Information about Coronavirus

Covid Restrictions in Reading

Reading is under Covid restrictions for England, but not additional local rules. From Wednesday 14 October, it is in the medium alert (tier one) category.

Meeting friends and family

You can meet in a group of up to six people from multiple households. This includes children and applies indoors and outdoors, including private homes. There are exceptions, for example if your household or support bubble is larger than six. You could be fined for breaking these rules.

Going to work

You should work at home if possible. If you have to return to your workplace your employer must make arrangements for you to work safely.


Shops can open with social distancing measures in place. Face coverings must be worn by customers and staff.

Leisure time

Pubs, bars and restaurants must close at 10pm. They are restricted to table service only. Face coverings must be worn, except when seated to eat or drink.

Schools and nurseries

Primary and secondary schools are open, as are nurseries and childcare. If a school has corovvnavirus cases, local health protection teams will advise what to do.


NHS Covid-19 APP

The NHS COVID-19 App is part of the large scale coronavirus (COVID-19) testing and contact tracing programme and will be used, alongside traditional contact tracing, to notify users if they come into contact with someone who later tests positive for coronavirus.

The NHS COVID-19 App alerts people at risk of coronavirus, asking them to isolate before they potentially pass the virus on to others as well as providing local area alerts and QR venue check-in.

The app will help the NHS understand if the virus is spreading in a particular area, and so local authorities can respond quickly to stop it spreading further and save lives.

The app does this while protecting a user’s anonymity. Nobody, including the government, will know who or where a particular user is.

NHS Test and Trace. Protect your loved ones. Get the App. NHS Covid-19 App download now. App Store. Google Play.
It has a number of features:

Trace: find out when you've been near other app users who have tested positive for

Alert: lets you know the level of coronavirus risk in your
postcode district.

Check-in: get alerted if you've visited a venue where you may have come into contact with coronavirus, using a simple QR code scanner. No more form filling.

Symptoms: check if you have coronavirus symptoms and see if you need to order a test.

Test: helps you order a test if you need to.

Isolate: keep track of your self-isolation countdown and access relevant advice.

The app is available in the following languages:
• English
• Welsh
• Bengali
• Urdu
• Gujarati
• Punjabi (Gurmukhi script)
• Chinese (Simplified)
• Romanian
• Turkish
• Arabic (Modern Standard)
Additional languages and refinements will follow.

You can download an easy-read guide to the NHS COVID-19 App.


Wash your hands, cover your face and make space

 The Government says:

  • HANDS – Wash your hands regularly and for 20 seconds
  • FACE – Wear a face covering in indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet
  • SPACE – Stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place.


We must keep protecting each other. Hands. Face. Space


New measures

The government has announced new measures to suppress the virus and keep the number of infections down:

From Monday 14 September, you must not meet with people from other households socially in groups of more than 6. This will apply indoors and outdoors, including in private homes. This change will simplify and clarify the rules on social gatherings, so they are easier to understand and easier for the police to enforce. There will be a limited number of exemptions.

Venues, such as places of worship, restaurants and hospitality venues, can still host larger numbers in total but groups of up to 6 must not mix or form larger groups.

This rule will not apply to individual households or support bubbles of more than 6 who will still be able to gather together.

Education and work settings are unaffected, and organised team sports will still be able to proceed, as will weddings and funerals up to 30. From Monday 14 September, this limit will be enforceable in law. 

Visit to check what you can and can't do.


Face coverings and exemptions

From Friday 24 July 2020 we will all be required to wear face coverings in shops and supermarkets, as well as on public transport. It must cover your nose and mouth at all times.

However, please remember you do not need to wear a face covering if you have a legitimate reason not to. This includes:

  • young children under the age of 11
  • not being able to put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability
  • if putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress
  • if you are travelling with or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading to communicate
  • to avoid harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury, to yourself or others
  • to avoid injury, or to escape a risk of harm, and you do not have a face covering with you
  • to eat or drink, but only if you need to
  • to take medication
  • if a police officer or other official requests you remove your face covering

There are also scenarios when you are permitted to remove a face covering when asked:

  • If asked to do so by shop staff for the purpose of age identification
  • If speaking with people who rely on lip reading, facial expressions and clear sound. Some may ask you, either verbally or in writing, to remove a covering to help with communication.


Learning disabiity face mask exemption cards

Autism face mask exemption cards

Parent and child face mask exemption cards

If you need to make a mask in a hurry

How to make a simple no-sew sock mask

Stay alert

The Government advises us that we can all help control the virus if we all stay alert. This means you must:

  • stay at home as much as possible
  • work from home if you can
  • limit contact with other people
  • keep your distance if you go out (1 metre apart where possible)
  • wash your hands regularly
  • Do not leave home if you or anyone in your household has symptoms.

