Coronavirus self help hub
This page contains advice and information for the public about Coronavirus (COVID-19).
For information about the virus and how you can look after your health, visit our health advice page.
For the latest information about Coronavirus in the UK, visit the Government website.
The Somerset Coronavirus Support Helpline number, 0300 790 6275, is now live and will make it easier for people access any local authority help they may need, including emotional support, in the current crisis.
If you need to contact South Somerset District Council for any other matter, please continue to use 01935 462462.
Citizens Advice South Somerset have created two short videos to help you understand your rights, options and choices in regards to employment and Benefits.
We will regularly update this page with the latest information, so please use the dropdowns below for further advice.
If you have a query or concern that isn't answered below, you can contact us.
15 October - Latest Government guidance on shielding
The Government has updated their guidance to support the clinically extremely vulnerable in protecting themselves from exposure to coronavirus. This update replaces previous guidance on shielding.
While previous shielding guidance helped protect those most at risk from COVID-19, many people reported that they found the advice very restrictive.
Since the introduction of shielding, many new measures have been introduced in our communities, including the rule of 6, COVID-secure workplaces, and the widespread use of face coverings, all of which have reduced the need for such restrictive shielding advice.
The government also has better data on new infections and has introduced local COVID alert levels, with rules and advice based on the level of risk in a local area. This updated guidance offers additional advice to the clinically extremely vulnerable over and above local COVID alert level guidance. This new guidance aims to strike a better balance between providing practical steps to help keep you safe while reducing some of the potentially harmful impacts on mental and social wellbeing that were associated with previous strict shielding. It sets out the steps clinically extremely vulnerable people can take to protect themselves at each local COVID alert level.
In the future, the government will only reintroduce formal shielding advice in the very worst affected local areas and for a limited period of time. This will only apply to some, but not all, very high alert level areas and will be based on advice from the Chief Medical Officer. The government will write to you separately to inform you if you are advised to shield. You are not advised to follow formal shielding advice again unless you receive a new shielding notification advising you to do so. From now, refer to the new local COVID alert levels for your area.
28 September - Test & Trace Support Payment Scheme
If you are required by NHS Test & Trace services to isolate and you cannot work from home, the Government have announced a new one-off £500 payment to support you.
The NHS Test and Trace Support Payment scheme will make sure that people are not out of pocket if they are told to self-isolate and cannot work from their home.
28 September - Latest Government guidance on self-isolation
If you have symptoms of COVID-19, however mild, self-isolate for at least 10 days from when your symptoms started. You should arrange to have a test to see if you have COVID-19. Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.
If you are not experiencing symptoms but have tested positive for COVID-19, you must self-isolate for at least 10 days, starting from the day the test was taken. If you develop symptoms during this isolation period, restart your 10-day isolation from the day you developed symptoms.
You could be fined if you do not stay at home and self-isolate following a positive test result for COVID-19 or if you are contacted by NHS Test and Trace and instructed to self-isolate. Failure to comply with these requirements may result in a fine of up to £10,000. These regulations will only apply in England.
After 10 days, if you still have a temperature you should continue to self-isolate and seek medical advice. You do not need to self-isolate after 10 days if you only have a cough or loss of sense of smell or taste, as these symptoms can last for several weeks after the infection has gone.
If you live with others, all other household members 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 household became ill or if they do not have symptoms, from the day their test was taken. If anyone else in the household starts displaying symptoms, they must stay at home for at least 10 days from when their symptoms appear, regardless of what day they are on in their original 14-day isolation period.
14 September - Latest social distancing guidelines
The government has announced new measures to suppress the virus and keep the number of infections down:
From Monday 14 September, you must not meet with people from other households socially in groups of more than 6.
This will apply indoors and outdoors, including in private homes. This change will simplify and clarify the rules on social gatherings, so they are easier to understand and easier for the police to enforce. There will be a limited number of exemptions. COVID-19 Secure venues, such as places of worship, restaurants and hospitality venues, can still host larger numbers in total but groups of up to 6 must not mix or form larger groups. This rule will not apply to individual households or support bubbles of more than 6 who will still be able to gather together. Education and work settings are unaffected, and organised team sports will still be able to proceed, as will weddings and funerals up to 30. From Monday, this limit will be enforceable in law.
From 18 September, it will be mandatory for certain businesses to have a system to collect NHS Test and Trace data, and keep this for 21 days. Core COVID-19 Secure requirements will be mandated for hospitality businesses, and egregious breaches enforced. View simplified Government COVID-19 Secure guidance.
18 August - Request to spread Council Tax payments
We understand that some of our residents may have been adversely affected by the impact of COVID-19 and it has been difficult to pay bills.
Using the link below, you can request for any Council Tax due this year (April 2020 to March 2021) to be spread over the rest of the year until March 2021.
You need to have a My Account with upgraded access in order to complete the form. If you already have a basic account, sign in to request upgraded access. If you do not have an account, register now. Once you have signed into your account, simply select 'My Council Tax' and the option to 'Request to spread payments'.
