Wednesday, 25 March 2020

COVID-19: Social distancing and self-isolation guidance

As I am sure many will be aware, coronavirus is a new and highly infectious illness which the World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared as a global pandemic. I am receiving an exceptionally high volume of correspondence from constituents who are understandably concerned about this virus. I will be writing a series of blog posts covering the common issues raised me with to provide advice, information and useful links. I will update these as regularly as I am able to.

For this post, I would like to focus on social distancing and self-isolation.

Social Distancing
Social distancing are steps we should all be taking to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday 23rd March, everyone in the UK is expected to remain at home except for one of four reasons:

  • shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible.
  • one form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle - alone or with members of your household.
  • any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person.
  • travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home.

These four reasons are exceptions - even when doing these activities, you should be minimising time spent outside of the home and ensuring you are 2 metres apart from anyone outside of your household. These measures must be followed by everyone, however separate advice is available for those individuals or households who are isolating, and for the most vulnerable who need to be shielded. This is to reduce the risk of spreading the illness and everyone should avoid travelling unless it is absolutely essential and falls into one of the above four reasons.

Put simply; stay at home.

Essential travel does not include travelling to socialise such as visiting friends or family, to purchase non-essential items, for holidays or to visit a second home. Keeping in touch with friends and family is of course essential for all of our wellbeing, especially in these challenging times, however you should utilise remote technology to keep in touch such as making telephone calls, using the internet and social media.

If you need essential items, such as food or medication then you can go out to pick up these items however I would strongly encourage you to do this as infrequently as possible. The recommendation is to shop once per week, or less if possible. If you are self-isolating or are considered vulnerable, you should ask someone else to do this for you.

If you are going outside for a walk or exercise you can do so, however I would strongly recommend you do so taking the necessary precautions including, but not limited to, keeping at least 2 metres apart from others, regular hand-washing and/or using hand sanitiser and avoiding public transport where possible.

You are also permitted to travel to work, especially if you are a critical worker (provided you are unable to work from home). Critical workers and parents of vulnerable children may also leave the house to take their children to and from school or their childcare provider. Where parents do not live in the same household, children under 18 can be moved between their parents’ homes.

All non-essential shops and services, such as cinemas, theatres, leisure centres, pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants have all been asked to close as a preventative measure with only food takeaway services still allowed to operate during this time.

All businesses are being asked to consider the safety and wellbeing of their staff and the general public if they are choosing to remain open and are not required to close as per government guidance. Where possible, businesses should introduce and facilitate home-working. If you have any concerns about working, particularly if you have any underlying health conditions, I would strongly recommend you discuss this directly with your employer and explore what reasonable adjustments can be made to protect you during this time, including allowing you to cease work if home-working is not an option. If you need further advice, the government has produced advice on keeping employees safe, which is available here:

Additionally, if you have a specific health condition or disability, many organisations and charities have produced guidance regarding coronavirus and working published on their websites and social media feeds. If you are still unsure, you can contact 111 or your local GP for further advice.

Further guidance on these new measures is also available online using the following link:

More information regarding social distancing, particularly with regard to vulnerable individuals, is available online via the following link:

Self-isolation is a more extreme form of social distancing. This involves all members of your household remaining at home at all times. If you, or anyone in your household experiences any symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), however mild, they must stay at home for 7 days from when the symptoms started. Symptoms of coronavirus which would trigger isolation include a high temperature and/or a new continuous cough. If anyone else in your household goes on to develop symptoms, they must remain isolated for 7 days from when their symptoms began. For anyone without symptoms in your household, they must remain isolated for 14 days, counting from the day the first person within the household became unwell. If you have coronavirus symptoms, you must not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you’re staying at home.

I understand this guidance has caused some confusion and the BBC have produced a useful graphic which illustrates how this should be followed, a copy of which I have included below:

No one in the household should leave for any reason, and this includes leaving for essential items such as food or medicine or taking walks outside. If you are isolating, you must stay at home at all times. The government in collaboration with the NHS has produced the following graphic which summarises this advice:

Any essential items, such as food or medication can be delivered to you taking the necessary precautions such as leaving them at your front door, by friends/family or local organisations and community volunteers. If you do not have a support network locally, there are a number of local organisations able to provide help, the below list is by no means exhaustive:

disAbility Cornwall & Isles of Scilly
Tel: 01736 759500

Volunteer Cornwall
Tel: 01872 265305

St Austell

Many local taxi firms are also offering medication and food deliveries to those in isolation and there are local community groups on Facebook offering support if any of the above organisations are unable to help.

If you are, or become, unable to manage your symptoms at home or your condition gets worse, in the first instance you should access the online 111 coronavirus service via the NHS website (
http// which will advise you what you need to do or, if you do not have access to the internet, phone 111. If you or a member of your household is in need of emergency medical care, you should dial 999 however you must make the call handler aware that you and your household are isolating due to symptoms of the coronavirus.

Full guidance on self-isolation is available using the link below:

I have a page on my website which is regularly updated with the latest information - I will also be sending out regular email updates and you can sign up to receive this here -

I would also recommend that anyone with concerns about anything relating to the coronavirus should check out the government hub online using the following link:

One final note, my team and I are currently overwhelmed with emails asking for assistance and information. We are prioritising those in most need first, but will try to reply to everyone as soon as possible. You can still get in touch at and messages left on 01726 829379 will be picked up. Thank you for bearing with us at this time.