COVID-19 frequently asked questions
As you can imagine we’re being asked a lot of questions at the moment. To make it easier for everyone we’ve pulled together a list of what we’re being asked the most so you can hopefully find what you’re looking for with ease.
Who can ask for a test?
How do you apply for a test?
What does the test involve?
The test involves taking a swab of the nose and the back of the throat, which can be done by the person themselves (self-administered) or by someone else (assisted).
Help for people and their communities
How do I help my neighbour or community, or ask for help?
At times like this we all need to support each other to cope with the changes to our lifestyles that we have had to make so we can delay the spread of Covid-19.
That’s why the county council has helped set up Gloucestershire’s community help hub to match local people who need help, with others who can provide the help they need.
This hub is a collaboration between all local councils, the police and health services.
You can register online here
If you do not have access online you can now register with the county's community help hub by calling 01452 583519 Monday to Saturday 9am – 6pm.
How does my business get involved in supporting our local community?
If you do not have access online you can call 01452 583519 Monday to Saturday 9am – 6pm
Gloucestershire County Council (GCC) services
What service changes are there at the moment for GCC?
The county council is doing everything possible to maintain vital services for the people of Gloucestershire. So that we can continue to focus on the county’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and ensure our staff and the community stay as safe as possible, we have changed the way we run some of our services. We know we can’t do everything so we need to prioritise and we have closed some of our services to prevent unnecessary public contact in line with the latest government advice. You can find the latest information about our services online.
What’s the latest health advice for Covid-19?
General NHS advice on Covid-19 can be found on the NHS Coronavirus pages
If you need medical help for any reason, do not go to places like a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. If you have symptoms of coronavirus (high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste), use the 111 coronavirus service.
What’s the latest general advice on Covid-19?
Gov.uk advice including employment advice, education, business, healthcare workers, travel and public services can be found online here: Government advice
What’s happening in my local area?
How do vulnerable people get a priority supermarket delivery slot?
If you have been identified as Extremely Vulnerable and you require a priority online shopping slot you must register on the Gov.uk website and answer No to the question Do you have a way of getting essential supplies delivered at the moment?
This information will then be shared with the supermarkets and you will be able to access the priority delivery slots.
You will also receive the weekly government essential food parcel. If you do not require the food parcel you can refuse to accept it when it is delivered and go back onto the Gov.uk website and change your answer to Yes.
This will stop the food parcel and will not affect the supermarket priority status.
It is important that you answer No in the first instance to obtain your supermarket priority status.
What can I do if I am unable to top up my electricity / gas meter?
How do I get support for my business?
Who will be giving out grants to support small businesses?
The Government is providing additional funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBRR), rural rate relief (RRR) and tapered relief. This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to eligible businesses to help meet their ongoing business costs.
Gloucestershire’s district councils are responsible for the local distribution of the government’s Small Business Grant Funding. Find out more about the range of business support available from the government's Business Support site.
Should my business close? Is my business essential?
Government guidance on the closure of all retailers that sell non-essential goods and other non-essential premises can be found on www.gov.uk
What happens if I can’t pay rent on my business property/shop unit?
The government has announced protection for businesses during this time which can be found on www.gov.uk
Where will I find general government advice for employees, employers and businesses?
You can find out more information for employees, employers and businesses on WWW.GOV.UK
Where can I get information about schools?
We have produced a list of frequently asked questions about the re-opening of schools which can be found on our Community Help Hub.
If you can't find the answer in our schools FAQs a dedicated phone line and email address have been set up to help parents with all school-related enquiries, including questions relating to free school meals
- Tel: 01452 426015 or
- email: COVIDSchoolenquiries@gloucestershire.gov.uk
Am I a key worker? What happens to my children if I cannot work from home? Can I send my child to school?
You can find out more information about key workers and childcare arrangements on www.gov.uk
Will free school meals still be available for eligible school students?
Guidance on how to access free school meals can be found on our Community Help Hub
How do I get free school meals (FSM) if my child isn’t at school?
Parents should contact their school in the first instance. Schools are currently working on the best way to get FSM vouchers for free school meals to families who need them. More information will be available soon. The government announcement about free school meals can be found on www.gov.uk
My child is feeling unwell, should I send them to school?
This flowchart can help you decide whether to send your child to school.
Has the county council stopped charging NHS staff to park in hospital car parks?
Hospital car parks are managed and run by the local NHS trust rather than the county council. Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has waived its normal staff parking permit fees.
Has the county council stopped charging Gloucestershire’s NHS and social care workers for on-street parking?
Gloucestershire County Council has designated some free on-street parking to support health and social care workers as they provide vital services to communities during the Covid-19 outbreak. The bays are located in Bath Road, College Road and Keynsham Road, Cheltenham and are clearly signed, a free valid permit will need to be obtained via MiPermit. The NHS also runs a free shuttle bus service for staff working at the county’s two main hospitals.
Why are your parking officers handing out fines/tickets during a pandemic?
The council’s parking officers will continue to be out and about to ensure certain safety measures are being adhered to, including yellow lines (single and double), loading bays, taxi ranks, bus stops and blue badge bays in urban areas.
Parking officers will continue to enforce these restrictions in the normal way, to ensure emergency services are not stopped from gaining access to those who need their help, as well as allowing public transport and the vulnerable to access town centres. Officers will be following the guidelines on social distancing.
For general information please visit our parking webpage.
