Over the last year and a half of restrictions, we have all done our bit to keep each other safe.

Our city region is now fully re-opening, and many of the restrictions to our lives have been eased.

But the arrival of the new variant (gov.uk) of the virus (called "Omicron") reminds us that Covid-19 has not got away.

So we’re urging people across Greater Manchester to keep doing the right thing by each other. By keeping up safe behaviours and adopting new habits even if fully vaccinated.

Living alongside coronavirus isn’t always easy. But with each other’s help, and the additional support available, we can do this.

Let’s keep everyone safe and keep us doing the things we love most.


Contents

  1. The 'Omicron' variant
  2. Get Fully Jabbed
  3. Every action you take can help keep us all safer
  4. Helping all residents stay safe and well

The ‘Omicron’ variant

The Prime Minister has announced new national measures following the arrival of a new Covid-19 variant in the UK:

  • You must wear a face covering in shops and on all public transport from Tuesday 30 November, unless you are exempt.
    • In addition, we strongly encourage people to wear face coverings in all other crowded areas or where you are likely to come into contact with people you don’t usually meet.
  • You must self-isolate away from other people for ten days, even if you are fully vaccinated, if you are contacted by NHS Test and Trace and told you have recently been close to someone who is infected with this variant.
    • Local and national support remains available to help you to self-isolate immediately and for the full amount of time required. Find out more in our checklist for self-isolating safely.
  • If travelling from overseas, you must take a PCR test within 48 hours of arriving, and self-isolate away from other people until you receive a negative result.
    • Additional measures are in place for arrivals from selected other countries which have been added to the UK’s travel 'red list'.

Early indications suggest this variant may spread more easily than other forms of the virus. So it is more important than ever that we all do our bit to keep ourselves and other people safe. That means:

Find the latest updated information on the measures at gov.uk.

Get fully jabbed

If you’re aged 12 or above, by making sure you’re fully jabbed you’ll be looking after yourself, your friends and colleagues and your loved ones.

Getting two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine given eight weeks apart provides the best protection from getting coronavirus, passing it to others and becoming seriously ill.

To book your vaccine online, visit: nhs.uk/covidvaccine or find a local pop-up site near you: www.england.nhs.uk/north-west/grab-a-jab

Booster vaccines

Booster vaccine doses are now being made available on the NHS for all adults aged 18 and above who have already had two doses of a vaccine.

A booster helps further improve the protection you have from your first two doses, and gives you longer-term protection against getting seriously ill from coronavirus.

Nationally, over 16 million people have already come forward for their booster jabs, and we have seen a fall in hospitalisations and deaths.

The boosters are being offered in order to protect those who are most vulnerable to the virus. So priority is being given initially to older adults and people over 16 who are at risk.

Find out more about the Covid-19 vaccination booster dose at NHS.uk

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Every action you take can help keep us all safer

It is still possible to catch and spread coronavirus, even if you are fully vaccinated.

In general, the risk of catching or passing on Covid-19 is higher in crowded and enclosed spaces, where there are more people who might be infectious and fresh air is limited.

As we are now responding to this new variant of the virus, you should be particularly careful to follow the guidance to keep yourself and others safe.

Keep rapid testing regularly

Around 1 in 3 people with Covid-19 do not have any symptoms and could be spreading the virus without knowing it. Rapid testing regularly increases the chances of detecting coronavirus.

Taking rapid lateral flow (LFD) tests is particularly important if you’re going out and about – such as to work, school or college or to places that are likely to be busy.

Stay at home and get a PCR test if you feel unwell

If you’re feeling unwell, even if your symptoms are mild, stay at home and get yourself a PCR test. It’s the right thing to do.

The most important symptoms of Covid-19 are recently developing any of the following:

  • a new continuous cough
  • a high temperature
  • a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell

You should self-isolate at home while you book the test and wait for the results.

This means remaining at home and not going outside for any reason other than to take your Covid test. You should not go out to work, school or public areas, or use public transport or taxis.

You must continue to self-isolate if you test positive. Your isolation period includes the day your symptoms started (or the day your test was taken if you do not have symptoms), and the next 10 full days. This is the law, regardless of whether you have been vaccinated.

Support is available to help you to self-isolate immediately and for the full amount of time required.

Self-isolate if required

In addition to when feeling unwell or after a positive test, there may be other times when you are told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace. This may be because you live in the same household as someone who has tested positive or because you have come into contact with someone outside your household who has tested positive, including for the Omicron variant.

