The Government has announced a number of changes to the restrictions designed to help limit the spread of COVID-19.
The Government is no longer asking people to work from home if they can. People should speak to their employers about arrangements for returning to the office, and should follow the Working Safely guidance.
Face coverings will no longer be advised in classrooms for both staff and pupils.
Venues and events will no longer be required by law to use the NHS Covid Pass. The NHS Covid Pass can still be used on a voluntary basis as was previously the case in Plan A.
Face coverings are no longer required by law in any setting. Public health guidance will remain in place, suggesting individuals should continue to wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces, where you may come into contact with people you do not normally meet.
The Department for Education will remove national guidance on the use of face coverings in communal areas, with local Directors of Public Health able to recommend the use of face coverings in education settings across their area only where the Department and public health experts judge the measure to be proportionate due to specific health concerns. This is a temporary measure and Directors of Public Health continue to advise individual settings experiencing outbreaks.
Any local introduction of face coverings must be subject to routine review and removed at the earliest opportunity.
Isolation period to be reduced
The isolation after a positive test has now been reduced to five day. As long as you have a negative lateral flow test at the end of the 5th day, and a subsequent one on the morning of the 6th day, you no longer have to isolate.
Confirmatory PCR tests to be temporarily suspended for positive lateral flow test results
This is a temporary measure while COVID-19 rates remain high across the UK. Whilst levels of COVID-19 are high, the vast majority of people with positive LFD results can be confident that they have COVID-19.
Lateral flow tests are taken by people who do not have COVID-19 symptoms. Anyone who develops 1 of the 3 main COVID-19 symptoms should stay at home and self-isolate and take a PCR test. They must self-isolate if they get a positive test result, even if they have had a recent negative lateral flow test – these rules have not changed.
Under this new approach, anyone who receives a positive LFD test result should report their result on GOV.UK and must self-isolate immediately but will not need to take a follow-up PCR test.
Get vaccinated now
Vaccines are significantly reducing the link between infections and severe disease and death. However, the pandemic is not over. Cases are rising rapidly in our area and across the country, and hospitalisations are also increasing.
Vigilance must be maintained, and we must continue to act carefully and proportionately, to manage the risks to ourselves and others.
The recent spread of the Delta variant, now dominant and estimated to be 40-80% more transmissible than the previously dominant Alpha variant, demonstrates how quickly the situation can change. The success of the vaccine programme means that hospitalisations are expected to rise more slowly than in previous waves though the rate of growth and duration of the wave remain uncertain.
The Government will decide whether to end restrictions after assessing the situation, including the impact on the NHS, on 12 July.
When England moves to the next stage, the Government will continue to manage the risk of serious illness from the spread of the virus through:
- Vaccinations for everyone aged 18 and above, with 2nd doses available 8 weeks after the first jab – book your vaccination or look for the walk-in options.
- Providing public guidance, rather than laws.
- Keeping good access to tests, contact tracing and helping to support people to isolate when required.
- Managing risks at the border and supporting the global response to reduce the risk of variants emerging globally and entering the UK.
- Retaining contingency measures to respond to unexpected events
Until then, the best way out of this is to
- Get vaccinated – first and second doses
- Get a rapid lateral flow test twice a week if you have no symptoms
- Get a PCR test if you have any symptoms
- Remember Hands Face Space Fresh Air
Help if you are self-isolating
You could get financial support if you:
- are in work on a low income and have to self-isolate
- have to stay at home to care for a child/young person whilst they self-isolate
You may be able to claim a £500 lump sum payment if you cannot work from home during the isolation period.
This payment aims to help make up for any lost income you may face by having to stay at home.
Who can get it?
If you or a child you have to stay home to look after have been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or the NHS COVID-19 app you may be eligible. Find out more
Discretionary support payments
If you do not qualify you may still get a discretionary support payment – find out more here
You can also get a range of other support, including help with shopping and collecting medicines. Find out more on Central Bedfordshire Council website.
