My team are receiving an unprecedented number of queries about coronavirus from constituents so we have tried to answer some of them for you here. We will update this site as often as we can, but if you are in any doubt please check the official Government website on coronavirus.
The Government published updated advice on 11th May 2020 as part of its recovery strategy. You can read the full document here.
The Government has also published a useful page of FAQs about what you can and cannot do from the 11th May.
What are the key sites for information?
The Government’s page on coronavirus is here.
The NHS 111 page on coronavirus is here.
Canterbury City Council’s advice for residents is here.
What has changed since May 11th?
There are a limited number of things you can do that you could not before May 11th. These are:
- spend time outdoors – for example sitting and enjoying the fresh air, picnicking, or sunbathing
- meet one other person from a different household outdoors – following social distancing guidelines
- exercise outdoors as often as you wish – following social distancing guidelines
- use outdoor sports courts or facilities, such as a tennis or basketball court, or golf course – with members of your household, or one other person while staying 2 metres apart
- go to a garden centre
Do I still have to keep my distance from people?
Yes! Social distancing rules still apply and you must stay 2 metres apart from anyone who you do not live with. The government’s rules and guidance about staying safe outside your home are here.
Should I be self-isolating?
If you have symptoms of coronavirus however mild, stay at home for 7 days from when your symptoms started.
If you live with others and you or one of them have symptoms of coronavirus, then all household members must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days.
NHS guidelines on self-isolation can be found here.
What if I am extremely vulnerable?
The Government has issued special instructions for people who are deemed to be extremely vulnerable because they have underlying health conditions. Details on who falls into this category can be found here.
These vulnerable people with specific medical conditions are being advised to continue to shield until the end of June and do everything they can to stay at home. You can get assistance with supplies and medication by registering as vulnerable here.
I do not qualify as extremely vulnerable but I still need help, what should I do?
If you do not meet the criteria to register for Government support for the extremely vulnerable, but still need help with getting shopping or medicine then you can register with Canterbury City Council here or phone 01227 868598.
Kent County Council have also launched a Kent Together service for Kent residents who need support during the coronavirus outbreak. Details can be found at www.kent.gov.uk/kenttogether . There is also a 24 hour helpline on 0300 041 9292.
I am over 70, what should I be doing?
The advice for over 70s continues to be that they should minimise contact with anyone outside of their household and practice social distancing at all times.
What if I see other people breaching the social distancing rules?
In order to stop the spread of the virus, protect lives and the NHS, we all need to pull together and stick to the Government’s rules. However, there have been cases of people deliberately breaching these regulations and thereby putting other people in danger.
The police are doing their best to try and enforce the social distancing rules and you can read more about what our local force are doing on Kent Police’s special coronavirus page here. There is also information about how to report a breach of the covid-19 measures here.
What does self-isolating mean for my mental health?
Staying away from other people and staying at home could have mental health implications. But there are lots of things you can try that could help your wellbeing. It may seem daunting and scary but there are plenty of resources and people who can help.
Mental health charity, Mind has some guidelines here.
The NHS has some guidelines here.
Should my children be in school?
At the moment, no. Only children of critical workers should be attending school. The Government information on school closures and the list of critical workers can be found here.
The Government has said that schools should be preparing to admit more children from 1st June.
What help is available for my business?
The Government has announced a raft of measures to help businesses affected by coronavirus. There is a special website containing all information and FAQs here.
Canterbury City Council has dedicated business advice pages on its website here. Canterbury City Council is responsible for issuing business rates rebates and coronavirus business support grants, so all business owners are encouraged to keep checking these pages for updates.
Guidance and answers from The Confederation of British Industry can be found here.
If you are a business who needs any help or advice please call the Business Support Helpline – telephone: 0300 456 3565 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm)
If you are worried about paying your tax, you can call the HMRC coronavirus helpline on 0800 0159 559
What about the self-employed?
If you are self employed and getting less work or no work, then you may be eligible for the government’s Self Employment Income Support Scheme. Or you may be able to apply for income support through Universal Credit.
To find out what sort of support you are eligible for, go to the government’s page on self-employment during the coronavirus crisis here.
Can I still go to the shops?
Yes. You are allowed to go to the shops just to buy essential food and medicine. Please only go out when you have to, and try and reduce the number of times you leave the house. When you do go out to the shops please behave responsibly and stay two metres apart from other people.
If you are in the extremely vulnerable category you should not go to the shops. You can sign up here to receive special assistance. If you are vulnerable you should try and arrange home deliveries where possible, or ask friends, families or neighbours to drop off supplies in your garden or on your doorstep wearing gloves.
Do I have to wear a face mask?
At the moment the government has said that face coverings are not compulsory, however people are advised to wear them in confined spaces where social distancing is not always possible.
A face covering does not automatically make you immune from catching coronavirus, so even if you are wearing a mask you must still abide by social distancing rules and also wash your hands regularly.
Can I use public transport?
No, you are advised not to use public transport if it can be avoided.
Can I go on holiday in the UK?
No. You are not allowed to stay overnight anywhere that is not your home – unless you are a keyworker staying in special accommodation.
Can I still rent out my Airbnb or holiday home?
No, holiday homes, Bed & Breakfasts and hotels all have to remain closed.
I’m worried about my rent, what should I do?
The Government has announced that no renter who has lost income due to coronavirus will be forced out of their home, nor will any landlord face unmanageable debts.
A ban on evictions and other support for people in rented accommodation (which includes housing association rentals) is being implemented and you can read about those measures here.
Can I still buy or sell a house?
Maybe. The Government has asked people to be flexible and be prepared to alter their usual processes. So, for instance, you can still list properties for sale, but viewings cannot take place in person.
There is detailed information on home moving on the Government website, and anyone involved in a house sale or purchase is strongly advised to read it here.
Can I still travel abroad?
No! The Government has advised against foreign travel for all British citizens until at least April 15 2020. You can read the Foreign Secretary’s statement here.
What if I am stranded abroad?
If you are overseas the Government urges you to return to the UK as soon as you can and you should:
- Contact your airline or travel provider immediately.
- Contact your travel insurance provider immediately.
- Monitor the Governments travel advice pages which are being updated daily.
There is more information for UK citizens overseas on the Government website here.
Are council services still running?
Some council services have been suspended or reduced due to coronavirus, however many are still running. For example your bins will still be collected, but bulky waste items will not.
Please read Canterbury City Council’s list of services and their status here.
How can I help in my community?
If you are fit and healthy and want to help, you can sign up with Canterbury City Council as a volunteer here.
If you are in Whitstable you can sign up with the volunteer organisation Red Zebra here.
If you would like to donate to the volunteer community support programme, you can do so here.
But don’t forget: one of the most useful things you can do for your community is to stay at home.
This information is for residents of Canterbury, Whitstable and the Villages. If you do not live in this constituency it is important that you check with your own local MP as some information differs between local authorities. You can find out who your MP is by entering your postcode here.