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Updated 2 October 2020

Latest advice on staying safe

We all have a role to play in preventing the spread of coronavirus in Plymouth. In order to protect our NHS and save lives it is critical that everybody observes the following key behaviours:

HANDS - Wash your hands regularly and for at least 20 seconds.

FACE - Cover your face in enclosed spaces, especially where social distancing may be difficult and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet.

SPACE - Stay 2 metres apart where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place.

You should also:

  • Stay at home as much as possible
  • Work from home if you can
  • Limit contact with other people
  • Keep your distance from people not in your household (2 metres apart where possible)
  • Wash your hands regularly

Do not leave home if you or anyone in your household has symptoms. If you have any symptoms of coronavirus you must stay at home, get tested and follow further advice. You can book a test by calling 119 or by visiting the NHS website.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about what you can and can't do during the coronavirus outbreak on the GOV.UK website.

Find health information and advice on the NHS website.

Symptoms and getting a test

If you have any symptoms of coronavirus you must follow government guidance and stay at home, get tested and follow further advice.

Symptoms include:

  • A high temperature
  • A new, continuous cough
  • A loss of, or change to, your sense of smell or taste

You can book a test by calling 119 or by visiting the NHS website. A test is free and you will either be able to book an appointment at a drive-through or walk-through test site or ask for a home test kit. Details of the test, what to expect and where to go will be given at the time of booking.

Current issues with testing 

There is currently a national problem which is means some people are finding it hard to book a test, or have been offered a test outside Plymouth.

Some people have also experienced delays in getting test results back. These issues are due to a lack of capacity nationally in the laboratories that process the tests.

To help ensure that those who need a test are able to get one please only try and book a test if:

  • You have symptoms of coronavirus
  • You are asked to do so by a health professional or the NHS Test and Trace Service

Please do not book a test otherwise, or turn up at the testing station without an appointment. Do not go to Derriford Hospital as you will not be given a test.

The City Council is pressing for this issue to be resolved as quickly as possible. If you have experienced issues with getting a test, you can let us know by emailing We will pass this feedback to the Government.

Test and trace - how it works

NHS Test and Trace helps anyone with symptoms of coronavirus to get tested quickly and then traces those who have been in recent close contact with someone who has tested positive. These people are also asked to self-isolate so that if they become infectious, they will not spread the virus further.

The NHS has published more information on the Test and Trace service. The Government has also produced a guide on how the service works.


Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 needs to immediately self-isolate and arrange to have a test to see if they have COVID-19.

If you develop symptoms you may wish to alert the people who you do not live with and that you have had close contact with over the last 48 hours to let them know that you might have COVID-19 but are waiting for a test result. At this stage, those people should not self-isolate. 

It is very important that people with symptoms of or a positive COVID-19 test 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.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or a positive test, remain at home for at least 10 days after the onset of your symptoms (see ending self-isolation below). This will reduce the risk of you infecting others. You should avoid contact with other household members as much as possible.

Other members of your household, including those who do not have any symptoms, need to stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. Do not go out even to buy food or other essentials, and any exercise should be taken within your home. This 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in your house became ill or if they do not have symptoms, from the day their test was taken. 

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

Even if you a test during the 14 day period and the result is negative, you must still continue to isolate for the full 14 days.

It is important that you and everyone else in your household needs to 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 should be taken within your home.

Read the full guidance on when you should stay at home an how long for.

From 28 September, you could be fined if you do not stay at home and self-isolate following a positive test result for COVID-19, or if you are contacted by NHS Test and Trace and instructed to self-isolate because you are a contact of someone who has had a positive test result. 

Test and Trace Support Payments

The Government has announced a new payment to support people who face financial difficulty if they have been instructed to self-isolate on or after 28 September 2020.

Visit our NHS Test and Trace Support Payments page for more details.

