As the current situation regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19) evolves, both globally and in our county of Northumberland, with it comes many questions that need answers. Where possible, we have provided the answers to your questions here.

On 11 May 2020, the Government published their recovery strategy. You can view this document on the gov.uk website by clicking here.

Please also click here for guidance on what you can and can't do during the Coronavirus outbreak.

Latest information and advice
Your questions answered
The latest national advice on coronavirus (COVID-19).

This information was last updated on 12 May 2020.

Guidance is being issued by the government on a daily basis in relation to coronavirus - known as COVID-19.

The most recent guidance

The Prime Minister addressed the public on Sunday 10 May 2020. A guidance document was published on 11 May 2020 to support this. You can view this document on the gov.uk website by clicking here.

Please also see here for what you can and can't do during thw Coronavirus outbreak.

PLEASE NOTE: The new guidance sets out the principles you should follow to ensure that time spent with others outside your homes is as safe as possible (unless you are clinically vulnerable or extremely vulnerable in which case you should click here to visit the gov.uk website). 

The following points are expanded upon within Annex A of the Government's Recovery Strategy.
 

You can stay safe outside your home by:

  • Keeping your distance from people outside your household. Keep your 2m distance and stand side-by-side instead of face-to-face.
  • Keeping your hands and face as clean as possible.
  • Washing your clothes regularly.
  • Working from home if you can. If your workplace is open and you cannot work from home, you can travel to work. Try to reduce demand on public transport where necessary and walk or cycle where possible.
  • Keeping indoor places well-ventilated.
  • If you can, wear a face covering in an enclosed space where social distancing isn’t possible and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet. A face covering is not the same as a surgical mask (supplies like these are being reserved for key workers), but you can make your own covering, or you can cover your face by using a scarf or similar.​
Please click here for advice on how to wear and make a cloth face covering.
 

We can all play a part by:

  • Following public health authorities’ advice, for example on hand washing
  • Reducing the impact and spread of misinformation by using trusted sources, such as that on www.nhs.uk/ and www.gov.uk/
  • Checking and following the latest FCO travel advice when travelling and planning to travel
  • Ensuring you and your family’s vaccinations are up to date as this will help - reduce the pressure on the NHS and social care, through reducing vaccine-preventable diseases
  • Checking on elderly or vulnerable family, friends and neighbours - while still following social distancing and shielding guidelines
  • ​Using NHS 111 online coronavirus service in the first instance if you have any concerns.
  • Understanding the pressures the health and social care systems may be under, and receptive to changes that may be needed to the provision of care to you and your family.
  • Accepting that the advice for managing COVID-19 for most people will be self isolation at home and simple over the counter medicines
  • Checking for new advice as the situation changes

Useful links to helpful information


We are aware that the Department for Health and Social Care are setting up a number of rotating COVID-19 mobile testing sites across Northumberland, supported by the military.

This information was last updated on 6 May 2020.


The council is not involved in the set-up or operation of these, including their locations.
 
You MUST follow the registration process and book an appointment for a test. You can’t turn up to get a test without an appointment.
 
The mobile testing sites are SEPARATE to any local hospital sites - if you have booked a test, you will be advised of the location, and should follow signage to this site.
 
PLEASE NOTE: You may be offered an available slot which may not be near where you live. 
 
 

 

Who can apply for a test?

You can apply for a test if you are:

  • an essential worker with coronavirus symptoms
  • aged 65 or over with coronavirus symptoms
  • someone who cannot work from home and has coronavirus symptoms (for example, construction workers or delivery drivers)
 

 

When to apply for a test

You need to get the test done in the first 5 days of having symptoms. It’s best to apply for the test in the first 3 days as it may take 1 or 2 days to arrange.

You might not get a test if you apply, as it depends how many tests are available in your area.
 
Frontline essential workers such as NHS staff will be given priority.
This section provides information regarding financial support for Northumberland residents during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

 

Assistance for Northumberland Residents

Whilst it is right that the government has taken action to ensure that all those employed receive statutory sick pay and are paid if they need to self-isolate, what action is being taken to protect those with zero-hour contracts and the self-employed?
 
All individuals will be offered the opportunity to be supported to access benefits in line with government guidance.
 
Click here to learn more about claiming benefits during the coronavirus outbreak. This page includes information about statutory sick pay, universal credit, jobcentre appointments, and more.
 

 

Council Tax Support, Housing Benefit, and Universal Credit

Residents can make an application for:
If residents are otherwise experiencing hardship but are not entitled to benefits they may choose to contact the Northumberland Community Bank.
 
Northumberland Emergency Transition Support (NETS) provides crisis support to residents of Northumberland. Details of the support available and the application process can be found here.
 
Residents can also telephone 0345 600 6400 and follow the options for Benefits then NETS team. Lines are open from 8.30am to 5pm Monday to Thursday and 8.30am to 4.30pm on Friday.

 

The Hardship Fund

The Government’s Hardship Fund will be used to reduce bills further for those already receiving council tax support, new claimants of council tax support and to establish a hardship fund in the county.
 
PLEASE NOTE: Residents already receiving support through the Council Tax Reduction Scheme don’t need to contact us, as the additional help will be automatically applied to bills in the next few weeks.
 
The Council Tax Hardship Fund will be allocated to qualifying residents. This is an additional £150 of funding for those who already receive support due to their financial situation.
 
