With restrictions easing across the country we wanted to give you the clearest information on how older people and grandparents are affected by the coronavirus outbreak and the UK government's response to it. If you would like to talk to others who may be in a similar situation, join our online community here. We are updating this page regularly as guidance changes, but please also keep on top of NHS advice, which can be found here.
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Current top coronavirus-related conversations include:
Following falling rates of coronavirus cases, England is now gradually coming out of lockdown. From Monday 12th April the following has been allowed to happen:
Yes, support bubbles are still permitted, but only for those who are eligible.
This still includes those who live alone, so if you don't live with anyone else, you are able to form a bubble with another household. This will come as a relief to many grandparents or older people who live alone, and are facing isolation.
If the household you are wanting to join with has already formed another bubble, you cannot bubble with them. For more information on forming a bubble, please check the guidance on our support bubble page here.
Yes, you can now see family or friends, but only outdoors (this does include private gardens), in a group of up to 6 from any number of households, or in a group of any size from up to two households.
You shouldn't meet indoors with anybody socially you do not live with unless you have formed a support bubble with them.
Yes, in certain circumstances you can provide 'informal childcare'. The government allows 'childcare bubbles' so people can provide or receive childcare from one other household. This only applies if you (or the household you are providing childcare for) live with someone under the age of 14. You must not meet this bubble socially - it must only be for the purpose of childcare.
We know from our research that over half of Gransnet users regularly looked after their grandchildren pre-Covid, but there are still safety concerns, particularly as grandparents are more likely to be at an age that puts them at a higher risk with the virus. For the latest on childcare and grandparenting during the pandemic, visit our guide here. And if you can't meet, this doesn't mean you can't have quality time with your grandkids though - there are plenty of ideas on the page for fun ways to keep in touch from a distance.
Visits to care homes are allowed. Every care home resident is allowed up to two named visitors who will be able to enter the care home for visits. Visitors should be tested using rapid lateral flow tests before every visit, must wear the appropriate PPE and follow all other measures the care home has in place. Visitors and residents are advised to keep physical contact to a minimum. Check the government guidance on this here for more.
The emotional toll of being stuck inside more can be overwhelming even as things start to open up, but gransnetters are always on hand to offer support, advice, or just friendly chat about almost anything to take your mind off the day's headlines.
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Boris Johnson announced his roadmap out of lockdown, with different stages to the easing of restrictions. There are four conditions that must be met for each 'stage' of the plan to happen. This includes the vaccine rollout continuing as planned, vaccines reducing the number of people dying from the virus or needing hospitalisation, infection rates not causing a surge in hospitalisations or putting the NHS under pressure, and that new variants that are detected do not affect the plan to ease restrictions.
Here are the dates when different restrictions are due to be lifted next:
From no earlier than 17 May:
From no earlier than 21 June:
Lockdown has kept so many away from their family and friends, so news of restrictions easing will come as a welcome relief to many who haven't seen their loved ones this year. Now families are able to meet outdoors, providing it's only with one other household and following the 'rule of six'. However, there are still understandable concerns over safety.
Here's what gransnetters have to say about restrictions easing - join the discussion here:
"I've booked a haircut - the first one in over a year! I'm going for a walk with somebody on Sunday and we're planning to have a picnic if the weather's nice. First time I've been with anybody face-to-face (apart from the GP and dentist) for more than a year."
"The easing of restrictions here will mean that all the walkers and cyclists come out and park all over the village so that we can't even get out of the drive. I don't mind that people want to enjoy the countryside, I just wish they'd be more considerate."
"I don't think I will be doing anything different apart from seeing my family more outside when the weather is good enough. The difference will be that I will feel that, if I WANT to do something that is now allowed, I CAN!!! Just having the choice will make me happy, even if I don't do it..."
"We can go and see DD and DGD tomorrow in Lancashire. We are planning on going to a park for a walk and talk. We will see our DS, DIL and their twins to sit in their garden. We look forward to sitting in our friends gardens taking some homemade snacks and Prosecco."
"I'm looking forward to going to stay with both daughters, but that won't be happening until end of May/beginning of June... I miss hugs and cuddles."
"It means a lot to me. I can see my daughter and grandson daily if I want, golf whenever I like, hairdo booked for the 12th, eyebrows etc. on 16th and three restaurant bookings for April outside in marquees. I will go to the shops for some new clothes when the first rush has gone."
