You may be feeling conflicted as COVID infection rates continue to change. Here are some tips for adjusting to life without COVID restrictions.
If you're struggling to adjust
We’ve put together a few top tips for adjusting to life with COVID-19 still being a concern:
- Recognise it’s normal – feeling worried about the risk of catching COVID-19 is completely natural, and having some anxiety about mixing more with others is fine. Remember that you’re not alone.
- Do things your way – don't let anyone pressure you into seeing them in person, or meeting in a public place, unless you’re comfortable with it. It may take time to build up your confidence to do more.
- Take precautions if you need to – if you feel more comfortable wearing a mask and/or gloves to go outside, do that. It’s okay to take precautions to look after yourself, and you mustn’t feel silly about doing what you need to.
- Talk to someone – you might like to talk to friends and family to help you stay connected or call an organisation, such as Samaritans or The Silver Line, for emotional support. You can also find online resources at Anxiety UK and practical support tools, such as audio guides and mood self-assessments, from the NHS.
Are there still any restrictions in place?
The government has removed all restrictions in England and has produced a living with COVID-19 plan, which explains how the government plans to protect people who are most vulnerable to COVID-19 without restrictions in place.
In Wales, all restrictions have been lifted, including having to wear face masks in health and care settings. Visit gov.wales for more information.
In Scotland, although it is no longer a legal requirement to wear face coverings on public transport and indoor public settings, the government still recommends that people wear them. People without COVID-19 symptoms are no longer being asked to take regular lateral flow tests. Visit gov.scot for more details.
COVID-19 is still a risk and the government advises people to be cautious. They recommend that even where this is not a legal requirement, you should consider wearing a face covering in crowded and indoor spaces where you come into contact with strangers. You should let in fresh air if you’re meeting people indoors and meet outside if possible. There is more guidance on the government website.
The government also advises people to get vaccinated or have a booster vaccine if they haven’t already. People aged 75 or over, care home residents and anyone who has a weakened immune system are now able to get a spring booster vaccine. You will usually be offered an appointment around 6 months after your last dose of COVID-19 vaccine. When it’s the right time for you to have it, you can book your booster online.
A booster will also be available to anyone aged 50 or over in the autumn of 2022. You will be contacted by the NHS when you are due your autumn booster. You will usually be offered an appointment around 6 months after your last dose of COVID-19 vaccine. When it’s the right time for you to have it, you can book your booster online.
You can find out more about the vaccines and their safety on the NHS website.
Free tests are no longer available from the NHS in England, except for a few groups of people such as health and care staff. For example, staff in adult social care should test twice a week with lateral flow tests. If there is case of COVID-19 in a care home, staff should do daily testing for 5 days. People with certain health conditions who are eligible for new COVID-19 treatments can also still order free lateral flow tests in England.
In Wales, you can get a free lateral flow test if you have symptoms of COVID-19, or you’re eligible for new COVID-19 treatments. Visit gov.wales for more information.
In Scotland, you can't get free tests. Only certain groups of people can be tested if they don't have symptoms. Visit nshinform for details of how to get tested.
Although there is no legal requirement to self-isolate if you have symptoms of COVID-19, the government advises that you should stay at home and avoid contact with other people for at least five days.
COVID-19 and your health services
Although the pandemic has meant that some people have experienced delays with their treatment or have found it more difficult to get an appointment with their GP, it’s important to still contact your GP surgery if you have a health concern. Don’t think that your situation is not serious enough – things are often best dealt with the sooner they’re found. Be persistent if you need to.
If you can’t get through on the phone, check on their website for details of how to access their services online. If you are filling in an appointment request form online, make sure you are clear about what the problem is and how urgent it is. See our page on managing your health online.
If your problem is urgent and you cannot get through to your surgery, call NHS 111 to get medical advice.
See our page about staying well while you’re waiting for treatment if you are waiting for surgery or a consultants appointment, for example.
If you've been bereaved during the pandemic
We’ve put together some information about support available to you if someone you cared about has died during the pandemic. See our page Coping with bereavement during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Also of interest
Call our free Helpline on 0800 319 6789
By calling Independent Age's free and impartial Helpline, you can get information and advice from one of our friendly advisers, or order our free guides.