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COVID-19 FAQs

First published: 26 March 2020
Last updated: 13 April 2021

With the current situation regarding COVID-19, we are living in unprecedented times. With this in mind, we have pulled together some of the more commonly asked questions you might have.

We can help control the virus if we all stay alert. With this in mind, you are advised to:

  • work from home if you can
  • limit contact with other people you don't live with
  • wash your hands regularly
  • wear a face covering where required, unless you have an exemption
  • keep your distance if you go out (two metres apart where possible)
  • let in lots of fresh air where you can

Do not leave home if you or anyone in your household has symptoms.

Please visit gov.uk/coronavirus for the latest official guidance and announcements.

Latest updates

12 April 2021: Step Two of the roadmap out of lockdown. Additional businesses, such as non-essential retail, indoor leisure facilities, public building, self-contained accommodation, personal care premises and outdoor attractions can reopen. Hospitality venues can provide outdoor table service to groups of two households or up to six people, and you can have up to 15 attendees at a wedding or civil partnership, as well as receptions and commemorative events.

You can read more about Step Two on gov.uk.

22 February 2021: Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a roadmap to move England out of COVID-19 restrictions. There are four stages, with the first starting on 08 March. National lockdown measures remain in place until at least 29 March.

You can read more about the roadmap on gov.uk.

29 January 2021: Anyone attending a restricted gathering of more than 15 people can be issued with an £800 FPN, which will double for each repeat offence up to a maximum of £6,400.

27 January 2021: There will be further measures at the border, including the strengthening of requirements for some arrivals through hotel isolation.

You can read more about the travel guidance on gov.uk.

We are eager to remind victims of domestic abuse that you are not alone. If you need support and advice, please visit our domestic abuse help page.

What does the roadmap look like?

The Government will use four tests to decide whether it is safe to move through the four steps of the roadmap.

Test 1: The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully.

Test 2: Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated.

Test 3: Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS.

Test 4: Assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new variants of concern.

Decisions to move to the next step of the roadmap will only be made based on these four tests.

Stage One

The ‘Stay at Home’ rule remains in place.

Children and students can return to face-to-face education in all schools and colleges. Students on practical higher education courses will also be able to resume face-to-face learning. Face coverings are recommended for students in higher education, further education and secondary schools in all indoor environments where two metres distance cannot be maintained. Face coverings are also recommended for staff and adult visitors in all education settings where social distance cannot be maintained.

Childcare and children’s supervised activities can resume for vulnerable children, or to enable a parent or carer to go to work, seek work, access medical care or attend a support group.

People can leave home to visit a public outdoor place, or for recreation or exercise outdoors with their household or support bubble, or with one person from outside their household. There must be no mixing indoors with people outside of your household or support bubble.

Care home residents are allowed one regular visitor. The visitor will need to take a rapid lateral flow device test every time they visit, wear PPE and keep physical contact to a minimum.

Funerals can take place with up to 30 attendees and wakes and weddings can take place with up to six attendees. Wedding receptions must not take place.

International travel for holidays is not permitted and outbound travellers are legally obliged to provide their reason for travel on the Declaration to Travel form.

Political campaigning activity can take place for the purposes of campaigning in an election or referendum, but guidance continues to be to do this close to home.

Stage Two

The ‘Stay at Home’ rule comes to an end, but there will still be some restrictions in place. People should continue to work from home where possible and are advised to minimise journeys where they can.

International travel will remain prohibited, other than for a small number of permitted reasons. You are still encouraged to stay local, minimise journeys where possible.

Outdoor gatherings, including in private gardens, can take place between two households or groups of up to six people from different households. There should still be no mixing indoors with people outside of your household or support bubble.

Outdoor sports facilities such as tennis and basketball courts and golf courses, and open-air swimming pools are allowed to reopen. People can take part in formally organised outdoor sports. Outdoor parent and child groups can resume.

Non-essential retail, personal care premises and public buildings can open.

Indoor leisure facilities, such as gyms and spas (with the exception of saunas and steam rooms), can reopen for use by people on their own or with members of their household or support bubble.

All children will be able to attend organised indoor children’s activities, including sport. Parent and child groups of up to 15 people (not including children aged under five years old) can restart indoors as long as it’s not a private dwelling. Indoor play areas and indoor play parks, such as soft play centres, trampoline parks and inflatable parks, must remain closed.

Outdoor attractions, such as zoos, drive-in cinemas and theme parks, can reopen.

Self-contained accommodation, such as campsites and holiday lets, where guests do not require shared facilities or communal entrances and exits to their accommodation. Facilities that can remain open include reception areas, washing facilities, toilets, baby changing rooms, breast feeding rooms, water points and waste disposal points.. This is only permitted with members of your household or support bubble only. International holidays are still not permitted.

Outdoor gatherings can continue to take place between two households or groups of up to six people from different households. There should still be no mixing indoors with people outside of your household or support bubble.

Hospitality venues will be allowed to serve people outdoors. Customers must order, eat and drink while seated, and social contact rules will still apply to prevent mixing between households. There will be no requirement to order a substantial meal alongside alcoholic drinks and no curfew. Customers are able to enter a premises to pay for their food and drink.

Weddings, receptions, wakes and other commemorative events have attendance limits increased to 15 people.

All reopened settings must continue to follow social contact rules and ensure their venues are COVID Secure.

Pilots will continue to support bringing events back.

The below information is based on guidance issued by gov.uk and may be subject to change.

Step Three will only take place if it is deemed safe against the four tests. This will be no earlier than 17 May, but it may be later depending on if there are any delays following Step Two.

The rule of six or two household restrictions on outdoor gatherings will be removed. Gatherings of over 30 people will remain illegal.

People will be able to meet indoors in groups of two households or up to six people from different households. This is also in place for domestic overnight stays.

Most businesses in all but the highest risk sectors will be able to open, as long as they are COVID Secure. This includes indoor entertainment venues and attractions, cinemas, children’s play areas, and indoor adult group sports and exercise classes. They must continue to follow legal limits on groups indoors and outdoors. This includes all indoor hospitality, but they must continue to operate table service for ordering and consuming food and drink.

Some larger performances and sporting events will be allowed. Indoor venues will be limited to a capacity of 1,000 or half full (whichever is lower) and outdoor venues will be limited to a capacity of 4,000 or half full (whichever is lower). In the largest outdoor seated venues, where crowds can be spread out, capacities will be 10,000 people or quarter full (whichever is lower).

Up to 30 people will be able to attend weddings, receptions, wakes and funerals, as well as other significant life events such as bar mitzvahs and christenings.

