Stay at home: guidance for Gypsy, Traveller and liveaboard boater households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection

This guidance will help people who live on Traveller sites, live roadside in vehicles or live on canal boats. It is meant to add to current Public Health England guidance on staying at home, not to replace it.

This guidance has been created by Friends, Families and Travellers with people who live on Traveller sites, on boats and roadside. We have shared this with NHS England and Public Health England and are waiting for approval. The guidance may be updated in line with the changing situation. This advice is intended for:

  • people with symptoms that may be caused by coronavirus, and do not require hospital treatment, who must remain at home until they are well
  • those living in households with someone who shows symptoms that may be caused by coronavirus

Please find an audio version of the guidance here:

Symptoms

The most important symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are recent onset of any of the following:

  • a new continuous cough
  • a high temperature
  • a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell

For most people, coronavirus (COVID-19) will be a mild illness. However, if you have any of the symptoms above you must stay at home and arrange to have a test to see if you have COVID-19 – go to testing to arrange.

What do we mean by possible or confirmed coronavirus infection (COVID-19)?

  • Possible infection is where a person has coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms and is currently awaiting a test result.
  • Confirmed infection is where a person has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19).

What you need to know

  • If you have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), however mild, OR you have received a positive coronavirus (COVID-19) test result, the clear medical advice is to immediately self-isolate at home for at least 7 days from when your symptoms started. Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. You should arrange to have a test to see if you have COVID-19 – go to testing to arrange. If you have any difficulty accessing testing, please contact Friends, Families and Travellers helpline on 01273 234 777
  • Consider alerting the people that you have had close contact within the last 48 hours to let them know you have symptoms of coronavirus COVID-19.
  • If you are living on a Traveller site, you should let your site manager know and ask for support.
  • If you are living roadside, you should let your local authority know and ask for support in finding a place to stop with access to the right facilities.
  • If you are living on a canal, you should let the organisation who manages the canal know and ask for their support.
  • If you have been asked to leave a holiday campsite and have nowhere to stop, you should ask your local authority to direct you towards a piece of land you can stop on or a Traveller site pitch.
  • Following a positive test result, you will receive a request by text, email or phone to log into the NHS Test and Trace service website and provide information about recent close contacts. If you do not have access to the web, then you will be phoned by someone working for the NHS Test and Trace service.
  • After 7 days, or longer, if you still have symptoms other than cough or loss of sense of smell/taste, you must continue to self-isolate until you feel better.
  • You do not need to self-isolate if you only have a cough or loss of sense of smell/taste after 7 days, as these symptoms can last for several weeks after the infection has gone. See the ending isolation section below for more information.
  • If you live with others and you are the first in the household to have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), then you must stay at home for at least 7 days. All other household members who remain well must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the household became ill.
  • Staying at home for 14 days will greatly reduce the overall amount of infection that people in your household could pass on to others in the community.
  • If anyone else in the household starts displaying symptoms, they must stay at home for at least 7 days from when their symptoms appeared, regardless of what day they are on in their original 14-day isolation period. The ending isolation section below has more information, and see this diagram to explain.
  • If you have symptoms, you should stay as far away from other members of your household as possible. It is especially important to stay away from anyone who is clinically vulnerable or clinically extremely vulnerable with whom you continue to share a household.
  • If you cannot keep a safe space from vulnerable people in your home, ask your local council for support.
  • Reduce the spread of infection in your home by washing your hands regularly for 20 seconds using soap and water, or use hand sanitiser, and cover coughs and sneezes.
  • If you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home, or your condition gets worse, or your symptoms do not get better after 7 days, then use the NHS 111 online coronavirus (COVID-19) service. If you do not have internet access, call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999.
  • if you are stopping or cruising in rural or isolated areas, please ensure you know your location if you moor or pull up and are feeling unwell. You can also use the What 3 Words app if there is a medical emergency and you need services to come to you.
  • If you develop new coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms at any point after ending your first period of isolation (self or household) then you must follow the same guidance on self-isolation again. The section below (After ending self-isolation and/or household-isolation) has further information.

Who is this guidance for?

This guidance is intended for:

  • people with symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) infection, who have received a positive test result
  • people with symptoms that may be caused by coronavirus (COVID-19) who are waiting for a test result, or who have not been tested and do not require hospital treatment, who must remain at home until they are well
  • people living in households with someone who shows symptoms that may be caused by coronavirus (COVID-19).

