Health advice

Guidance from the Government

The Government is continually releasing new and updated guidance. Please see the UK government's guidance and support for the latest information, including guidance on staying alert and safe (social distancing).

Everyone can help to control the virus by staying alert. According to the current advice, this means you must:

  • Stay at home as much as possible
  • Work from home if you can
  • Limit contact with other people
  • Keep your distance if you go out (two metres apart where possible)
  • Wash your hands regularly

Do not leave home if you or anyone in your household has symptoms.


Guidance on shielding

The advice for clinically extremely vulnerable people to shield has been paused.

If you or someone you know has been shielding because you are extremely clinically vulnerable it’s important to remain cautious, stay at home where possible and if you do go out, follow strict social distancing. Read the full guidance on shielding to find out more about what has changed.

You could be advised to shield again if the situation changes and there is an increase in the transmission of COVID-19 in the community.

Don’t forget that our dedicated COVID-19 resident helpline is open Monday-Friday (9am-5pm) for practical support and information so please do give us a call on 023 8083 4800, or complete our online form.


Shielding FAQs

What does it mean to be ‘shielded’?

People classed as clinically extremely vulnerable are advised to take additional action to prevent themselves from coming into contact with the coronavirus (COVID-19).

People who are clinically extremely vulnerable are at high risk of serious illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) infection. They should have received a letter advising them to shield or have been told by their GP or hospital clinician.

This includes clinically extremely vulnerable people living in long-term care facilities for the elderly or people with special needs.

People who are shielding remain vulnerable and should continue to take precautions but may now leave their home as long as they are able to maintain strict social distancing.

What is the current guidance for those on the shielded list?

Recently, the UK Government advised that you can spend time outdoors, if you wish, with your own household, or if you live alone with one person from another household, this should ideally be the same person each time. If you do go out, you should take extra care to minimise contact with others by keeping two metres apart. Following this, and alongside current scientific and medical advice the UK Government is planning to relax shielding guidance in stages.

From 6 July, the guidance will change so you can meet in groups of up to six people from outside your household – outdoors with social distancing. For example, you might want to enjoy a summer BBQ outside at a friend’s house, but remember it is still important to maintain social distancing and you should not share items such as cups,plates and cutlery. If you live alone (or are a lone adult with dependent children under 18), you will be able to form a support bubble with another household. You will also no longer need to observe social distancing with other members of your household.

From 1 August, the advice to shield will be paused, and the advice will be that you can visit shops and places of worship, but you should continue maintaining rigorous social distancing.

Why is the guidance changing now?

The roadmap has been developed in line with the latest scientific and medical advice and with the safety and welfare of those who are shielding in mind. Current statistics show that the rate of catching coronavirus in the community continues to decrease. On average less than 1 in 1,700 in our communities are estimated to have the virus, down from 1 in 500 four weeks ago.

Unless advised otherwise by your clinician, you are still in the ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ category and should continue to follow the advice for that category.

Government are continuing to monitor the virus over coming months and if it spreads too much, you may be advised to shield again.

What support is available for me?

If you need additional support or priority for supermarket deliveries please register online or call 0800 028 8327 before 17 July.

And if you do not have a support network of friends, family or neighbours who can help you, our dedicated COVID-19 resident helpline on 023 8083 4800 is open Monday-Friday (8.30-5.00) so give us a call.

Will I still get access to priority supermarket delivery slots?

Yes, if you have registered for Government support, priority supermarket delivery slots will continue beyond July if you have already signed up for support. To do this, please register online or call 0800 028 8327 before 17 July.


Health advice from the NHS

See the NHS website for the latest NHS information and advice about coronavirus. This includes information about symptoms, self-isolation, and testing. You can also watch the "Catch It, Bin It, Kill It" video.

Self-isolation guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection

Read the NHS advice about staying at home including how long to stay at home if you have symptoms and what other people should do if they live with you.


Public safety

New face covering rules from Friday 24 July 2020

From Friday 24 July 2020, new government rules mean you must wear a face covering, not just when you travel on public transport, but also when you visit shops and supermarkets.

As it will be the law to wear face coverings in these settings, you could face a fine or be refused entry if you don’t comply or qualify for an exemption.

To assist in protecting public health you must also wear a face covering when you visit some council buildings, including the Civic Centre and Gateway, where social distancing may be difficult and where you could encounter people you do not normally meet. You don’t need to wear a face covering when you visit the Household Waste Recycling Centre in Millbrook. Additionally, the new rules don’t currently apply to libraries and visitor attractions (but this is subject to review).

Scientific evidence suggests that, when used correctly, wearing a face covering may reduce the spread of COVID-19, helping to protect others.

Some face-covering etiquette to remember:

  • You can buy reusable or single-use face coverings
  • If you prefer, you may also use a scarf, bandana, religious garment or hand-made cloth covering
  • Any cloth face covering should cover your mouth and nose while allowing you to breathe comfortably

There are some circumstances, for health, age or equality reasons, where you won’t be expected to wear face coverings, and it isn’t compulsory for shop or supermarket staff to wear them.

Read more about face coverings, including how to make your own and details about who is exempt from the new rules, on the UK Government website.


Getting tested for coronavirus in Southampton

New walk-through test sites are available which make getting tested easier.

