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:
There are also scenarios when you are permitted to remove a face covering when asked:
If you need to make a mask in a hurry
The Government advises us that we can all help control the virus if we all stay alert. This means you must:
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 www.nhs.uk/ask-for-a-coronavirus-test 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 www.nhs.uk/coronavirus 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 www.gov.uk/apply-coronavirus-test-essential-workers.
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.
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 www.gov.uk/guidance/nhs-test-and-trace-how-it-works
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.
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.
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:
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.
£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.
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:
Fill in the online coronavirus support form
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 http://citizensadvicewokingham.org.uk/cornavirus
West Berkshire Community Support hub
For West Berkshire residents who need additional support.
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:
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.
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.
All Jobcentres are temporarily closed from 24 March. You can access support online at www.dwp.gov.uk
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.
As a result, no renter in either social or private accommodation will be forced out of their home during this difficult time.