Coronavirus: An introduction

For the latest medical advice, visit NHS.uk/Coronavirus.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. The approach of the government, supported by opposition parties, is guided by the Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Officer, Sir Patrick Vallance, and many other medical experts; their task is not easy, but as your local MP, I am 100% supportive. The UK's response is not reactionary, it is based on clinical, scientific, and medical evidence. This section of the website sets out both the health advice and other efforts to help support businesses and our public services. 

The government has set out its plan to return life to as near normal as we can, as quickly and fairly as possible to safeguard livelihoods in a way that is safe and continues to protect the NHS. To achieve, this we all need to play our part. 

This guidance is for the general public who are fit and well. If you or anybody in your household has symptoms of coronavirus, you all need to self-isolate. 

If you are clinically vulnerable, you are at a higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus. You should continue shielding measures to keep yourself safe by staying at home and avoiding all contact with others, except for essential medical treatment or support. Click here to find out more. 

Stay alert, control the virus, save lives. 

We can control the virus if we stay alert. At the moment: 

  • You can spend time outdoors, including private gardens and other outdoor spaces, in groups of up to six people from different households. You can also meet up with one other household indoors, provided you adhere to social distancing. 
  • You should go to work if you cannot work from home and your business has not been required to close by law
  • Children in early years (age 0-5), reception, year 1 and year 6 can return to childcare or school in line with the arrangements made by their school
  • Pubs, restaurants and hairdressers can re-open, providing they adhere to COVID Secure guidelines. 
  • You can enjoy staycations in England at hotels or accommodation sites. 
  • Some leisure and tourist facilities can re-open, provided they can do so safely. This includes outdoor gyms and playgrounds, cinemas, museums, galleries, theme parks and arcades, as well as libraries, social clubs, places of worship and community centres.
  • Outdoors pools can re-open
  • Performing arts can take place outdoors, with a socially distant audience.
  • Beauty salons, nail bars, tattoo and massage studios, physical therapy businesses and spas can re-open. 
  • Indoor gyms, indoor swimming pools and sports facilities can re-open. 

Where it is not possible to stay two metres apart, guidance will allow people to keep a social distance of ‘one metre plus’. This means staying one metre apart, plus mitigations which reduce the risk of transmission.

August 15th at the earliest. 

Close contact services can resume, most leisure and entertainment facilities (including indoor performances) can re-open, small wedding receptions will be permitted, and there will be large stadium event pilots. 

Employers will also be given more discretion to decide where employees can work safely. 

September at the earliest: 

Schools and colleges will re-open to all pupils, and universities are working to re-open as fully as possible at this point.

October at the earliest: 

Spectators will be permitted at sporting events, and conferences and business events can re-start. 

November at the earliest: 

If the prevalence of the virus falls very significantly, the government will review the need for outstanding social distancing measures to allow a more significant return to normality. 

This timeline represents the governments' ambition to return to normality, but the handbrake is ready to be applied if required. 

While the infection rate continues to fall, the Prime Minister has been clear that the public must continue to follow social distancing guidelines to keep coronavirus under control. The Government will keep all measures under constant review and will not hesitate to apply the handbrake, or reverse measures, should the virus begin to run out of control.

We still need to stay alert and follow social distancing guidelines. You should not:

  • gather outdoors in groups of more than six people with people you do not live with, or are in a 'support bubble' with.
  • gather indoors in any setting with more than one other household

About Coronavirus

The most common symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are the recent onset of:

  • new continuous cough and/or
  • high temperature
  • anosmia (the loss or change in your normal sense of taste or smell)

For most people, coronavirus (COVID-19) will be a mild illness.

Self Isolating

  • If you live alone and have symptoms of coronavirus, however, mild, you must stay at home for 10 days from when your symptoms first began. 
  • after 10 days, if you do not have a high temperature, you do not need to continue to self-isolate. If you still have a high temperature, keep self-isolating until your temperature returns to normal. You do not need to self-isolate if you just have a cough after 10 days, as a cough can last for several weeks after the infection has gone
  • if you live with others and you are the first in the household to have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), then you must stay at home for 10 days, but all other household members who remain well must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill. 
  • for anyone else in the household who starts displaying symptoms, they need to stay at home for 10 days from when the symptoms appeared, regardless of what day they are on in the original 14 day isolation period. The ending isolation section below has more information, and see the explanatory diagram
  • staying at home for 14 days will greatly reduce the overall amount of infection the household could pass on to others in the community
  • if you can, move any vulnerable individuals (such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions) out of your home, to stay with friends or family for the duration of the home isolation period
  • if you cannot move vulnerable people out of your home, stay away from them as much as possible
  • reduce the spread of infection in your home: wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds, each time using soap and water, or use hand sanitiser; cover coughs and sneezes
  • if you have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms:
    • do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital
    • you do not need to contact 111 to tell them you’re staying at home
    • testing for coronavirus (COVID-19) is not needed if you’re staying at home
  • if you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home, or your condition gets worse, or your symptoms do not get better after 10 days, then use the NHS 111 online coronavirus (COVID-19) service. If you do not have internet access, call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999
  • if you develop new coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms at any point after ending your first period of isolation (self or household) then you need to follow the same guidance on self-isolation again