Beating bowel cancer together

Coronavirus and bowel cancer

Page updated: Thursday 26 November 2020

The Government is advising everybody to:

  • stay alert
  • work from home if you can
  • limit contact with other people
  • wash your hands regularly
  • wear a face covering in enclosed spaces
  • make space. Stay at least 2 metres apart or 1 metre with a face covering or other precautions.

Do not leave home if you or anyone in your household has symptoms of coronavirus.

We've summarised the government guidance for each UK nation below:

For full government guidance, visit the England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland government websites.

England

In the first instance, please refer to wider Government guidance on:

The Government also has a wide range of information to help people at this time, including on employment, financial support, school closures and childcare. See: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

National restrictions until 2 December include:

  • You must stay at home except for specific purposes such as:
    • for education or childcare
    • for work purposes if you cannot work from home
    • to exercise outdoors
    • for any medical reasons
    • shopping for basic necessities
    • to visit members of your support bubble or provide care for vulnerable people.
  • you mustn’t socialise with anybody outside of your household or support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place. Find out what a support bubble is here
  • you can exercise or visit outdoor public places with people you live with, your support bubble or one person from another household. Outdoor public places include parks, beaches, countryside, public gardens, allotments and playgrounds. You cannot meet in a private garden
  • all non-essential retail, indoor and outoor leisure facilities and entertainment venues will close. Food shops, supermarkets, garden centres and certain other retailers providing essential goods and services can remain open. For the full list, please visit the Government website
  • restaurants, bars and pubs must close but can still provide takeaway and delivery services. Takeaway of alcohol will not be allowed
  • schools, colleges and universities can stay open
  • weddings and funerals, can go ahead with restrictions on the number of attendees
  • everyone who can work effectively from home must do so. Where people cannot do so they should continue to travel to work and attend their workplace.

You should continue to:

  • follow social distancing rules
  • work from home if possible
  • walk or cycle where possible, or plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport.

From Wednesday 2 December, the Government will replace the national lockdown restrictions with local restrictions. These levels set out information for residents, workers and local authorities about what to do in their specific area. To find out which level applies to you, visit the government website here.

There are three tiers for local restrictions:

Tier 1: Medium alert

  • you mustn’t socialise in groups larger than six people, indoors or outdoors. This is called the ‘rule of six’
  • businesses and venues can stay open, in a COVID secure manner, other than those which remain closed by law, such as nightclubs
  • hospitality businesses selling food or drink to eat on their premises are required to:
    • provide table service only, for premises that serve alcohol
    • close between 11pm and 5am
    • stop taking orders after 10pm
  • hospitality businesses and venues selling food and drink for consumption off the premises can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-through
  • places of worship remain open, but you mustn’t be in groups of more than six people
  • weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on numbers of attendees – 15 people can attend wedding ceremonies and receptions, 30 people can attend funeral ceremonies, and 15 people can attend linked commemorative events
  • organised outdoor sport, physical activity and exercise classes can continue
  • organised indoor sport, physical activity and exercise classes can continue to take place, if the rule of six is followed. There are exceptions for indoor disability sport, sport for educational purposes, and supervised sport and physical activity for under-18s, which can take place with larger groups mixing
  • if you live in a tier 1 area and travel to an area in a higher tier you should follow the rules for that area while you are there. Avoid travel to or overnight stays in tier 3 areas other than where necessary, such as for work, education, youth services, to receive medical treatment, or because of caring responsibilities. You can travel through a tier 3 area as part of a longer journey.

