  • A new continuous cough, so if you've been coughing a lot for more than an hour or had three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than normal) 

  • A loss of, or change in, your normal sense of smell or taste


The Government advise anyone experiencing any of these symptoms to self-isolate at home for 10 days.  This means you do not leave your home for any reason.  If you live with other people, they should also stay at home for 10 days, to avoid spreading the infection outside the home.  When you finish self-isolating, you will still need to observe the Government's guidance.

Do not go to your GP, local pharmacy or hospital.  


If you or someone you live with, currently have any of the above symptoms of coronavirus / Covid-19, you can ask for a test to check if you have the virus.  The test needs to be taken within the first 5 days of having symptoms, so it's best to ask for the test in the first 3 days, as it may take a day or two to arrange.

Please note: Testing is not suitable for children under five years old.  To find out more and ask for a test, call 119 or visit the NHS website

If you test positive for Covid-19 (so you have the virus), you'll be asked to share your contacts via the NHS Test and Trace Service.  If you're contacted by the service, because you've been in close contact with someone who has the virus, you'll need to self-isolate for 10 days (see above guidance) and if you develop symptoms yourself, you'll then need to book a test.

An image of the NHS Test and Trace Service


If you're at home with suspected coronavirus symptoms, you can receive daily text message support from the NHS.  Simply contact the NHS 111 dedicated online coronavirus service and register your symptoms and contact details. 

If your symptoms get worse or if they haven’t got better after 10 days, contact NHS 111 using the online coronavirus service. 

If you've had Covid-19, there's useful information and guidance available on the NHS Your Covid Recovery website, which can help support you and your family.

To keep up to date with the latest stay at home / self-isolation guidance, visit the Government website and the NHS website.

On Monday 4 January, the Prime Minister announced that England is now in a national lockdown, due to rapidly rising coronavirus cases across the country.  We must all now stay at home, in order to control the virus, protect the NHS and save lives.

You legally must not leave or be outside of your home, unless you have a ‘reasonable excuse’, such as:

  • Shopping for basic necessities for yourself or on behalf of a vulnerable person, including those who are self-isolating

  • Going to work or providing voluntary or charitable services, if this can’t reasonably be done from home

  • Exercising alone, with your household or support bubble.  If you’re on your own, you can exercise with one person from another household.  This should be limited to once a day, observing social distancing measures and you shouldn’t travel outside of your local area.  Please note: Your local area is defined as the village, town or part of the city where you live

  • Meeting your support / childcare bubble, where necessary, but only if you’re legally permitted to form one

  • For medical assistance (including to get a Covid-19 test) or to avoid injury, illness or risk of harm, such as domestic abuse

  • Attending education or childcare settings for eligible children (vulnerable children and children of critical workers)

The following restrictions also apply:

  • Primary and secondary schools, colleges and universities must close and move to remote learning (except for vulnerable children and children of critical workers), although early years settings can remain open

  • All non-essential shops, pubs, bars and restaurants must close, except for takeaways / click and collect or deliveries

  • All hotels, leisure facilities, entertainment venues and hairdressers / personal care must close (some limited exceptions may apply)

Shielding has also been re-introduced across the country.  If you’re classed as being clinically extremely vulnerable, you are advised not to go to work, school, college or university, but rather stay at home and only go outdoors to exercise or attend health appointments.

To find out more about what you can and can't do during the lockdown, download a copy of the below stay at home poster or visit the Government's website for up to date information.

An information poster listing what you can and can't do during lockdown. This information is available within this page or by visiting

Reduce the risk

There are a number of simple, yet effective things we can all do to help reduce the risk of catching Covid-19 or transmitting the virus to other people.  This is particularly important for people in higher risk groups, such as if you’re aged 70 or over, have a long term condition or weakened immune system or you’re pregnant.

Remember...Hands, Face, Space! 

Hands: Handwashing and hygiene

  • Regularly wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds

  • Always wash your hands when you get home / into work and when you’re preparing food

  • Use a hand sanitiser, if there’s no soap and water available

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or the crook of your elbow, not your hands, when you cough or sneeze

  • Immediately put all used tissues into the bin and wash your hands afterwards

  • Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth, especially if your hands aren’t clean

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces (door handles, keyboards etc)

Face: Face masks

It is mandatory to wear a face mask in enclosed / indoor public spaces, such as supermarkets and when you travel on public transport, including within the transport hub too.

