Coronavirus—employee FAQ

Advice on the current COVID-19 situation for employees.

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.

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?


For parents, guardians and carers, to 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?


On 24th July, some changes have been put into practice:

  • in order to help contain the spread of the virus more premises open, face coverings will be required in shops and supermarkets - in addition to public transport where they are already required. People are also strongly encouraged to wear face coverings in other enclosed public spaces where there are people they do not normally meet

As above, these requirements are law, and you can be fined £100 for not complying.

From 14th September, it is illegal to gather in groups of more than six people, indoors and outdoors, with exemptions in cases of larger 'support bubbles' and households, work and education purposes and 'organised team sports conducted in a safe way.'

  • Support groups must be limited to a maximum of 15 people (from 24 September).
  • Indoor organised sport for over 18s will no longer be exempt from the rule of six. There is an exemption for indoor organised team sports for disabled people (from 24 September).
  • There will be a new exemption in those areas of local intervention where household mixing is not allowed to permit friends and family to provide informal childcare for children under 14 (from 24 September).
  • Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies and receptions will be restricted to a maximum of 15 people (down from 30). Other significant standalone life events will be subject to the ‘rule of six’ limits, except funerals (from 28 September).

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."

Facemasks are currently mandatory on public transport. In Scotland, you must wear a facemask if you're going into shops, and from 24th July, it'll be mandatory to wear them in shops in England.

 

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.

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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