Please note, this will increase the amount due each month from your original instalments. Your first payment date will be either the 25th or the 1st of the month and will be confirmed on your bill. A revised bill will be issued 14 days before payment is due.
If you fail to meet the payments on your revised bill, recovery action will continue. You can find more information on enforcement on our webpage.
If you are finding it difficult to pay your Council Tax, more options are available here.
30 July - Latest guidance on self-isolation
The Government has announced that the self-isolation period has been extended to 10 days for those in the community who have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms or a positive test result.
UK Cheif medical Officers state "We have considered how best to target interventions to reduce risk to the general population and consider that at this point in the epidemic, with widespread and rapid testing available and considering the relaxation of other measures, it is now the correct balance of risk to extend the self-isolation period from 7 to 10 days for those in the community who have symptoms or a positive test result."
14 July - Update on face coverings
The Government has confirmed that wearing a face covering in shops and supermarkets in England is to become mandatory from 24 July.
It has additionally been confirmed that those who fail to comply with the new rules will face a fine of up to £100.
Here’s all the information that has been provided so far:
- Face coverings will be mandatory in shops and supermarkets from Friday 24 July
- The penalty will be a fine of up to £100 for failing to comply
- Children under 11 and those with certain disabilities will be exempt.
- It is already mandatory to wear a face covering at all times on public transport or when attending a hospital as a visitor or outpatient. Hospitals will be able to provide a face covering in emergencies.
- Should an individual without an exemption refuse to wear a face covering, a shop can refuse people entry for not wearing a face covering and can call the police if people refuse to comply.
4 July - Latest updates and guidance
From Saturday 4 July, the Government has announced that pubs, restaurants and hairdressers will be able to reopen, providing they adhere to COVID Secure guidelines.
From the same date, the Government has set out that two households will be able to meet up in any setting with social distancing measures, and that "people can now enjoy staycations in England with the reopening of accommodation sites".
In order to begin restoring the arts and cultural sector, some leisure facilities and tourist attractions may also reopen, if 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.
Following a review, the Prime Minister has also set out that 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.
These changes apply in England only.
24 June - Changes to lockdown restrictions to those who are shielding
The Government has announced a number of changes to lockdown restrictions which will soon affect those who are shielding.
- The advisory guidance is to be eased for 2.2 million clinically extremely vulnerable people across England, as virus infection rates continue to fall
- From Monday 6 July, those shielding from coronavirus can gather in groups of up to 6 people outdoors and form a ‘support bubble’ with another household
- The Government shielding support package will remain in place until the end of July when people will no longer be advised to shield
- You can also call 01935 462462 to access our Wellbeing Hub which has so far sent out almost 1,000 packages of essential supplies to those who are shielding, facing financial hardship or in urgent need during the pandemic.
It comes as the latest scientific evidence shows the chances of encountering the virus in the community continue to decline, but the government is committed to continuing with its package of support until the end of July to give those shielding time to adjust to these changes.
From Saturday 1 August, the guidance will then be relaxed so clinically extremely vulnerable people will no longer be advised to shield, but support will remain available from NHS volunteers and councils in Somerset.
People will retain their priority for supermarket delivery slots, and still be able to access help with shopping, medication, phone calls and transport to medical appointments.
The updated guidance for those classed as clinically extremely vulnerable will be published on 6 July and 1 August as these measures come into force.
The dates allow for a gradual return to normality for people who have been shielding strictly and for careful monitoring of the epidemiology of disease during wider easing policies, with 2 to 3 weeks being required to observe clear changes in hospitalisation or intensive care use if population rates were to rise.
11 June - Advice on support bubbles, places of worship and non-essential businesses
The Government has announced various changes to the current social distancing measures.
It was announced that the following adjustments can be made in the coming days:
- Non-essential businesses will be allowed to reopen from Monday.
- From this weekend, single adult households or single parents with children under the age of 18, will be allowed to form ‘support bubbles’ with one other household. They can spend time with each other inside their homes, and do not need to meet outside.
- From Monday, outdoor attractions can reopen, including drive-in cinemas, zoos and safari parks.
- Places of worship will be allowed to open for private prayer this weekend.
From 13 June, you will be able to:
- Form a ‘support bubble’ with one other household if you live alone or are a single parent with dependent children - in other words, you are in a household where there is only one adult. All those in a support bubble will be able to act as if they live in the same household - meaning they can spend time together inside each other’s homes and do not need to stay 2 metres apart. Support bubbles should be exclusive - meaning you should not switch the household you are in a bubble with or connect with multiple households
- Attend your place of worship for the purposes of individual prayer
From 15 June:
- You will be able to visit any type of shop and some additional outdoor attractions - drive-in cinemas, zoos, and safari parks
- Year 10 and 12 pupils in secondary schools and further education colleges will begin to receive some face to face support
- You will have to wear a face covering on public transport
You will still be able to meet outdoors with groups of up to six people from different households, provided social distancing is observed and you stay 2 metres away from anyone outside your household or support bubble.