Guidance around social contact will be reviewed by this stage, but you should continue to maintain at least two metres distance away from those outside of your household or support bubble, wash your hands regularly and keep good ventilation until advice changes. There will also be a review on the work from home direction at this stage, but this should continue until further guidance is issued.

The Government will be reviewing the restrictions on international travel, but holidays abroad will not resume any earlier than 17 May.

The below information is based on guidance issued by gov.uk and may be subject to change.

Step Four will only take place if it is deemed safe against the four tests. This will be no earlier than 21 June, but it may be later depending on if there are any delays following Step Three.

The Government expects to be in a position to remove all legal limits on social contact.

Remaining premises will reopen, including nightclubs, and large events and performance restrictions will be eased.

Restrictions on all life events will be removed.

People should continue to be cautious about COVID-19 as coverage and effectiveness of the vaccine will not be 100% at this stage.

Meeting or visiting family and friends

Contact between parents and a child where the child does not live in the same household as their parents, or one of their parents is allowed.

Any existing visitation arrangements that are in place can continue.

Those with caring responsibilities for children within their household are able to form a childcare bubble with one other household for the purposes of informal childcare for children aged 13 or under. You should not swap bubbles and not use the collection or pick up of children as a reason to socialise with someone helping with childcare.

All children will be able to attend organised indoor children’s activities, including sport, regardless of circumstances. Indoor play areas and indoor play parks, such as soft play centres, trampoline parks and inflatable parks, must remain closed.

Yes, outdoor gatherings, including in private gardens, can take place between two households or groups of up to six people from different households. There should still be no mixing indoors with people outside of your household or support bubble.

You can meet in gardens with one other household or as part of a group of six people from different households. Aim to minimise the use of shared equipment to limit the spread.

Outdoor gatherings, including in private gardens, can take place between two households or groups of up to six people from different households. There should still be no mixing indoors with people outside of your household or support bubble.

Outdoor gatherings, including in private gardens, can take place between two households or groups of up to six people from different households. There should still be no mixing indoors with people outside of your household or support bubble.

The rules have been designed to protect people, not to catch people out. Our approach is to engage, explain and encourage people to comply with the rules, and proof may not be deemed necessary.

If gatherings are asked to disperse, officers may also make reasonable judgement as to whether these people are part of one or more households. For example, a group of ten teenagers are unlikely to all live together, whereas three adults and four children could reasonably be from the same household. Of course, we appreciate that this is not demonstrative of all households and there may be exceptions to this, but reasonable judgement must be applied.

Government guidance states that care home residents are allowed one regular visitor. The visitor will need to take a rapid lateral flow test every time they visit, wear PPE and keep physical contact to a minimum. You can find out more in the guidance on gov.uk

Support bubbles or ‘linked households’ can be formed by linking with one household with another. One of the households must meet the following criteria:

  • Only one adult, including where children are under the age of 18 as of 12 June 2020.
  • Only one adult carer, including if there are additional adults in the household that have a disability and require continuous care.
  • A child aged 1 year or younger (as of 02 December 2020), regardless of how many other adults or children are in the household.
  • A child aged 5 years or younger (as of 02 December 2020) with a disability that requires continuous care, regardless of how many other adults or children are in the household.

Those in the support bubble can act as if they live in the same household, meaning they can spend time inside each other’s homes, including staying overnight, and do not need to stay two metres apart.

Support bubbles must be exclusive and you cannot switch households, meaning you cannot form a support bubble with a household that is part of another support bubble. If anyone in the bubble develops symptoms, all members of the bubble will need to follow the isolation guidance.

Read more on the gov.uk website.

Childcare bubbles or ‘linked childcare households’ are formed between one household linking with one other household to provide informal childcare to a child or children aged 13 years or under. They can provide the childcare in either or both of the homes from the two households. These bubbles should only be used for child care and not socialisation. If anyone develops symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19, all members must follow isolation guidance.

Read more on the gov.uk website.

Households that meet at least one of the specified criteria can form a support bubble with one other household of any size, as long as all members of that household agree. These two households must be exclusive and cannot form a support bubble with any other households and must not change whilst restrictions are in place. If either of these households have children under the age of 13 they are able to form a childcare bubble with another household. This can be a separate household to the one in the support bubble, but again must remain exclusive and should not be used for socialisation.

Households that meet at least one of the specified criteria can form a support bubble with one other household of any size, as long as all members of that household agree. This does not need to be with each other, even if there are custody or visitation agreements in place and the child moves between both parents’ households. The arrangements should be exclusive and must not change whilst restrictions are in place. Both households are also able to form a childcare bubble to allow for informal childcare.

You should make sure you are following the rules whilst dropping your child off at school. Whilst you may need to queue or wait at the school, this should be done whilst aiming to maintain a distance from those you don’t live with. Please consider wearing a face covering, particularly if you are not able to keep two metres distance from other families. Face coverings are recommended for all adult visitors inside school buildings.

Schools will have their own measures in place to manage the risks associated with pick up and drop off times at school, such as marked out and distanced waiting zones, staggered start or finish times, or limits on the number of people allowed at the school at any one time. Please check with the school you are visiting and follow these to protect yourself, your family and others.

Moving house or changing households

If a student is moving permanently to live back at their family home, this is permitted.

If you live at university, you should not continuously move between your permanent home and student home during term time.

Students studying practical courses at English universities, who would be unable to complete their courses if they did not return to take part in practical teaching, access specialist facilities, or complete assessments, will return to face-to-face learning.

Students who do not study these courses should remain where they are wherever possible and continue their term time learning online.

Further information will be provided to Higher Education providers to manage the full return to University, including how to manage the movement of students between term time accommodation and out of term time accommodation during the Easter period.  Please check with the relevant University/Higher Education provider for further information

Anyone who wishes to move home can do so. Estate and letting agents and removals firms are able to continue working, including undertaking viewings.

Guidance on ensuring that moving, and key activities such as house viewings, can happen safely can be found on gov.uk.

If you or a member of your household are showing symptoms of COVID-19 or self-isolating you should delay moving home.

Anyone who wishes to move home can continue to do so. There may be some situations where moving is the best option. This could include households where a key worker is isolating away from the main family and additional childcare is needed, where vulnerable people require support that they are unable to receive from volunteers or neighbours or where you need to leave an abusive situation.

Anyone who wishes to move home can do so. However, it would be advisable to check what restrictions are in place in the country you are moving to. There are still restrictions on international travel but moving house is an exemption to this.

There may be other reasons why you cannot move abroad at this time which fall outside of the UK Government legislation and guidance.

