COVID-19 Coronavirus

This page will be updated with information, guidance and advice from the Government, NHS and other relevant authorities regarding the steps individuals, groups and businesses can take to prevent the spread of disease or if they suspect they may be infected.

COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways and is caused by a virus called coronavirus. It is now clear that this will be one of the greatest challenges of our generation, and something that will only be overcome through community perseverance – with every individual taking the necessary steps to prevent the spread and protect our most vulnerable.

All Government guidance and support on COVID-19 can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

Frequently Asked Questions about what you can and cannot do under current guidelines, and from 4th July, can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do

If you have specific queries or concerns, please do not hesitate to get in touch at mark.menzies.mp@parliament.uk and I will endeavour to answer them as quickly as possible.

 

Preventing the spread of COVID-19

As we have seen, every member of society must play their part in order to overcome COVID-19, and I am grateful that the British public have overwhelmingly done so. This has meant making significant changes to our daily lives, some of which will remain in place indefinitely. But thanks to these sacrifices, we are now in a position whereby the Government are able to adjust some of the social distancing measures and begin our journey back to normality. This however, is a conditional plan and if the spread of coronavirus begins to increase again, full social distancing measures may have to be reinstated - in order to continue playing our part, the British public are being asked to Stay Alert and safe. 

On Sunday 10th May, the Prime Minister announced the Government's phased approach to relaxing some of the social distancing measures and getting the economy restarted. 

As part of this plan:

  • People and employers should stay safe in public spaces and workplaces by following “COVID-19 secure” guidelines. This should enable more people to go back to work, where they cannot work from home, and encourage more vulnerable children and the children of critical workers to go to school or childcare as already permitted
  • You should stay safe when you leave home: washing your hands regularly, maintaining social distancing, and ensuring you do not gather in groups of more than two, except with members of your household or for other specific exceptions set out in law. More information on the stay safe measures can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/staying-safe-outside-your-home/staying-safe-outside-your-home
  • You must continue to stay home except for a limited set of reasons but - in line with scientific advice - can take part in more outdoor activities from Wednesday 13 May

Full information on these measures, to be followed up until 4th July, can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/staying-alert-and-safe-social-distancing/staying-alert-and-safe-social-distancing

 

From July 4th the Government have announced further relaxation of social distancing guidelines. This means:

  • you can meet in groups of up to two households (your support bubble counts as one household) in any location - public or private, indoors or outdoors. You do not always have to meet with the same household - you can meet with different households at different times. However, it remains the case - even inside someone’s home - that you should socially distance from anyone not in your household or bubble. This change also does not affect the support you receive from your carers
  • when you are outside you can continue to meet in groups of up to six people from different households, following social distancing guidelines
  • those who have been able to form a support bubble (i.e. those in single adult households) can continue to have close contact as if they live with the other people in the bubble, but you should not change who you have formed a support bubble with
  • additional businesses and venues, including restaurants, pubs, cinemas, visitor attractions, hotels, and campsites will be able to open - but we will continue to keep closed certain premises where the risks of transmission may be higher
  • other public places, such as libraries, community centres, places of worship, outdoor playgrounds and outdoor gyms will be able to open
  • you can stay overnight away from your home with your own household or support bubble, or with members of one other household (where you need to keep social distancing)
  • it will be against the law to gather in groups larger than 30 people, except for a limited set of circumstances to be set out in law. Police will have the power to break up groups larger than 30, apart from these exceptions

Full information on Government guidelines from 4th July can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/staying-alert-and-safe-social-distancing/staying-alert-and-safe-social-distancing-after-4-july

 

Protecting our most vulnerable (shielding)

The Government has updated its guidance for people who are shielding, taking into account that coronavirus COVID-19 infection rates have decreased significantly over the last few weeks. This guidance remains advisory.

People who are shielding remain vulnerable and should continue to take precautions but may now choose to leave their home, as long as they are able to maintain strict social distancing. If you choose to spend time outdoors, you may do so with members of your own household. If you live alone, you can spend time outdoors with one person from another household. Ideally, this should be the same person each time.

If you do go out, you should take extra care to minimise contact with others by keeping 2 metres apart. This guidance will be kept under regular review.

On 22 June the Government set out a series of steps for further relaxing shielding guidance which will come into effect on 6 July and 1 August.

