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.
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.
Should I be staying at home?
Yes! I have been encouraging people to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives, and you can watch my videos on my Facebook page.
Following the statement by the Prime Minister on Monday 23 March, the Government introduced three new measures:
- Requiring people to stay at home, except for very limited purposes.
- Closing non-essential shops and community spaces.
- Stopping all gatherings of more than two people in public.
Detailed guidance on these measures can be found here.
We must all work together to beat COVID-19. If you stay at home you are helping our NHS to save lives. If you go out unnecessarily you are helping to spread the virus.
Should I be self-isolating?
If you live alone and 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.
Extremely vulnerable people should stay at home and avoid all face-to-face contact for a period of 12 weeks from the 23rd March 2020. These people can get assistance with supplies and medication by registering here.
If you feel that you are extremely vulnerable and have not been included on the Government’s list, then please register with Canterbury City Council using the details below.
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?
Current government guidance states that all over 70s, regardless of medical condition, should carry out social distancing measures until further notice. This means avoiding gatherings, avoiding travel, staying two metres apart from other people and only leaving the house to get food or essential medicine.
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?
No. The Government has asked parents to keep their children at home wherever possible, and asked schools to remain open only for those children of critical workers. Parents are also asked not to use grandparents for childcare. This is based on the most recent scientific advice on how to further limit the spread of COVID-19.
The Government information on school closures and the list of critical workers can be found here.
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?
My Labour colleagues and I have been lobbying the Government to provide proper support for self-employed people that matches the support available for employees.
On 26th March 2020, the Chancellor announced that self-employed people would receive a direct cash grant of 80% of their profits, up to £2,500 per month. You can read the announcement here.
The details on how to access these grants will be released by HMRC soon, and along with my Labour colleagues, I will be scrutinising them closely.
Will there be enough food for everyone?
My team has received many enquiries about supermarket shopping and we know that many of you are worried about being able to get enough food.
The initial food shortages in the supermarkets were caused by panic buying and stockpiling. This was an irresponsible response by some consumers and I spoke out about it here.
I know these are worrying times, and we all want to protect our families, but there is enough to go around if everyone shops responsibly.
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.
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.