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Coronavirus advice for the over 50s, 60s, 70s and older

coronavirus advice for over 50s

Updated 22/10/20

With the rise in 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. 


Current top coronavirus-related conversations include:

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Note: We are updating this page regularly as guidance changes, but please also keep on top of NHS advice, which can be found here


Wales lockdown - what are the rules?

Wales will go into a national circuit-breaker lockdown from Friday 23rd October to Monday 9th November. Here are the rules for those living in Wales: 

  • Everyone will be told to stay at home.
  • All gatherings indoors and outdoors with people not in a single household will not be allowed.
  • All pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops will shut.
  • While primary schools will reopen after half-term, only years seven and eight in secondary schools will return.

What is the three-tier system in England?

On 12th October, Boris Johnson announced new measures to stop the localised spread of coronavirus in England. Areas will be placed in three 'levels' of restrictions: medium, high and very high, with 'very high' having the most severe levels of lockdown in the country. 

What are the rules in the different tiers? 

Medium (tier one)

This is the level that will apply to most of England. It means that the current national rules will apply to these areas, including the 10pm curfew. Households can still mix, so long as they stick to the rule of six and social distancing. 

  • Applies to: all areas of England that are not in areas under the 'high' or 'very high' tier restrictions.

High (tier two)

People living in areas with this alert level are not allowed to mix with other households indoors. If you're meeting others outdoors, the rule of six still applies, and you should limit the number of different people you meet outdoors. 

  • Applies to:
  • Cheshire: Cheshire West and Chester, Cheshire East, Warrington.
  • Derbyshire: Chesterfield, Erewash, North East Derbyshire, High Peak - the wards of: Tintwistle, Padfield, Dinting, St John's, Old Glossop, Whitfield, Simmondley, Gamesley, Howard Town, Hadfield South, Hadfield North.
  • West Yorkshire: Leeds, Bradford, Kirklees, Calderdale, Wakefield.
  • North East: Newcastle, South Tyneside, North Tyneside, Gateshead, Sunderland, Durham, Northumberland.
  • Tees Valley: Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, Stockton-on-Tees, Darlington, Hartlepool.
  • West Midlands: Birmingham, Sandwell, Solihull, Wolverhampton, Walsall.
  • Leicester: Leicester, Oadby and Wigston.
  • Nottingham: Ashfield, Bassetlaw, Broxtowe, Gedling, Mansfield, Newark & Sherwood, Nottingham City, Rushcliffe.
  • London: All 32 boroughs plus the City of London.
  • Essex: Basildon, Braintree, Brentwood, Castle Point, Chelmsford, Colchester, Epping Forest, Harlow, Maldon, Rochford, Tendring, Uttlesford.
  • Surrey: Elmbridge
  • Cumbria: Barrow-in-Furness
  • York 

On 22nd October, Matt Hancock announced that these areas will also be moving into the 'high' category and face new restrictions from Saturday 24th October:

  • Stoke-on-Trent
  • Coventry
  • Slough


Very high (tier three)

Household mixing indoors and in private or pub gardens is banned, and businesses such as pubs and bars (except where substantial meals are served), betting shops, and casinos will be closed. There are local differences on what businesses must close, so do check the local guidance on where you live.

You can still meet people in public spaces like parks, but you must stick to the rule of six. People should also not travel into or out of these areas, other than for work, education, youth services or to fulfill caring responsibilities. 

  • Applies toLiverpool City Region: Liverpool, Knowsley, Sefton, Wirral, St Helens and Halton.
  • Lancashire: Blackburn with Darwen, Blackpool, Burnley, Chorley, Fylde, Hyndburn, Lancaster, Pendle, Preston, Ribble Valley, Rossendale, South Ribble, West Lancashire, Wyre.
  • Greater Manchester (from Friday 23rd October): Manchester, Bolton, Bury, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Wigan, Salford, Rochdale, Oldham.
  • South Yorkshire (from Saturday 24th October): Barnsley, Rotherham, Doncaster, Sheffield

Find out the restrictions in your area here.

Top threads on the new rules and how this will affect gransnetters:


Do I have to wear a mask?

Face coverings (something that safely covers the nose and mouth) are now mandatory in certain situations. In England you need to wear them: 

  • in NHS settings (GPs/hospitals etc)
  • when visiting care homes
  • on public transport and in transport hubs (airports, railway stations etc)
  • in shops, supermarkets and shopping centres
  • in post offices, banks or similar
  • in beauty salons/tattoo parlours or other providing personal care or beauty service
  • at the vet
  • when visiting attractions and entertainment venues 
  • libraries
  • places of worship
  • funeral service providers
  • public areas in hotels 
  • in pubs and restaurants when you are not sat at your table

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:


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Current government advice 


Do I have to stay home?

You don't have to stay home anymore but when you do go out you should stick to the social distancing guidelines. On 14th September, however, the 'rule of six' was introduced, meaning that you should not meet or socialise in groups of more than six people, unless it is a gathering exempt from the rule, for example gatherings for work or educational purposes. The government announced the new three-tier system on 12th October, so for now this applies to areas in the 'medium' alert level. Read more about the rule of six here

However, for parts of England that are in the 'high' and 'very high' tiers, restrictions are tighter, and prevent households mixing. The BBC has put together this guide here so you can check the rules in your area. 

