Coronavirus—employee FAQ

Advice on the current COVID-19 situation for employees. Please bookmark this page and check for the latest updates.
Page last reviewed on 02/07/2020

What is the Coronavirus?


Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases, such as SARS.

The current pandemic has been caused by COVID-19—a new strain, which has affected most countries around the world.

What are the major symptoms of Coronavirus?


The symptoms are:

  • A new, continuous cough
  • A high temperature
  • Shortness of breath

Not all people affected will have all these symptoms, and it’s important to remember that they don’t guarantee that you’re infected—these symptoms are similar to cold and flu.

Following an update on the 18th May, you should now be tested for coronavirus if you lose your sense of smell or taste.

You can find information on the booking and referral procedures for testing here.

How is Coronavirus spread?


As COVID-19 is a novel virus, the way it spreads isn’t fully understood. But from what we know, it’s most likely spread through:

  • Direct contact with a person while they’re infectious
  • Contact with airborne droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes
  • Touching objects or surfaces that were contaminated by airborne droplets, then touching your own mouth or face

 

What precautions can I take to stop the spread?


  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Make sure that you wash your palms, fronts of hands and thumbs
  • Wash your hands when you get into work, after travelling on public transport, when you arrive home and before eating in addition to standard hygiene practices
  • From 15th June, it is mandatory to wear a mask or face covering while on public transport
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser if soap and water are unavailable
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your upper sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • Put your tissue in the bin straight away and wash your hands afterwards
  • Stay away from unwell people
  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands aren’t clean

What should I do if I experience symptoms?


This advice is for people with symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), including those with a diagnosis of coronavirus (COVID-19) infection, who must remain at home until they are well.

The main messages are:

  • If you have symptoms of coronavirus infection (COVID-19), self-isolate in accordance with government advice. This action will help protect others in your community while you are infectious
  • Plan ahead and ask others for help to ensure you can successfully stay at home
  • Ask your employer, friends and family to help you to get the things you need to stay at home
  • Stay at least 2 metres (about 3 steps) away from other people in your home whenever possible
  • Sleep alone, if possible
  • Wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds, each time using soap and water
  • Stay away from vulnerable individuals, such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, as much as possible
  • You do not need to call NHS 111 to go into self-isolation. If your symptoms worsen during home isolation or are no better after 7 days, contact NHS 111 online. If you have no internet access, call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999.

How do I keep children occupied during this lockdown?


As part of the lockdown, schools are closed to most children—the exceptions being children of key workers.

For parents, guardians and carers who suddenly have children around them at all times is a major difference, and not necessarily an easy one to manage. 

We've put together a brief, helpful guide on keeping kids occupied, entertained and educated here.

Should I self-isolate?


You should self-isolate by staying at home in accordance with government advice if you have either:

  • A new, continuous cough
  • A high temperature

Don’t go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. You don’t need to contact 111 to tell them about your self-isolation.

What are the restrictions on movement?


From Monday 1st June, there are a limited number of things you will be able to do in England that you could not do before:

  • spend time outdoors, including private gardens and other outdoor spaces, in groups of up to six people from different households, following social distancing guidelines
  • visit car showrooms and outdoor markets
  • in line with the arrangements made by your school, send your child to school or nursery if they are in early years, reception, year 1 or year 6, if you could not before
  • if you are an elite athlete as defined by this guidance, train and compete using the specified gyms, pools and sports facilities you need - which will, in the coming weeks, we hope enable others to watch live sport on TV

At all times, you should continue to adhere to strict social distancing guidelines when you are outside your home, particularly ensuring you are two metres away from anyone outside your household.

You cannot:

  • visit friends and family inside their homes
  • stay overnight away from your own home, except for in a limited set of circumstances
  • exercise in an indoor sports court, gym or leisure centre, or go swimming in a public pool
  • use an outdoor gym or playground
  • gather outdoors in a group of more than six (excluding members of your own household)

These restrictions are in place to help slow the spread of coronavirus. Police are able to enforce these rules with fines—you could be charged £100 if outside without good reason, as outlined above.

