The coronavirus outbreak is the biggest public health emergency in a generation. These are unprecedented times for everyone, so to help, I will update this page with the latest advice from the Government and NHS.
Should you have any questions, or if I can help then please do get in touch. My office continues to support and assist constituents with all enquiries and casework, and I am carrying out daily phone surgeries for the most urgent cases.
If you have any questions please contact me on email@example.com, or by calling us on 020 7219 4964.
LATEST HEALTH GUIDANCE (as of 5th November):
From Thursday 5 November until Wednesday 2 December, you must:
- Stay at home, except for specific purposes.
- Avoid meeting people you do not live with, except for specific purposes.
- Close certain businesses and venues.
These new measures will reduce the growth rate of the virus, which will:
- prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed
- ensure schools, colleges and universities can stay open
- ensure that as many people as possible can continue to work
The new measures will apply nationally for four weeks up to Wednesday 2 December. At the end of the period, we will return to a regional approach, based on the latest data.
These measures will be underpinned by law. Police and other authorities will have powers to give fines and break up gatherings.
You can help to protect your friends and family by downloading the NHS COVID-19 App to keep updated on the latest guidance from Thursday 5 November.
There is separate guidance for households with a possible or confirmed coronavirus infection.
1. Stay at home
You must not leave or be outside of your home except for specific purposes. These include:
- Work and volunteering: You can leave home for work purposes, or to provide voluntary or charitable services, where you cannot do this from home.
- Essential activities: You can leave home to buy things at shops which are open, for instance for food and medicine, or to collect any items - including food or drink - ordered through click-and-collect or as a takeaway, to obtain or deposit money, or to access critical public services (see section below).
- Fulfilling legal obligations: You may also leave home to fulfil legal obligations, or to carry out activities related to buying, selling, letting or renting a property.
- Education and childcare: You can leave home for education (formal provision, rather than extracurricular classes such as music or drama tuition), training, registered childcare and children’s activities that are necessary to allow parents/carers to work, seek work, or undertake education or training. Parents can still take their children to school, and people can continue existing arrangements for contact between parents and children where they live apart.
- Meeting others and care: You can leave home to visit people in your support bubble, or to provide informal childcare for children 13 and under as part of a childcare bubble, to provide care for vulnerable people, to provide emergency assistance, attend a support group (of up to 15 people), or receive respite care. People can also exercise outdoors or visit an outdoor public place (see section 3).
- Medical reasons, harm and compassionate visits: You can leave home for any medical reason, including to get a COVID-19 test, appointments and emergencies, to visit someone who is giving birth or dying, to avoid or escape risk of injury or harm (such as domestic abuse), to visit someone in a care home (if permitted under care home guidance), hospice, hospital, to accompany them to a medical appointment, or to go to the vets (or other animal welfare services).
- Events: You can leave home to attend a place of worship for individual prayer, a funeral or a related event for someone who has died, to visit a burial ground or a remembrance garden, or to attend a deathbed wedding. A full list of what is allowed can be found in the regulations.
2. Meeting others safely
In general, you must not meet people socially. However, you can exercise or meet in a public, outdoors space with people you live with, your support bubble (or as part of a childcare bubble), or with one other person. You should minimise time spent outside your home. When around other people, stay 2 metres apart from anyone not in your household - meaning the people you live with - or your support bubble. Where this is not possible, stay 1 metre apart with extra precautions (e.g. wearing a face covering).
You must not meet socially indoors with family or friends unless they are part of your household or support bubble.
A support bubble is where a household with one adult joins with another household. Households in that support bubble can still visit each other, stay overnight in each other’s households, and visit outdoor public places together.
You can exercise or visit outdoor public places with:
- the people you live with
- your support bubble
- or, when on your own, 1 person from another household. Children under 5, as well as disabled people dependent on round-the-clock care are not counted towards the limit on two people meeting outside
There is further guidance on what exercise and other physical activity can continue during the period of national restrictions.