Read more about what you can do and not do

Easy read guide to what you can do and not do

Easy read guide to what happens if you go into hospital


Test and Trace

If you have coronavirus symptoms

Anyone with a new, continuous cough, a high temperature of a change in their sense of smell or taste should immediately self-isolate and order a test. You need to get the test done in the first five days of having symptoms. Do not wait. Ask for the test as soon as you have symptoms.

If you have symptoms, stay home and contact NHS Test and Trace to arrange testing at or call 119. The phone line will be open between 8am and 5pm on weekdays. Emails will be monitored between 8am and 8pm, 7 days a week.

As soon as you develop symptoms:

Self-isolate for at least 7 days - this applies to everyone, even if you have already had the virus. Anyone else in your household should self-isolate for 14 days from when you started having symptoms

Test - report these symptoms and book a test or call 119

• You can ask for a test of someone you live with, including children of all ages, if they have coronavirus symptoms.

If you are an essential worker or live with an essential worker, including NHS or social care staff, or have a verification code from your employer, you can book at test at



The test involves taking a swab of the nose and the back of the throat. When you order a test, you will get information on the options available. The different ways you can get tested are:

•book a visit to a drive-through regional testing site – Call 119

•order a home testing kit delivered to your door. You can test yourself and your family without leaving your house. You will need to swab your children if they are under 11 – Call 119.



You should get your test results within 48 hours of a swab being taken, or within 72 hours for a home test. If your test is positive you must complete the remainder of your 7 day self-isolation. Anyone in your household should also complete self-isolation for 14 days from when you started having symptoms.

If your test is negative, you and other household members no longer need to isolate.


Share Contacts

If you test positive for coronavirus, the NHS Test and Trace service will contact you by phone, text or email within 24 hours with instructions on how to share details of people you have been in close, recent contact with, and places you have visited. It is important that you respond as soon as possible so that the other people can be contacted. You will be asked to do this on a secure website or by phone with an NHS contract tracer. Find out more at



The information you give will be confidential and will only be used by NHS Test and Trace service to contain the virus. It will not be shared with other bodies. Even if you have not self-isolated or obeyed social distancing, the information you give will not be shared.


Isolating when you live with a vulnerable person

Where possible, people who are self-isolating should not share a household with anyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable and is shielding. If you live with someone higher risk from coronavirus, try to arrange for them  to stay with friends or family for 14 days.

If you have to stay in the same home together, this is reminder about how to avoid spreading coronavirus to people you live with –Do:

wash your hands with soap and water often, for at least 20 seconds

use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available

cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze

put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards

clean objects and surfaces you touch often (such as door handles, kettles and phones) using your regular cleaning products

consider wearing a face covering when in shared spaces

keep windows open in the room you're staying in and shared spaces as much as possible


do not share towels, including hand towels and tea towels.

Easy read guide to getting a test at the Royal Berkshire Hospital


Rules are relaxed for people who are shielding

From Monday 6 July, those shielding from coronavirus can gather in groups of up to 6 people outdoors and form a ‘support bubble’ with another household. You can visit their home, stay inside and stay overnight without socially distancing. 

Download an easy read guide to shielding guidance.

Those who are shielding and live alone or are single parents with children will also be able to create a ‘support bubble’ with one other household of any size, following the same rules already in place for the wider population.

The government has also announced that the two metre rule is going to be relaxed to one metre from 4 July.

From Saturday 1 August, the guidance will then be relaxed so clinically extremely vulnerable people will no longer be advised to shield, but support will remain available from NHS volunteers and local councils.

People will retain their priority for supermarket delivery slots, and still be able to access help with shopping, medication, phone calls and transport to medical appointments.

While this group of clinically extremely vulnerable people should continue to follow strict social distancing measures, they will be able to participate in more activities such as visiting shops and places of worship.

Those identified as clinically extremely vulnerable should continue to remain at home as much as possible, taking particular care to minimise contact with others outside their household and practise good, frequent handwashing.

The NHS will maintain the Shielded Patient List to ensure that it continues to provide the best advice to those identified as clinically extremely vulnerable. 

Support will continue to be available through the NHS Volunteer Responder Scheme beyond the end of July. NHS Volunteer Responders can support with:

  • collecting shopping, medication (if your friends and family cannot collect them for you) or other essential supplies
  • a regular, friendly phone call which can be provided by different volunteers each time or by someone who is also shielding and will stay in contact for several weeks
  • transport to medical appointments

An NHS Medicine Delivery Service is available from community pharmacies and dispensing doctors. It ensures the delivery of medicines to shielded patients where family, friends or volunteers cannot collect them.

Anyone not already in contact with mental health services seeking urgent help for their mental health can visit the NHS.UK ‘Where to get urgent help for mental health’ webpage, which lists a range of options that can be accessed, including local 24/7 NHS urgent mental health telephone helplines.


Download an easy read guide to shielding guidance.


£10 million to help disabled or seriously ill children in England during Coronavirus

Families with children who have complex needs and disabilities can apply for a grant from Family Fund for vital equipment to make their lives easier during the pandemic including computers, specialist equipment and educational toys.