Will my household be tested if we think we have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms?

Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) must immediately self-isolate and arrange to have a test to see if you have COVID-19 – go to testing to arrange. If you have any difficulty accessing testing, please contact the Friends, Families and Travellers helpline on 01273 234 777

If you develop symptoms you may wish to alert the people that you have had close contact with over the last 48 hours to let them know that you might have coronavirus (COVID-19) but are waiting for a test result. At this stage, those people should not self-isolate. Alerting those that you have been in contact with means they can take extra care in practicing social distancing and good hand and respiratory hygiene. They can also be more alert to any symptoms they might develop.

People who have tested positive will receive a text, email or phone call requesting that they log into the NHS Test and Trace website to create a confidential account where they can record details about their recent close contacts. If you do not have access to the web, then you will be phoned by a contact tracer working for the NHS Test and Trace service. The information you provide will be handled in strict confidence and will enable the NHS Test and Trace service to contact those people and provide them with advice on whether they should go into self-isolation. This will help stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). The people contacted will not be told your identity, but by alerting them when you first develop symptoms, you can help make sure that they are prepared for being contacted by the Test and Trace service.

Why staying at home is very important

It is very important that people with symptoms that may be due to coronavirus (COVID-19) 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. Controlling the spread of the virus will help us to protect the NHS and save lives.

If you have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) and you live alone you must remain at home for at least 7 days after the onset of your symptoms (see ending self-isolation below). This will reduce the risk of you infecting others.

If you or anyone in your household has symptoms that may be caused by coronavirus (COVID-19), then you must avoid contact with other household members as much as possible.

The other members of your household, including those who do not have any symptoms, must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. You must not go out even to buy food or other essentials, and any exercise must be taken within your home. This 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in your house became ill. There is more information in the ending self-isolation section below.

Staying at home for 14 days will greatly reduce the overall amount of infection the household could pass on to others in the community.

 

What to do if you have possible or confirmed coronavirus

Staying at home may be difficult or frustrating for people living in bricks and mortar housing, but there can be added difficulties for people who live on Traveller sites, people living roadside and people living on canal boats. While those living on Traveller sites, roadside and on boats may be limited by space and other factors, there are things you can do to make it easier.

If you live on a Traveller site

If you live on a Traveller site, let the site manager know as soon as possible and ask for them to make arrangements to ensure you can stay at home. This might include:

    • Ensuring you have access to communal toilets and showers when you need them.
    • Ensuring communal toilets and showers are adequately cleaned.
    • Ensuring you can top up your electricity supply without leaving your home.
    • Ensuring you have space to store supplies you may need for your self-isolation, if there is not enough space to store these within your home.

If you are living roadside

If you are living roadside, let your local authority know as soon as possible and ask for them to make arrangements to ensure you can stay at home. This might include:

    • Ensuring you have a place to stop where you can open the doors of your vehicle and get out, as otherwise you may be in a very confined space.
    • Local authorities should adopt a Negotiated Stopping approach to unauthorised encampments at this time.
    • Ensuring you are not threatened with eviction while self-isolating.
    • Ensuring you have access to basic water and sanitation.
    • Ensuring you have access to rubbish disposal.
    • Ensuring any vulnerable members of your home have enough space to distance themselves from others.
    • Ensuring you have a secure location to store supplies you may need for your self-isolation, if there is not enough space to store these within your home.

If you are living on a canal boat

If you are living on a canal boat, contact the organisation who manages the canal as soon as you can and ask them to make arrangements to ensure you can stay at home. This might include:

    • Lifting any rules related to continuous cruising.
    • Ensuring you have access to basic water and sanitation.
    • Ensuring you are easily able to empty your cassette.
    • Ensuring you are able to turn the engine on to heat water if needed, without coming into contact with a member of the public.
    • Ensuring you are able to access your coal or wood storage if needed, without coming into contact with a member of the public.
    • Ensuring you have a secure location to store supplies you may need for your self-isolation, if there is not enough space to store these within your home.

If you have been asked to leave a holiday campsite and have nowhere to stop, you should ask your local authority to direct you towards a piece of land you can stop on or a Traveller site pitch and follow the advice outlined for people living roadside or on sites.

Plan ahead and think about what you will need in order to be able to stay at home for the full 7 or 14 days. This may include:

    • Enough gas or fuel for heating your home.
    • Enough water for you to drink and clean with – keep in mind you are likely to consume more water than usual.
    • Enough food for you to eat and more.