Tier 2: High alert

  • you mustn’t socialise with anyone you don’t live with or who isn’t in your support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place
  • you mustn’t socialise in a group of more than six people outside, including in a garden or a public space – this is called the 'rule of six'
  • businesses and venues can continue to stay open, in a COVID-Secure manner, other than those which remain closed by law, such as nightclubs
  • pubs and bars must close, unless operating as restaurants. Hospitality venues can only serve alcohol with substantial meals
  • hospitality businesses selling food or drink to eat on their premises are required to:
    • provide table service only, in premises which sell alcohol
    • close between 11pm and 5am
    • stop taking orders after 10pm
  • hospitality businesses and venues selling food and drink for consumption off the premises can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-through
  • places of worship remain open but you mustn’t socialise with people from outside of your household or support bubble while you are indoors there
  • weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on numbers of attendees – 15 people can attend wedding ceremonies and receptions, 30 people can attend funeral ceremonies, and 15 people can attend linked commemorative events such as wakes or stonesettings
  • organised outdoor sport, and physical activity and exercise classes can continue
  • organised indoor sport, physical activity and exercise classes will only be permitted if it is possible for people to avoid mixing with people they do not live with (or share a support bubble with). There are exceptions for indoor disability sport, sport for educational purposes and supervised sport and physical activity for under-18s, which can take place with larger groups mixing
  • you can continue to travel to venues or amenities which are open, but should aim to reduce the number of journeys you make where possible
  • if you live in a tier 2 area, you must continue to follow tier 2 rules when you travel to a tier 1 area. Avoid travel to or overnight stays in tier 3 areas other than where necessary, such as for work, education, youth services, to receive medical treatment, or because of caring responsibilities. You can travel through a tier 3 area as a part of a longer journey.

Tier 3: Very high alert

  • you mustn’t meet socially indoors or in most outdoor places with anybody you do not live with, or who is not in your support bubble, this includes in any private garden or at most outdoor venues
  • you mustn’t socialise in a group of more than six in some other outdoor public spaces, including parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, a public garden, grounds of a heritage site or castle, or a sports facility – this is called the 'rule of six'
  • hospitality settings, such as bars (including shisha venues), pubs, cafes and restaurants are closed – they are permitted to continue sales by takeaway, click-and-collect, drive-through or delivery services
  • accommodation such as hotels, B&Bs, campsites, and guest houses must close. There are several exemptions, such as for those who use these venues as their main residence, and those requiring the venues where it is reasonably necessary for work or education and training
  • indoor entertainment, tourist venues and indoor attractions must close
  • leisure and sports facilities may continue to stay open, but group exercise classes (including fitness and dance) should not go ahead. Saunas and steam rooms should close
  • there should be no public attendance at spectator sport or indoor performances and large business events should not be taking place. Elite sport events may continue to take place without spectators
  • large outdoor events (performances and shows) should not take place, with the exception of drive-in events
  • places of worship remain open, but you must not attend with or socialise with anyone outside of your household or support bubble while you are there
  • weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of attendees – 15 people can attend wedding ceremonies, wedding receptions are not allowed, 30 people can attend funeral ceremonies, 15 people can attend linked commemorative events
  • organised outdoor sport, and physical activity and exercise classes can continue, however higher-risk contact activity should not take place
  • organised indoor sport, physical activity and exercise classes cannot take place indoors. There are exceptions for indoor disability sport, sport for educational purposes and supervised sport and physical activity for under-18s
  • you can continue to travel to venues or amenities which are open, but should aim to reduce the number of journeys you make where possible
  • avoid travelling to other parts of the UK, including for overnight stays other than where necessary, such as for work, education, youth services, to receive medical treatment, or because of caring responsibilities. You can travel through other areas as part of a longer journey.

Read advice for clinically extremely vulnerable people in England.

Scotland

In the first instance, please refer to wider government guidance on:

The Scottish Government has introduced a 5-level system that can be applied nationally or locally depending on the spread of coronavirus across the country. This new system will be in place from 2 November 2020.

The advice aims to be proportionate to the level of infections in the local community, optimises the benefits of protection and minimises harm to your health and wellbeing, and aims to empower people to make decisions that are right for you.To find out the protection level for your area, visit the Scottish Government website.

There are five protection levels. Guidance for each can be found below:

Read government advice for clinically extremely vulnerable people in Scotland.

