Staying safe

Latest advice on staying safe

A national lockdown for England is in place from Tuesday 5 January.

The single most important action we can all take is to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives.

Leaving home

You must not leave, or be outside of your home except where necessary. You may leave the home to:

  • shop for basic necessities, for you or a vulnerable person
  • go to work, or provide voluntary or charitable services, if you cannot reasonably do so from home
  • exercise with your household (or support bubble) or one other person, this should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.
  • meet your support bubble or childcare bubble where necessary, but only if you are legally permitted to form one
  • seek medical assistance or avoid injury, illness or risk of harm (including domestic abuse)
  • attend education or childcare - for those eligible

Colleges, primary and secondary schools remain open only for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers. All other children will learn remotely until February half term. Early Years settings remain open.

Higher Education provision will remain online until mid February for all except future critical worker courses.

If you do leave home for a permitted reason, you should always stay local. You may leave your local area for a legally permitted reason, such as for work.

If you are clinically extremely vulnerable you should only go out for medical appointments, exercise or if it is essential. You should not attend work

Meeting others

You cannot leave your home to meet socially with anyone you do not live with or are not in a support bubble with (if you are legally permitted to form one).

You may exercise on your own, with one other person, or with your household or support bubble.

You should not meet other people you do not live with, or have formed a support bubble with, unless for a permitted reason.

Stay two metres apart from anyone not in your household.

Keep up hands, face, space

In order to protect our NHS and save lives it is critical that everybody observes the following:

HANDS - Wash your hands regularly and for at least 20 seconds.

FACE - Cover your face in enclosed spaces, especially where social distancing may be difficult and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet.

SPACE - Stay two metres apart where possible, or one metre with extra precautions in place.

You should also observe the local Tier 3 restrictions in place. Full details of what you can and cannot do are available on the Government website but include the following:

Financial support

The furlough scheme has been extended so that employees can access up to 80 per cent of their salary up to £2,500 a month if they are put on furlough.  There is other help available through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the Job Support Scheme and the New Style Employment and Support Allowance. More information can be found on the Government website.


People who are identified as clinically extremely vulnerable may be at high risk of serious illness if they catch coronavirus.

People in this category are advised to take additional action to prevent themselves from coming into contact with COVID-19 when transmission of coronavirus in the community is high. This includes staying at home and keeping interactions outside to a minimum. This is called ‘shielding’.

For the latest information on shielding visit the GOV.UK website.

Help is available to support those shielding on our I need help page.

We recognise that this will be a concerning for some and we are here to help and support you. Please contact our advice helpline by emailing or by calling 01752 668000.

More information

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about what you can and can’t do during the coronavirus outbreak on the GOV.UK website.

Find health information and advice on the NHS website.

Symptoms and getting a test

If you have any symptoms of coronavirus you must follow government guidance and stay at home, get tested and follow further advice.

Symptoms include:

  • A high temperature
  • A new, continuous cough
  • A loss of, or change to, your sense of smell or taste

You can book a test by calling 119 or by visiting the NHS website. A test is free and you will be able to either book an appointment at a drive-through or walk-through test site or ask for a home test kit.

We have two walk-through test sites in Plymouth, although you will still need to book. One is in the Plymouth Guildhall in the city centre (PL1 2AA) and the other is at Plymouth Marjon University, in the lower car park by the Sport and Health Centre (PL6 8BH). There is also a drive-in test site at the former Seaton Barracks site, off William Prance Road.

All the testing sites in Plymouth are operating seven days a week 8am to 8pm.

Details of the test, what to expect and where to go will be provided at the time of booking.

Test and trace – how it works

NHS Test and Trace helps anyone with symptoms of coronavirus to get tested quickly and then traces those who have been in recent close contact with someone who has tested positive. These people are also asked to self-isolate so that if they become infectious, they will not spread the virus further.

The NHS has published more information on the Test and Trace service. The Government has also produced a guide on how the service works.


Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 needs to immediately self-isolate and arrange to have a test to see if they have COVID-19.

If you develop symptoms you may wish to alert the people who you do not live with and that you have had close contact with over the last 48 hours to let them know that you might have COVID-19 but are waiting for a test result. At this stage, those people should not self-isolate. 

It is very important that people with symptoms of or a positive COVID-19 test and their household members stay at home. Staying at home will help prevent the spread of the virus to family, friends, the wider community, and particularly those who are clinically extremely vulnerable.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or a positive test, remain at home for at least 10 days after the onset of your symptoms (see ending self-isolation below). This will reduce the risk of you infecting others. You should avoid contact with other household members as much as possible.