While you are self-isolating, make sure you do the following things:

Stay at home

You and everyone else in your household must remain at home. Do not go to work, school, or public areas, and do not use public transport or taxis.

Nobody should go out even to buy food or other essentials, and any exercise must be taken within your home.

If you require help with buying groceries, other shopping or picking up medication, or walking a dog, you should ask friends or family. Alternatively, you may be able to order your shopping online and medication by phone or online. Delivery drivers should not come into your home, so make sure you ask them to leave items outside for collection.

Further guidance on accessing food and essential supplies is available at Accessing food and essential supplies.

If you are unable to work due to coronavirus (COVID-19), please refer to this guidance from the Department for Work and Pensions to find out about the support that is available to you.

Living with children

We are aware that not all these measures will be possible if you are living with children, but keep following this guidance to the best of your ability.

What we have seen so far is that children with coronavirus (COVID-19) appear to be less severely affected. It is still important to do your best to follow this guidance.

For those with learning disabilities, autism or serious mental illness

We are aware that not all these measures will be possible if you, or those you are living with, have significant conditions such as learning disabilities, autism or serious mental illness. Please keep following this guidance to the best of your ability, whilst keeping yourself and those close to you safe and well, ideally in line with any existing care plans.

Avoid contact with other members of your household as much as possible

We understand that you may not have enough space in your home to follow some of the advice which has been put together for people in bricks and mortar housing. You should aim to do all that you can, with the space available to you. If you are unable to keep a safe distance from a vulnerable person you live with, you should ask your local council for support with this.

Minimise as much as possible the time any vulnerable family members spend in shared spaces such as kitchens, bathrooms and sitting areas, and keep shared spaces well ventilated.

If you are living roadside in a van or other small confined space, ask your local authority if there is a location you can stop in where you can have the door open or step outside without creating a risk to members of the public.

Aim to keep 2 metres (3 steps) away from vulnerable people you live with and encourage them to sleep in a different bed where possible. We understand that this can be very hard for people living on Traveller sites, on a boat or living roadside.

If they can, they should use a separate bathroom from others. Make sure they use separate towels from the other people in your house, both for drying themselves after bathing or showering and for hand-hygiene purposes. If you do share a toilet and bathroom with a vulnerable person, it is important that you clean them every time you use them (for example, wiping surfaces you have come into contact with). Another tip is to consider drawing up a rota for bathing, with the vulnerable person using the facilities first.

If you are using communal showers and toilets on a Traveller site, you will need to ask the site manager to co-ordinate this. If you are living roadside or on a Traveller site with no facilities, you should ask the public health team or Gypsy and Traveller liaison team at your local council and/or site manager if they are able to supply sufficient access to clean running water and a toilet you are able to use.

If you share a kitchen with a vulnerable person, avoid using it while they are present. If they can, they should take their meals back to their room to eat. We understand that this can be very hard or impossible for people living on Traveller sites, on a boat or living roadside. If you have one, use a dishwasher to clean and dry the family’s used crockery and cutlery. If this is not possible, wash them using your usual washing up liquid and warm water and dry them thoroughly. If the vulnerable person is using their own utensils, remember to use a separate tea towel for drying these.

If you have your own garden or outside space it is fine to use it as long as you keep two metres away from other members of your home. If possible they should use the outside area separately. If you are living on a Traveller site, you can ask the site manager to identify a space where you can go outside without coming into contact with others.

We understand that it will be difficult for some people to separate themselves from others at home. You should do your very best to follow this guidance and everyone in your household should regularly wash their hands, avoid touching their face, and clean frequently touched surfaces.

If you have a clinically vulnerable or clinically extremely vulnerable person living with you

Where possible, arrange for anyone who is clinically vulnerable or clinically extremely vulnerable to move out of your home, to stay with friends or family for the duration of your home isolation period.

If you cannot arrange for vulnerable people to move out of your home, stay away from them as much as possible, following the guidance here. For the clinically extremely vulnerable please follow the Shielding guidance.

If you are unable to follow this guidance, or cannot keep a safe distance from vulnerable people in your household, contact your local council for advice and support.

Wash your hands often

Clean your hands frequently by washing them with soap and water for 20 seconds or using hand sanitiser. This will help protect you and the people you live with. This is one of the most effective ways of reducing the risk of passing infection to others.