If you or a member of your household are showing symptoms of COVID-19 or are asked to self-isolating you should make sure you self-isolate for the required amount of time, which may affect your ability to move.

Visiting places, including shops, restaurants, pubs and places of worship

Ask yourself whether it’s essential that more than one of you goes shopping. Sometimes it will be, for example if there is no one else available to look after a child. Some shops may continue to limit how many people can enter at one time, and you should respect and adhere to these rules.

It’s important that we all reduce our day-to-day contact with other people, so if you can go alone that will help cut down potential chances of contact with others. When you are outside of the home, try to stay two metres apart from anyone outside of your household or support bubble.

The law requires people to wear face coverings in some enclosed places, including shops, transport hubs, banks and post offices. Staff working in retail are also required to wear face coverings.

Places of worship are allowed to open for communal worship, but faith leaders should make this as safe as possible. You must not mingle with anyone outside of your household or support bubble and should maintain strict social distancing at all times.

Read the national guidance on the safe use of places of worship on gov.uk.

Public toilets can remain open but they are the Councils are responsibility and this decision of whether to keep them open is up to them. If you need to use any of these facilities, you should practise social distancing and good hygiene, such as washing your hands thoroughly and aim to keep socially distanced from those you don’t live with.

Outdoor attractions, such as zoos, drive-in cinemas and theme parks, can reopen. Indoor areas as part of these attractions, such as aquariums, must remain closed during this step.

The Secretary of State has powers to restrict access to specified public spaces or public spaces of a specified description to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Local authorities will be responsible for making people aware and preventing public access to restricted areas.

People may not enter restricted areas without a reasonable excuse – doing so may be an offence. We encourage people to avoid restricted areas. As always, officers will engage, explain and encourage individuals to comply with these restrictions, in the first instance.

Officers may direct people to leave restricted areas immediately, and remove people from the restricted area, if required.

Yes, if you are able to do so. The law in England requires people to wear face coverings in some enclosed places. This means that unless individuals have exemptions, a shop can refuse entry and can call the police if people refuse to comply. People who are exempt from wearing a face covering include, but are not limited to, children under 11 and those with certain disabilities. Retail staff are also required to wear face coverings.

You can read more about face coverings on gov.uk.

Unless you are exempt, you must wear a face covering when entering a shop. If someone without an exemption refuses to wear a face covering, the shop has the option to refuse them entry. If the Police are called they may direct that a face covering is worn or to leave the shop, they may also remove an individual from the shop if necessary. We hope this will not be necessary but if the police are called we will endeavour to engage, explain and encourage people to follow the rules. Enforcing these regulations will always be a last resort.

We expect that the public will follow these regulations to help everyone keep the spread of the virus under control.

Hospitality venues such as pubs, restaurants and cafes can seat and serve people outdoors. Customers must order, eat and drink while seated, and social contact rules will still apply to prevent mixing between households. There will be no requirement to order a substantial meal alongside alcoholic drinks and no curfew. Customers are able to enter a premises to pay for their food and drink.

Some hospitality venues may continue offering click-and-collect, drive-through and delivery services at their own discretion.

Hospitality venues will be allowed to seat and serve people outdoors. Customers must order, eat and drink while seated, and social contact rules will still apply to prevent mixing between households. There will be no requirement to order a substantial meal alongside alcoholic drinks. Customers are able to enter a premises to pay for their food and drink.

Working and running businesses, services and venues safely

As long as they follow COVID Secure guidelines, some businesses can remain open. The full list can be found on gov.uk, but it includes:

  • Essential and non-essential retail, including market stalls.
  • Businesses providing repair services may also stay open, where they primarily offer repair services.
  • Petrol stations, automatic (but not manual) car washes, vehicle repair and MOT services, bicycle shops, and taxi and vehicle hire businesses.
  • Banks, building societies, post offices, short-term loan providers and money transfer businesses.
  • Funeral directors.
  • Laundrettes and dry cleaners.
  • Medical and dental services.
  • Vets and retailers of products and food for the upkeep and welfare of animals.
  • Animal rescue centres, boarding facilities and animal groomers (may continue to be used for animal welfare, rather than aesthetic purposes)
  • Agricultural supplies shops.
  • Mobility and disability support shops.
  • Storage and distribution facilities.
  • Car parks, public toilets and motorway service areas.
  • Outdoor playgrounds.
  • Outdoor parts of botanical gardens and heritage sites for exercise.
  • Places of worship.
  • Crematoriums and burial grounds.
  • Outdoor sports facilities, such as tennis and basketball courts and open-air swimming pools.
  • Personal care facilities such as hair, beauty, tanning and nail salons.
  • Public buildings, such as community centres and halls and libraries.
  • Indoor leisure facilities such as gyms and spas (with the exception of saunas and steam rooms), for use by people on their own or with members of their household or support bubble.
  • Self-contained accommodation, such as campsites and holiday lets, where guests do not require shared facilities or communal entrances and exits to their accommodation. Facilities that can remain open include reception areas, washing facilities, toilets, baby changing rooms, breast feeding rooms, water points and waste disposal points.
  • Hospitality venues such as pubs and restaurants can serve people outdoors. Customers must order, eat and drink while seated and social contact rules will still apply to prevent mixing between household. There will be no requirement to order a substantial meal alongside alcoholic drinks and no curfew. Customers are able to enter a premises to pay for their food and drink.

The majority of public services will continue, including:

  • The NHS and medical services like GPs and dentists. We are supporting the NHS to carry out urgent and non-urgent services safely, 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.
  • Getting an MOT

All reopened setting must continue to follow social contact rules and ensure their venues are COVID Secure.

There will be some pilots to support bringing event back at this stage.

The Government's position is that everyone who can work from home should do so. You can travel to work, including to provide voluntary or charitable services, where you cannot reasonably work from home and your workplace is open.

Workplaces should follow COVID-secure guidelines. At all times, workers should follow any measures put in place by their employers.

You should not go into work if you are showing symptoms, or if you or any of your household are self-isolating.

Work carried out by tradespeople can continue, provided that the tradesperson is well and has no symptoms.

It will be important to ensure that Public Health England guidelines, including maintaining a two metre distance, or a one metre distance with additional precautions, from any household occupants, are followed to ensure everyone’s safety. If this isn’t possible, you should keep a distance of one metre or more with extra precautions (e.g. face coverings). Make sure that everyone washes their hands before and after they touch any surfaces.

You can read more about working safely in people’s homes during COVID-19 on the gov.uk website.

