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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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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
Find out the restrictions in your area here.
Top threads on the new rules and how this will affect gransnetters:
Face coverings (something that safely covers the nose and mouth) are now mandatory in certain situations. In England you need to wear them:
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:
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.
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.
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
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.