Face coverings

Face coverings help protect others, so they should be worn in any enclosed space outside of your household where you are in close contact with others you wouldn't usually have contact with. By protecting others, we can all work together to help prevent the spread of the virus.

In the UK we must now wear a face coverings when:

  • Using public transport
  • In a private hire vehicle or taxi (NEW)
  • In a hospitality venue such as pub or restaurant, except when seated at a table to eat or drink (NEW)
  • Working in hospitality or retail (NEW)
  • Using indoor transport hubs, including airports, rail stations ports and terminals, bus and coach stations
  • In shops and supermarkets
  • In indoor shopping centres
  • In banks, building societies, and post offices

It is also be compulsory to wear a face covering in these additional settings:

  • Funeral directors
  • Professional, legal or financial services premises
  • Cinemas, theatres, bingo halls, concert halls
  • Museums, galleries, aquariums, indoor zoos or visitor farms, or other indoor tourist, heritage or cultural sites.
  • Nail, beauty, hair salons and barbers - other than where necessary to remove for treatments
  • Massage parlors
  • Public areas in hotels and hostels
  • Place of worship
  • Libraries and public reading rooms
  • Community centres
  • Social clubs
  • Tattoo and piercing parlors
  • Indoor entertainment venues (amusement arcades, fun fairs, adventure activities e.g. laser quest, go-karting, escape rooms, heritage sites etc)

You are also strongly encouraged to wear a face covering in other enclosed public spaces where social distancing may be difficult and where you come into contact with people you do not normally meet.

Face coverings can be bought online and in many shops or you may be able to make your own. A face covering can be as simple as a scarf or a bandana tied behind your head to cover your nose and mouth. It is important to ensure that any covering allows you to breathe comfortably and fits securely around the side of your face.

They should be washed after every use. Remember to take your face covering off by the strings (if your covering has them), and wash your hands afterwards.

Face coverings are not the same as medical face masks used as part of Personal Protective Equipment, so social distancing and hygiene practices should still be followed.

We have produced guidance on how to use, maintain and make face coverings.

The Government has also produced a guide to face coverings.

Meeting friends and family

When seeing friends and family you do not live with you should:

  • meet in groups of 6 or less
  • follow social distancing rules when you meet up
  • limit how many different people you see socially over a short period of time
  • meet people outdoors where practical: meeting people outdoors is safer than meeting people indoors because fresh air provides better ventilation

Limits on the number of people you can see socially have changed. When meeting friends and family you do not live with (or have formed a support bubble with) you must not meet in a group of more than six, indoors or outdoors. 

This is against the law and the police will have the powers to enforce these legal limits, including to issue fines (fixed penalty notices) of £200, doubling for further breaches up to a maximum of £6,400.


People who are identified as clinically extremely vulnerable may be at high risk of serious illness if they catch coronavirus.

People in this category are advised to take additional action to prevent themselves from coming into contact with COVID-19 when transmission of coronavirus in the community is high. This includes staying at home as much as possible and keeping interactions outside to a minimum. This is called 'shielding'.

The Government has currently paused the shielding arrangements in the UK.

For the latest information on shielding visit the GOV.UK website

Help is available to support those shielding on our I need help page.

We recognise that this will be a concerning for some and we are here to help and support you. Please contact our advice helpline by emailing or by calling 01752 668000.

Avoiding scams and fraud

Unfortunately there has been a rise in the number of coronavirus scams that are targeting the most vulnerable. These scams, which try to con people out of money, may be received by post, email, telephone, text or in person. Be careful when clicking on links in emails and texts and, if you're at all unsure, check first with family and friends. 

For the latest advice on coronavirus scams and fraud protection, visit GOV.UKCitizens AdviceTrading Standards or the Action Fraud websites.

Advice helpline

We are here to help.

If you have any issues, concerns or need advice on coronavirus please email the Public Health Team at or call on 01752 668000.

We are here to support and work with our residents and businesses. It is important that we all work together to keep our city safe.

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