Updated 23/8/2021

Self-isolation removed for double-jabbed close contacts from 16 August

Government message

On Monday 16 August, guidance on self-isolation changed.

Close contacts of positive #COVID19 cases will no longer need to self- isolate if they are double jabbed or under the age of 18. Instead you should take a free PCR test.

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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

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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

Apply online for a support payment

You can also get a range of other support, including help with shopping and collecting medicines. Find out more on Central Bedfordshire Council website.

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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.

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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.

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Face covering exemptions

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.

Respect those that can't wear a face mask

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
  • autism
  • breathing difficulties
  • dementia
  • 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.

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Learn new skills

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.

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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.

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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.