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Advice for Dealing with Coronavirus

Following the recent outbreak of coronavirus in the UK – including in Cornwall – Citizens Advice is asking members of the public to consider using our text and phone service where possible instead of coming into our offices on drop-in days. If you already have an appointment with Citizens Advice, you should still come in. In the meantime, our offices are still open as usual.

To contact us by text, simply text the word ADVICE to 78866 and we’ll aim to call you back within 48 hours (excluding weekends). If your issue is about debt, please text DEBT to 78866.

You can also contact us by phone on 03444-111444 Mondays to Fridays from 10am to 4pm. Calls are charged at your normal rate.

Dealing with Coronavirus

At the moment, not many peple in the UK have coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, but that could change.

There are things you can do to help you avoid getting coronavirus. There are also things you can do to stop the virus spreading if you think you have it.

You can read more about the symptoms of coronavirus and how to avoid it on the NHS website.

You can also read guidance on how the UK is affected by coronavirus on GOV.UK. This guidance from the government is updated every day.

You can also watch British Sign Language versions of government advice on the SignHealth website.

Going to work or taking your children to school

You should still go to work and take your children to school as normal.

Your employer or your children’s school will tell you if that changes.

If your children’s school closes

Speak to your employer if you need to take time off work to look after your children. Read more about taking time off work to look after a dependant on GOV.UK.

If you’re off sick

If a medical professional tells you to stay at home and avoid people, the government says you’ll get statutory sick pay (SSP) if you’re usually entitled to it.

If you’re not sure, you can check if you’re entitled to SSP.

It’s worth checking your contract – your employer might have its own sickness policy so you might get your usual pay when you’re off sick.

You can also check your rights to sick pay if you get coronavirus on the Acas website. Acas provides free advice to employees and employers.

If you’re self-employed

You can’t get SSP if you’re self-employed.

If you have to take time off work and you don’t get paid while you’re off, you might be entitled to claim benefits. If you’re already claiming benefits, you might get more money.

If you already get benefits like Tax Credits or Housing Benefit, tell the office paying you that you can’t work because you’re sick. You might be entitled to more money while you’re off work.

If you’re not claiming any benefits you might be entitled to claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Universal Credit to top up your income. Check if you can claim ESACheck if you can claim Universal Credit.

If you’re claiming benefits or asked to go to a medical assessment

You should still go to your usual appointments, for example at the Jobcentre Plus. You should also still go to any medical assessments – for example for ESA or PIP.

If you don’t, you might not get the money you’re entitled to.

If you’re ill and can’t go to your appointment, phone the office paying your benefit to explain why you can’t go.

If you’re claiming Universal Credit, you’ll need to use your online journal to explain why you can’t go to your appointment.

You can find out more about getting Universal Credit if you’re sick.

If you’re going on holiday

At the moment, it’s safe to go on holiday to most places. It’s best to get travel insurance as soon as you book a holiday.

It’s worth checking the terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to see what you’re covered for. You should be covered for a serious illness that stops you travelling. You might not be covered for cancelling your holiday because you’re worried you might get coronavirus.

Check what to look for when you’re buying travel insurance.

You can check up-to-date travel guidance on GOV.UK – it’ll tell you what countries you shouldn’t go to because of coronavirus.

It’s also worth checking guidance from your travel agent, airline or other holiday provider. You might be able to rebook your holiday and go away later in the year.

You can also find out what to do if your package holiday is cancelled. If you need more help, you can get advice from the consumer service.