Common Questions

What can you do to help?

The single most important thing you can do is follow NHS advice. Wash hands, and self-isolate when you get symptoms – this is vital. 

Good hygiene, social distancing and self-isolation are critical in the fight to slow the risk of infections – both for yourself and importantly for others – particularly those over 70, those with underlying health conditions and those who are pregnant.

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

An FAQ on what you can and cannot do during this period can be found here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do

When should you self-isolate?

  • If you have a high temperature or new, continuous cough
  • You must self-isolate for 7 days if you live alone
  • You must all self-isolate for 14 days if you live with others (if someone gets symptoms during isolation all householders must remain symptom free for 7 days even if that means isolating for more than 14 days)

Self-isolation will save lives – it’s important you follow the guidance if you’re affected.

You do not need to call NHS 111 to  self-isolate.

If your symptoms worsen during isolation or are no better after 7 days contact the NHS online coronavirus service  . If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999. 

Why should you self-isolate?

If you have a high temperature or new continuous cough you must self-isolate for 7 days, if you live alone. If you live with others you must all self-isolate for 14 days.

Self-isolation will save lives – and while 90% of people will recover from this virus – some will get seriously ill and it is these people we need to protect.

After seven days, if you feel better and no longer have a high temperature, you can return to your normal routine.

How should I look after myself when I self-isolate?

•    Get plenty of rest
•    Drink plenty of water (fluids)
•    Eat as healthily as you can
•    To reduce pain and fever take paracetamol (if you use other mediation get in touch with your care provider)
•    Keep in contact with friends and family by phone, video and online

Why aren’t more people being tested?

The Government is trying to delay the spread of infection so has prioritised testing for the most at risk of severe illness from the virus rather than divert resources to widespread testing. As at the 18th of March over 53,000 tests have been completed. Plans to test up to 25,000 per day have been announced. Testing currently includes people in hospital who have pneumonia or acute respiratory illness. The reason this is being done is to make sure we are using our valuable NHS resources as well as we can. By focusing our testing on the most vulnerable we help relieve pressure on the NHS and save more lives.

Do I need to wear a face mask?

When you’re doing normal day-to-day activities face masks do little to protect people from viruses. The best way to reduce any risk of infections is with good hygiene, like washing your hands, not touching your face and avoiding social contact (within 2 metres) with any potentially infected person.

Healthcare professionals may wear special masks if they’re spending hours each day looking after people who have tested positive for coronavirus, or may have been infected. If someone has been told they have coronavirus, they may be advised to wear a mask to protect others.

What financial support can I get?

The Government have made a number of changes to benefits and sick pay and will likely take more steps over the coming days and weeks. The following two organisations provide detailed support and advice about your money in light of coronavirus and new government measures.

  • This up-to-date guide from the Money Advice Service  is easy to follow and filled with good advice about sick pay and changes to claiming your benefits during this challenging time.
  • The advice and benefits and grants calculators at Turn2Us  are useful to get support if the coronavirus has had a negative impact on your finances.

Can I claim sick pay?

Will my employer be obliged to pay me while I stay at home? 

Statutory Sick Pay will be paid from day 1 instead of day 4 for those affected by the virus.

What if I have a ‘zero hours’ contract?

You may be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay. Check with your employer in the first instance and if you’re not entitled to Statutory Sick Pay, you may be able to apply for Universal Credit  or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)  .

What if I’m self-employed?

You can apply for Universal Credit   – the Government have changed certain rules governing this benefit during the coronavirus period.

What if the whole family has to stay at home so we have no income?

If no one is getting Statutory Sick Pay, the family can apply for Universal Credit   –  the Government have changed certain rules governing this benefit during the coronavirus period.

Help for the Self Employed is accessible through the coronavirus (COVID-19) Self-employment Income Support Scheme

This scheme will allow you to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of your trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next 3 months. This may be extended if needed.

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

  • have submitted your Income Tax Self Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018-19
  • traded in the tax year 2019-20
  • are trading when you apply, or would be except for COVID-19
  • intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020-21
  • have lost trading/partnership trading profits due to COVID-19

Your self-employed trading profits must also be less than £50,000 and more than half of your income come from self-employment.

You cannot apply for this scheme yet and you should apply for Universal Credit in the meantime. Payments from this scheme will occur in one lump sum in June.

HMRC will contact you if you are eligible for the scheme and invite you to apply online.

More information can be found here; https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme

I’m worried about paying my tax – is there any help?

Yes – there are 2000 staff supporting a COVID-19 dedicated helpline for businesses and self-employed being run by HMRC Monday-Friday 8am-8pm, Saturday 8am-4pm – 0800 0159 559 who will discuss possible remedies such as:

  • agreeing an instalment arrangment
  • suspending debt collection proceedings
  • cancelling penalties and interest

Last updated 30th March