If you are someone in your household or bubble show coronavirus symptioms, everyone should stay at home and get tested. People who live on their own may now form a 'bubble' with another household, meaning that they are allowed to stay overnight and visit them indoors.

  • This is great news for grandparents because it allows many to finally see the grandchildren and visit them in their gardens, even if they aren't able to hug them. Read here for more on grandparents and coronavirus.



  • From Friday 23rd October to Monday 9th November Wales will go into a national lockdown, with everyone being told to stay at home. Pubs, restaurants and all non-essential shops will shut.
  • Indoor and outdoor gatherings with people not in a single household will be banned.
  • People coming from hotspots in the UK will be banned from travelling to Wales, Mark Drakeford, Wales' first minister, announced on 15th October.
  • Guidelines for Wales



  • Pubs and restaurants across the central belt of Scotland are now closed to tackle the spread of the virus.
  • You must not meet people from any other households in your home or another person’s home socially, unless they are in your extended household.
  • You can still meet people outside in groups of up 6 people from no more than 2 households, as long as you social distance from anyone outside your household.
  • Guidelines for Scotland


Northern Ireland

  • Hospitality businesses will be limited to takeaway and delivery services for four weeks from Friday 16th October.
  • From Monday 19th October schools will close until Monday 2 November.
  • Off-licences and supermarkets will not sell alcohol after 8pm.
  • Close-contact services such as hairdressers and beauticians will be closed.
  • As of 22nd September, mixing of households in private dwellings in not allowed, with some exemptions.
  • No more than six people can gather in a garden from no more than two households (children aged 12 and under from those two households are not counted in this total).
  • Guidelines for Northern Ireland


What is the advice for over 70s and those who were shielding?

From 6th July, shielding was eased with people who have been self-isolating allowed to meet up outdoors in groups of up to six, as well as form support bubbles with other households. From 1st August, the UK put a stop to shielding. 

Despite the recent soaring rates of coronavirus across the country, shielding is not being reintroduced in England, as there are other measures in place (for example, wearing a face mask and the rule of six) to limit the spread of the virus. People are being told to take extra care and precautions however, and if you were on the shielding list, you should receive a letter soon with advice. 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. 


Am I allowed to have family over to visit?

The government advice is that - in England - up to six people are able to visit in a public or private outdoor or indoor space, unless you live in a 'high' or 'very high' alert level area where mixing households indoors is not allowed.

If you live in a 'medium' alert level area, you are still required to maintain social distancing during these visits, so for now, cuddles with the grandchildren at these meet-ups is still off limits. However, single person households are now allowed to form 'support bubbles' with another household and stay overnight during which social distancing need not apply. For many families this means that grandparents who live on their own can now be reunited with their families and have the hugs they have been missing so much.   

"Now we are allowed to meet up with one other person my friend and I have arranged to meet on Friday. We will both drive to a secluded car park, stay in our cars, open our windows, drink tea and chat. We haven’t seen each other since February and usually see each other 3/4 times a week. There will be tears and laughter and lots of gossip." Sunlover


Can I still babysit my grandchildren? 

"We are both in our early 60s fit and with no underlying health issues. Are we allowed to look after my grandson due to the present restrictions. If not how does my daughter return to work as her boyfriend also works." dannio

We know from our research that over half of Gransnet users regularly look after their grandchildren, and in some circumstances, grandparents are allowed to provide childcare, as long as social distancing is observed and you are living in an area that permits households mixing indoors. Do check out our page for more details on grandparents and childcare during coronavirus for guidance on whether you can provide childcare.

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.  


Symptoms for older people

The most important symptoms to watch out for are:

  • fever
  • a new, persistent cough 
  • a loss or change to your sense of taste or smell

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:

  • difficulty breathing
  • persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • new confusion or inability to arouse
  • bluish lips or face


What should I have in the house in case I get coronavirus?

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.” 


I don't have symptoms but I'm worried - what can I do to stay safe?

NHS UK’s advice is to:

  • wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • if you have to leave the house for any reason, always wash your hands when you get home (or into work if you are a key worker)
  • use hand sanitiser if soap and water are not available
  • cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough and sneeze
  • put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
  • try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell

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. 


Getting help if you're on your own 

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. 


Can I visit a care home? 

In-person visits to care homes are now permitted, but strict protocol to minimise the risk of infection must be adhered to. The government advises that this should be limited to a single constant visitor per resident, to limit the overall number of visitors to the home. Please contact the care home you are wanting to visit, so they can advise you about the procedures they have in place, for example booking an appointment, and whether PPE needs to be worn. You should also check the local rules in your area about care home visits.


What is the new antibody test?

The goverment has recently released news that a new 100% accurate COVID-19 antibody test has been approved for use in UK by Public Health England. More details as to when this will be released to the wider public will be announced in time. 


Gift ideas for people who are self-isolated 

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.


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