From 6 July, the Government will be advising:

  • you may, if you wish, meet in a group of up to 6 people outdoors, including people from different households, while maintaining strict social distancing
  • you no longer need to observe social distancing with other members of your household
  • in line with the wider guidance for single adult households (either an adult living alone or with dependent children under 18) in the general population, you may from this date, if you wish, also form a ‘support bubble’ with one other household. All those in a support bubble will be able to spend time together inside each other’s homes, including overnight, without needing to socially distance

From 1 August the Government will be advising that shielding will be paused. From this date, the Government is advising you to adopt strict social distancing rather than full shielding measures. Strict social distancing means you may wish to go out to more places and see more people but you should take particular care to minimise contact with others outside your household or support bubble. In practice this means that from 1 August:

  • you can go to work, if you cannot work from home, as long as the business is COVID-safe
  • children who are clinically extremely vulnerable can return to their education settings if they are eligible and in line with their peers. Where possible children should practise frequent hand washing and social distancing
  • you can go outside to buy food, to places of worship and for exercise but you should maintain strict social distancing
  • you should remain cautious as you are still at risk of severe illness if you catch coronavirus, so the advice is to stay at home where possible and, if you do go out, follow strict social distancing

The NHS in England will be directly contacting people with these conditions to provide further advice.

Full details of the shielding advice and those who may fall into that category can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19

If you have any further concerns, or you have not received a letter but feel you should be on the list, please visit the NHS shielded patients list page here: https://digital.nhs.uk/coronavirus/shielded-patient-list

 

Guidance and advice for those who may have been exposed

Due to the ever-changing nature of the situation, and wealth of contradictory advice being shared on all platforms, I urge the public to follow NHS medical advice and Government issued social guidance to tackle COVID-19.

The latest medical advice, as well as the NHS 111 service, can be found here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

The Government's stay-at-home advice for those who suspect they are infected with COVID-19 can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance

 

School closures 

I know that after many weeks at home, parents and pupils alike are desperate to return to the classroom, and all the educational, social and mental health benefits that this will bring.

I recognise that the safety of teachers, pupils and the wider community must be the leading priority when phasing in the re-opening of schools. The Government’s decision to limit the reopening of primary schools to those at the most critical stages in education, and to delay secondary school reopening until September, highlights the delicate situation we are currently in and the need to continue following Public Health guidelines.

I hope to see children back in school as soon as possible and whilst I am saddened that Lancashire County Council has so far felt unable to reopen local primary schools, I understand the reasoning behind this decision.

Nevertheless, I am not satisfied with the communication and short notice of this situation. I, along with parents, only discovered this decision mere days prior to the planned reopening, and I know that the short notice of this decision has come as a shock to both parents and pupils.

Having previously held conversations with Lancashire County Council, I am concerned that these prohibitive issues, such as a lack of PPE, were not raised at the time. I have been, and remain, ready to assist. As a Member of Parliament, I am in regular contact with my Parliamentary colleagues, and Ministers, who I am more than happy to approach to help resolve any issues preventing schools from re-opening.

This is a highly important issue for parents in Fylde and across Lancashire, and I have written to Lancashire County Council to seek an explanation for this decision and to offer my assistance in satisfying their worries. Please be assured that I will continue to support Lancashire County Council and the Government in finding a way to reopen schools in a way that is safe for those involved.

It is clear that these prolonged closures will most affect those from a disadvantaged background, and I am supportive of the Prime Minister’s desire to see educational provision made to support students over the summer period, whether that be physically or via resources to be used at home.

Schools, and all childcare providers, will continue to provide care only for children who are vulnerable, and children whose parents are critical to the Covid-19 response and cannot be safely cared for at home.

Full information on the Government guidance to schools and parents on this announcement can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision 

Guidance from Lancashire County Council foe schools and parents can be found here: https://www.lancashire.gov.uk/coronavirus-updates/schools/ 

 

Returning to work safely

For the foreseeable future, workers should continue to work from home rather than their normal physical workplace, wherever possible. 

If you cannot work from home, and your workplace is permitted to open, you should travel to work. Permitted industries include food production, construction, manufacturing, logistics, distribution and scientific research in laboratories. The only exceptions to this are those workplaces such as hospitality and non-essential retail which during this first step the Government is requiring to remain closed. Workers should avoid using public transport wherever possible.