As before, you cannot:
- visit friends and family inside their homes (unless you are in a support bubble from 13 June) or for other limited circumstances set out in law
- stay away from your home or your support bubble household overnight - including holidays - except for in a limited set of circumstances, such as for work purposes
- 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 (unless exclusively with members of your own household or support bubble)
1 June - Latest updates and guidance
The Government has announced that groups of six people will be able to meet outdoors from Monday 1 June as part of package to ease the burdens of lockdown in a way that is expected to keep the R rate down.
Groups of up to six people will be able to meet outdoors in England from Monday 1 June, including in gardens and other private outdoor spaces, provided strict social distancing guidelines are followed.
Primary schools, if it is safe to do so, can welcome back children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 on 1 June, and nurseries and other early years settings can be reopened.
On 15 June, secondary schools, sixth forms and colleges can begin to provide some face-to-face contact time for Year 10 and 12 and the equivalent groups in further education.
- visit friends and family inside their homes
- stay overnight away from your own home, except for in a limited set of circumstances, such as for work purposes
- 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)
28 May - Government Test and Trace Service
Today, the Government announced the launch of the new NHS Test and Trace Service across England.
This service will help identify, contain and control COVID-19, reduce the spread of the virus and save lives.
Anyone who tests positive for coronavirus will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace and will need to share information about their recent interactions.
People identified as having been in close contact with someone who has a positive test must stay at home for 14 days, even if they do not have any symptoms. This will help stop them unknowingly spreading the virus.
For more information on how the Test and Trace Service works, visit this page.
27 May - Retail reopening timeline and guidance
On 26 May, the Government set out a timeline for retail to start to reopen from 1 June, as soon as they are able to meet the COVID-19 secure guidelines to protect shoppers and workers.
Outdoor markets and car showrooms will be able to reopen from 1 June, as soon as they are able to meet the COVID-19 secure guidelines.
All other non-essential retail will be expected to reopen from 15 June, if the five Government tests are met and they follow the COVID-19 secure guidelines. This gives retail stores three weeks to prepare.
Businesses will only be able to reopen from these dates once they have completed a risk assessment.
24 April - Stay at home measures
On 23 March, the Government announced three new measures to help reduce the spread of infection:
- Requiring people to stay at home, except for very limited purposes
- Closing non-essential shops and community spaces
- Stopping all gatherings of more than two people in public
From 26 March, Police will have new enforcement powers and support to help reduce the spread of coronavirus.
Members of the public who do not comply with the above measures may now be issued with a fixed penalty notice of £60, reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days. Second time offenders may be issued with a fixed penalty notice of £120, doubling on each further repeat offence.
On 16 April, the Government announced that current measures must remain in place for at least the next 3 weeks.
24 April - Getting tested for COVID-19
The Government have extended coronavirus testing to:
- essential workers with symptoms
- people who live with essential workers and have symptoms
This means essential workers can find out whether they have the virus, and can be aided in returning to work if they test negative. Testing is most effective within 3 days of symptoms developing.
17 April - Government extends Job Retention (furlough) Scheme
The Government has extended the furlough scheme by one month - to the end of June - to reflect continuing social distancing measures.
This extension will:
- allow firms from across UK to continue to protect millions of jobs
- continue to be monitored to ensure people and businesses can get back to work as soon as it’s safe to do so to drive UK economic recovery
9 April - Advice on scams
9 April - #QuitforCovid
Emerging evidence from China has revealed that smokers with COVID-19 are 14 times more likely to develop severe respiratory disease.
ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) and NHS Bristol North Somerset and South Gloucestershire are leading the #QuitforCovid campaign.
It highlights that there are many health and financial benefits to quitting smoking, but now more than ever quitting means you can:
- Reduce the likelihood of complications from COVID-19.
- Protect the health of others. Exposure to second hand smoke also increases the risk of complications from respiratory infections.
- Reduce the burden on the NHS. Stopping smoking brings immediate health benefits particularly to the heart and lungs.
For further information, visit Today is the Day
A Twitter account @QuitforCovid has also been set up to support people to stop smoking. Every day between 7.30 and 8.30 a quit clinic is hosted with a health expert to provide advice and support for people who’d like to quit.
31 March - Government support for disabled people
The Government have released a statement outlining how it plans to support disabled people, their carers and their families during the coronavirus outbreak.
31 March - Government support for mental health and wellbeing
The coronavirus (COVID19) outbreak is going to have an impact on everyone’s daily lives, as the Government and the NHS take necessary steps to manage the outbreak, reduce transmission and treat those who need medical attention.
The Government have shared advice and information on how to look after your mental health and wellbeing at this time.
26 March - Government support for the self employed
The Government has announced measures to support self-employed individuals. They will pay a taxable grant of 80% of average annual profits over the last three years, up to £2500 a month, if affected by Covid-19.
The scheme will be open for at least three months, backdated to 1 March 2020.
Guidance for businesses and employers
Actions the Council has taken
Advice and updates on waste and recycling