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Coronavirus guidance

Last updated: 14 January 2022


  • COVID-19 cases in the UK are rising and some restrictions have been reintroduced because of the new Omicron variant. See below for information about the rules and guidance on how to stay as safe as possible.

  • You can find answers to common questions relating to the vaccine and booster here.

It's important to know what support is available to you as a carer and those you look after to help manage the risk posed by COVID-19.

If you, or someone you care for, has a symptom of coronavirus such as a continuous cough, fever or a lack of taste or smell, you must keep well away from others and arrange a test.

PCR and lateral flow tests, if ordered in the UK, are free of charge. If you have any doubts, ensure you self-isolate and forewarn those you have been close to straight away.

If you test positive for COVID-19, the government has now confirmed that it is possible to self-isolate for just five days in England rather than seven days, providing you have a negative lateral flow test (LFD) result on both day five and the start of day six of isolation 24 hours apart (from 17 January).

In other UK nations, the guidance says that the self-isolation period can be reduced from 10 days to seven days on the basis that you have two consecutive negative LFD test results from day six onwards, taken 24 hours apart.

Do seek medical help if the symptoms become severe and difficult to manage. Further guidance can also be found here: 

Getting help in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland

  • Scotland: Check your symptoms online
  • Wales: Check your symptoms online.
  • Northern Ireland: Check your symptoms online

Some important restrictions have been reintroduced. The rules may differ depending on where you are in the UK so  check your area.

Latest guidance 

A new variant of COVID-19 (Omicron) is circulating rapidly and therefore some new restrictions have been reintroduced to protect us all.

The UK booster programme has been accelerated to help protect the most vulnerable to the virus. If you are an unpaid carer, you will be invited shortly when yours is due or you can book directly via the online booking system if you are 18 or older (or 16 or older if you're the main carer for someone who is at high risk from the virus). In Northern Ireland you qualify for one now if you're a carer and it will be offered to all adults as soon as possible.

It is especially important to take precautions and follow the current NHS and government guidance at this time. Read more here and find out about other recent changes on the site.

In England, from 10 December, it became mandatory to wear a face covering in many more public indoor places (not just on public transport and in shops) due to the spread of the new variant (unless you are exempt). From year 7 and above, face coverings must additionally be worn in all communal settings in schools unless a child or adult is exempt. Since 13 December, workers have also been asked to work from home if possible and tighter travel restrictions also now apply if you're travelling abroad. You can read more here

In Scotland, further restrictions were introduced from 27 December including one metre social distancing and renewed hospitality regulations. Everyone is advised to work from home if possible. You must also wear a face covering in many public places unless you are exempt. Vaccine certification is now required for attending large events and late night venues and proof of negative lateral flow tests are required for visiting someone in a hospital or care home, or accompanying them to medical appointments. There are further travel rules to observe. For more details, see this guidance

In Northern Ireland, tighter measures were brought in from 27 December restricting numbers to no more than six from different households meeting in hospitality venues. it is recommended that you work from home where possible because of rising cases. Face coverings are mandatory in many public places, including secondary schools, unless you are exempt. A COVID-19 passport scheme has also been introduced for entry to certain social venues like bars and cinemas. You can find out about the current restrictions and rules to follow here

In Wales, the Welsh Government introduced more restrictions from Boxing Day including the closure of all night clubs and more social distancing. Currently, face coverings must be worn in pubs and restaurants (whilst you're not eating or drinking) and in many other public places, including buses, shops and hospitals, unless you are exempt. You are also asked to work from home if you can. You can find more details about the latest guidance here.

What symptoms are associated with the Omicron variant?

According to experts, the symptoms of the Omicron variant may be similar to that of a cold possibly including a headache, a runny nose, fatigue, achiness, a scratchy throat and sneezing, so it is important not to dismiss any of these as indicators of a common cold and get tested if you experience any.

Further information

If you are visiting someone who is vulnerable, it is advisable to take every precaution possible such as wearing a face covering and taking a lateral flow test in advance. In Scotland, proof of a negative test is required to visit someone in a hospital or care home or to accompany them to a medical appointment.

We have lots of useful guidance on being prepared for emergencies and contingency planning. See below for more topics and sources of support to help protect those you care for and yourself.

For further support, click on the relevant links below:

What is the latest guidance for carers?

Staying safe - FAQs

Managing food and medication - FAQs

Benefits guidance - FAQs

Practical guidance - FAQs

For the latest updates on changes to the benefits system, see our A-Z of changes to benefits, assessments and support. See below for more topics:

Protecting who you care for – for ways to minimise their risk 

Making a plan – for useful tips on contingency planning

Working and caring – for support if you're juggling work with caring

Protecting your mental wellbeing – for tips on keeping positive

Keeping active and well – for ideas on exercising

To connect with other carers, you may wish to join one of our Care for a Cuppa online chats or free 'share and learn' online get togethers – offering everything from music and art to yoga, dance and mindfulness.

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