No, those who are vulnerable are no longer being advised to shield, but you are advised to continue taking extra precautions to protect yourself, and follow the government's guidance on shielding. Please check the government website for more here.
Complications and deaths are more common in the elderly, even those without pre-existing conditions.' So for now some people over 70 are still choosing to exercise at home and have their shopping delivered to them. If you're struggling to do this, do read our advice on how to register as a vulnerable shopper and how to get those coveted delivery slots.
The UK has approved mass use of both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, and the vaccine rollout is currently ongoing across the UK, with over 33 million people having already received their first dose.
If you live in England and are 42 or over and haven't yet been vaccinated, you should contact the NHS to book an appointment online here.
Wales has now relaxed some of its restrictions, with the latest easing of rules coming into effect on Monday 26th April. Now pubs, cafes and restaurants can now reopen outdoors, and six people from six households can meet outdoors.
The next set of restrictions easing in Wales will occur on 3rd May. From then:
Scotland also eased restrictions on Monday 26th April, allowing all non-essential shops, gyms, restaurants and pubs (outside only if you're drinking alcohol) to reopen. Trips to other parts of the UK for non-essential reasons are also now allowed under the new guidance.
People are now also allowed to meet in groups of up to six adults from six households in outdoor settings.
Face coverings (something that safely covers the nose and mouth) are now mandatory in certain situations. In England you need to wear them in the following place (please note, with restrictions some of the following might be closed, but you will have to wear a mask when they reopen):
For the full list and more detail go to the government website.
It is accepted that their main value is to protect others, not the wearer, against the spread of infection from coughing, sneezing etc.
The main symptoms of coronavirus to watch out for are:
If you have any of the main symptoms of coronavirus, you and anyone you live with must self-isolate immediately, and not leave your home unless it's to take a Covid test. Anyone in your support bubble should also self-isolate if you have been in close contact with them since your symptoms started or during the 48 hours before they started.
You should get a test as soon as possible if you develop symptoms. Find out more about booking a test here. If you're worried about your symptoms and you aren't sure what you need to do, you can use the online NHS 111 service here, or call 111 if you are unable to access this resource online.
The NHS says you should contact emergency services immediately (by calling 999 or going to A&E) if:
Please visit the NHS's page on self-isolating and treating coronavirus symptoms here for more information.
Bearing the most common symptoms in mind, it’s helpful to think calmly about what you would want around the house if you are ill - lots of tissues, paracetamol or ibuprofen, chicken soup, hydrating drinks. It's important that you rest and stay hydrated if you are unwell.
If you need daily medication, contact your pharmacy by phone and explain your situation - many of them are offering delivery service at the moment, and you should not visit a pharmacy while you are isolating.
It could be helpful to make a list of all of the aid organisations in your community that you could contact if you need to access information, health care services, support, and resources.
Most of all, look after yourself. Advice on the forums is:
“Plenty of phone calls, Skype, Gransnet, uplifting radio music rather than the news, ordering in favourite foods and treats, reading good books, afternoon naps etc.”
NHS UK’s advice is to:
Whilst it's important to stay vigilant, if your worry is becoming unbearable, it might be a good idea to seek help. We have a list of useful resources if you feel your mental health is suffering as a result of the pandemic.
If you live alone, it is essential to keep in touch with the outside world as much as you can at the moment. The phone is the easiest way to keep connected for many people, and making sure you have a list of phone numbers easily accessible is a good idea. Creating Whatsapp groups with neighbours or local friends can be useful if you need help getting supplies. Mutual aid groups are springing up around the UK, where ordinary people are getting together to help people with food shopping, picking-up prescriptions or dog walking. If you're worried about living alone, we've got some suggestions for how to avoid loneliness in isolation.
If you want to provide some comfort to people who are still self-isolating, gransnetters have lots of advice.
It's a difficult time for everyone, and a gift in the post could be a massive source of comfort for someone who's feeling lonely during the epidemic. Here are some of our favourite suggestions.
"My FaceTime address. I know from experience that loneliness is the worse thing!"
"Some seeds or vouchers for a seed catalogue."
"Jigsaw puzzles, flowers, books, and a daily phone call (at least)."
"A good supply of gin and tonic!"
Disclaimer: The information on our health pages is only intended as an informal guide and should not be treated as a substitute for medical advice. Gransnet would urge you to consult the NHS coronavirus website if you are concerned you or someone you know has the disease.