Wales

The Welsh Government is advising people to:

  • Stay out of each other’s homes, except in very limited circumstances
  • Limit the times you leave your home, and the distance you travel
  • When you do leave home, please try and be restrained in how many different people you see. It is better to see the same one or two people regularly than to see lots of different people occasionally
  • maintain social distancing, including outdoors
  • meet people outdoors rather than indoors where possible, even in circumstances where the law allows you to meet indoors
  • Work from home if you can
  • Wash your hands regularly and follow other advice on hygiene
  • Self-isolate if you show symptoms of coronavirus

Even where something may be allowed, the Welsh Government ask you not to think about whether it is permitted but whether it is truly necessary and sensible. The purpose of this short lockdown is to create a concerted national effort to do everything we can to stop the spread of coronavirus, and every individual contribution to that counts.

If you live in an area where you were following guidance for local restrictions, these restrictions will no longer continue. The firebreak lockdown will apply the same way across Wales.

More guidance and FAQs about the firebreak lockdown can be found on the Welsh Government website.

Read government advice for clinically extremely vulnerable people in Wales.

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland have extended the circuit break lockdown by two weeks, until Friday 27 November until Friday 11 December.  

Guidance includes:

  • households are not allowed to mix indoors in private homes
  • up to six people from no more than two households can meet up outdoors in a private garden, but you should maintain social distancing. Children aged 12 and under are not counted in this total
  • an overnight stay in a private home is not allowed unless it is a member of your bubble
  • you should avoid all unnecessary travel. Where travel is necessary for work, education and other essential purposes, people are asked to walk, cycle or use private transport, shared only with members of their household where possible
  • the use of face coverings is mandatory on public transport, in taxis, private buses, coaches and on aircraft, in train and bus stations and in airports
  • you can travel for recreational purposes to outdoor open spaces such as a parks, forest parks and visitor attractions. Town centres remain open for business
  • schools and other education settings remain open
  • hospitality venues can only remain open for takeaway and delivery of food and non-alcoholic drinks.

Full government guidance can be found on the Northern Ireland Government website.

Read government advice for clinically extremely vulnerable people in Northern Ireland.

Cancer services during the restoration and recovery from COVID-19

The NHS is currently moving into the next phase of its response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak: to restore and recover all services for patients. If you need to access care or treatment because you have symptoms or have been diagnosed with bowel cancer, arrangements have been put in place to keep you safe from COVID-19.

If you have a worrying symptom, and you think it might be cancer, please contact your GP surgery straightaway. GP surgeries are offering online consultations so that people do not have to attend in person unnecessarily.

If you have been asked to go to hospital for further investigation or for treatment if you are diagnosed with cancer, it is important that you attend. The NHS is reorganising the way that it delivers services to keep you safe, including:

  • COVID protected hubs have been set up for cancer surgery across the country to keep patients safe. These are in COVID protected areas of a hospital or on separate hospital sites. The NHS is now creating the same system for people who need diagnostic tests
  • hospitals treating COVID patients have put in place measures to keep COVID and non-COVID patients separate. This may include using separate entrances, ensuring staff and patients do not move between different parts of the hospital, and making sure that, as far as possible, staff are social distancing both inside and outside clinical areas
  • the staff caring for cancer patients will be vigilant for any symptoms that they or their families may develop and will self-isolate in line with government guidance. Staff will be tested for the virus if they are displaying symptoms. Hospitals are also introducing testing for staff not displaying symptoms where there is testing capacity to do so.

Test and trace service

On Thursday 28 May the NHS launched its Test and Trace service to make sure anyone with COVID-19 symptoms can be quickly tested to find out if they have the virus. It will help to trace close recent contacts of anyone who tests positive for coronavirus and, if necessary, notify them that they must self-isolate at home to help stop the spread of the virus. Find out more at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/nhs-test-and-trace-how-it-works

FAQs about coronavirus and bowel cancer

This section has answers to some of your key questions about living with bowel cancer during the coronavirus pandemic:

Help us help everyone affected by bowel cancer

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