As soon as practicable, workplaces should follow the new “COVID-19 Secure” social distancing guidelines.. These will ensure the risk of infection is as low as possible, while allowing as many people as possible to resume their livelihoods.

It remains the case that anyone who has symptoms, however mild, or is in a household where someone has symptoms, should not leave their house to go to work. Those people should self-isolate, as should those in their households.

Full sector-specfiic guidance on the social distancing obligations which must be observed in the workplace can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19

If you have concerns that your employer may not be adhering to social distancing protocol, you should report it via the Health and Safety Executive here: https://www.hse.gov.uk/contact/concerns.htm

 

Financial and employment support

Information and support for individuals

It is understandable that people are concerned about the financial impact this situation may have. It is the Government’s belief that nobody should be financially worse off as a result of following advice to ensure the collective health of our community. As such, the Chancellor and Secretary of State for Work and Pensions have announced a package of measures to support people across the country at this time. 

These measures include a £500 million Hardship Fund for individuals who require financial support, to be offered by local authorities through local Council Tax Support schemes and Mortgage Repayment Holidays for those affected by COVID-19, including for landlords who's tenants are unable to pay rent. 

Ministers have also taken steps to ensure those who need financial support are able to access it, these measures are outlined below.

 

For those already claiming support

  • If you are unable to attend an assessment your benefits will continue to be paid whilst the appointment is rearranged.
  • People who need to claim ESA or Universal Credit because of coronavirus will not be required to produce a fit note.
  • Claimants who notify the Department for Work and Pension that they are staying at home or have been diagnosed with COVID-19 will not be sanctioned and conditionality requirements will be reviewed to ensure they are reasonable (claimants must ensure they notify the DWP in good time to ensure these steps can be taken).
  • Claimants who are staying at home as a result of coronavirus will have their mandatory work search and work availability requirements removed to account for a period of sickness.

 

For people who need to make a new claim for financial support

It is to be expected that the many people who are required to stay at home or are infected by coronavirus may need financial support, and quickly.

It has been announced that:

  • Those affected by coronavirus will be able to apply for Universal Credit and can receive up to a month’s advance up front without physically attending a jobcentre.
  • The 7 waiting days for ESA for new claimants will not apply if they are suffering from coronavirus or are required to stay at home – so it will be payable from day one.

 

Guidance and support for employees

In order to back businesses and employees in staying at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Government have announced a range of support measures, as well as changing the application process for existing benefits. 

This includes:

  • People who cannot work due to coronavirus and are eligible for Statutory Sick Pay will get it from day one, rather than from the fourth day of their illness – The Government will ensure this measure applies retrospectively from 13 March 2020.
  • Statutory Sick Pay will be payable to people who are staying at home on government advice, not just those who are infected, from 13 March 2020 – employers are urged to use their discretion about what evidence, if any, they ask for.
  • If employees need to provide evidence to their employer that they need to stay at home due to coronavirus, they will be able to get it from the NHS 111 Online instead of having to get a fit note from their doctor.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furloughed workers)

 The Government has launched the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme as a way to support businesses in retaining employees through this difficult time. Meaning that people remain secure in their employment and businesses are able to quickly return to operations following this period of lockdown.

The scheme will mean that, if you are unable to undertake your usual duties at work, your employer can declare you as a furloughed worker and the Government will cover 80% of your monthly salary, up to £2,500, at no cost to the employer. During this period, you will not able to undertake work for the business. There is no obligation from the employer to top this up, although they can do so if they wish.

The cut off date for this scheme was initially set at 28th of February - this is to prevent fraud through businesses hiring associates to claim the furloughed pay from Government. I am glad that following a review of the delivery system, and to ensure the scheme is as wide reaching as possible, the Government has extended the eligibility date to 19 March 2020, provided that your employment was confirmed with HMRC via an RTI submission.

The Chancellor has now announced that the CJRS will continue until October 2020 with adjusted conditions from July 2020, including greater flexibility for part time workers. 

 

Advice for those who left employment since February 28th. 

I am pleased to see that, following feedback from the public, the Chancellor has confirmed that those who have left jobs since February 28th, whether that be due to redundancy or otherwise, can be furloughed. However, this must be claimed through the business you were employed by on the 28th February, meaning you may have to speak with your old employer to request that you be re-added to the payroll. That business will be under no obligation to re-add you to their payroll, however I am asking that employers do the right thing to assist the Government in supporting those in need.