Outdoor public places include:
- neighbourhood streets, parks, beaches, and the countryside
- public gardens and grounds (whether or not you pay to enter them)
- outdoor playgrounds
You cannot meet people in a private garden, unless you live with them or have formed a support bubble with them.
Face coverings are required by law to be worn in many indoor settings, such as shops or places of worship where these remain open, and on public transport.
3. Where and when you can meet in larger groups
There are still circumstances in which you are allowed to meet others from outside your household or support bubble in larger groups, but this should not be for socialising. A full list of these circumstances can be found in the regulations.
- The main reasons are for work, voluntary or charitable services, and formal education or training (as opposed to extracurricular classes). This includes where you are fulfilling legal obligations. It can also include work in other people’s homes where necessary - for example, for nannies, cleaners or tradespeople. Where a work meeting does not need to take place in a private home or garden, it should not - for example, although you can meet a personal trainer, you should do so in an outdoor public place
- Support groups that have to be delivered in person can continue with up to 15 participants where formally organised to provide mutual aid, therapy or any other form of support. This includes, but is not limited to, support to victims of crime, people in drug and alcohol recovery, new parents and guardians, people with long-term illnesses, people facing issues relating to their sexuality or gender, and those who have suffered bereavement, and vulnerable young people, including for them to meet young workers
- Parent and child groups can continue where they provide support to parent and/or child, and children under 5 will not be counted within the 15 person limit - meaning parents and carers can attend such groups in larger numbers
- Funerals and some weddings can continue, as set out below
4. Businesses and venues
To reduce social contact, the Government has ordered certain businesses and venues to close or restrict how they provide goods and services. These include:
- Non-essential retail, such as clothing and homeware stores, vehicle showrooms (other than for rental), betting shops, tailors, tobacco and vape shops, electronic goods and mobile phone shops, and market stalls selling non-essential goods. These venues can continue to be able to operate click-and-collect (where goods are pre-ordered and collected off the premises) and delivery services
- Hospitality venues such as cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars and social clubs; with the exception of providing food and drink for takeaway (before 10pm; and not including alcohol), click-and-collect, drive-through or delivery
- Accommodation such as hotels, hostels, guest houses and campsites. Except for specific circumstances, such as where these act as someone’s main residence, where they cannot return home, for homeless people, or where it is essential to stay there for work purposes
- Leisure and sports facilities such as leisure centres and gyms, swimming pools, tennis and basketball courts, golf courses, fitness and dance studios, climbing walls, archery, driving, and shooting ranges
- Entertainment venues such as theatres, concert halls, cinemas, museums and galleries, casinos, amusement arcades, bingo halls, bowling alleys, skating rinks, go-karting venues, soft play centres and areas, circuses, funfairs, zoos and other animal attractions, water parks, theme parks. Indoor attractions at botanical gardens, heritage homes and landmarks must also close, though outdoor grounds of these premises can stay open
- Personal care facilities such as hair, beauty, tanning and nail salons. Tattoo parlours, spas, massage parlours, body and skin piercing services must also close. It is also prohibited to provide these services in other peoples’ homes
- Community centres and halls must close except for a limited number of exempt activities as set out below Libraries can also remain open to provide access to IT and digital services - for example for people who do not have it at home - and for click-and-collect
- Places of worship, apart from for the purposes of independent prayer, and service broadcasting and funerals
The following businesses and places will also be permitted to be open for a small number of exempt activities:
- education and training (including for schools to use sports and leisure facilities where that it part of their normal provision)
- childcare purposes and supervised activities for children
- blood donation and food banks
- to provide medical treatment
- for elite sports persons (in indoor and outdoor sports facilities), professional dancers and choreographers (in fitness and dance studios)
- for training and rehearsal without an audience (in theatres and concert halls)
- for the purposes of professional film and TV filming
Other businesses are permitted to stay open, following COVID-19 Secure guidelines. This includes those providing essential goods or services, including:
- Essential retail such as food shops, supermarkets, pharmacies, garden centres, hardware stores, building merchants and off-licences.