Indoor leisure facilities, such as gyms and spas (with the exception of saunas and steam rooms), will reopen for use by people on their own or with members of their household or support bubble.

Current legislation requires retail and hospitality staff to wear face coverings at work.

Hospitality venues such as pubs, restaurants and cafes can serve people outdoors. Customers must order, eat and drink while seated, and social contact rules will still apply to prevent mixing between households. There will be no requirement to order a substantial meal alongside alcoholic drinks and no curfew. Customers are able to enter a premises to pay for their food and drink.

Some hospitality venues may continue offering click-and-collect, drive-through and delivery services at their own discretion.

You can continue to work providing that you are well and have no symptoms. No work should be carried out by someone who has COVID-19 symptoms or when someone in their own household has symptoms, however mild. No work should be carried out in households that are isolating or where individuals are being shielded, unless the work is to remedy a direct risk to the safety of the household.

You should notify clients in advance of your arrival and wash your hands using soap and water for 20 seconds on arrival to the home. Make sure good hygiene is adhered to, including hand washing regularly, particularly after blowing your nose, sneezing, coughing and when leaving the property. If there are no facilities to wash your hands, hand sanitiser should be used.

It's vitally important that if you have to carry out work in people’s homes that you follow social distancing guidelines and maintain a distance of two metres, or one metre with additional precautions, at all times.

Further information can be found on the gov.uk website.

Non-essential retail is able to reopen.

Some shops may continue offering click-and-collect at their own discretion.

Leisure and recreation

Indoor and outdoor pools and outdoor water attractions, such as water parks, will be allowed to reopen. They should continue to follow social contact rules and ensure venues are COVID Secure.

Please take care and stay within your own capabilities, and follow the relevant advice:

You can exercise outdoors with the people you live with, your support bubble, or in a group of two households or up to six people from different households.

Outdoor sports facilities such as tennis and basketball courts, golf courses, and open-air swimming pools are allowed to reopen. People can take part in formally organised outdoor sports.

You can exercise outdoors with the people you live with, your support bubble, or in a group of two households or up to six people from different households.

Outdoor sports facilities such as tennis and basketball courts, golf courses, and open-air swimming pools are allowed to reopen. People can take part in formally organised outdoor sports.

There are no ‘Stay at Home’ measures in place and you can be outside with your household, support bubble, or as part of a group of two households or six people from different households.

This may be considered a higher risk activity which can increase the spread of COVID-19 by attracting groups of people to congregate.

As always, our approach remains to engage, explain and encourage, and only where necessary enforce.

Non-professional organised sport must not take place indoors or outdoors. Formally organised outdoor sport can resume where it has been organised by a business, charitable institution or public body and the organiser has taken the required precautions.

Gatherings and events

Outdoor gatherings, including in private gardens, can take place between two households or groups of up to six people from different households. There should still be no mixing indoors with people outside of your household or support bubble.

There are a limited number of circumstances where larger groups are allowed to meet. A full list is included in the regulations, but it includes:

  • Members of the same or linked household (support bubble).
  • For work, volunteering, education or training purposes.
  • To provide or seek emergency assistance, care for the vulnerable, medical attention for an injury, or to escape har.
  • To move home.
  • To satisfy legal obligations or proceedings.
  • Criminal justice and immigration accommodation.
  • To attend a support group, with no more than 15 attendees, where it is reasonably necessary for members to be physically present. This must not take place in a private dwelling.
  • For respite care.
  • To attend a birth at the request of the mother.
  • To attend a funeral, with up to 30 attendees.
  • Elite sports.
  • Communal worship.
  • Picketing.
  • Protesting, where this has been organised by a business, charity, public body, philanthropic organisation, or political body, and where the organiser has taken the appropriate precautions.
  • For the nomination of candidates or petition for referendum, or political campaigning, and for observing elections.
  • To attend a wedding or civil partnership, reception or commemorative event, with up to 15 attendees, where they take place in a premises other than a private dwelling.
  • Parent and child groups, with up to 15 people where they have been organised by a business, charity or similar – children aged five or under do not count towards the limits.
  • Visiting someone who is dying.
  • Permitted outdoor sports gatherings or outdoor activities.

Funerals can go ahead but numbers are limited to no more than 30 attendees. Linked religious, belief-based or commemorative events, such as wakes, stone settings and ash scatterings, can take place with up to 15 people. Anyone working does not count towards these limits.

Weddings and civil partnerships can take place with up to 15 attendees. Receptions can also take place with up to 15 attendees.

Gatherings for the purpose of ‘life cycle events’ such as christenings and bar mitzvahs are not currently allowed, unless they take place as an element of communal worship.

If you are concerned that you have seen a gathering which contravenes the regulations, we would encourage you to report it using the national COVID-19 reporting form.

Protests which are organised by a business, charity, public body, philanthropic organisation or political body can go ahead. Organisers must take appropriate precautions to keep attendees safe.

Formal support groups that have to be delivered in person can continue to take place. These should be limited to no more than 15 people aged 5 years or older, and take place at premises other than a private dwelling. Anyone under 5 will not be included in the participant limits. Members are encouraged to consider if it is reasonably necessary to be physically present at the gathering.

Outdoor attractions, such as drive-in cinemas, can reopen.

Restrictions on large events will still be in place, but there will be some pilots at this stage to support bringing them back.

Overnight stays and holidays

There are no restrictions on how far you can travel within England. However, you are still encouraged to minimised domestic travel where you can.

Overnight stays with your household or support bubble are allowed in self-contained accommodation, such as campsites and holiday lets, where guests do not require shared facilities or communal entrances and exits to their accommodation. Facilities that can remain open include reception areas, washing facilities, toilets, baby changing rooms, breast feeding rooms, water points and waste disposal points.

We would encourage anyone who visits Dorset to be respectful of our communities and continue to follow social distancing measures and the limits around gatherings.

Overnight stays with your household or support bubble are allowed in self-contained accommodation, such as campsites and holiday lets, where guests do not require shared facilities or communal entrances and exits to their accommodation. Facilities that can remain open include reception areas, washing facilities, toilets, baby changing rooms, breast feeding rooms, water points and waste disposal points.

Overnight stays with your household or support bubble are allowed in self-contained accommodation, such as campsites and holiday lets, where guests do not require shared facilities or communal entrances and exits to their accommodation. Facilities that can remain open include reception areas, washing facilities, toilets, baby changing rooms, breast feeding rooms, water points and waste disposal points. This includes in your own second homes or holiday homes.

Travel

If you need to travel, walk or cycle where possible, and plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport. This will allow you to practice social distancing while you travel.