The scheme will help towards the cost of Council Tax for people on a low income or those who claim certain benefits including Universal Credit. It means that those who may have lost work or money due to coronavirus, could now benefit from this means of help.
 

 

Mortgage holidays - am I entitled?

The government has announced a 3 month mortgage payment holiday. Residents are advised to contact their mortgage provider.
This section provides information regarding financial support for Northumberland businesses during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Assistance for Northumberland Businesses

Please visit our dedicated Northumberland business hub section of our website to access all of the support available. 
This section provides Northumberland residents with some of the answers to their COVID-19 questions. These questions relate to the virus itself.

What is coronavirus?

A coronavirus is a type of virus. As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world. COVID-19 is a disease caused by a new coronavirus. Public Health England (PHE) have a comprehensive guide on what COVID-19 is and this is available, together with their associated professional advice.

Is coronavirus the same as COVID-19?

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses which cause a range of diseases. COVID-19 is the name given to the disease caused by a new coronavirus which had not previously been identified.

I'm worried about coronavirus, where can I get help and support?

Click here to access the range of information sources on COVID-19 provided by Public Health England and the government.

This section provides Northumberland residents with some of the answers to their education and school related questions, in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Please click here for all the latest information and frequently asked questions regarding schools and COVID-19.

This section provides Northumberland residents with some answers to their questions in relation to safeguarding and how it is impacted by coronavirus (COVID-19).

Click here for Safeguarding Adults information & advice regarding coronavrius (COVID-19).

Click here for Safeguarding Children information & advice regarding coronavirus (COVID-19).

A number of online groups are appearing, suggesting that people contact them if they require assisstance. Whilst we are sure the intentions of people setting these up is genuine, how do we ensure that the safeguarding of vulnerable people is not compromised?

We have made contact with key groups to ensure that support is provided in a co-ordinated way, and that the vulnerability of our communities is protected wherever possible. We are aware that some individuals may not have good natured intentions and if we become aware of these we will notify the police accordingly.

This section provides Northumberland residents with some answers to their health and wellbeing questions, in relation to coronavirus (COVID-19).

Where can I get general advice about my health and wellbeing at this time?

We recommend that you seek general advice online from NHS.uk and NHS 111 online.

This section provides Northumberland residents with some answers to their social care questions, in relation to coronavirus (COVID-19).

How do we provide home care to residents, including those we do not yet know about, without compromising the health of residents and staff?

A robust plan is in place to ensure that those residents that need support receive it. We have already met with care providers to help them think about their Business Continuity Plans, identify those people who they are working with that are not known to our service, and to provide advice and support.

We are working with partner agencies to ensure that we minimise visits to each individual (i.e. 1 visit instead of 3 separate agencies) and that we source information and collate resources, to ensure that those residents we do not know about yet become known to us and we can facilitate the relevant support.

What provisions are in place to protect the most vulnerable of our residents in residential care homes and sheltered accomodation?

Public Health, Adult and Children's social care, and Housing colleagues are working closely to ensure that there is strong communication, resources, and support available across the county, primarily promoting good public health messages and ensuring that workers and residents are aware of the current resources available to them. 

How are we going to support families of those in 'at-risk' age and medical groups to care for their relatives, stay safe themselves and continue in their employment?

Each of these situations is likely to be reviewed on a case by case basis and dependent upon the circumstances of the individuals. We will do everything we can to ensure that our residents are well supported within the community that they live.

What is going to happen with community outreach programmes, particularly for those with physical and mental disabilities?

Senior managers are currently reviewing whether each of our programmes is deemed to be a critical service, and whether the services can be temporarily suspended or delivered differently within communities. Critical services will be maintained at all times, although these may need to be delivered differently.

Are there any plans to close the day centres that vulnerable and disabled adults go to?

Our aim is to maintain all services for as long as possible and critical services will be maintained at all times.
We recognise that some services may need to be delivered differently in the coming months and we will ensure that where any change is required we will inform each of our service users in advance.
 
This page provides Northumberland residents with some answers to their communication related questions during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Does the council have any social media pages that I should follow, which may be useful during this period?

The council's public Facebook and Twitter pages will provide comprehensive updates as they are known. The staff Facebook page will also have useful information. 

This section providers Northumberland residents with the answers to some of their housing questions in relation to coronavirus (COVID-19).

Are there any plans to give tenants a rent and council tax holiday if they are unable to work?

There currently no plans to give tenants a rent and council tax holiday, but this will be reviewed in line with any national guidance recieved, and the council will carefully consider how they communicate with residents over any outstanding rent/council tax at this time.

Will there be a guarantee that tenants will not face eviction if they are unable to pay their rent due to illness, self-isolation, or unpaid leave?

The county council will carefully consider any action that they may take over the coming weeks and months in relation to any tennant that experiences difficulties linked to COVID-19.

What support are we offering house owners and private landlords?

We are currently reviewing the infromation available to house owners and private landlords, but directing residents to the nationally available guidance.

What measures are we putting in place to ensure that residents know what benefits they are entitled to and how to claim them? For instance, Universal Credit claimants can also claim Housing Benefit. 

Our teams are well placed to advise residents over the phone on the the potential benefits they be entitled to and to conduct a claim on their behalf.