It is important to follow the advice given if you are contacted by NHS Test and Trace and told you have recently been close to someone with the virus. They may advise that, if you feel well and haven’t tested positive for coronavirus in the previous 10 days, you don’t need to self-isolate if any of the following apply:

  • you’re fully vaccinated
  • you’re below the age of 18 years and 6 months
  • you’ve taken part in or are currently part of an approved Covid-19 vaccine trial
  • you’re not able to get vaccinated for medical reasons

Instead, you’ll be given advice on testing and preventing the spread of Covid-19.

These exemptions do not apply if you have been close to someone who is thought to have the Omicron variant. In this situation, you must self-isolate for ten days, regardless of your vaccination status. NHS Test and Trace will contact you with advice if this is the case.

Find more information about the current exemptions from self-isolation on gov.uk.

These exemptions do not apply if you feel unwell or test positive for coronavirus.

Wear your face covering

Covid-19 spreads through the air by droplets and aerosols that are exhaled from the nose and mouth of an infected person.

Following the arrival of the new Covid variant, anyone going in to any shops or using any public transport – including bus stations or transport interchanges - must wear a face covering unless exempt.

To further reduce these risks, we strongly encourage people to wear face coverings in any crowded areas or where you are likely to come into contact with people you don’t usually meet.

See all of the places where face coverings are now required on gov.uk

Find out more about wearing your face covering on public transport from Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM)

Wash your hands regularly and cover coughs and sneezes

Wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitiser regularly throughout the day. Regular hand washing is an effective way to reduce your risk of catching illnesses, including Covid-19.

Find out more information on what you should do and when on gov.uk.

Let fresh air in

The more fresh air you let into your home or other enclosed spaces, the less likely a person is to breathe in infectious particles. So say hello to a little fresh air.

You can let in fresh air by opening doors and windows or uncovering vents.

We know this won’t be easy in the colder months and we’re struggling to keep our homes warm. But opening your windows for just 10 minutes, or a small amount of time continuously where you can, makes a significant difference.

This is particularly important before, during and after meeting people you do not live with indoors.

Download the NHS Covid app

Eating out, a quick drink, or heading to the football? The Covid-19 app lets you know if you’ve been in contact with someone who has tested positive, and helps slow the spread. You can also use it to check-in to venues, receive advice if there has been an outbreak, report symptoms and order coronavirus tests.

The app is free and easy to use.

Download the latest version of the NHS Covid-19 app.

Show your Covid-19 status

Some large, busy venues where you are likely to be close to other people (such as nightclubs or events) may ask you to prove your Covid-19 status as a condition of entry.

The NHS Covid Pass allows you to do this. It demonstrates that you are at lower risk of transmitting the virus to other people, because you are fully vaccinated, have had a recent negative test, or have proof of natural immunity.

Find out how to show your Covid-19 status on gov.uk

Know the facts when travelling overseas

You may also be asked to show an NHS Covid Pass to travel abroad.

Whether travelling for leisure, to see loved ones or do business, you should check the testing and quarantine rules in place for where you are travelling to.

It is currently particularly important to check the rules regularly before you travel, as many countries are introducing additional measures in response to the new Omicron variant.

If you live in England, you should not travel to countries or territories on the UK’s travel ‘red list’. This list has been updated following the emergence of the new variant.

More information on travelling abroad from England is available on gov.uk.

There are also rules in place for travel from overseas into England. Anyone entering the UK from overseas must take a PCR test  within 48 hours of arriving, and self-isolate away from other people until they receive a negative result. Rapid lateral flow tests will not be accepted.

There UK’s travel ‘red list’ has also been updated in response to the new variant. If you have been in a country or territory on the red list in the 10 days before you arrive in England, you will only be allowed to enter the UK if you either are a British or Irish National, or have residence rights in the UK.

Find details on travelling to England from the rest of the world on gov.uk.

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Helping all residents stay safe and well

In your area

Local plans are in place to stop coronavirus, deal with outbreaks, and help everyone to stay safe and well while doing so.

Links below open in new window

Support while self-isolating

Local and national help is available to help you to self-isolate immediately and for the full ten days when required.

Your local council can help with practical support, such as accessing food. Pharmacies and dispensing GPs can provide your prescription medication through a medicine delivery service. You may also be able to claim a one-off payment of £500 through the NHS Test and Trace Support Payment scheme if you or any children you are responsible for are required to stay at home and self-isolate.

Further information on this and other self-isolation support in Greater Manchester is available in our checklist for self-isolating safely.

Everyday support while Covid’s still here

Help remains available from NHS Volunteer Responders, set up earlier in the coronavirus pandemic.