Full information on financial support available for individuals can be found here:  https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-guidance-for-employees

Support for Self-Employed

The Chancellor has now announced a package of measures to support those who are self employed - many of whom will not be able to continue operating during this period. 

The Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will support self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) whose income has been negatively impacted by COVID-19. The scheme will provide a grant to self-employed individuals or partnerships, worth 80% of their profits up to a cap of £2,500 per month.

HMRC will use the average profits from tax returns in 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 to calculate the size of the grant. The scheme will be open to those where the majority of their income comes from self-employment and who have profits of less than £50,000. The scheme will be open for an initial three months with people able to make their first claim by the beginning of June.44

For full information on the scheme, including eligibility criteria and how to claim, please visit: https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/self-employment-income-support-scheme/

 

Information and support for Businesses

In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Government have had to instruct some businesses to close their doors for a short time. This excludes essential businesses and key workers. 

If you are unsure as to whether your business should cease operations, please read the full guidance here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close-guidance

Sector-specific guidance for businesses continuing to operate (or classed as key industries) can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/social-distancing-in-the-workplace-during-coronavirus-covid-19-sector-guidance

The Chancellor has announced a range of measures to support businesses and the self-employed through this period. 

Information on the support available for businesses and the self employed can be found here: https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-support/ 

These measure include: 

  • For businesses with fewer than 250 employees, the cost of providing 14 days of Statutory Sick Pay per employee will be refunded by the government in full.
  • The Government is introducing a business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year.
  • A new Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, will enable all businesses to apply for a loan of up to £5 million, with the government covering up to 80% of any losses with no fees. Businesses can access the first 6 months of that finance interest free, as government will cover the first 6 months of interest payments. After feedback from businesses, the Chancellor has worked with banks to make this more easily accessible and banned personal guarantees for loans under £25,000. 
  • Coronavirus Bounce Back Loans have been announced by the Government in response to the difficulties some small businesses have face in accessing the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. The scheme will help small and medium-sized businesses affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) to apply for loans of up to £50,000, with the Government guaranteeing 100% of the loan and no fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months. 
  • Launch of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme - giving UK employers support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis. This will now continue until October 2020 with increased flexibility for part-time workers from July.
  • The Coronavirus Future Fund will issue convertible loans between £125,000 to £5 million to innovative companies which are facing financing difficulties due to the coronavirus outbreak.
  • The Government has launched the Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF) to provide much needed support for our smallest and hardest-hit businesses and will be delivered through local authorities. The SBGF will deliver cash grants of up to £10,000 to our smallest businesses that pay little or no business rates and are eligible for small business rate relief (SBBR) or rural rate relief. The RHLGF will provide a £25,000 grant to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000. Businesses that are eligible should have been contacted by their local council, however I am aware that there are a number of reasons why this may not have happened and I am pleased that, following feedback from business, the Government have recognised this and issued renewed guidance to councils regarding payments to businesses in shared premises or who do not pay business rates. If you believe your business is eligible and have not yet applied or were rejected before this new guidance was issued, please contact the responsible local authority; for the vast majority businesses in Fylde this will be Fylde Borough Council, who can be contacted here: https://new.fylde.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-support/. Full information on the SBGF and RHLGF can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-business-support-grant-funding-guidance-for-businesses 
  • All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service. These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities. For Time to Pay support if you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559.  More information on HMRC support for those affected by COVID-19 can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/tax-helpline-to-support-businesses-affected-by-coronavirus-covid-19

In addition to the measures announced by the Government, the decisions taken by the Bank of England on 11 March 2020 mean that banks are in a better position to provide additional credit to smaller businesses. Details of these measures can be found here: https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/news/2020/march/boe-measures-to-respond-to-the-economic-shock-from-covid-19

To find the support available to your business, use the Government's Coronavirus Support Finder tool here: https://www.gov.uk/business-coronavirus-support-finder

 

 

Full guidance for employees, employers and businesses, including employee rights and the correct steps to take to prevent the spread of disease, can be found here:   https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19

Specific guidance has also been published for businesses who trade internationally. This can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-uk-businesses/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-uk-businesses-trading-internationally

Businesses can get advice from the government’s Business Support Helpline by contacting them using the below details;

Business Support Helpline (England)
Telephone: 0300 456 3565
enquiries@businesssupporthelpline.org
Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm

More information on the advisory services available to businesses can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/business-support-helpline

 

Foreign Office Guidance

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is advising British people against all non-essential travel worldwide until at least 15 April due to unprecedented international border closures and other restrictions. All countries may restrict travel without notice. 