Cover your coughs and sneezes

Cover your mouth and nose with disposable tissues when you cough or sneeze. If you do not have a tissue, sneeze into the crook of your elbow, not into your hand. Dispose of tissues into a disposable rubbish bag and immediately wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or use a hand sanitiser.

If you have a carer, they should use disposable tissues to wipe away any mucus or phlegm after you have sneezed or coughed. Then they should wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds.

Face coverings

Used correctly, a face covering may help to protect others by reducing the transmission of coronavirus.

If you have possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) and you live with others, consider using a face covering inside your home when spending time in shared parts of the household, in addition to avoiding contact with other members of the household as much as possible. You must still stay at home for at least 7 days from when the symptoms started and wearing a face covering does not replace this.

Further guidance on the use of face coverings is available along with instructions on how to make your own face covering.

Cleaning and disposal of waste

When cleaning you should use your usual household products, like detergents and bleach, as these will be very effective at getting rid of the virus on surfaces. Clean frequently touched surfaces such as door handles, handrails, remote controls and tabletops. This is particularly important if you have a clinically vulnerable or clinically extremely vulnerable person in the house.

Clean a shared bathroom each time you use it, for example, by wiping the surfaces you have touched.

Personal waste (such as used tissues) and disposable cleaning cloths can be stored securely within disposable rubbish bags. These bags should be placed into another bag, tied securely and kept separate from other waste. This should be put aside for at least 72 hours before being put in your usual external household waste bin.

Other household waste can be disposed of as normal. If you usually use a Household Waste Recycling Centre as your main way of disposing of waste and this is now closed, you should contact your local authority for advice on where you can dispose of waste.

Laundry

To minimise the possibility of dispersing virus through the air, do not shake dirty laundry.

Wash items based on the instructions. All dirty laundry can be washed in the same load.

If you do not have a washing machine, wait a further 72 hours after your duration of isolation has ended when you can then take the laundry to a public launderette.

Do not share towels, including hand towels and tea towels.

Do not have visitors in your home

 Do not invite or allow social visitors, such as other friends or family, to enter your home. If you want to speak to someone who is not a member of your household, use the phone or social media.

If you or a family member receive essential care in your home, then carers should continue to visit. Carers should follow the relevant guidance to reduce the risk of you passing on the infection.

If you have pets in the household

At present, there is very limited evidence that companion animals or pets such as dogs and cats can be infected with coronavirus (COVID-19).

Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the UK is spread by human to human transmission. There is emerging evidence that some animals can become infected with SARS-CoV-2 (which causes coronavirus (COVID-19)) following close contact with infected humans. At this time, there is no evidence that pets can transmit the disease to humans.

What you can do to help yourself get better

Drink water to keep yourself hydrated. You should drink enough during the day so your urine is a pale clear colour.

You can use over-the-counter medications, such as paracetamol, to help with some of your symptoms. Use these according to the instructions on the packet or label and do not take more than the recommended dose.

If you or your family need to seek medical advice

Seek prompt medical attention if your illness or the illness of someone in your household is worsening. If it’s not an emergency, contact the NHS 111 online coronavirus (COVID-19) service. If you have no internet access, call NHS 111.

If it is a medical emergency and you need to call an ambulance, dial 999 and inform the call handler or operator that you or your relative have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms.

If you are stopping or cruising in rural or isolated areas, please ensure you know your location if you moor or pull up and are feeling unwell. You can also use the What 3 Words app if there is a medical emergency and you need services to come to you.

All routine medical and dental appointments should usually be cancelled while you and the family are staying at home. If you are concerned or have been asked to attend in person within the period you are home isolating, discuss this with your medical contact first (for example, your GP or dentist, local hospital or outpatient service), using the number they have provided.

Looking after your wellbeing while staying at home

We know that staying at home for a prolonged period can be difficult, frustrating and lonely for some people and that you or other household members may feel low. It can be particularly challenging if you don’t have much space or access to a garden.

It’s important to remember to take care of your mind as well as your body and to get support if you need it. Stay in touch with family and friends over the phone or on social media. There are also sources of support and information that can help, such as the Every Mind Matters website.

Think about things you can do during your time at home. People who have stayed at home for a week or more have kept themselves busy with activities such as cooking, reading, online learning and watching films. If you feel well enough you can take part in light exercise within your home.