The Government has created safer travel guidance for passengers during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Please check with your local transport provider before setting out on any journeys as they may have updated their timetables and be running fewer services.

It is recommended that you avoid car sharing with anyone from outside your household or support bubble.

Find more guidance around using private cars and other vehicles on gov.uk.

Unless you are exempt, you must wear a face covering when on public transport.

More information on face coverings can be found on the gov.uk website.

You are not permitted to travel internationally without a legally permitted reason. Those wishing to travel out of the UK must declare a reason for travel – anyone who does not have a valid reason for travel will be directed to return home and may face a fine and the reason for travel will be checked. Travel exemptions will be reviewed in line with the Regulations and carefully considered on a case by case basis.

 If you do have a reasonable excuse to leave home and travel internationally then you should consider the public health advice for the country you will be travelling to, even if you are returning to a place you have visited before. Information can be found in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office travel advice.

For those travelling to the UK, there is a requirement for a negative COVID-19 test taken in the three days before departure. Without this, and without a valid exemption, your airline or carrier may refuse you boarding, and/or you may be fined on arrival. You must also show a completed passenger locator form at the UK border, completed in the 48 hours before entering the UK. Failing to complete this form in line with the Regulations is an offence. You must self-isolate when entering the UK from any country, except Ireland, unless you have a valid exemption.

Other measures include:

  • managed isolation in hotels for those arriving from countries where there are international travel bans and who cannot be refused entry – they will be required to isolate for 10 days without exception.
  • increased physical checks at addresses to make sure people are self-isolating.

More information can be found on gov.uk.

The Government's position is that everyone who can work from home should do so. Where that is not possible, people should go into work where it is safe and they are not symptomatic, following relevant PHE guidance.

Workplaces should follow COVID-secure guidelines. At all times, workers should follow any measures put in place by their employers. Employers should be taking responsibility to ensure that guidelines are being followed in their workplaces. Extra consideration should be given to those people at higher risk.

Anyone currently overseas does not need to make arrangements to return immediately. However, it is advisable to check with your travel operators to find out how your journey home may be affected and if your plans will need to change to accommodate this.

For those travelling to the UK, there is a requirement for a negative COVID-19 test taken in the three days before departure. Without this, and without a valid exemption, your airline or carrier may refuse you boarding, and/or you may be fined on arrival. You must also show a completed passenger locator form at the UK border, completed in the 48 hours before entering the UK. Failing to complete this form in line with the Regulations is an offence. You must self-isolate when entering the UK from any country, except Ireland, unless you have a valid exemption.

Other measures include:

  • managed isolation in hotels for those arriving from countries where there are international travel bans and who cannot be refused entry – they will be required to isolate for 10 days without exception.
  • increased physical checks at addresses to make sure people are self-isolating.

More information can be found on gov.uk.

Overnight stays with your household or support bubble are allowed in self-contained accommodation, such as campsites and holiday lets, where guests do not require shared facilities or communal entrances and exits to their accommodation. Facilities that can remain open include reception areas, washing facilities, toilets, baby changing rooms, breast feeding rooms, water points and waste disposal points.

You should be sure to keep at least two metres distance from those you don’t live with, or at least one metre with additional measures.

Crime

Yes, we have already seen some instances of fraudsters taking advantage of the situation with reports of telephone scamming and phishing emails.

We are working to ensure the public have the information they need so they are not caught out by opportunistic thieves/scammers.

Phishing emails: There have been reports of coronavirus-themed phishing emails. These attempt to trick people into opening malicious attachments which could lead to fraudsters stealing people’s personal information, email logins and passwords, and banking details. Don’t click on the links or attachments in suspicious emails, and never respond to unsolicited messages and calls that ask for your personal or financial details. Any suspicious emails should be sent to the National Cyber Security Centres Suspicious Email Reporting Service – report@phishing.gov.uk

Shopping online: If you’re making a purchase from a company or person you don’t know and trust, carry out some research first, and ask a friend or family member for advice before completing the purchase. If you decide to go ahead with the purchase, use a credit card if you have one, as most major credit card providers insure online purchases.

There is additional information and updates regarding fraud on the Action Fraud website and in the fraud section of this website.

If you have parted with money and realise that you have been scammed, contact your bank and email 101@dorset.pnn.police.uk immediately.

If you have parted with money and realise that you have been scammed, contact your bank and email 101@dorset.pnn.police.uk immediately.

Scams based on “NHS test and trace”

Phishing emails relating to the government Test & Trace service have been reported nationally. Some scam text messages relating to Test and Trace are also reported to be in circulation. Remember: Test and Trace staff will NEVER ask you for financial details, PINs or passwords, they will NEVER visit your home and they will NEVER do any of the following:

  • Ask you to dial a premium rate number to speak to us (for example, those starting 09 or 087)
  • Ask you to make any form of payment
  • Ask for any details about your bank account
  • Ask for your social media identities or login details, or those of your contacts
  • Ask you for any passwords or PINs, or ask you to set up any passwords or PINs over the phone
  • Ask you to purchase a product
  • Ask you to download any software to your device or ask you to hand over control of your PC, smartphone or tablet
  • Ask you to access any website that does not belong to the Government or NHS

Members of the public can send their suspicious emails to report@phishing.gov.uk and the NCSC’s automated programme will immediately test the validity of the site. Any sites found to be phishing scams will be removed immediately.

Being a good neighbour is important, and communities are rallying around to support each other. However, there may be those who seek to exploit the situation also.

Volunteers working with the health and emergency services will be in possession of the necessary DBS arrangements before commencing placements and will be assigned to roles where indemnity cover is in place. They should all have documentation proving their status.

Community volunteering to provide assistance to those most vulnerable in meeting their daily needs will also be likely in the coming months. If people have doubts about those who are approaching them, and are concerned, we advise that they don’t engage and report serious suspicious behaviour to police. The majority of groups are well intentioned, and will be working through charities or through a local authority and should have proof that they are doing so.

There is additional information and updates regarding fraud on the Action Fraud website. Theft offences should be reported using our online channels.

If you have parted with money and realise that you have been scammed, contact your bank and email 101@dorset.pnn.police.uk immediately.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has launched the Suspicious Email Reporting Service - report@phishing.gov.uk - which will make it easy for the public to forward suspicious emails to the NCSC – including those claiming to offer services related to coronavirus.

Suspicious text messages can be sent to 7726.

Report other sorts of scam to the national policing hub Action Fraud.

In both cases, reporting scams and suspicious communications is important, as every piece of information received helps to build an intelligence picture of criminals who would capitalise on the coronavirus lockdown, and thus helps national poking services to shut them down.

