Key National Information Sources
Everyone in Northern Ireland must follow the new national lockdown guidance:
- You must stay at home except when necessary. Do not travel without reasonable excuse.
- You must not meet socially with anyone that is not part of your household or support bubble.
- Certain businesses and venues have closed.
- Schools and colleges should move to online learning until at least 8 March. They will still be open for children of critical workers and vulnerable children.
If you are displaying symptoms of coronavirus and need to apply for a test, you can book a test here.
A free remote interpreting service for British Sign Language (BSL) and Irish Sign Language (ISL) users in Northern Ireland has been introduced to provide the deaf community with access to NHS111 and all health and social care services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Covid-19 NI is a symptom checker and is dedicated to providing people across Northern Ireland with immediate advice and links to vital trusted information. The Covid-19 NI app can be downloaded on both Apple and Android devices.
An online version of the app is available here for those without access to a smartphone but who are able to access a computer or tablet device.
- If you on a low income and experiencing financial difficulties due to self-isolation, you might be eligible for the Discretionary Support self-isolation grant.
- You may be able to get financial support from the Universal Credit Contingency Fund grant or the Discretionary Support.
- You can contact Make the Call for comprehensive advice on benefits, reliefs and supports available in Northern Ireland.
Physical and mental wellbeing:
- If you are having it difficult to cope, you can find information on how to look after your mental health on the Minding Your Head website and the Covid-19 Virtual Wellbeing Hub.
- You can access programmes to improve your emotional wellbeing and support you to exercise and eat well with Warm, Well and Connected.
- There is a centralised helpline for assistance with deliveries of food and medicine operated by the Department of Communities. You can call freephone on 0808 802 0020, between 09:00 BST and 17:00, seven days a week or you can also email firstname.lastname@example.org or text ACTION to 81025.
- Guidance on how vulnerable people and those advised to shield by a GP can reduce the risk of getting coronavirus and access help and support can be found here.
Shielding and Vulnerable People
Updated guidance for those who are extremely clinically vulnerable can be found here.
Shielding measures include:
- You should stay at home as much as possible. Avoid public transport, walk or cycle if you can.
- Keep social interactions to a minimum and follow social distancing guidelines.
- You can still go outside for exercise, provided you keep social distancing rules.
- You are advised to work from home. But you are free to make your own judgement depending on your working environment.
- Clinically extremely vulnerable and vulnerable children can continue to attend school.
- Avoid going to the shops or to the pharmacy.
The clinically extremely vulnerable will get priority access to vaccination against Covid-19 before the general population and in line with the priority order. You will be contacted again by the NHS with more information on when and how you will be invited to get the vaccine.
Even if you have had both doses of the vaccine, you should continue to follow shielding advice. The people you live with should also continue to follow the public health rules even if they have received the vaccine.
Young people and children
Young people aged 16 years and over with specific clinical vulnerabilities will be offered vaccination.
The only other group that can be considered are children aged 12 years and over with severe neurodisabilities and recurrent respiratory tract infections who require residential care. These vaccinations would be considered unlicensed use, paediatricians and GPs should discuss the benefits, risks and safety data with children, young people and their parents/guardians.
You can find more information about the Covid-19 vaccination programme for children and young people here.
Working Safely During Coronavirus
Anyone who cannot attend work due to shielding restrictions will be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay, and can use the CMO letter as evidence for their employer.
Information and guidance from the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) on a safe working environment for employers and employees during Covid-19 can be found here.
You can contact the Labour Relations Agency, if you have a disagreement with your employer, which you are unable to resolve
The Law Centre NI provides free, independent, specialist legal advice on employment rights and has established a dedicated COVID-19 response team for COVID-19 related employment rights matters. The Law Centre can be contacted on their advice line on 028 9024 4401 or by email.
If you decide to go to work, guidance from NI Direct about safe working during Covid-19 can be found here.
Carers and Support Bubbles
This information provides advice and support for informal carers, young carers and family members. It pulls together already existing sources of information into one place and signposts carers to others who may be able to help.
A support bubble is a support network that links two households. You can form a support bubble with a household of any size, but indoor meetings between households in the bubble are limited to a maximum of 10 people. including children.
You should not form a support bubble with a household that is part of another support bubble. If a household wishes to change the household that they bubble with, the household must wait 10 days from the last visit of the original linked household.
Information for Charities
The NICVA has a hub of information to support the charity sector through the Covid-19 pandemic.
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