Help with transport to vaccination appointments
If you don’t have your own transport, and are unable to use public transport, to get to your vaccination appointment, you may be able to get some assistance from local organisations.
Frequently asked questions
We know that while you are waiting to hear about an appointment you may have some questions. Most of these can be found here on the BLMK CCG’s FAQ page, which is constantly updated.
If you can, you should wear a face covering in public places like shops and supermarkets but please respect those who are unable to wear one.
Remember, not all health conditions are visible
The list of exemptions, which has been in place since face coverings became mandatory on public transport, includes hidden conditions such as:
- anxiety or panic disorders
- breathing difficulties
- reduced vision or if you are with someone who relies on lip reading to communicate
Full details available on the GOV.UK website about face covering exemptions.
Exemption cards or badges
Some people may feel more comfortable showing something that says they do not have to wear a face covering. This could be in the form of an exemption card, badge or even a home-made sign. You can download exemption cards on the GOV.UK website.
The Bedfordshire Employment and Skills Adult Learning team (BESS) has moved from the classroom, to online during the COVID-19 national emergency.
Until a month ago, 90 per cent of adult learning operated as a face-to-face service, but since the lockdown we have reshaped how the service is delivered.
Online and distance based courses currently include support with wellbeing and mental health, using IT to stay in touch and communicate with others, understanding children’s mental health and challenging behaviour and preparing for employment. More courses will be added over the next few weeks.
To see the courses available, for more information and to enrol visit the Adult Learning Courses pages.
The team also continues to provide a National Careers Service (NCS) for information, advice and guidance with finding work. To arrange one-to-one support please complete an online form and you will be contacted by an adviser.
How are charities and other organisations helping us during the Covid-19 Pandemic?
- Covid-19 is a particularly challenging time for people and families affected by genetic, rare and undiagnosed conditions. Genetic Alliance UK hub has been set up to enable quick and easy access to relevant information and will be updated regularly while Covid-19 remains a threat to health.
- The Princes Trust have pulled together some of the most useful advice, guidance and resources so 11-30 year olds can continue to upskill by developing their confidence and abilities during this challenging time, as well as find the answers to questions on work and self-employment. They also have a live chat for advice and guidance. https://www.princes-trust.org.uk/about-the-trust/coronavirus-response/resource-centre
- Food can affect your mood! There is a link between what we eat and how we feel so it’s important to have a healthy, balanced diet for both your body and mind. Eating well doesn’t have to be expensive. Try these sites for brain food on a budget:
- Coping as a keyworker – when you’re busy doing important work, it might not feel possible to take care of yourself. But even doing small things for yourself can make a big difference to your mental wellbeing, and there are lots of ideas you can try. National Mind now have a page dedicated to coping as a keyworker
- Circle Integrated Care communication concerning running of services during the COVID-19 Pandemic
- Carers in Bedfordshire are still here for carers. They are still also accepting new referrals. Please call their telephone support service on 0300 111 1919 between 9.30am and 4.30pm, or visit their website.
- Independent Age local volunteers stepping up to support their older neighbours across the UK.
- Carers UK has produced recommendations for carers.
- The Financial Conduct Authority has released information for consumers on personal loans, credit cards and overdrafts: https://www.fca.org.uk/consumers/coronavirus-information-personal-loans-credit-cards-overdrafts?
- Pathway has called on the government for guidance on how best to protect homeless people against coronavirus.
- The British Red Cross can help support people find missing family during Covid. Read more here
- Full Fact has generated a fact check page on covid-19 to help dispel any false information.
Are you a Volunteer and worried or anxious, or want to offload a bit?
- Bedfordshire Local Emergency Volunteers (BLEVEC) has set up a peer support service for volunteers from voluntary sector organisations involved in the coronavirus emergency. BLEVEC volunteers have good listening skills and are able to provide emotional support.