If you have parted with money and realise that you have been scammed, contact your bank and email 101@dorset.pnn.police.uk immediately.

There are no crime types that we would no longer respond to and the police will NOT stop arresting people. Each contact to the police for help will be risk assessed. Priority of response will be given to maintaining public order, situations of violence or where life is in danger and where a very vulnerable person is involved. We’re asking the public to be patient as we may take more time to follow up report relating to lower-level crimes.

As a result of social distancing regulations, it is likely that forces will see a shift in crime patterns – this includes online offences and fraud. As always, we will prioritise available resources from the areas where demand was previously high (such as the night-time economy) to the areas which need it now.

Yes, sadly this is likely with more people staying at home and isolated from other friends and family. We are currently running a campaign to raise awareness of this issue so please keep an eye on our social media channels.

Domestic abuse is considered a serious crime and the police service is committed to the safety of victims and children during this time of crisis. We want you to seek and receive appropriate support when you need it.

If you or your children are in immediate danger, you should call 999. You can get help and support on our website or access the national domestic abuse helpline or support services online.

In Dorset we have not seen an increase in hate crime. However we know hate crime and incidents can be under-reported and Dorset Police is encouraging victims to come forward in confidence either directly to the police, to supporting agencies or through third party reporting centres.

If you are a victim or witness of a hate crime or incident, please report it online. Alternatively if you wish to speak to someone call 101. In an emergency always dial 999.

If you are deaf or hard of hearing you can get in touch in the following ways:

  • Emergency – SMS/text 80 999 or textphone 18000
  • Non-emergency – SMS/text 67101 or textphone/minicom 18001 101

You can also report anonymously through TrueVision, or get support from StopHateUK, including British sign language reporting and a 24/7 helpline.

For further reporting options, support and information, including easy read documents and reporting forms, visit: dorset.police.uk/hatecrime

Nationally there has been no increase in overall hate crime, however there has been a rise in hate crime directed towards Asian communities.

There is no doubt that video conferencing is becoming more and more popular, whether for business or to connect with friends and family.

Some devices have video conferencing built in, such as Apple’s FaceTime, and there are many other standalone video conferencing apps which you can download such as Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams and others.

We have put together a guide to staying secure when using these apps and we encourage you to share it with your friends and family or employees: dorset.police.uk/video-conferencing

Please follow the Dorset Cyber Protect team on Facebook @DorsetPoliceCyberCrime and Twitter @DP_CyberCrime the latest updates.

Visit the National Cyber Security Centre website for further guidance on video conferencing.

Yes. The safety and welfare of local communities remains our top priority.

Members of the public should continue to call 999 in an emergency where a crime is in progress or there is a threat to life.

If your call is not urgent and can be reported using our online channels, we ask you to do so in order to release the pressure on our emergency lines and resources. You can contact us through our website (https://www.dorset.police.uk/do-it-online/), by using webchat, or by email (101@dorset.pnn.police.uk). We are unable to take reports via our social media channels.

We are experiencing high call demand to both our 999 and 101 numbers and our digital services offer you the option to self-report, which will then be prioritised and actioned.

If you are concerned you have seen something that contravenes the regulations, we would encourage you to report it using the national COVID-19 reporting form.

We would advise members of the public to avoid visiting our Public Enquiry Offices unless it is essential. Many of our offices have now closed, with others working to reduced hours.

Members of the public should not call police to report cases of COVID-19 and should instead direct their concerns to NHS 111.

Formal support groups, can continue to take place. These should be limited to no more than 15 people aged 5 years or older, and take place at premises other than a private dwelling. Anyone under 5 will not be included in the participant limits. Members are encouraged to consider if it is reasonably necessary to be physically present at the gathering.

As things slowly return back to normal, yes, we would expect to see a return of things we have come to experience in the past. Ultimately, any changes to regulations from now will mean more people are out and about. We are ready to meet any increase in demand, at whatever pace it comes. As ever, we ask the public to stay vigilant, and keep reporting crime to us.

Policing during the pandemic

Passengers arriving the UK will be contacted regularly by Public Health England to ensure they understand the requirements and are self-isolating. If anyone is suspected of breaching the restrictions, their details will be passed on to the central triage team and police forces will be asked to visit the individuals address.

As always, our approach remains to engage, explain and encourage, and only where necessary enforce.

Unless you are exempt, you must wear a face covering when on public transport. Management of wearing face coverings will largely be a matter for public transport providers who will engage with those using their services. They may deny an individual who is not wearing a face covering, access.

If police intervention is required, they may direct an individual to wear a face covering, or to disembark the vehicle. An individual may also be removed from the vehicle. The police will l continue to take the approach of engaging, explaining and encouraging compliance to these regulations and will only enforce as a last resort.

Outdoor gatherings, including in private gardens, can take place between two households or groups of up to six people from different households. There should still be no mixing indoors with people outside of your household or support bubble.

Police give guidance on the Government advice, but only enforce the law. They also must do so with common sense and proportionality based on the particular situation, their engagement with the individual and always keeping in mind the purpose of regulations to prevent the spread of the virus.

Environmental Health and Trading Standards officers, with police support if appropriate, are responsible for enforcing regulations requiring businesses to remain closed.

Environmental Health and Trading Standards can issue prohibition notices where businesses do not follow these restrictions. In addition, businesses who fail to comply can also receive fines. Continued non-compliance could then lead to the loss of alcohol licenses.

You can report businesses that you believe should not be open using the national COVID-19 reporting form.

We trust the public to be honest with us and to continue engaging with us positively, as they have been to date - but of course officers will be inquisitive where necessary.

Everyone has a responsibility and a civic duty in respecting the terms of this lockdown. Thousands have tragically lost their lives, and we would expect a degree of maturity from the public in continuing to observe the new rules. Most have been very sensible, and we thank them for the personal sacrifices they’re making.

Where we see clear breaches, we will act appropriately.

There is a power of arrest under the new legislation, which will we will use as a last resort. Our approach will be to maintain our education and engagement approach to persuade individuals to comply with the direction set by Government rather than having to enforce it, as it is in all of our interests. However, if we are left with no other choice, we will arrest people if there is no other option and we have the lawful basis to do so.

Public Health England (PHE) has published guidance to first responders and this has been circulated to all police forces for their officers and staff to follow.

Officers and staff have been issued with personal protective equipment (PPE) to minimise the risk of work-related infection. This includes:

  • Disposable gloves
  • Fluid repellent surgical face mask is recommended
  • Disposable plastic apron
  • Disposable eye protection (such as face visor or goggles)

Based on PHE guidance this is sufficient for routine policing activities.

