With the high numbers of coronavirus cases across the country, and recent changes and clarifications from the government, 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.
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Current top coronavirus-related conversations include:
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England is now in a third national lockdown, meaning everyone must stay at home by law unless you have a necessary reason to leave your home. Unlike the last lockdown in November (which was for four weeks), there is no definite end date yet for when restrictions will lift. Boris Johnson said in his speech that he hoped restrictions could started be eased around mid-February, but Michael Gove has warned that lockdown is likely to last until March.
There are a limited number of reasons to leave your house, including the following:
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 you form a support bubble, however, it's advised that you do so locally.
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 government website here.
No, you shouldn't leave your home to meet others outside of your household or support bubble socially. You may see one other person to exercise with, but this should be limited to once a day, and you should social distance from them. You should also stick to your local area when you are exercising.
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 but strict safety measures must be in place to minimise contact, for example, visits must be made with substantial screens, visiting pods, or behind windows. Indoor visits with close contact are not permitted currently.
The emotional toll of being stuck inside and cut off from seeing family and friends in person can be overwhelming, 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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Yes, shielding has now been reintroduced nationally in England, as it was in the first lockdown in March. When announcing the news, Boris Johnson said that those who are clinically extremely vulnerable will soon receive a letter with further details.
If this applies to you, you must stay home at all times unless for medical appointments or exercise. Please check the government website for more information on shielding 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 vaccinations are happening across the UK.
Here's the priority list of who will get the vaccine first:
When it's your turn to be vaccinated, you'll be invited to book an appointment.
Scotland is in a national lockdown with the whole country under a 'stay at home' order by law. Here are some of the rules now in place:
Northern Ireland is currently in a lockdown that started on 26th December, with extra measures agreed on 5th January. The lockdown is in place until 6th February, but it's "highly unlikely" restrictions will be eased. Here are some of the restrictions in place:
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.
Here's what Gransnet users say about it:
The most important symptoms to watch out for are:
If you have cold or flu symptoms that appear to be getting worse rather than better over time, this could be another sign of the virus. Fatigue and body-aches can also be symptoms of normal seasonal flu as well as coronavirus. If you’re experiencing itchy eyes, a stuffy nose and sneezing, don’t worry - these are generally symptoms of normal allergies.
If you suspect you have coronavirus, use the online NHS 111 service, and you and your household need to self-isolate as soon as you develop symptoms.
If you experience any of these severe symptoms of coronavirus, contact emergency services immediately:
Bearing the most common symptoms in mind, it’s helpful to think calmly about what you would want around the house if you had a cold - lots of tissues, chicken soup, hydrating drinks.
If you need daily medication, contact your pharmacy by phone and explain your situation - many of them are offering delivery service at the moment.
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 perscriptions 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 voucher for 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.