The FCO is also working tirelessly to support those already abroad in getting home, as part of this, the Foreign Secretary has announced a new partnership with the airline industry to allow passengers to transfer tickets between airlines to enable their travel or support special charter flights where this is not available. The timeline for resolving these issues and people returning to the UK will differ from country to country and individuals are advised to contact the relevant British Embassy for assistance. Country specific travel advice can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice 

This means that; where commercial routes remain feasible airlines, including Virgin, Easyjet, Jet2 and Titan Airways, will be responsible for getting their passengers with pre-booked tickets home. Where commercial routes do not exist, the Government will provide up to £75 million to enable special charter flights to priority countries to bring back UK residents.

For more information on FCO guidance and support for Britons travelling abroad, please visit: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus

 

Local Support Services 

Local authorities will be key in the fight against COVID-19 and supporting our most vulnerable through this period. Councils will also be responsible for delivering some of the support already announced by the Government. 

For information on the services offered by Lancashire County Council, including delivery of social care, education, care homes and public transport, please visit: https://www.lancashire.gov.uk/health-and-social-care/your-health-and-wellbeing/coronavirus/

For information on the services and support offered by Fylde Borough Council, including deferral of council tax and localised business support, please visit: https://new.fylde.gov.uk/

Specific business support from Fylde Borough Council can be found here: https://new.fylde.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-support/

Fylde Borough Council will also be coordinating a Community Hub. This will support the isolated and lonely residents of the Borough who do not have friends, family or neighbours to assist during the period of isolation required as a result of the Coronavirus. For more info on the help offered by FBC, or to get involved and help in the fight against COVID-19, please visit: https://new.fylde.gov.uk/communitysupport/.

For those who fall under the jurisdiction of Preston City Council, please find their guidance and advice here: https://www.preston.gov.uk/article/2275/Coronavirus-COVID-19-

 

Other information

The Government’s overall action plan to tackle COVID-19 Coronavirus can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-action-plan

Information on the Bill being put forward by Government to support these measure can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-bill-what-it-will-do/what-the-coronavirus-bill-will-do

As we face this crisis, I know many will hold concern for relatives in care or suffering with dementia - those of you with these concerns may wish to view the Alzheimer's Society COVID-19 information page here: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/coronavirus-covid-19

For those with pets or animals to care for, and who may be concerned about exercising or entertaining their pets whilst in self isolation, detailed guidance has been issued by the RSPCA. This can be found here: https://www.rspca.org.uk/coronavirus 

Many people may have had to cancel travel arrangements or postpone events as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, with many now left at a financial loss or having to claim through insurance companies. Which? consumer guide have created a dedicated Coronavirus consumer rights hub with tips and advice covering a wide range of issues, this can be found here: https://www.which.co.uk/news/coronavirus/

 

News

Mark Menzies backs Pick for Britain drive

Fylde MP Mark Menzies is backing a new drive to ensure Britain’s farms continue delivering the best quality produce through the coronavirus pandemic.

Statement on Dominic Cummings

Over the past few days I have been contacted by constituents raising issues surrounding the conduct of the Prime Minister’s chief adviser. 

Coronavirus test expansion welcomed by Mark Menzies MP

Fylde MP Mark Menzies has welcomed the expansion of testing for the Covid-19 virus.

More than 122,000 tests were carried out in the UK on April 30 after the Government set a target of 100,000 tests per day.

Social care providers urged to use care portal

Social care providers should keep in touch with Lancashire County Council’s care portal, says Fylde MP Mark Menzies.

The portal gives regular updates on the Covid-19 situation and provides information for any care providers with questions.

Mark Menzies demands banks back business

Fylde MP Mark Menzies has raised concerns over the banks’ handling of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

The Government has put the scheme in place, as part of the largest package of state aid for businesses, to ensure firms survive through the Coronavirus pandemic.