We are working closely with the Government and PHE to manage supplies of PPE like gloves and masks. Questions around stocks of these should be directed to PHE and the Government. Regions are monitoring their stock levels and will redistribute resources where they need 

Where possible, police staff and officers on desk duties, who are not showing symptoms or feeling ill, are able to work from home.

Those who have symptoms and are unable to work, will stay at home and self-isolate.

Nationally, and locally we have tried and tested plans to respond to a situation like this. This may include the cancellation of rest days and leave.

We will not be sharing isolation rates, as these numbers will ebb and flow over the coming weeks. We are reassuring members of the public that we are coping well and that service continues as normal.

Our tried and tested business continuity procedures include plans to maintain a level of service that fulfils critical functions. With a significant loss of officers and staff, we will concentrate on responding to serious crimes and maintaining public order.

Some non-urgent administrative services may experience delays, such as firearms applications, where, in line with Government advice our staff are not able to complete home visits, which are part of the application process. Other services of this nature may also be impacted.

We will ensure the public understand how any changes may affect them and any changes they need to make.

Police officers have been issued with PPE, including face masks, where shaving is not required for their use. A small number of officers in certain specialist roles have masks that are specifically fitted that are not compatible with facial hair. This is not a new COVID-19-related provision. These officers are aware they will need to be clean-shaven if they need to use that equipment as part of their role. If this conflicts with any religious (or similar) restriction, we are working with officers to find appropriate alternatives.

We have control measures that we can use if we need them. This includes conducting meetings over video or the telephone when it is suitable.

Interviews with suspects would only take place if a suspect was well enough. Officers will have access to PPE like gloves and masks if needed. Sensible and proportionate use of bail and released under investigation will be considered – this would not be used for anyone considered to be a risk to the public.

We will start off by speaking with them, and encouraging them to comply of their own free will. If necessary, we will liaise with an adult with responsibility for that child or young person. There is a power for us to provide a direction to that adult if it is necessary for us to do so.

No. We will always arrest and detain where it is necessary. During the COVID-19 pandemic officers will consider voluntary attendance rather than arrest in cases where it is safe and proportionate to do so, particularly if suspects are diagnosed or suspected of having COVID-19. This would only apply to low level, low risk cases.

Yes. Forces will be continuing their normal service unless there is a significant impact on our ability to do so. Commanders will be considering the safest approach in each of their operations and will be briefing officers on aspects of hygiene and safety if these are executed.

Our staffing levels are reduced due to the impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus) and the resources are being redirected so that we can best support to the community. At this time we need to make additional efforts to not handle unnecessary items of found property.

Please continue to follow the instructions. At this time we may need to delay the release and collection of found items, and would ask for your understanding and cooperation.

The public are urged to continue reporting crimes to the police as normal. Officers are continuing to work around the clock to keep the public safe and respond to emergencies.

Clearly, at this unusual and challenging time, we are prioritising the most serious of cases for immediate charging decisions. However, it is important to reiterate that we are continuing to investigate crimes as normal.

Fingerprinting services are still running. However, you should limit the interactions you have with people you don’t live with and are encouraged to consider whether driving for this service is necessary at this time.

We have a special relationship with the public in this country. We police by consent, and will continue to do so during this emergency. The public will be thinking about the greater good and we encourage them to follow Government advice.

The Emergency Bill means police officers, in consultation with, or at the request of health professionals, can direct an infected person to go and immediately receive treatment or isolate at home.

It is important to note that the power to detain is not the same as that of arrest. Having this virus isn’t a crime, putting others at risk deliberately is.

The current legislation allows us to place someone under a temporary section of 24 hours. This will be extended to 36 hours. This is down from 72 hours before the time limit was reduced by the Policing and Crime Act 2017.

The police can only enforce the regulations. Social distancing is Government guidance and people need to take individual responsibility for following it.

Everyone has a personal responsibility in limiting the outbreak by following the simple rules around gatherings. We will continue to engage, explain, encourage and enforce where necessary.

The COVID-19 secure marshals are a matter for the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government. They will report to local authorities and not to the police.

There are a number of factors that the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) have taken into account regarding prioritisation for the COVID-19 vaccination programme. You can read more about this on gov.uk.

At present, frontline Police officers are not one of the priority groups for the vaccine. We are working closely with the Police and Crime Commissioner and local authorities to lobby for this to change.

This is not about us pushing in front of vulnerable people in our communities, it's about there being a moral and ethical case for the frontline not to be at greater risk of the virus due to the nature of our work, which is often very much hands on.

No. The responsibility for the management of these sites is with local authorities.

Please check your local authority’s website for details around opening times.

The public are reminded that they must not obstruct the highway and remember that emergency service vehicles including police, fire and ambulance may need to pass through the area in an emergency.

The police will respond to calls from the public as usual. Those that have been the victim of a crime, or are in situations where a crime is in progress, should contact the police as usual.

Licensed premises are primarily the responsibility of local authorities. Police will respond where necessary.

COVID-19 legislation

Stage Two of the roadmap out of lockdown starts on Monday 12 April 2021. You can read more about the roadmap on gov.uk.

Police officers have been engaging with the public and explaining that following the regulations helps to prevent the spread of the virus and save lives. The efforts of the public mean police officers have rarely had to enforce the Government regulations. We are confident the vast majority will continue to do their bit and follow guidance.

As we have throughout the pandemic, officers will aim to engage, explain and encourage, and then, only if necessary use enforcement.

Government guidance around social distancing is not enforceable and the police will not get involved in matters of this nature.

At Stage Two:

  • Non-essential retail, personal care premises and public buildings can open.
  • Indoor leisure facilities, such as gyms and spas (with the exception of saunas and steam rooms), can reopen for use by people on their own or with members of their household or support bubble.
  • All children will be able to attend organised indoor children’s activities, including sport. Parent and child groups of up to 15 people (not including children aged under five years old) can restart indoors as long as it’s not a private dwelling. Indoor play areas and indoor play parks, such as soft play centres, trampoline parks and inflatable parks, must remain closed.
  • Outdoor attractions, such as zoos, drive-in cinemas and theme parks, can reopen.
  • Self-contained accommodation, such as campsites and holiday lets, where guests do not require shared facilities or communal entrances and exits to their accommodation. Facilities that can remain open include reception areas, washing facilities, toilets, baby changing rooms, breast feeding rooms, water points and waste disposal points. This is only permitted with members of your household or support bubble only. International holidays are still not permitted.
  • Outdoor gatherings can continue to take place between two households or groups of up to six people from different households. There should still be no mixing indoors with people outside of your household or support bubble.
  • Hospitality venues will be allowed to serve people outdoors. Customers must order, eat and drink while seated, and social contact rules will still apply to prevent mixing between households. There will be no requirement to order a substantial meal alongside alcoholic drinks and no curfew. Customers are able to enter a premises to pay for their food and drink.
  • Weddings, receptions, wakes and other commemorative events have attendance limits increased to 15 people.