- Petrol Stations, car repair and MOT services, bicycle shops, and taxi and vehicle hire businesses.
- Banks, building societies, post offices, loan providers and money transfer businesses
- Funeral directors
- Launderettes and dry cleaners
- Medical and dental services
- Vets and pet shops
- Agricultural supplies shops
- Storage and distribution facilities
- Car parks, public toilets and motorway service areas.
- Outdoor playgrounds
The majority of public services will continue and you will be able to leave home to visit them. These include:
- the NHS and medical services like GPs and dentists. We are supporting the NHS to safely carry out urgent and non-urgent services and it is vital anyone who thinks they need any kind of medical care comes forward and seeks help
- Jobcentre Plus sites
- Courts and probation services
- Civil Registrations Offices
- Passport and Visa Services
- Services provided to victims
- Waste or Recycling Centres
5. Weddings, civil partnerships, and funerals
Funerals can be attended by a maximum of 30 people. Linked ceremonial events such as stone settings and ash scatterings can also continue with up to 15 people in attendance. Anyone working is not counted in the 15 or 30. Social distancing should be maintained between people who do not live together or share a support bubble.
Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies will not be permitted to take place except where one of those getting married is seriously ill and not expected to recover (‘deathbed wedding’). These weddings are limited to 6 people.
6. Going to work
To help contain the virus, everyone who can work effectively from home must do so. Where people cannot do so - including, but not limited to, people who work in critical national infrastructure, construction, or manufacturing - they should continue to travel to their workplace. This is essential to keeping the country operating and supporting sectors and employers.
Public sector employees working in essential services, including childcare or education, should continue to go into work.
Where it is necessary to work in other people’s homes - for example, for nannies, cleaners or tradespeople - you can do so.
The risk of transmission can be substantially reduced if COVID-19 secure guidelines are followed closely. Extra consideration should be given to those people at higher risk.
7. Education, school, college and university
Schools, colleges and universities remain open. The Government will continue to prioritise the wellbeing and long-term futures of our young people and will not be closing core educational facilities, like early years settings, schools, colleges, universities and vocational training centres. It remains very important for children and young people to attend, to support their wellbeing and education and help working parents and guardians. Senior clinicians still advise that school is the best place for children to be, and so they should continue to go to school. Schools have implemented a range of protective measures to make them safe. For those who are home-schooled, pupils can still access education and training in community settings where needed to receive a suitable full-time education.
The Government has been clear that exams will go ahead next summer, as they are the fairest and most accurate way to measure a pupil’s attainment. We therefore need to keep schools and colleges open so that children are able to keep progressing towards exams and the next stage of education or employment. Students now have more time to prepare for their exams next year, as most AS, A levels and GCSEs will be held 3 weeks later to help address the disruption caused by the pandemic.
Universities have welcomed back students and we have published guidance advising universities on reopening to ensure they have safety measures in place to minimise the spread of the virus. Universities and adult education settings should consider moving to increased levels of online learning where possible.
There are further restrictions in place:
- If you live at university, you must not move back and forward between your permanent home and student home during term time. You should only return home at the end of term. We will publish further guidance soon on how students can travel home safely at the end of term
- Training for extra-curricular purposes, for instance as part of clubs, should not take place. Facilitated activities for children where these provide a childcare function for working parents are allowed to continue
8. Childcare and children’s activities
There are several ways that parents and carers can continue to access childcare during the national restrictions:
- Early years settings and childminders remain open, and you can continue to use these settings as normal
- You can access other childcare activities (including wraparound care) where reasonably necessary to enable parents to work, seek work, attend education or training, or for the purposes of respite care for carers
- Nannies will be able to continue to provide services, including in the home
- Parents are able to form a childcare bubble with one other household for the purposes of informal childcare, where the child is 13 or under
- Some households will also be able to benefit from being in a support bubble, which allows single adult households to join another household
Some youth services are able to continue, such as 1-1 youth work and support groups, but most youth clubs and groups will need to cease for this period.
