Coronavirus advice, guidance and help

COVID-19: what you need to know

These are the latest details on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

We will keep this page updated with everything you need to know specifically for North Oxfordshire.

Please remember to think about those in your community who may need our help and support at this time: the sick, the elderly and those in need.

Please also remember to need to follow all the advice and guidance to help stop the spread of the virus.

The following restrictions currently apply to everyone in the UK

We must stay at home and only leave for:
– Shopping for basic necessities
– One form of exercise a day, alone or with members of your household
– A medical need
– Travelling to and from work when absolutely necessary

What is coronavirus (COVID-19)

COVID-19 is an illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It’s caused by a virus called coronavirus. Because it’s a new illness, it is not known exactly how coronavirus spreads from person to person, however similar viruses are spread in cough droplets. It’s very unlikely it can be spread through things like packages or food.

Avoiding catching coronavirus


– wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
– always wash your hands when you get home or into work
– use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
– cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
– put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
– avoid close contact with people who have symptoms of coronavirus
– only travel on public transport if you need to
work from home, if you can

– avoid social activities, such as going to pubs, restaurants, theatres and cinemas
– avoid events with large groups of people
– use phone, online services, or apps to contact your GP surgery or other NHS services


– touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
– have visitors to your home, including friends and family

Coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms

These are some of the most regular symptoms if you have coronavirus:

– a high temperature above 37.8C (100F)
– a new, continuous cough – this means you’ve started coughing repeatedly
– a shortness of breath

If you have any of these symptoms you must self-isolate straight away (see below).  Based on what has been seen of the virus so far these symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.

Remember, if you have these symptoms DO NOT go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.  You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you’re staying at home.

Use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service if:

– you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home
– your condition gets worse
– your symptoms do not get better after 7 days

Only call 111 if you cannot get help online.

This video by a German company attempts to explain more about how you can catch COVID-19 and what it does:

Self Isolating

If you have any of the coronavirus symptoms it’s important to stay at home for seven days to stop it spreading.   if you live with anyone else, everyone in your house needs to stay at home for 14 days from when the first person had symptoms.

Whilst you are at home self-isolating:


– try to keep at least 2 metres (3 steps) from other people in your home, particularly older people or those with long-term health conditions
ask friends and family and delivery services to deliver things like food shopping and medicines, but avoid contact with them
– sleep alone if possible
– regularly wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds
– try to stay away from older people and those with long-term health conditions
– drink plenty of water and take everyday painkillers, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen, to help with your symptoms


– have visitors (ask people to leave deliveries outside)
– leave the house, for example to go for a walk, to school or public places

If you have symptoms and live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days.   If you have to stay at home together, try to keep away from each other as much as possible.

Stay at home

We are being asked to only travel if it is essential.   This is really important is helping stop the virus spread.   Please think before heading out.   Do you really need to leave home?

If you come into contact with anyone else face to face you must stay at least 2 metres away from them to prevent the virus from spreading.

The best advice: Please stay at home.

Community Support

Community Connect from Citizens advice

0300 004 04 0l

Support and guidance on how to keep well at home, what support is available and how to manage anxiety, debt and money advice.

Volunteer Driving Scheme from Citizens advice

0300 3030125

If you (or someone elderly or vulnerable you know) are self-isolating and have no means of getting food, the Volunteer Driving Scheme can deliver an emergency food parcel to you.  To request a delivery, call the above number and leave your name and telephone number only. One of the team will call you back. They can also support you to get an assisted food delivery.


116 123 (free from any phone)

Whatever you’re going through, you can talk to someone at the Samaritans.

Oxfordshire Mind

01865 247788

If you’re concerned about your mental health, the information line can point you towards support.

Oxfordshire All In

This website maps all community services available within Oxfordshire, including those closest to you.

Local Foodbanks

An increasing amount of people need emergency essentials from the foodbank. Please do not feel embarrassed about asking for help – these are exceptionally difficult times. In order to book a package, you will need to have a voucher code which can be accessed from a variety of different agencies. For more information on receiving a code and how to get your package call 01295 661304 or email

Cherwell District Council

01295 227051 (Mon-Fri 8.45am-5.15pm) or email

Cherwell District Council has a dedicated phone and email service, helping vulnerable residents with their concerns. There’s also a new online guide, helping families stay active inside at

Domestic Abuse Support

Are you or someone you know at risk of harm from domestic abuse?
If you are at risk of harm at home, you can choose to leave and will be helped by police and support workers to get yourself and your family to somewhere safe. Anyone in immediate danger should phone 999.  If you are in danger and unable to talk on the phone, dial 999 and then press 55. This will transfer the call to police, who will assist without the caller having to speak.

Oxfordshire Domestic Abuse Services offer free advice: 0800 7310055 (Mon-Fri l0am-7pm)

Alternatively, call the 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0808 2000 247.

Support for vulnerable people

If you have a medical condition that makes you extremely vulnerable to coronavirus, by registering on the government website you may be able to get extra help.

Most of our local supermarkets are now using this list to help decide who qualifies for home deliveries.