All reopened settings must continue to follow social contact rules and ensure their venues are COVID Secure.

Pilots will continue to support bringing events back.

Dorset Police continue to explain, engage and encourage people to follow the restrictions, and we will not hesitate to enforce obvious and harmful breaches where we see them.

Fixed penalty notices (FPNs) can be issued to the amount of £200 to individuals who breach the regulations. This amount will double for each subsequent offence, up to £6,400 for the sixth and subsequent offences.

Organisers or facilitators of restricted gatherings can be faced with a £10,000 FPN, which may lead to Court proceedings in the case of non-payment. Anyone attending a restricted gathering of more than 15 people can be issued with an £800 FPN, which will double for each repeat offence up to a maximum of £6,400.

Those breaching travel restrictions could face a fine of £5,000.

FPN payment is managed through ACRO, who hold the funds in a separate bank account used solely for this purpose before transferring funds to local authorities. You can find more information about this on the ACRO website.

Police officers are working well with Trading Standards and local authorities in relation to retail enforcements within the new regulations. Local authorities are really assisting us here and we are grateful to them. At this stage, we do not have data on prohibition numbers as it needs to be agreed with local government.

If you are concerned that you have seen something which contravenes the regulations, we would encourage you to report it using the national COVID-19 reporting form.

A summary of the coronavirus bill impacts can be found here

This is a fast moving picture. The Government and Parliament have the responsibility for legislation, and we are working closely with them.

Individuals are required to self-isolate if they test positive or come into close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

If a report is made of someone not complying with this, we will make contact with NHS Test and Trace to confirm whether the individual should be isolating. If it is confirmed, then a risk assessment will be made and, if appropriate, officers or PCSOs will visit the address to check whether they are complying with the regulations. As we do with all COVID-19 regulations, we will continue to take the 4Es approach, with enforcement remaining an option if necessary.

Policing has a role where people are not following the latest rules, including gatherings as restricted by the Regulations.

Officers may direct the gathering to disperse, direct any person from the gathering to return home, and remove any person gathering in a public place to the place they are living.

As throughout this public crisis, officers will engage, explain, encourage and, only as a last resort, enforce.

Organisers or facilitators of restricted gatherings can be faced with a £10,000 FPN, which may lead to Court proceedings in the case of non-payment. Anyone attending a restricted gathering of more than 15 people can be issued with an £800 FPN, which will double for each repeat offence up to a maximum of £6,400.

There is no power of entry for police under the current COVID-19 rules. There are circumstances where other powers of entry may apply, for example if a serious crime is taking place inside or police need to enter to arrest someone.

No. We will adapt to the terms of the regulations, and will positively engage with the public as we have been doing throughout the pandemic. The focus for police will become narrower - on those activities, which continue to remain unlawful.

The core British principle of policing by consent continues to be at the heart of our approach. Police will continue to use the approach of engaging, explaining, encouraging and enforcing as a last resort. Our experience so far is that this is working as a tactic.

Supporting our communities

Dorset Police is working with BCP Council and Dorset Council to ensure that the vast majority of the homeless community is now accommodated. The police will continue to engage with those that have declined support and encourage them to move inside through persuasion and education, always being mindful of the complex issues and vulnerabilities that many individuals have.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations 2020 does give the police the powers to enforce the regulations and, where necessary, officers will use them.

Dorset Police also uses dispersal powers under Section 35 of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, which allows an officer to exclude a person if they are within an area that has been identified as a dispersal zone by a police inspector.

All recipients of the service will be given clear guidance from the NHS on how to safeguard themselves, but some key tips are:

  • Never open the door to someone claiming to be an NHS Volunteer Responder unless you are expecting them (they will phone ahead)
  • Check the ID on their phone (they will leave it on your doorstep and stand two metres back)
  • If in doubt, ask them to call you. They will have your number in their phone if they are genuinely an NHS Volunteer Responder.

Many supermarkets and shops are putting measures in place to provide opportunities for vulnerable people, including those with disabilities, to get the supplies they need. These measures are set and monitored by the stores themselves.

There are also local volunteer and community groups that have been set up to provide additional support to those who need it – you may find details at covidmutualaid.org. Be sure to find out what your local authority has in place, too.

Remember to check GOV.UK for the latest news and updates.

There are a range of resources that have been translated into a variety of languages.

NHS Volunteer Responders has been set up to provide volunteer support to those clinically most at risk from coronavirus who have been advised to stay “shielded”, and to provide patient transport. It has also been expanded to include other people who are referred from specific individuals and organisations who consider them to be vulnerable for a range of reasons. This initiative is being delivered on behalf of NHS England and NHS Improvement by the Royal Voluntary Service (RVS).

Police staff, MPs, some charities, local government and the other emergency services are now among the people who can request help for someone who they consider to be vulnerable whilst in isolation at home, in addition to health and social care staff.

Once someone is registered for support, the RVS call centre will match up the tasks that need to be undertaken to help people with volunteers who live near to them.

More detailed guidance on who is likely to be eligible for support is set out on the RVS website.

There is no legal requirement to download and use the NHS Track and Trace app. However, it will help to monitor the spread and alert you and others of when there may have been contact with the virus.

You can find more information about the app, and how to download it, on the NHS website.

Businesses need to display the NHS QR code posters so that those who are using the app can ‘check-in’ at the premises they visit.

We want to ensure that the most vulnerable people in our communities are cared for and would not stop them receiving the vital support that they need. The rules state that people are able to travel ‘to provide care for a vulnerable person’, and supporting someone with additional needs would satisfy this purpose. This would also be exempt from the rules in regards to gatherings.

Other organisations

Dorset Council

Visit the Dorset Council website for information about local organisations and groups offering support, as well as guidance and tips for volunteers.

Dorset Council has also provided information for people who need help or know someone who needs help.

Find information about the local support available in your community on the #HelpAndKindness website.

BCP Council

Together We Can is an initiative led by BCP Council, working in close partnership with many other public, private and voluntary sector organisations, as well as community groups and residents.