Government has outlined new rules in leaving your home during the coronavirus outbreak.

People should only leave the house for:

  • shopping for basic necessities, e.g. 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 the household
  • Any medical need or to provide help to a vulnerable person
  • Travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home.

In doing these activities, you should minimise time spent outside of the home and ensure you are two metres apart from anyone outside your household. All non-essential shops and public spaces have now been closed. Government is stopping all public gatherings of more than two people, unless they live together, or where the gathering is essential for work purpose. All social events including weddings, baptisms and other religious ceremonies will be stopped, excluding funerals, which can be attended by immediate family

Stay at home if you have either a high temperature or a new, continuous cough. If you have symptoms, stay at home for seven days. If you live with other people, they should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms. If you live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days.

Do not go to a GP, surgery or pharmacy and there is no need to call 111. Testing is not needed if you are staying at home Use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service if you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home; your condition gets worse, or your symptoms do not get better after seven days. This can be found by clicking here.

There are general principles you can follow to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including wash your hands more often; avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands; cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in a bin and wash your hands; clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces in the home.

Government is offering a three-month “mortgage holiday” to those who need financial help due to the coronavirus. For more information, please contact your mortgage provider.

For more information on what to do if you are self-employed, believe you are entitled to SSP or experiencing difficulties meeting your mortgage repayments or loans or credit card bills, click here.

A new Coronavirus Status Checker is asking members of the public with potential symptoms to answer a short series of questions to help the NHS coordinate its response and build up data on the outbreak

The survey can be accessed on the NHS website


To make sure people in work can take the necessary time off to stay at home if they are suffering from coronavirus or to prevent its spread, changes have been made to Statutory Sick Pay and how Universal Credit supports self-employed claimants. Changes to support self-employed people can be found by clicking here.

If you are self employed, you may be eligible for Universal Credit. For more information on eligibility and how to claim, please click here.

  • For Government’s general information to the public on social distancing, click here. For NHS advice, click here.

Frequently Asked Questions 

My employer wants me to come to work even though I feel ill, what should I do?

  • Employees should take time off work if they are ill. Government is clear that employers should support their staff’s welfare, especially during an extended response

Will my employer be obliged to pay me while I stay at home?

  • Statutory Sick Pay will be paid from day 1 instead of day 4 for those affected by coronavirus.

How can I prove to my employer that I need to be off work and self-isolated for more than seven days?

  • Government has launched an online isolation notes service to provide employees with evidence for sickness absence should their self-isolation last for more than seven days. It can be accessed via the online 111 service or

What about if I have a zero hours contract?

What about if I’m self-employed?

What if the whole family has to stay at home and there’s no income coming in?

  • If no one is getting Statutory Sick Pay, the family can apply for Universal Credit. See

Can I still go to the pub/cinema/theatre/parties?

  • Pubs, restaurants and all non-essential shops and public spaces have closed. New Government rules state you should only leave the house for one of four reasons:
  • shopping for basic necessities, e.g. 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 the household
  • Any medical need or to provide help to a vulnerable person
  • Travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home
  • If you are one of 1.5million people categorised as the most vulnerable and have been contacted by NHS, you should stay in your home entirely and avoid face-to-face contact. Carers can still visit you and Government is creating a network of hubs to deliver food and medicine if you have no other support.

Can I still walk my dog or do exercise?

  • Current Government rules allow individuals to leave the house for one form of exercise a day, including a run, walk, or cycle, alone or with members of your household. You should minimise time spent outside of the home, ensuring you are two metres away from anyone else.

What do I do if I can’t pay my electricity bill or top up my prepayment?

  • Government has introduced measures to support energy customers in financial distress, with immediate effect. Please contact your energy supplier to discuss options of support.

How do I access free school meal vouchers?

  • If your children are currently eligible for free school meals, your school will offer you vouchers, food or meals for them even if they are no longer attending school due to the coronavirus outbreak. Government is providing further details to schools shortly.

Do I need to send my child to school on Monday?

  • All independent and state schools, including nurseries, registered childminders, sixth form and further education colleges are closed to the vast majority of pupils from Monday, March 23. They will remain open to vulnerable children and those with one or more key worker parents, although there is no requirement for key worker parents to send their children to school.

I am a critical worker or have a vulnerable child – what if the only school open is not nearby?

  • Government is working closely with local authorities to ensure children can attend the best setting for them, and will provide transport arrangements to support them.

Useful Contact Numbers:

Business Support & Ventilators: 0300 456 3565
HMRC: 0800 015 9559
Universal Credit: 0800 328 5644
School Closures: 0800 046 8687
NHS: 111 (in an emergency call 999)
Darlington (general) 01325 406111        
Children social care: 01325 406222
Benefits: 01325 405444
Council Tax: 01325 405555
Business Rates: 01325 405666
Transport: 01325 405222
Hartlepool (general): 01429 266522
Business Support: 01429 867677
Welfare Support: 01429 284284
Children’s Hub: 01429 284284
Free School Meals: 01429 284188
Council Tax: 01429 284277
Middlesbrough (general): 01642 726001 
Business Enterprise: 01642 528384
Council Tax: 01642 726006
Business Rates: 01642 528384
South Tees Multi-Agency Children’s Hub: 01642 130700 or 01642 726319
Universal Credit: 0800 328 5644
Adult Social Care: 01642 065070
Redcar & Cleveland (general): 01642 774774
Council Tax and Housing Benefit: 01642 774774
Free School Meals: 01642 771106
Housing Advice & Information/Housing Standards: 01287 612455
Adult Social Care: 07796 394602
Children’s Access Team (MACH): 01642 130700
Stockton on Tees (general):                  01642 393939  
Business & Enterprise team: 01642 528384
Business Rates: 01642 397108
Benefit service helpine: 01642 393829
Universal Credit Support: 0800 1448444
Community Transport: 01642 527117
Children’s Hub: 01642 130080
Children, Education and Adult Social Care: 01642 527764 or 01642 065070