Coronavirus Q&A: 15 questions on work, holidays and everyday life answered

We know you have many questions about coronavirus and how it's impacting your life - so ITV News is putting your questions to the experts in a special weekly programme, called Coronavirus: Q&A.

The programme is broadcast every Monday at 8pm on ITV.

In this week's programme, Consumer Editor Chris Choi answered some of the many questions ITV News viewers and readers sent in about how the outbreak is affecting your health work, travel and your everyday life.

These are the answers to the questions Chris answered on the programme, plus other questions we didn't have time to include on air.

  • FOOD

Steven: I am classed as extremely vulnerable but can't get a supermarket delivery slot. My food supply is getting very low what am I meant to do?

Answer: If friends, family or neighbours can help, make sure they leave supplies on the doorstep and do not enter your home.

Please don’t be shy to ask for help.

Don't feel alone.

Supermarkets have started to prioritise vulnerable people for online delivery slots. Credit: PA

Volunteers and food banks are operating in many areas, check local papers and online.

The Government is sending free basic food parcels, 50,000 this week.

You can register for support on the Government's coronavirus website - or call the number included in the NHS letter being sent to the extremely vulnerable.

  • WORK

Chloe: I am on a zero-hours contract, I'm not earning any money. What help can I get?

Answer: Employees on zero hours contracts are eligible for the Government job retention scheme.

If you and your employer agree, you can be put on “furlough” which puts your job on hold.

It pays you 80% of your usual income up to £2,500 a month.

This will be based on your average monthly earnings.

The Government is advising all those who can work from home to do so. Credit: PA

Natalie: If someone is high risk and advised to take 12 weeks off work - does the Government pay for this period of time?

Answer: If you are an employee remaining at home on government advice you should get Statutory Sick Pay, as long as you usually earn more than £118 per week.

You will get this from day one.

Dean: As a window cleaner, I work on my own and rarely make contact with customers as they pay online. Should I get back out to work?

Answer: Official advise is to work from home if you can – you certainly can't.

People stuck inside need to be able to see outside - so I’m sure you’ll be appreciated.

Work carefully, there's a big campaign to prevent accidents at the moment because nobody want to distract the NHS.

Shoppers in Wolverhampton maintain a two metre social distance. Credit: PA

Michael: My wife works as a supermarket checkout operator but has received a GP letter telling her to socially distance for two weeks. Can she be furloughed?

Answer: Furlough is for if the work isn't there any more – but as we know supermarkets are busy and staff are doing amazing work.

If you are told to self-isolate, you can get sick pay from day one of your time off.

It's usually £94.25 per week.

Mr Spence: I'm a refuse collector. Should we be wearing extra protection?

Answer: We know the virus can live on surfaces for days.

Some councils are asking people to put used tissues and cleaning cloths aside perhaps in a bag for 72 hours before placing in the bins.

Refuse collectors wear gloves which should protect them - washing after a shift will be more vital than ever.

Washing after a shift is more essential than ever to combat the spread of the virus. Credit: PA

Lucy: We are due to go to Bali mid-June, while my son is due to go inter-railing in mid-July. What are the chances we will be allowed to travel?

Answer: The current advice against travel only lasts until April 15, but it's likely to be extended.

Restrictions in all destinations are now hard to predict.

It’s the same advice to anyone who has booked a summer holiday - don’t cancel yet or you will lose your money.

If the travel ban is extended and travel firms cancel holidays you will be entitled to refunds - so best to wait for now.

British Airways flights parked up at an airport as a result of a reduced flight timetable. Credit: PA

Katie: I’ve booked a holiday to Cyprus in September, should I pay the next instalment?

Answer: If you keep up the payments you will get a refund if the holiday gets cancelled.

If you don’t pay – you are likely to lose what you have already paid.

Consumer group Which? recommends paying the full balance in this situation - but not until after April 16, as the official advice will have been updated by then and the situation may be clearer.


Kay: Can my family of four can travel by car from the north-east of England to go to a family funeral in south Yorkshire?

Answer: Condolences for your loss.

Yes you can travel for a funeral.

You can also stay in a hotel overnight if you need to when attending a funeral.

Once you are at the funeral you must remain two metres away from others.

Drivers in the UK are likely to see road signs about staying at home during the crisis. Credit: PA

Richard: What is a person in isolation supposed to do to top-up pre-payment gas and electricity meters?

Answer: On average, energy for a two-week isolation would cost £46.

Ask family and friends to top up cards for you – staying two metres away at all times.

Some firms have increased the amount of emergency reserve, for example Npower from £7 to £45, Eon £5 to £50.

Others like British Gas say you can call them or go online.

Michael: Can you tell me is it possible to get a simple thing like a haircut?

Answer: Salons and barbers are shut and could be for some time.

If a member of your household has these skills, great.

As a warning to all, take a look at some terrible results of home haircuts posted on social media.

It may be time to consider a hat.

Food packaging should be carefully discarded after purchase. Credit: PA

Maureen: I am in the vulnerable category for a food delivery. What safety measures should we adopt when unpacking food deliveries?

Answer: Shopping should be left on your doorstep.

Unpack it, carefully discard the packing, then wash your hand thoroughly.

A new study from Princeton University shows the virus can survive on packaging up to three days.

Sharon: I am in the "at risk" group but have to walk my dog. I am really worried about coronavirus being passed on via pets.

Answer: Getting out into the fresh air for exercise can do you good – but stay two metres away from others.

Official UK Government advice is that “there is no evidence pets can be infected with coronavirus”.

However, the problem is that dogs don’t do social distancing.

If they get patted by other people they can carry virus into your home – not a big risk, but just wash your hands after stroking pets.

We are now living in an era when humans are looking forward to their daily “walkies” as much as the dogs.

Dog walkers should maintain the recommended two metre social distance on outings. Credit: PA

Denise: Is there any provision to waive payments for student accommodation where students are back home with parents and unable to travel back?

Answer: Some campuses are offering refunds - not all.

Most students in halls of residence have a fixed term agreement contract.

You can get out of it only if the landlord agrees, or if you have a break clause in the contract.

Accommodation providers will be judged according to how well they treat people – so some may be persuaded it's in their interests to release students from their contacts.

Shirley: I have a weekly cleaner, which I need for health reasons. Should she still be coming?

Answer: If you are in the vulnerable group anyone coming into your home carries extra risk, so avoid using your cleaner if possible.

If your cleaner is needed on health grounds and neither of you is in the category that should be isolating (ie. you have symptoms or have been exposed to somebody that has), arrange things so you are able to keep six feet apart.

One aspect of this crisis is that cleaners have become more recognised and valued for what they do.

  • Coronavirus: Q&A is broadcast every Monday at 8pm on ITV - you can also watch it here.