Public services and local government
What arrangements have been put in place so Gloucestershire County Council can continue to make decisions?
For urgent decisions, the usual rules will apply as set out in the constitution. The chair of the relevant scrutiny committee must agree that the decision needs to be made urgently, and a notice will be published giving the reasons for urgency. Where such decisions are outside the council’s policy framework or budget, the constitution requires prior consultation with group leaders.
For routine decisions that were scheduled to be taken by the Cabinet, they will now be taken as Cabinet Member decisions. The usual requirements around publication of forthcoming executive decisions, decision reports and decision statements will continue to apply. We will aim for decisions to be taken on the date of the planned cabinet meeting. Understandably implementation of some of these decisions may be delayed or deferred in light of the current situation.
What has been the response from the NHS in Gloucestershire?
The NHS in Gloucestershire is taking responsible steps to plan ahead and respond to the unfolding Covid-19 situation. The latest information from the NHS locally can be found on the NHS Gloucestershire CCG web site.
What is Gloucestershire Constabulary’s response during the Coronavirus pandemic?
You will find this information on Gloucestershire Constabulary’s website
What is happening with May’s planned elections?
Advice has been issued by the Local Government Association (LGA) which explains that local elections, mayoral elections and police and crime commissioner elections have been postponed until 2021. No other elections, by-elections or referenda should be held. Further legal advice on local elections and on handling casual vacancies on councils is expected and will be shared by the LGA.
Will county councillors still be holding ward surgeries and engaging with the public?
No. All councillors will follow the government guidance in place at any given time on avoiding unnecessary contact.
Where can I find up to date guidance for employees and employers?
Am I a key worker? What happens to my children?
You can find out more information about key workers and childcare arrangements on www.gov.uk.
I’ve heard about ‘self-isolation’ what is this exactly?
Government guidance on ‘self-isolation’ can be found on www.gov.uk
I’ve heard about ‘social distancing’ what is this exactly?
Government guidance on social distancing can be found on www.gov.uk
I am offered a flu vaccination each year so I think this means I’m in a ‘high risk’ group where can I get advice?
Government advice for people at high risk on www.gov.uk
How do I know what I can and cannot do?
Can I visit my family member/friend in prison?
Find out the latest information on visiting prisons at www.gov.uk
Can I visit my friends or family?
You can find the most recent guidance and updates on social distancing on www.gov.uk
Can I still move house?
The government have issued advice on home moving which you can find on www.gov.uk.
Will my district council be suspending my council tax payments?
Council tax helps fund essential services which people rely on now more than ever, therefore your council will not be suspending payments at this time.
I can’t pay my council tax?
Where can I find out more about the legislation/Coronavirus Bill?
More information about this legislation and its impacts is available on the government website www.gov.uk
Transport, roads and travel
How is public transport being affected across the county during this time?
In light of the Covid-19 crisis and following the Government’s advice to limit non-essential travel, temporary changes to bus services were introduced from Monday 30 March, and further timetable changes were made from 5 April. More details can be found in our latest news.
Please note – this information is subject to change. Please check the website for the relevant transport operator for the latest service changes.
From Monday 15 June 2020 everyone must wear a face covering when travelling by public transport in England. Find out more on the government website.
My relative has a bus pass; do they need to stick to the travel times?
Travel time restrictions on concessionary travel passes have been lifted – you can read more in our latest news
Why isn’t the county council taking this opportunity to fix the roads?
Where we can, we are carrying out work to take advantage of the current reduced levels of traffic. For example, we have completed several localised patching schemes, and have carried out more pavement work this year than we did in the whole of 2019. We have also adjusted our major resurfacing programme to focus on schemes which can be delivered more easily, and with reduced inconvenience, due to the quieter conditions that currently exist.
Why aren’t potholes being fixed?
Potholes are still being fixed. Please continue to report any highways issues online through Highways Report-It so our emergency crews can take a look.
My friend/family member is abroad, what should they do?
I need to car share, am I allowed?
If you need to car share, try to
- Share the transport with the same people each time
- Share with the smallest number of people at any one time (driver and a passenger, not a car full)
- Open windows for ventilation
- Consider seating arrangements to maximise distance between people in the vehicle
- Travel side by side or behind other people, rather than facing them, where seating arrangements allow
- Face away from each other
- Clean your car between journeys using standard cleaning products - make sure you clean door handles and other areas that people may touch
- The driver and passengers to wear a face covering
This advice is also available on a poster.
Support for those not online/no internet access
My relative/neighbour/friend does not have the internet, how can they get help?
Many providers and voluntary organisations are transferring their support to phone services. For example, Age UK, GL11 in Dursley and Cotswold Friends in the North Cotswolds have set up telephone services in place of face to face meetings.
The community hub has been set up to match people who need assistance with others who can help. Please read more on the community hub pages.
If you are unable to use the online forms we have a phone line available, please call 01452 583519. This is a priority telephone line for people who need help or are volunteering, please do not use it for reporting other issues.
The lines are open Monday to Saturday 9am – 6pm.
Household waste and recycling
Are the Household Recycling Centres (HRCs) open?
Yes - all five county council sites are now open. Visitors to all HRCs are required to pre-book their visit in order to gain access to the sites. Social distancing is required on site, and in order to minimise queues and waiting times the number of booking slots available is limited.
Service updates will be posted on gloucestershirerecycles.com
Will my bins still get collected?
How do I report fly-tipping?