Face masks are not mandatory for:

  • Children under the age of 11

  • People with disabilities or certain health conditions, such as respiratory or cognitive impairments, that make it difficult for them to wear a face mask

  • Anyone travelling with or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading to communicate

How to safely use a face mask...

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds (or use hand sanitiser) before and after wearing

  • Ensure it covers your nose and mouth, whilst allowing you to still breathe comfortably, and fits securely against the side of your face

  • Only handle the mask by the straps and don't touch the front

  • Change the mask if it's become damp or you've touched it and make sure you regularly wash it with your other laundry

  • Make sure you never lend your mask to someone else and if it's single use, correctly dispose of it in a bin (don't recycle it!)

Find out how to make your own cloth face mask and how to correctly wear it on the Government's website.

Space: Social distancing

  • Always try to remain at least two metres away from anyone outside of your own household

  • Avoid close contact with anyone who may have symptoms of coronavirus

  • Contact NHS services, including your GP practice, via phone, online services or available apps

A colourful graphic from the Government and NHS with the message: Wash hands, cover face, make space

Please feel free to download and display any of the following local information posters, where appropriate.

If you or someone you live with has symptoms of coronavirus, you can get an isolation note for your employer, to prove that you need to stay off work.  You do not need to visit your GP for a note.

To find out more, including the criteria you need to meet, visit the NHS website.

The Department for Work and Pensions has issued advice on Statutory Sick Pay for those who are unable to work due to coronavirus.  There's also information available for those already claiming benefits.

To find out more, visit the Understanding Universal Credit website.

If you're on the NHS / Government shielded patient list and have received a letter to advise that you're clinically extremely vulnerable, therefore at a higher risk from coronavirus, you can apply for a free, four month supply of vitamin D supplements.

The vitamins can help to keep your bones and muscles healthy and support your general health, which is particularly important if you were indoors more last spring and summer and missed out on getting enough vitamin D from sunlight.

The application deadline has been extended to Sunday 21 February.  To find out more and make your single application, visit

A Government and NHS cartoon of three people at a supermarket checkout, all wearing face masks and keeping two metres apart

Travelling within England

Due to the national lockdown, travelling outside of your local area is no longer permitted, unless you have a legally valid reason to do so.  Please check the Government's website for full details, before deciding to travel .

Please note: Your local area is defined as the village, town or part of the city where you live.

The Department for Transport advise that, where possible, you should avoid using public transport and try to...
  • Work from home
  • Walk, cycle or drive
  • Shop locally and less frequently

If you have to use public transport, aim to...

  • Avoid travelling at peak times
  • Plan ahead and use a direct route
  • Wear a face mask (this became mandatory on 15 June, unless you're exempt on health grounds)
  • Keep two metres apart, where it's possible to do so
  • Always wash / sanitise your hands before, during and after travelling
  • Follow instructions from transport staff and ask for assistance if you need it
  • Use contactless payments (not money)
  • Wait for other passengers to get off before you try to board
  • Be considerate to other passengers

Find out how to make your own cloth face mask and how to correctly wear it on the Government's website.

Overseas travel

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office advise against all non-essential travel worldwide, during the national lockdown, as no travel is risk free and other countries may close borders, restrict movement or introduce new quarantine rules with little warning.

To find out more about the guidance, visit the
 Government’s website.

If you're a community venue in Herefordshire, such as a community centre or village hall, and you'd like information and guidance on opening and running services, groups, activities or meetings during the coronavirus pandemic, please take a look at the Government's website.

Please note: Each community venue needs to determine whether or not it is safe to open in the first place.  If it is deemed to be safe, each service, group, activity or meeting, due to take place within the facility, will need to be risk assessed to ensure it can comply with current Covid guidance and legislation, including social distancing, capacity, hygiene, cleaning and Track and Trace.

The Government announced on 19 May, that it has set aside £37 million to support low income families with seriously ill or disabled children, with the cost of equipment, goods or services.

£10 million of this funding has been specifically committed to helping parents educate and look after their children, who are staying at home more than usual, during the current coronavirus situation.

To find out more and apply for a grant, please visit the Family Fund website.

It’s acknowledged that social distancing or staying at home for prolonged periods of time can be difficult, boring, frustrating and lonely for some people.  It can affect your mental wellbeing, leaving you feeling low, anxious, worried or perhaps having problems sleeping.