For more information visit our local testing site page.


Take care of yourself  

  • Freshen up – even if you’re not leaving the house, make sure you shower every day and wear clean clothes
  • Eat well and stay hydrated - try to keep regular mealtimes and make sure you drink lots of water
  • Stop smoking – if you smoke, there’s never been a better time to give up, not just for your own health but for those around you, and to reduce pressure on the NHS. It’s never too late to quit. Stop smoking support

Get active  

Staying active is really important for keeping our body and mind well. Get moving in a way that works for you – to help manage stress, anxiety and make you feel better.

A range of outdoor activities are now allowed in England, as of 13 May 2020.

Government guidance on spending time outdoors.

When exercising outside remember to follow the rules on social distancing:

  • Keep at least two metres (six feet) away from anyone you pas
  • Catch your coughs and sneezes in a tissue or your sleeve
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds as soon as you get home. Learn more about why handwashing is important

If leaving the house isn’t an option for you, for example if you are self-isolating or have been told to follow shielding, there are lots of ways to stay active at home too:

Make sure you exercise at a level of activity that’s right for you.


Keep your mind active 


Anxiety and the news  

There is a lot of information and advice out there, which can be overwhelming, but there are a few things you can do:

  • Stick to reliable sources like GOV.UK, the NHS and the council
  • Follow guidance on social distancing and hand-washing
  • Try to limit the amount of time you spend reading the news or social media each day or only look at a certain time of the day (e.g. every day between 7 - 8pm)

Look after your mental health 

The NHS has launched specific advice for the general public who may be worried or anxious about the current situation, or finding Stay at Home measures difficult to manage.


Children and younger people  

No Limits offers free independent and confidential advice and support to children and young people in Southampton, whether it’s through their online webchat service, where young people can discussed their worries with a member of the charity’s team, or the new Zoom support sessions, covering topics like dealing with anxiety, which are open to children and young people. Visit their Facebook page for news about what’s happening and information about how to join.

For parents and carers, Sure Start Family Hubs are running ‘virtual’ activities that parents and carers can join from home - from live storytelling and singing, to cooking lessons run on Zoom and social media posts featuring craft-making suggestions. Sessions are fun and informative, including tips on physical exercise routines, healthy snack ideas, multi-lingual activities and family inclusion activities as well as useful information about useful services and forms of support. Find out more at their Facebook pages: Sure Start West Cluster and Sure Start East Locality.

If you are concerned about the mental health of your child, please contact your GP or check online self-referral options for under 18s.

Other resources you may find helpful:


Older people  

  • Government guidance is that older people are at increased risk of severe illness and need to be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures and staying at home
  • If you feel concerned, draw on support you might have from your friends, family or other networks
  • There are lots of great resources that provide activities than can keep your mind occupied and active during the pandemic
  • Do you need help? If you are self- isolating because you are 70 years or over, have an underlying health condition, or fall into the government has defined as an “extremely” vulnerable group, and you don’t have family or friends to support you, the council has set up a Community Support Hub. You can call on 023 8083 4800
  • Age UK also runs an advice line (0800 678 1602 – lines are open every day 8am-7pm) that can put you in touch with local services where you need help, for example with shopping or running errands
  • Silver Line (0800 470 80 90) is a free, 24 hour confidential helpline providing information, friendship and advice to older people, open 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
  • There are lots of great resources for older people that provide activities than can keep your mind occupied and active during the pandemic

If you are struggling with your mental health 

Make sure to let others know you’re struggling, talking to close friends of family, or your mental health team might help.

If you are feeling anxious or low, or experiencing poor emotional health, as a result of the Coronavirus, you can call a helpline run by local mental health charity, Solent Mind. The helpline has been launched especially for Covid-19. It is available to anyone who lives in Hampshire or the Isle of Wight.

Call: 023 8017 9049. Phonelines are open from Monday to Friday, 10am - 4pm.


If you are experiencing a crisis 

If you are feeling great emotional distress or anxiety, feeling that you cannot cope with day-to-day life or work, thinking about self-harm or suicide, or experience or hear voices (hallucinations), you should get expert assessment and advice straightaway.

  • In a life-threatening emergency, always call 999 - a mental health emergency should be taken as seriously as a physical health emergency
  • If you are facing a mental health crisis, use the NHS 111 online service. If you cannot get help online, call 111. The 24/7 Mental Health Triage Team has a wide range of skills, including over-the-phone psychological support and access to key organisations that can offer mental health support to people in their time of need
  • The Lighthouse safe haven in Southampton is now operating a virtual service in partnership between Southern Health and Solent Mind. If you are over 18 and in mental health crisis or emotional distress you can text LIGHTHOUSE and your postcode to 07451 276 010 between 4.30pm and midnight (over 18s only). Staff will contact you by telephone, email, webchat or text.
  • If you have been given a Crisis Line number from a health professional, please call it 
  • If you are under the care of a mental health team, you should continue to contact your care team as usual. In life-threatening emergencies, where there is a danger to yours or someone else’s life, always call 999 or visit your nearest Emergency Department.
  • NHS CCG: mental health services in Southampton
  • Samaritans has a free to call service 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, if you want to talk to someone in confidence. Call them on 116 123
  • The NHS has a list of mental health helplines, for specific advice