9. Protecting people more at risk from coronavirus
If you are over 60 or clinically vulnerable, you could be at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus. You:
- should be especially careful to follow the rules and minimise your contacts with others
- should continue to wash your hands carefully and more frequently than usual and maintain thorough cleaning of frequently touched areas in your home and/or workspace
Clinically vulnerable people are those who are:
- aged 70 or over (regardless of medical conditions)
- under 70 with an underlying health condition listed below (that is, anyone instructed to get a flu jab each year on medical grounds):
- chronic (long-term) mild to moderate respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis
- chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
- chronic kidney disease
- chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
- chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS) or cerebral palsy
- a weakened immune system as the result of certain conditions or medicines they are taking (such as steroid tablets)
- being seriously overweight (a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above)
There is a further group of people who are defined, also on medical grounds, as clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus – that is, people with specific serious health conditions. Over this period, we are advising the clinically extremely vulnerable to work from home. If you cannot work from home, you are advised not to go to work and may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) or Employment Support Allowance (ESA). You are encouraged to stay at home as much as possible, but are encouraged to go outside for exercise. The full guidance is available and the Government will write to everybody who is clinically extremely vulnerable to set out detailed advice while the new restrictions are in place.
10. Visiting relatives in care homes
All care home residents in England are allowed to receive visits from their family and friends in a COVID-secure way – with social distancing and PPE – following new guidance to be used while national restrictions are in place from Thursday 5 November.
The guidance will enable care home providers, families and local professionals to work together to find the right balance between the benefits of visiting on wellbeing and quality of life, and the risk of transmission of COVID-19 to social care staff and vulnerable residents.
Options for safe care home visits in line with the guidance could include:
- visits using COVID-secure visiting areas/pods with floor to ceiling screens and windows where the visitor and resident enter through different entrances, are separated by screens and visitors do not need to enter or pass through the care home
- visits at windows, where the visitor doesn’t need to come inside the care home or where the visitor remains in their car, and the resident is socially distanced
- outdoor visits with one other person – visitors can meet outside with a loved one, in areas which can be accessed without anyone going through a shared building
- further support for virtual visits, encouraging the use of video calls
Plans are currently being developed to allow specific family and friends to visit care homes supported by testing. A sector-led group is overseeing the development of these plans with trials set to begin later this month.
If you live in England, you cannot travel overseas or within the UK, unless for work, education or other legally permitted reasons, and you should look to reduce the number of journeys you make. However you can and should still travel for a number of reasons, including:
- travelling to work where this cannot be done from home
- travelling to education and for caring responsibilities
- to visit those in your support bubble - or your childcare bubble for childcare
- hospital, GP and other medical appointments or visits where you have had an accident or are concerned about your health
- to buy goods or services from premises that are open, including essential retail
- to spend time or exercise outdoors - this should be done locally wherever possible, but you can travel to do so if necessary (for example, to access an open space)
- attending the care and exercise of a pet, or veterinary services
If you need to travel we encourage you to walk or cycle where possible, and to plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport. This will allow you to practise social distancing while you travel.
You must not travel if you are experiencing any coronavirus symptoms, are self-isolating as a result of coronavirus symptoms, are sharing a household or support bubble with somebody with symptoms, or have been told to self-isolate after being contacted by NHS Test and Trace. The fine for breaching self isolation rules start at £1,000. This could increase to up to £10,000 for repeat offences and the most serious breaches, including for those preventing others from self-isolating.
For those planning to travel into England, you should check the current travel corridor list to see whether you need to isolate for 14 days. You will still be required to abide by the restrictions set out here even if you do not need to isolate. If you do need to travel overseas from England before 2 December (and are legally permitted to do so, for example, because it is for work), even if you are returning to a place you’ve visited before, you should look at the rules in place at your destination and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) travel advice.
UK residents currently abroad do not need to return home immediately. However, you should check with your airline or travel operator on arrangements for returning.