Other members of your household, including those who do not have any symptoms, need to stay at home and not leave the house. Do not go out even to buy food or other essentials, and any exercise should be taken within your home. This 10-day period starts from the day when the first person in your house became ill or if they do not have symptoms, from the day their test was taken. 

Staying at home for 10 days will greatly reduce the overall amount of infection the household could pass on to others in the community.

Even if you a test during the 10-day period and the result is negative, you must still continue to isolate for the full 10 days.

It is important that you and everyone else in your household needs to remain at home. Do not go to work, school or public areas and do not use public transport or taxis.

Read the full guidance on when you should stay at home and how long for.

You could be fined if you do not stay at home and self-isolate following a positive test result for COVID-19, or if you are contacted by NHS Test and Trace and instructed to self-isolate because you are a contact of someone who has had a positive test result. 

Test and Trace Support Payments

The Government has announced a new payment to support people who face financial difficulty if they have been instructed to self-isolate on or after 28 September 2020.

Visit our NHS Test and Trace Support Payments page for more details.

Local contact tracing

The Council, in partnership with Public Health England, launched a locally supported contact tracing system on Thursday 26 November.

The scheme will see local, Plymouth-based Council staff support efforts to find people who have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

If the NHS system cannot make contact with a local resident after two days, their details will be passed onto our service to help find additional contacts.

While on the phone, call handlers will address any queries or questions around welfare and wellbeing as well as helping with any test and trace support payments.

Face coverings

Face coverings help protect others, so they should be worn in any enclosed space outside of your household where you are in close contact with others you wouldn’t usually have contact with. By protecting others, we can all work together to help prevent the spread of the virus.


In the UK we (adults and children aged 11 and above) must now wear a face covering when:

  • Using public transport
  • In a private hire vehicle or taxi 
  • In a hospitality venue such as pub or restaurant, except when seated at a table to eat or drink 
  • Working in hospitality or retail 
  • Using indoor transport hubs, including airports, rail stations ports and terminals, bus and coach stations
  • In shops and supermarkets
  • In indoor shopping centres
  • In banks, building societies, and post offices
  • At school – when moving around, outside of lessons/activities or where social distancing cannot be maintained

It is also compulsory to wear a face covering in these additional settings:

  • Funeral directors
  • Professional, legal or financial services premises
  • Cinemas, theatres, bingo halls, concert halls
  • Museums, galleries, aquariums, indoor zoos or visitor farms, or other indoor tourist, heritage or cultural sites.
  • Nail, beauty, hair salons and barbers – other than where necessary to remove for treatments
  • Massage parlours
  • Public areas in hotels and hostels
  • Place of worship
  • Libraries and public reading rooms
  • Community centres
  • Social clubs
  • Tattoo and piercing parlours
  • Indoor entertainment venues (amusement arcades, funfairs, adventure activities such as laser quest, go-karting or escape rooms, heritage sites and so on)

You are also strongly encouraged to wear a face covering in other enclosed public spaces where social distancing may be difficult and where you come into contact with people you do not normally meet.

Face coverings can be bought online and in many shops or you may be able to make your own. A face covering can be as simple as a scarf or a bandana tied behind your head to cover your nose and mouth. It is important to ensure that any covering allows you to breathe comfortably and fits securely around the side of your face.

They should be washed after every use. Remember to take your face covering off by the strings (if your covering has them), and wash your hands afterwards.

Face coverings are not the same as medical face masks used as part of Personal Protective Equipment, so social distancing and hygiene practices should still be followed.

We have produced guidance on how to use, maintain and make face coverings.

The Government has also produced a guide to face coverings.

Avoiding scams and fraud

Unfortunately there has been a rise in the number of coronavirus scams that are targeting the most vulnerable. These scams, which try to con people out of money, may be received by post, email, telephone, text or in person. Be careful when clicking on links in emails and texts and, if you're at all unsure, check first with family and friends. 

For the latest advice on coronavirus scams and fraud protection, visit GOV.UKCitizens AdviceTrading Standards or the Action Fraud websites.

Advice helpline

We are here to help.

If you have any issues, concerns or need advice on coronavirus please email the Public Health Team at or call on 01752 668000.

We are here to support and work with our residents and businesses. It is important that we all work together to keep our city safe.

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