If you’re not sure whether your medical condition makes you extremely vulnerable, register anyway.  The service is free.

You can register here.

Free parking for essential workers

Cherwell District Council is waiving parking charges in its Banbury car parks for employees who absolutely cannot work from home.

To have parking charged waived you need to identify yourself by placing a formal company-headed letter signed by you employer in your car window.   This must confirm that it is essential for you to park in Cherwell’s town centre car park to attend work.

The government advises you should work from home unless it is impossible to do so. They accept certain jobs require people to travel to their place of work – for instance if you operate machinery, work in construction or manufacturing, or are delivering a front line service.

Staying Fit and Well whilst staying at home


Sports England has lots of tips, advice and guidance on how to keep or get active in and around your home.   They’ve pulled together a selection of online exercise platforms with on demand fitness content where they either provide free access or have teamed up with Sport England to offer extended trials.

Find out more here.


Oxfordshire Mind “Safe Havens” in Banbury is still open on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. It provides support in the evenings and at the weekend to people who are struggling to cope. Opening times on these days are from 6pm till 10pm and the referral line is open from 5pm.   Call 01295 270004.   The service is currently providing predominantly phone support, but in exceptional circumstances they will see people face to face (on a one in one out basis).

Restrictions on Hospital Visits

You can no longer turn up and visit patients at the Horton General Hospital and the other hospitals that form the Oxford University Hospitals Trust.  This is a step to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and to protect the staff and patients.

From Monday 23 March 2020 they are not allowing any visitors to their hospitals.   There are just a few minor exceptions:

– Maternity – one birth partner only. Strictly no other children.
– Paediatrics – one parent/guardian only. Strictly no siblings.
– Patients at the end of life – in the difficult and upsetting circumstances where patients may be at the end of their life, the nurse or midwife in charge will enable up to one visitor per patient to spend time with their loved one.
– Advocates / visitors who are required to make decisions on behalf of patients who do not have the capacity to make decisions for themselves

On arrival to any ward or department, all visitors should immediately wash their hands and report to the nurse in charge. Visitors must also wash their hands or use the hand gel when they leave wards or departments.

Looking after others in our community

At Banbury FM we are encouraging everyone to look out for the more vulnerable in their community.   The #viralkindness scheme offers support to those self-isolating, the elderly and those that are housebound.

People are encouraged to drop their contact details to their neighbours as someone that can be called on for help if needed.   It is important to remember personal face to face contact should be avoided and any deliveries left by the door rather than handed over personally.

You can download the #viralkindness card to print off here in pdf format and here in jpeg format.

Vehicle MOTs

Vehicle owners will be granted a 6-month exemption from MOT testing, enabling them to continue to travel to work where this absolutely cannot be done from home, or shop for necessities.

All cars, vans and motorcycles which usually would require an MOT test will be exempted from needing a test from 30 March 2020. Vehicles must be kept in a roadworthy condition, and garages will remain open for essential repair work. Drivers can be prosecuted if driving unsafe vehicles.

Panic buying - there is no need

The shelves of many local supermarkets have been emptied as panic buying has hit North Oxfordshire.   There is no need for this.   It is those who shop weekly and only buy a few items at a time (such as the elderly) who end up going without.

Sainsbury’s has issued the following statement:

“I wanted to personally reassure you that we have more food and other essential items coming to us from manufacturers and into our warehouses and distribution centres. If we all shop just for the food that we and our families need, there will be enough for everyone.

I also wanted to let you know that at Sainsbury’s, we are working really hard to ensure this remains the case. Over the past two weeks we have:

– Ordered more stock of essential items from our suppliers
– Put more capacity into our warehouses and
– Set limits on a small number of items, including some cleaning products, soap and pain relief. This is a precautionary measure – if everyone shops normally, there will be enough for everyone.

There are gaps on shelves because of increased demand, but we have new stock arriving regularly and we’re doing our best to keep shelves stocked. Our store colleagues are working tirelessly and doing the best job they can.

Which brings me onto a request. Please think before you buy and only buy what you and your family need. If we all do this then we can make sure we have enough for everyone. And please help elderly and vulnerable friends, family and neighbours with their shopping if you can”.

Care Homes

The elderly and those with medical conditions are more at risk from coronavirus than other groups.   This includes those in Care Homes.

We asked our friends at The Ridings in Banbury for their advice on visiting anyone living there.   They told us:

Given the rising number of cases of Coronavirus in the country, we have put in place measures to safeguard the wellbeing of all our residents.

As part of this, we have made the decision to temporarily stop non-essential visits to our housing and care homes with immediate effect. This is purely a precaution.

Relatives and friends of residents will continue to be welcomed to our homes. Visitors should continue to follow NHS advice on hygiene, particularly as Coronavirus presents a greater risk to older people. 

Essential visits such as from medical specialists or if buildings maintenance were necessary will also continue. Our contractors have reassured us that they are following all relevant guidance. 

However, we are temporarily stopping all non-essential visits, for example from external organisations such as schools.

A senior team is meeting daily and will continue to monitor the situation. 

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