What Government guidance and advice is available?

The UK Government Coronavirus webpages bring together guidance for the general public and for businesses. You can access it at: www.gov.uk/coronavirus

This remains the key resource for the latest information and advice. The information below is updated regularly, however it does not supersede advice or information provided by the relevant Government bodies and regulators.

Guidance for the public

The UK Government Coronavirus webpages bring together guidance for the general public and for businesses. You can access it at: www.gov.uk/coronavirus. Social distancing guidance and self-isolating guidance is available.


You can get a throat and nose swab test for whether you currently have coronavirus. Testing is most effective within 3 days of symptoms developing.

Who can be tested

Anyone with symptoms can get a free coronavirus test

You can get a test:

  • for yourself, if you have coronavirus symptoms now (a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste)
  • for someone you live with, if they have coronavirus symptoms
  • for yourself, if you have been told to have a test before you go into hospital, for example, for surgery

You can get 1 test for each person with symptoms or one for yourself if your hospital tells you that you need it.

This service is for people in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

In England and Wales, you can get a test for a child who lives with you, whatever their age. In Scotland and Northern Ireland, you can only get a test for your child if they are aged 5 or over.

See the Government's 5-pillar strategy for coronavirus testing.

Schools and 'key' or 'critical' workers

The UK Government guidance on actions for schools during the coronavirus outbreak is here. The latest reflects the announcement by the Prime Minister that the government’s 5 tests have been met and the decision, based on all the evidence, to move forward with wider opening of education and childcare settings. 

There is also further UK Government guidance for schools and educational settings for critical workers.  

The Scottish Government have issued separate guidance on what constitutes a “key worker”. Rather than provide a list, the Scottish Government has identified three different categories of “key worker” and are enabling local authorities to interpret this guidance depending on their regional priorities.

The Welsh Government have issued separate guidance on what constitutes a “critical worker”, which mirrors that published on “key workers” in England.

The NI Minister of Education issued the following statement including information on key workers.


There are different ways to volunteer during the coronavirus pandemic depending on whether you can go out. You can find out more here.

Guidance for businesses

The UK Government has set out guidance for employers and businesses specifically to support employers and businesses with their preparations. This provides guidance on what to do if someone suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 has been in business settings; what advice to give to individuals who have travelled to specific areas; and actions to take if staff come into contact with someone who is self-isolating or is a possible or confirmed case of COVID-19.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has established a helpline for businesses. Please contact them on 0300 456 3565 Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm, or email enquiries@businesssupporthelpline.org.

Additionally, ACAS has published information for employees and employers, including information on simple steps to help protect the health and safety of staff, sick pay and absence from work.

Financial support for businesses 

Coronavirus (COVID-19) support is available to businesses with more information here

The Chancellor has set out a package of temporary, timely and targeted measures to support public services, people and businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19. This includes a package of measures to support businesses including:

  • a statutory sick pay relief package for SMEs
  • a 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England
  • small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
  • grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  • the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank
  • a new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans
  • the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme

In addition to the measures introduced by the Chancellor the Scottish Government have set out some additional efforts to support businesses during this time. These include rates relief packages for small businesses and grants for those in impacted sectors such as retail and hospitality.

In addition to the measures introduced by the Chancellor the Welsh Government have set out some additional efforts to support businesses during this time. These include rates relief packages for small businesses and grants for those in impacted sectors such as retail and hospitality.

nibusinessinfo.co.uk is a free service offered by Invest Northern Ireland issued the following advice for businesses within NI.

Guidance for pharmaceutical companies

The National Credentialing Register has published a list of statements from Hospital Trusts on policies restricting ‘external’ representatives visiting their sites. This includes the contacts at the trusts that enquiries need to be sent to.


For those conducting COVID-19 research

The UK Government has developed a process for prioritising, coordinating and delivering COVID-19 related clinical trials. This support includes expedited identification of sites to ensure appropriate geographical distribution of Urgent Public Health Research to maximise recruitment and minimise over-commitment of resource.

The review process has four steps:

  1. Provide information about the study – research application form.
  2. Review of the study by clinical and research experts, with final approval from the DHSC’s CMO/deputy CMO for England.
  3. Expedite the set-up and delivery of studies
  4. Coordinate oversight of all COVID-19 research, as managed by NIHR

Additional information

  • The HRA are publishing a list of all COVID-19 research that’s been approved by a Research Ethics Committee (REC).
  • The DHSC has announced £20 million in funding for the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to aid vaccine research for coronavirus and other infectious diseases.
  • DHSC and UKRI are jointly launching a rapid response rolling call for proposals for research into COVID-19. The research scope of this call includes virology, diagnostics, epidemiology, public health, clinical management therapies, vaccines and health and care delivery.

For supporting ongoing research

The MHRA has issued a series of guidance documents which cover managing clinical trials, changes to GxP inspections and medical devices clinical investigations during the COVID-19 outbreak. This guidance is updated regularly. The MHRA have also introduced a range of flexible approaches to regulation in order to support the medicines supply chain and wider healthcare response to the COVID-19 outbreak in the UK. The MHRA has updated guidance for Yellow Card adverse event reporting.

The HRA has published guidance for sponsors, sites and researchers about the COVID-19 pandemic. The guidance covers the setup of new studies, amendments to existing studies and changes being made by sponsors at this time. This guidance is updated regularly.

Until further notice, the NIHR Clinical Research Network is pausing the set-up of any new or ongoing studies at NHS and social care site that are not nationally sponsored COVID-19 studies.

  • Health and Care Research Wales publish rolling guidance for those undertaking research in Wales.

  • Health and Social Care R&D Division Northern Ireland guidance for those undertaking research funded by HSC.

  • NHS Research Scotland publish rolling guidance for those undertaking research in Scotland.

Please do keep the ABPI informed of any concerns that you may have around research and development by contacting Jennifer Harris (JHarris@abpi.org.uk).

For those supplying medicines

The UK Government has asked pharmaceutical companies where possible to retain any remaining additional stockpiles of medicines that were built in preparation for a ‘no deal’ Brexit. 

The Department of Health and Social Care have stood up the National Supply Disruption Response (NSDR) to monitor the supply situation and co-ordinate actions to address any incidents of supply disruption where normal procedures are unable to provide a resolution. MAH’s have received guidance directly from the DHSC. Contact details for the NSDR are:

Last modified: 22 April 2024

Last reviewed: 22 April 2024