I completely appreciate how concerning this time will be for you and your family. Like countless others around the country, you will want to make sure that your relatives have the support they need over the coming days and weeks.
The latest Government guidance sets out that everyone must now stay at home, except for shopping for basic necessities, one form of exercise a day, any medical need or to provide care or help to a vulnerable person or travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home. This is the most important action we can all take, and it will help to protect the NHS and save lives.
If you have relatives who are over 70, or who have underlying health conditions, and who are capable of looking after themselves, you should not visit them. While I appreciate how difficult this will be, these measures are designed to reduce their risk of catching the virus. You should explore different ways of keeping in touch using technology such as by phone, online with programmes like Skype or Facetime, and via social media.
The government guidance does make clear that you are permitted to leave your house to provide care or to help a vulnerable person who needs it. Even when doing this, however, you should minimise the time spent outside of your home and ensure that you are two metres apart from anyone outside of your household. Once at the home of the person you are caring for, you should wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds on arrival and repeat often while you are there.
It goes without saying that if you have any symptoms of Covid-19, namely a continuous cough or high temperature, you should not leave your home at all for 7 days. If anyone who is not you in your household is experiencing symptoms, you should not leave the house at all for 14 days. If you are self-isolating, and cannot leave the house, you should contact your local council to discuss alternative arrangements for those you care for.
As you can appreciate, this is a fast-moving situation and the advice is regularly updated. You should visit gov.uk/coronavirus for the very latest information.