The support they offer includes help with shopping for food and essential items; collecting and delivering prescriptions; regular talks over the phone; patient transport.

To register for support from the NHS Volunteer Responder programme please call 0808 196 3646 (8am to 8pm, 7 days a week).

For more information see the NHS Volunteer Responders website.

Community Hubs in each local authority provide support for the most vulnerable residents. They can help you access food, medical supplies and hardship grants, if you have no other means of doing this.

Find out more about community hubs across Greater Manchester.

Finances

If you’ve got less money because of the coronavirus pandemic, you might be able to get help with your bills, rent or mortgage. You could also have become eligible to claim benefits or get more money on your current benefits.

See Citizens Advice information and guidance for what you can do if you cannot pay your bills because of coronavirus.

Coronavirus may also be impacting on the place you call home. We have advice and guidance for both tenants and landlords with concerns about their situation.

See GMCA advice for tenants and landlords in the private rented sector.

Work and employment

Whether out of work, on furlough or reduced hours, self-employed, running your own business, going out to work or working from home – the employment impacts of coronavirus continue to impact many people in many ways.

If you’re work has been disrupted, or you’re finding it hard starting out on your career, Employ GM has a range of services available to help you into work.

See Employ GM’s support for individuals.

The Growth Company’s Business Growth Hub provides wide-ranging advice regarding concerns you may have about the impacts of Covid-19 on your business.

Call 0161 237 4128 or visit the Business Growth Hub online.

The government also continues to provide Covid‑19 support to employers and the self-employed, including sole traders and limited company directors. This includes loans, tax relief and grants.

Find out more about coronavirus business support on gov.uk.

The national Every Mind Matters website has tips and tools for your mental health and wellbeing – whether its affected by returning to work after lockdown or continuing to work from home.

Mental health and wellbeing - if you need support we're here to help

We know things may be difficult at the moment. If you find yourself feeling anxious, stressed or overwhelmed, there’s support out there for you.

See Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnerships' mental health and wellbeing resources

Find mental health support where you live

Free text and online support

Shout

With this 24/7 crisis text messaging service you can send a text message any time of day or night wherever you are - every conversation is with a real person.

Text SHOUT to 85258

  • You don’t need an app or data and there’s no registration process
  • It’s silent and won’t appear on your phone bill
  • Confidential and anonymous
Kooth – for children and young people aged 11 to 18 years

You can:

Apps to support your health, mental health and wellbeing

All these apps have been tested and approved. (Your Health App Finder)

Free online wellbeing programmes

Online courses for anyone affected by low mood, anxiety or depression. Materials have been designed to improve feelings and beat stress. Available online and totally free of charge if you live in Greater Manchester.

Living Life To The Full

Online programmes to help ease your levels of stress, sleep better or to build resilience. You can choose to use any of the programmes. They are self-help, confidential and secure.

SilverCloud – for those aged 16 years+

Crisis Lines in Greater Manchester

If you feel you need mental health support please contact one of these 24/7 crisis lines – they’re available to anyone of any age.

Bolton, Manchester, Salford and Trafford

0800 953 0285 (freephone)

Bury, Heywood, Middleton & Rochdale, Oldham, Stockport and Tameside & Glossop

0800 014 9995 (freephone)

Wigan

0800 051 3253 (freephone)

If there’s an immediate risk of danger to life, you should ring 999

Shining a Light on Suicide

Whether you’re feeling suicidal, worried someone else is, or have lost someone to suicide, you’re not alone. Whatever you’re going through, we’ll help you get the advice and support you need.

Visit the Shining a Light on Suicide website

Physical health

While Covid’s still here, you can help yourself make positive, healthier changes that could make you feel better.

Healthy changes start with little changes. So whether you want to lose weight, get active or quit smoking, the national Better Health website is here with lots of free tools and support.

Find out more about actions you could take and the help available from Better Health.

The coronavirus pandemic has meant some people have had operations and medical procedures postponed. The NHS is working hard to get people seen as quickly as possible.

If you (or someone you care for) are waiting on delayed medical care, you are likely to have concerns and questions. Greater Manchester’s new While You Wait website provides further information and advice, along with handy resources, to help you manage your physical and mental wellbeing while waiting for hospital care.

Visit the Greater Manchester While You Wait website

Support for affected communities

Some parts of population have been more deeply impacted by coronavirus than others. We’re partnering with a range of trusted voices and networks to help provide these residents relevant information and advice.

Further details of these projects will be available here in the coming weeks.

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