Many people find it helpful to remind themselves why what they are doing is so important. Hopefully, none of your family will experience anything more than mild symptoms, but some people are badly affected by coronavirus (COVID-19). By staying home, you are helping to protect your friends and family, and other people in your community, as well as making sure the NHS does not get overwhelmed.

Ending self-isolation and household-isolation

Ending self-isolation

If you have had symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), then you may end your self-isolation after 7 days and return to your normal routine if you do not have symptoms other than cough or loss of sense of smell/taste. If you still have a high temperature, keep self-isolating until your temperature returns to normal.

After 7 days, if you just have a cough or a loss of, or change in, your sense of taste or smell, you do not need to continue to self-isolate. This is because a cough or loss/change in taste or smell can last for several weeks once the infection has gone. The 7-day period starts from the day when you first became ill.

If you continue to feel unwell and have not already sought medical advice, you should use the NHS 111 online coronavirus (COVID-19) service. If you do not have internet access, call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999.

If you are stopping or cruising in rural or isolated areas, please ensure you know your location if you moor or pull up and are feeling unwell. You can also use the What 3 Words app if there is a medical emergency and you need services to come to you.

Ending household isolation

After 7 days, if the first person to become ill feels better and no longer has symptoms other than cough or loss of sense of smell/taste they can return to their normal routine.

If you live with others, then everyone else in the household who remains well should end their isolation after 14 days. This 14-day period starts from the day the first person in the household became ill. People in the household who remain well after 14 days are unlikely to be infectious.

If anyone in the household becomes unwell during the 14-day period, they should arrange to have a test to see if they have COVID-19 – go to testing to arrange. If their test result is positive, they must follow the same advice for people with coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms – that is, after 7 days of their symptoms starting, if they feel better and no longer have symptoms other than cough or loss of sense of smell/taste – they can also return to their normal routine. However, if their test result is negative, they must continue with isolation as part of the household for the full 14 days.

If you have any difficulty accessing testing, please contact Friends, Families and Travellers helpline on 01273 234 777.

Should someone develop coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms late in the 14-day household isolation period (for example, on day 10 or later) the isolation period for the household does not need to be extended. Only the person with new coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms has to stay at home for at least a further 7 days, and should arrange to have a test to see if they have COVID-19 – go to testing to arrange.

At the end of the 14-day period, anyone in the household who has not become unwell can return to their normal routine.

If any person in the household with coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms has not had any signs of improvement and has not already sought medical advice, they should use the NHS 111 online coronavirus (COVID-19) service. If they do not have internet access, they should call NHS 111. For a medical emergency, they should dial 999.

If you are stopping or cruising in rural or isolated areas, please ensure you know your location if you moor or pull up and are feeling unwell. You can also use the What 3 Words app if there is a medical emergency and you need services to come to you.

A cough or a loss of, or change, in the sense of taste or smell, may persist for several weeks in some people, despite the infection having cleared. A persistent cough or loss/change in taste or smell does not mean someone must continue to self-isolate for more than 7 days.

After ending self-isolation and/or household isolation

What to do if you have another episode of coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms after the end of your first period of self-isolation or household-isolation

If you develop new coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms at any point after ending your first period of staying at home (self-isolation or household isolation) then you must follow the same guidance on self-isolation again.

This means you must stay at home for at least 7 days from when your symptoms started if you live alone and arrange to have a test. If you live in a household, you must stay at home for at least 7 days from when your symptoms started, arrange a test for yourself, and all other household members must stay at home for 14 days.

This will help to ensure that you are continuing to protect others within your household and in your community by minimising the amount of infection that is passed on.

If you previously tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) and have another episode of symptoms, do you need to self-isolate again?

If you have tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19), you will probably have developed some immunity to the disease. But it cannot be guaranteed that will happen in all cases, nor exactly for how long that will last.

If you have previously tested positive but develop symptoms again, you must self-isolate for at least 7 days from onset of symptoms and be tested. If you live in a household, all other household members must stay at home for 14 days.

If you are concerned about your new possible coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms, use the NHS 111 online coronavirus (COVID-19) service. If you do not have internet access, call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999.

If you are stopping or cruising in rural or isolated areas, please ensure you know your location if you moor or pull up and are feeling unwell. You can also use the What 3 Words app if there is a medical emergency and you need services to come to you.

Last updated Jun 12, 2020

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