There are a few simple things you can do to help you stay mentally and physically active during this time, including:

  • Stay in touch with family and friends on the phone or online

  • Spend time doing things you enjoy, such as cooking, reading, watching films or listening to music. You might also want to take the opportunity to learn a new skill via an online learning course or re-connect with a hobby you love, like drawing or yoga

  • Try to find exercises you can do at home or in the garden.  There’s a range of fantastic ideas for all the family on our staying at home page

  • Make sure you eat healthy, well-balanced meals, drink plenty of water and avoid smoking, alcohol and drugs

  • Keep your windows open to let in fresh air and get as much natural sunlight as you can, even just out in the garden. You can still go out for a walk, just remember to stay more than 2 metres away from people

Don’t forget to look out for older and more vulnerable family members and neighbours, who may need some additional help and support during this time, especially with things like shopping.

Local mental health and wellbeing support

Herefordshire and Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust offer a 24 hour mental health telephone support service in Herefordshire, simply call 01905 681915.  There's also a range of useful short courses, online therapies and self help guides available on the Healthy Minds website.

An image promoting the 24 hour mental health support service in Herefordshire

National mental health and wellbeing support

Barnardo's See, Hear, Respond is a rapid support service to help children, young people and families cope during the Covid-19 crisis.

Every Mind Matters can help you look after your mental health, including creating your own Mind Plan to help you feel more in control, deal with stress and anxiety and boost your mood.

Mind offer information, advice and support to anyone experiencing a mental health problem.  They also provide a telephone helpline on 0300 123 3393 (Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm).

Samaritans provide support, information and someone to talk to 24 hours a day, 365 days a year on 116 123. 

Side by Side is an online support community run by Mind, which offers a safe place for you to listen, share and be heard.

You can find additional local and national organisations on our mental health and wellbeing page.

An image promoting the 24 hour mental health support service in Herefordshire

If you have a specific medical condition or a long term health problem, such as autism, cancer or dementia or you’re a carer for someone else, a number of national organisations have published coronavirus-related information, which you may find helpful.

Don’t forget…If you have a medical condition, which could make you more vulnerable to coronavirus, you can register for support via the Government's website.  This can help you receive additional support, such as the delivery of essential supplies.

The government issued new guidance on 3 July, to help young carers and young adult carers, who are providing care for someone else during coronavirus.

The guidance includes a wide range of information, such as how to create an emergency plan, what to do if you, someone else you live with or the person you care for becomes ill and how to stay safe outside of your home.

To find out more, including downloading an easy read version, visit the Government's website.

If you’re facing a drop in income or you’ve lost your job due to the ongoing coronavirus situation, there’s a number of organisations which can help with information, advice or affordable low cost loans.  It’s important to avoid loan sharks and illegal money lenders.

If you're having problems paying your energy bills, there may be help available.  To find out more, visit the Ofgem website

There’s been reports of people being targeted through a range of different coronavirus-related scams, particularly those who are older, potentially more vulnerable or isolated from family and friends.  Everyone is reminded to remain vigilant and there’s more information available from the following trusted organisations.

 A scam warning image

Priority shopping hours

NHS / Care workers: Monday to Saturday, 30 minute browsing time before stores open along with priority store access
Elderly / Vulnerable: Monday to Saturday, 30 minute browsing time before stores open

NHS / Care workers: Monday to Saturday 8am to 9am and Sunday 10am to 11am
Elderly / Vulnerable: Monday to Saturday 8am to 9am and Sunday 10am to 11am

NHS / Care workers: Tuesday and Friday first hour of trading
Elderly / Vulnerable: Monday and Thursday first hour of trading

NHS / Care workers: Monday to Saturday 6am to 7am and Sunday 9am to 9:30am
Elderly / Vulnerable: Use the online Doorstep Deliveries service if you live within 10 miles of a store.  Call 0345 611 6111 and select option 5

NHS / Care workers: Monday to Saturday 7:30am to 8am
Elderly / Vulnerable: Monday, Wednesday and Friday 8am to 9am

Tesco (excluding Express stores)
NHS / Care workers: Priority store access
Elderly / Vulnerable: Wednesday and Sunday 9am to 10am

NHS / Care workers: Priority store entry and checkout access
Elderly / Vulnerable: Monday, Wednesday and Friday first hour of trading

Volunteer Shopping Cards

These shopping / gift cards can make it easier for family, friends or volunteers to pick up essential items for people who prefer to stay at home, during the coronavirus pandemic.