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Q&A about Covid-19

May 01 2020

Groundswell offers a Covid-19 round-up

Q. What are the symptoms? Coronavirus or Covid-19 is a viral illness that can affect your lungs and airways. The symptoms include a high temperature – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back and have a new, continuous cough.

Q. What is self-isolation? Self-isolation means you should not leave your accommodation, other than to exercise once a day. You self-isolate if your symptoms are mild for at least 7 days. Anyone who you live with should not leave home for 14 days.



If you are self-isolating can someone bring you books, music or a newspaper to entertain you? More ideas on p22 onwards. © Pavement


Q. What is social distancing? Social distancing helps limit the risk of catching or spreading coronavirus. Social distancing means you should stay 2 metres apart.



If you are in a hotel or hostel this includes people you do not share living spaces with. During lockdown it means you should only go outside:

  1. To shop for essentials – food and medication.
  2. To do one form of exercise a day – alone or with other people you live with.
  3. For any medical need – for yourself or to provide care/ help to a vulnerable person.

TIP: It can be boring staying indoors. There are ideas to keep yourself busy throughout this booklet.

Stay safe rough sleeping, in a hostel or in temporary accommodation

Q: How do I stay healthy?
In most areas Local Authorities are providing hotel accommodation for people rough sleeping. Services are different so contact your local homelessness services to find out more.
Inside or out:

  • Use social distancing.
  • Always wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds when you go in or out of your hostel and when you go into and leave any building or public spaces.
  • If you are rough sleeping carry a bottle of water and soap or gel hand sanitiser. If there’s no soap use hot/warm running water.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue, toilet paper or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze. Rough sleepers keep some toilet paper with you.
  • Put used tissues in the bin and wash your hands again.
  • In hostels ask staff if supplies of soap or toilet roll run out.
  • Do not have visitors to your hostel room. Need any Need anything? Get it left by the door.
  • Do not shake dirty laundry as this can spread the virus.
  • Use your elbows, arms and shoulders to open doors instead of your hands.
  • Don’t bed down near to people, or share tents with people, that you have not already been sleeping near.



Q. What if someone I live with has symptoms?

  • You must self-isolate for 14 days because it can take time for symptoms to appear.
  • Do not have visitors to your room. Need anything? Get it left by the door.
  • If you have a shared bathroom/kitchen speak to staff about how best to use these spaces. Could you assign slots to avoid coming into contact with others?
  • Make sure the bathrooms/ kitchen are cleaned after you’ve used them with normal cleaning products. 
  • If you are rough sleeping stay 2 metres away from anyone. Do not share tents and bedding.
  • Stay in contact with friends, family and support services by phone or online. 
  • Can someone bring food and drink to you? Could you ask a support worker?
  • Do you need alcohol or drugs? Can someone bring them to you? See p12-16.
  • Can your pharmacy or prescriber make arrangements to get medication or script to you? Could a support worker collect for you



Q. How do I self-isolate in a hostel or rough sleeping?

  • Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. 
  • Let hostel staff know if you are feeling unwell. They should make arrangements for you to self-isolate in your accommodation or help you to find alternative arrangements.
  • Where possible, stay in a separate area behind a closed door, with an open window for ventilation.
  • If you are rough sleeping, self-isolating will be a challenge. Contact support staff from a day centre, outreach team or local support service and let them know your situation. Do not go in person as this increases risks for you and others.
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