12. Staying away from home overnight
Overnight stays and holidays away from primary residences will not be allowed- including holidays in the UK and abroad. This includes staying in a second home or caravan, if you own one, or staying with anyone you do not live with or are in a support bubble with.
You are allowed to stay overnight away from your home if you:
- are unable to return to your main residence
- need accommodation while moving house
- need accommodation to attend a funeral or related commemorative event
- require accommodation for work purposes or to provide voluntary services
- are a child requiring accommodation for school or care
- are homeless, seeking asylum or a vulnerable person seeking refuge
- are an elite athlete or their support staff or parent, if the athlete is under 18
If you were already on holiday, you should return to your home as soon as practical and comply with the ‘stay at home’ requirements in your holiday accommodation in the meantime.
Guest accommodation providers such as hotels, B&Bs and caravan parks may remain open for the specific reasons set out in law, including where guests are unable to return to their main residence, use that guest accommodation as their main residence, or would otherwise be made homeless as a result of the accommodation closing. Accommodation providers are also encouraged to work cooperatively with Local Authorities to provide accommodation to vulnerable groups including the homeless during this period of national restrictions.
13. Moving home
You can still move home. People outside your household or support bubble should not help with moving house unless absolutely necessary.
Estate and letting agents and removals firms can continue to work and people looking to move home can continue to undertake viewings.
14. Business support
In addition to the £200 billion of support committed since March, the Chancellor has announced additional measures to ensure that businesses and employees have the certainty and support they need to get back on their feet.
- Extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to March 2021. The scheme will see 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 policy will be reviewed in January to decide whether economic circumstances are improving enough to ask employers to contribute more
- Increased support for the self-employed: Government are increasing government support to the self-employed to an overall level of 80 per cent of trading profits for the third Self-Employment Income Support Scheme grant, covering November to January. 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.
- Financial support for business forced to close: Businesses forced to close due to national or local restrictions will receive up to £3,000 per month. This is worth over £1 billion a month with the new restrictions in place, and will benefit over 600,000 business premises.
- Additional funding for Local Authorities: Local Authorities in England will receive one off funding of £1.1 billion to support businesses more broadly over the coming months as a key part of local economies. They can use this at their discretion. This will be distributed to local authorities on the basis of c.£20/head of population.
- Extension for Guarantee loan schemes: Government have announced plans to extend the application deadline for loan schemes – that includes, the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, Future Fund, and Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme – to the end of January 2021. This will give businesses two extra months to make loan applications (relative to the current deadline of 30 November). Government will also adjust the Bounce Back Loan Scheme rules to allow those businesses who have borrowed less than their maximum (i.e. the lower of £50,000 or less than 25% of their turnover) to top-up their existing loan.
- Extension of Mortgage payment holidays: Borrowers who have been impacted by coronavirus and have not yet had a mortgage payment holiday will be entitled to a 6-month holiday and those that have already started a mortgage payment holiday will be able to top up to 6 months without this being recorded on their credit file. The FCA published draft guidance setting this out on 2 November. Payment holidays will also continue to be available for consumer credit products such as personal loans and car finance. As with mortgages, borrowers impacted by coronavirus who have not yet taken a payment holiday on that product can ask for one of up to 6 months and those that currently have a payment holiday will be eligible to top up to six months without this being recorded on their credit file. Borrowers with high-cost short-term credit products such as payday loans will continue to be entitled to a maximum month payment holiday. The FCA published draft guidance on this on 4 November.
To find out what support your business is eligible for, please visit: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus/business-support?priority-taxon=774cee22-d896-44c1-a611-e3109cce8eae
There is a Government Business Support Helpline for any queries: 0300 456 3565
Sevenoaks District Council, Kent County Council, Kent & Medway Growth Hub and other local authorities have also launched a dedicated business support line for Coronavirus-related issues, which is available Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 6pm. If you have any questions, please call 03333 602 300.
Latest Government guidance on the COVID-19 response can be found in in full here: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
For the latest NHS guidance visit: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/check-if-you-have-coronavirus-symptoms/