Coronavirus – what you need to know

For more answers visit our Business page

*This page was last updated on 8 April 2020*

(Includes guidance for those working in nurseries and the early years plus links to government public health website and resources. Updated daily.)

The coronavirus outbreak has now been declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and was officially labelled a "pandemic" after the virus spread to more than 100 countries.

The Chief Medical Officer for England has confirmed 55,242 patients in the UK have now tested positive for the coronavirus called Covid-19.

6,159 patients who tested positive for Covid-19 have died.

For any questions you have on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, Furlough Leave and Related Employment Matters please see our FAQs for providers on our Business Advice page.

Partial closures

The government has announced the 'partial closure' of childcare providers (including childminders) and schools with care still being provided for key workers and vulnerable children.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will allow all businesses to apply for grants to cover 80% of salaries of staff who are not working but kept on payroll during the coronavirus outbreak. These staff are referred to as 'furloughed workers'. 

Read more about the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Self-employed Income Support Scheme

The government will be offering self-employed workers similar protections as employed staff during the outbreak.

Self-employed people facing financial difficulties as a result of the coronavirus outbreak will be able to claim 80% of their monthly earnings up to £2,500 a month. Monthly earnings will be calculated using an average of profits over the last three financial years. The scheme will only be available to people who are already self employed and have a self-assessment tax return for 2019.

Read more about the Self-employed Income Support Scheme.


Key links to government guidance:

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Self-employed Income Support Scheme

Coronavirus (Covid-19): early years and childcare closures

Guidance for education and childcare settings on how to implement social distancing

Guidance for schools, colleges and local authorities on maintaining educational provision

COVID 19: Guidance for educational settings 

Key workers and vulnerable children

'Vulnerable children' includes children who are supported by social care, those with safeguarding and welfare needs, including child in need plans, on child protection plans, ‘looked after’ children, young carers, disabled children and those with education, health and care (EHC) plans.

More detail on the key worker list is available here.

The government has also published guidance for parents on 'partial closures' in which it says on the issue of parent fees during closures: "We are asking providers to be reasonable and balanced in their dealings with parents".

The full government parent guidance is available here.

Coronavirus helpline

The Department for Education has a helpline for early years providers, schools and colleges – as well as parents, carers and young people – who have questions about coronavirus.

If you have specific questions about the virus call:

0800 046 8687


What is a coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a common type of virus. They typically cause fever and a cough, which may progress to more severe pneumonia, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties in some people, according to Public Health England (PHE).

Novel coronavirus (2019-nCov) is a new strain of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan City, Hubei province, China. The current evidence is that most cases appear to be mild and most of those who have died have had pre-existing health conditions.

Because little is known about this new strain of the virus, it is not clear how it is spread, however, similar viruses tend to be spread by coughs and sneezes – so the way the infection gains entry to the body is the same as the way it exits and spreads to others.

It is also possible that the virus may be spread by touching a surface or object that has been coughed or sneezed on by someone with the virus – such as by touching a doorknob or shaking hands with someone and then touching your face.

There is currently no specific cure for the new coronavirus so treatment is aimed at relieving the symptoms.

What are the symptoms?

The NHS advises that symptoms of the coronavirus usually include:

  • feeling tired
  • difficulty breathing
  • a high temperature
  • a persistent cough


Notification: On its website Ofsted says: 'At this time, you do not need to let us know if you are closed due to COVID-19 (coronavirus), whether that’s because you are not caring for the children of critical workers or vulnerable children, or because you are ill.'

Ratios: EYFS section 3:30 allows for child:adult ratios to be relaxed in exceptional circumstances, where the quality of care and safety of children is maintained. Ofsted has confirmed that the coronavirus outbreak is an exceptional circumstance and that there is no need to notify them if you need to relax ratios at this time.

Inspections: Routine Ofsted inspections have been suspended for the time being. 

Fees: Ofsted has said that invoices for annual fees issued from 3 April will now have a due date of 30 September 2020, so that providers can delay payment during this time. Providers usual annual fee date will not change going forward.

Key links for early years and childcare providers

Coronavirus (Covid-19): early years and childcare closures

Guidance on maintaining educational provision

Guidance for schools, colleges and local authorities on maintaining educational provision

COVID 19 - Guidance for Educational Setttings (DfE)

Key health information links

You may wish to signpost staff and parents to credible sources of further information about coronavirus.

These sites will have all the official information you will need and should ideally be the only source of information you refer to:

COVID 19: Guidance for educational settings (DfE and Public Health England)

COVID 19 - Common Questions - Advice for You and Your Family (NHS)

Coronarvirus: latest information and advice (Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England)

Coronavirus (2019-cCoV) (NHS)

Coronavirus FAQs (NHS)

Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) - what you need to know (Public Health England)