These fines double with repeated infractions, up to a maximum of £3,200. 

In Scotland, the following is the official government advice:

  • stay at home
  • only go outside for essential food, health and work reasons
  • stay 2 metres (6 feet) away from other people
  • wash your hands regularly and as soon as you get home

In Wales, the rules differ. From 1st June, as long as you stay 'local' (defined as within around 5 miles of your residence), the restrictions are less pronounced. Any kind of outdoor activity can be undertaken locally, and people from one household can meet with people from another, again locally.

It's important to keep socially distanced—two metres apart at all times. And you shouldn't enter someone else's home unless to care for a vulnerable person, or carry out work that requires your physical presence.

 

 

When should I call 111?


You should only call 111 if you can’t use the online Coronavirus service. You should use the online service if:

  • You feel you can’t cope with your symptoms at home
  • Your condition gets worse
  • Your symptoms don’t get better after 7 days 

Should I be worried about COVID-19?


For the majority, COVID-19 infection is mild. But for the elderly, and those with underlying health conditions, it can cause serious illness. It’s natural to be a little worried.

We can channel that worry positively, though. By keeping a good hand-washing and respiratory hygiene regime—and encouraging that in others—we can minimise the risks to others and slow down the spread of the virus.

Stay informed and follow the advice of the local health authorities including any restrictions put in place on travel, movement and gatherings.

Should I wear a facemask?


The advice published on 11th May has made some changes to the official guidance on facemasks, as follows:

"...the Government is now advising that people should aim to wear a face-covering in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not always possible and they come into contact with others that they do not normally meet, for example on public transport or in some shops. Homemade cloth face-coverings can help reduce the risk of transmission in some circumstances. Face-coverings are not intended to help the wearer, but to protect against inadvertent transmission of the disease to others if you have it asymptomatically.


"A face covering is not the same as a facemask such as the surgical masks or respirators used as part of personal protective equipment by healthcare and other workers. These supplies must continue to be reserved for those who need it. Face-coverings should not be used by  children under the age of two, or those who may find it difficult to manage them correctly, for example primary age children unassisted, or those with respiratory conditions. It is important to use facecoverings properly and wash your hands before putting them on and taking them off."

What should I do when my self-isolation ends?


You should remain at home, following government guidelines

The government has implemented measures to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Everyone should stay at home as much as feasibly possible.

This situation is evolving—please check the government’s website for up to the minute details.

If you have not had any signs of improvement and have not already sought medical advice, you should contact NHS 111 online. If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111.

A cough may persist for several weeks in some people, despite the coronavirus infection having cleared. A persistent cough alone does not mean you must continue to self-isolate for more than 7 days.

What can I do to help myself get better?


Drink water to keep yourself hydrated—you should drink enough during the day so your urine is a pale clear colour.

You can use over-the-counter medications, such as paracetamol, to help with some of your symptoms. Use these according to the instructions on the packet or label and do not exceed the recommended dose.

If I, or someone I know is pregnant, do I need to take additional precautions?


No. But it is important to follow the precautions outlined.

Please contact NHS 111 or your healthcare provider if you have concerns.

Where can I find further information?


You can find more information and advice on the following websites:

The UK government’s response

The NHS

The WHO

What can families do to cope with isolation?


While it's difficult for single people and childless couples to isolate, there're extra strains and stresses of families. We've put together a brief article here which some hints and tips on getting through the lockdown together.

I have a holiday booked. What should I do?


We have published an overview of your options here.

How can I find financial help?


With furloughing and redundancies common, people need to know how to keep their finances in order during the COVID-19 crisis. We've put together a short advice article explaining some basics here.

Are Child Arrangement Orders affected by the pandemic?


We have a brief FAQ about Child Arrangement Orders, and your rights & responsibilities during the coronavirus outbreak, here.

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