£10 million of the total £37 million of direct support announced by the Children and Families Minister Vicky Ford today, is committed specifically in response to the unique difficulties presented by the coronavirus pandemic, helping parents educate and look after disabled or critically ill children who are staying at home more than usual.

The government hopes that this will help low-income families with seriously ill or disabled children with the cost of items they might not otherwise be able to afford.

Families who care for children with  complex needs and disabilities in England can find out more and apply for grants directly from Family Fund  - a charity that specialises in providing grants for families raising disabled or seriously ill children and young people.

The grants available are typically worth £400 to £500 per family but will vary depending on need.

Vicky Ford, Children and Families Minister, said “Our first priority remains the safety and wellbeing of vulnerable children, including those with special educational needs and disabilities. I know that these unprecedented times may put additional pressure on families, particularly those whose children have the most complex needs, and these parents deserve some extra help to look after and educate them at home.

“From computers and tablets to household items that many of us take for granted, this new funding will directly benefit tens of thousands of families, making sure parents of children with special educational needs and disabilities get the support they need at this difficult time and beyond.”

Check if you are eligible to apply. Call us on 0118 966 2518 if you need help to apply.



Download an easy read guide to Coronavirus 

Comprehensive guidance, topic by topic, can be found on the website

The website also has also Stay at Home information in other languages

Information on symptoms, what the virus does, and what to do if you think you may have it

Download an easy read guide about What Happen if I go into Hospital

Download an easy read guide about Covid-19 and Loss and Grief


One Reading Community Hub Support and Volunteer Line 0808 1894325

Do you need extra help during the Coronavirus outbreak - or do you want to offer a helping hand? 

A new Community Hub has been created for Reading Borough Council residents needing additional support during the outbreak for those wanting to volunteer their time or services, and for businesses who have the resources to help support the community.

If you, or someone you know is in need of extra support: One Reading Community Hub

Fill in the online coronavirus support form

or call,

0808 189 4325 (freephone) from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday.

Saturday: 9am - 5pm.

The One Reading Community Hub is a partnership between Reading Borough Council, Reading Voluntary Action and Reading's wide and varied voluntary and community sector.

Please only contact the Hub if you have urgent welfare needs which a family member or trusted friend cannot help you with. 

All offers of help and support are welcome from individuals, businesses and other organisations. The Hub cannot provide health advice and will direct customers to NHS 111.


Wokingham Community Support - One Front Door Service

For Wokingham Borough residents who need additional support. 

Call 0300 330 1198 or visit



West Berkshire Community Support hub

For West Berkshire residents who need additional support. 

Call 01635 503579 or visit



Oxfordshire Community Support hub

For Oxfordshire residents who need additional support. 

Call 01865 249811 Mon - Fri 8am - 5pm. Emergency cover out-of-hours.




Changes to jobcentre appointments and Universal Credit

People receiving benefits no longer need to attend jobcentre appointments.

You will continue to receive your benefits as normal, but all requirements to attend the jobcentre in person are suspended. These changes will be in place for three months from 19 March 2020.

Anyone already claiming Universal Credit who thinks they may have been affected by coronavirus, should contact their work coach using their:

  • online journal, or
  • calling the Universal Credit helpline: 0800 328 5644.  

The standard rate in Universal Credit and tax credits will be increased by £20 a week for one year from 6 April. 

People applying for Universal Credit, Employment Support Allowance or other benefits should not go to a jobcentre but apply for them online.

Visit the Understanding Universal Credit website for more information. 


Suspension of face to face assessments for sickness and disability benefits

Face-to-face assessments for all sickness and disability benefits have been suspended.

This affects claimants of Personal Independence Payment, those on Employment and Support Allowance and some on Universal Credit, as well as recipients of Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit. These changes will be in place for three months from 17 March 2020.

The suspension of face-to-face assessments also covers new claims to those benefits.


Jobcentre Plus

All Jobcentres are temporarily closed from 24 March. You can access support online at

Telephone: 0800 055 6688

Textphone: 0800 023 4888

Universal Credit Helpline: 0800 328 5644

In an emergency only, call Reading Jobcentre Plus on 0118 980 8304. They will call you back to minimise the cost to you.


£1bn package of additional support for renters

The Government has announced a package of measures to protect tenants and landlords affected by coronavirus. Renters will receive nearly £1bn additional support, through increases in the generosity of housing benefit and Universal Credit.

From April 2020, Local Housing Allowance rates will pay for at least 30% of market rents in each area.

Other measures to protect tenants and landlords include:

Emergency legislation to suspend new evictions from social or private rented accommodation while this national emergency is taking place.

  • No new possession proceedings through applications to the court to start during the crisis.
  • Landlords will also be protected by extending the three-month mortgage holiday to Buy to Let mortgages.  

As a result, no renter in either social or private accommodation will be forced out of their home during this difficult time.