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

Many of the restrictions to our lives have been eased. But the arrival of the Omicron variant of the virus reminds us that Covid-19 has not gone away.

So we’re urging people across Greater Manchester to keep doing the right thing by each other. By following those rules that have been reintroduced, 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 a move to Plan B in England following the arrival of a new Covid-19 variant in the UK:

  • We should all get fully vaccinated. As many as 90 per cent of those in intensive care with Covid have not had their booster, and over 60 per cent of those in intensive care who have Covid have not had any vaccination at all.
    • every adult in the country is now being urged to book their booster jab as soon as possible.
    • the vaccination programme is open to everyone. First and second doses remain available.
  • We must wear a face covering in most indoor public places and on all public transport, unless exempt.
    • this now means in shops (including supermarkets, indoor markets, shopping malls), places providing personal care and beauty treatments (including hairdressers, tattoo and piercing studios, nail salons), attractions and entertainment venues (including cinemas, theatres, museums and indoor sports and play centres) and places of worship.
    • while face coverings are not legally required in some other places, such as bars and restaurants, we strongly encourage people to continue to wear them anywhere when out and about. This is particularly the case when visiting busy or crowded places where we may come into contact with people we do not normally meet.
  • We should take free rapid Covid tests (using a "lateral flow device") before doing things that could put us at higher risk of catching the virus - such as shopping in busy places, attending crowded events, or meeting up with groups of friends or family members.
    • These rapid tests remain free of charge and can be collected from local pharmacies or some council buildings such as libraries. They can also be ordered from gov.uk.
  • If you've been close to someone who is infected with coronavirus, then NHS Test and Trace and the NHS Covid-19 app will tell you whether you need to self-isolate. If any of the following apply, you do not need to self-isolate - but should instead take a rapid Covid test every day for 7 days:
    • you're fully vaccinated – this means 14 days have passed since your final dose of an approved Covid-19 vaccine.
    • you're under 18 years and 6 months old
    • you're taking part or have taken part in an approved Covid-19 vaccine trial
    • you're not able to get vaccinated for medical reasons
  • Local and national support remains available to help us to self-isolate immediately and for the full amount of time required. Find out more in our checklist for self-isolating safely.
  • We are currently advised to work from home if we can.
  • If travelling from overseas, returning into England, there are no longer requirements to take a Covid test before travelling or quarantine after you arrive. You will still need to take a test after arriving in England.

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.

In addition to the measures summarised above, this also means:

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

Get fully jabbed

An urgent national appeal is calling for people to get jabbed.

If you’re aged 12 or above, getting fully vaccinated is the best way of protecting you and others against Covid-19. Evidence indicates that 2 doses of a Covid vaccine provide very effective protection against hospitalisation.

All adults in England have now been offered at least 2 doses of a Covid-19 vaccine. But if you have not yet had your vaccines, first and second doses remain available.

To book your vaccine online, visit: nhs.uk/covidvaccine.

Or find a local walk-in 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 16 and above who have had two doses of a vaccine at least 3 months ago.

Data suggests that two vaccine doses are substantially less effective at protecting against an infection with symptoms from the Omicron variant. Getting a third dose will boost your protection back up to over 70%.

Booster bookings are available through the National Booking System.

Some walk-in appointments are also available. If there are long queues or all slots have been booked, you are encouraged to be patient and keep trying, or book online.

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

Book your booster through the National Booking System 

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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 or have already had the virus.

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

As we are now responding to this 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.

We continue to advise that rapid tests are used twice a week.

Taking rapid lateral flow (LFD) tests is particularly important if you’re going out and about – such as to work (if not able to work from home), school or college or to places that are likely to be busy.

These rapid tests remain free of charge and can be collected from local pharmacies or some council buildings such as libraries. They can also be ordered from gov.uk.

If you get a positive rapid test result, you do not now always need to book a PCR test to confirm the result.  You must self-isolate away from other people straight away to avoid spreading the infection to others. There are certain circumstances where you should still take a follow-up PCR test, for example if you wish to claim financial support to self-isolate.

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 after you book the test and while you 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, for at least 5 full days after the day you first felt unwell or the day of your test if you tested positive but did not have symptoms. 

You can end your self-isolation after 5 full days if:

  • you have two negative rapid (LFD) tests taken 24 hours apart, on days 5 and 6 after starting your self-isolation
  • you do not feel unwell (in particular with a high temperature)

You should continue to self-isolate if you have a high temperature or either of your rapid tests on days 5 or 6 give a positive result.

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

When you stop self-isolating at the allowed point, you should follow the current measures in place for stopping the virus, including limiting close contact with other people you do not live with, especially in busy, indoor or poorly ventilated spaces.  

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.

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 feel unwell or test positive for coronavirus.

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

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) will ask you to prove your Covid-19 status as a condition of entry.

These include unseated indoor events with 500 or more attendees, unseated outdoor events with 4,000 or more attendees and any event with 10,000 or more attendees.

The NHS Covid Pass allows you to show your Covid status. 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 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.

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

You may need to arrange Covid-19 tests to enter the countries that you will travel to. You cannot use an NHS test for this. You must use a private test provider.

Find a travel test provider.

Travel to England if you are fully vaccinated
If you qualify as fully vaccinated for travel to England, you do not now need to:
• take a COVID-19 test before you travel to England
• quarantine when you arrive in England

When you arrive in England, you can choose to take a rapid lateral flow test or a PCR test within two days. If your test result is positive, you must self-isolate. If you take a rapid lateral flow test and the result is positive, you must also take a follow-up PCR test to confirm the result.

Travel to England if you are not fully vaccinated

If you are not fully vaccinated, after you arrive in England you must:

  • quarantine at home or in the place you are staying for 10 full days
  • take a PCR test within two days

 

Read more about who qualifies as fully vaccinated.

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 amount of time 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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