How coronavirus will impact every aspect of our lives from schools to transport

Whether you fall victim to coronavirus or not, the outbreak is guaranteed to affect your life.

Our readers are quite rightly demanding to know what the Government and big organisations are doing.

So here is our at-a-glance guide to the impact the crisis is having… and what might be coming next.

Schools

Heads are under pressure from health officials to stay open.

Shutting schools would have a huge impact on parents, public services and the
wider economy.


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China, where the outbreak started, took the drastic step of closing all schools and colleges. Italy, too, has closed schools and universities – and cancelled exams.

Here, all efforts are being made to stick to the timetable for GSCEs and A-levels.

Delaying A-levels in particular could have a big knock-on impact on university admissions.

The Government says school closures are possible as part of “population distancing strategies” to slow the spread of the disease – although there are no immediate plans to do so.

Hospitals


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Measures to limit the risk of face-to-face contact in GP surgeries and hospitals include using more phone appointments and video calls.

NHS chiefs are trying to push the outbreak’s peak towards the summer, hoping the warm weather will lessen the impact and let hospitals recover from winter.

But they have warned that dealing with urgent cases could mean other services being reduced temporarily.

That could result in routine ops like hip replacements being cancelled to free up beds for Covid-19 victims.

Public transport

Public Health England says there are currently no specific concerns about using public transport.

Restrictions could be imposed but it might depend where you are. It could be tied in with advice for people to work from home where possible.

Previous research suggested London Underground commuters are more at risk of catching respiratory illnesses.

Transport for London has upped its cleaning of Tube trains and buses. And Network Rail says cleaning of “high-touch areas” in stations has been stepped up.

The Government is not recommending staff on public transport wear face masks. But PHE says they should avoid close contact with anyone who may be infected.

Mortgages

Royal Bank of Scotland has confirmed customers affected by coronavirus can defer mortgage or loan repayments for up to three months.

Rival TSB is offering a mortgage holiday of up to two months and both are allowing savers with fixed rate accounts to get their money early without a penalty.

Trade body UK Finance said all banks would consider loan and mortgage holidays, and increasing overdrafts, for those whose incomes take a hit from the outbreak.

Stock market turbulence due to Covid-19 led to the black hole in UK company pension schemes ballooning from £74billion to £124bn last month.

Airlines

British Airways has suspended all flights to Italy until April 4.

Budget rival easyJet is doing the same, until April 3, and is operating “rescue flights” for passengers already there.

Ryanair is halting services to and from Italy until April 8.

Passengers on cancelled flights should be entitled to refunds.

No-frills carrier Norwegian is preparing to cancel around 3,000 flights between mid-March and

mid-June and temporarily laying off a “significant” chunk of staff. Trade body Airports Council

International said the outbreak was “turning into a shock of unprecedented proportions”.

It fears passenger numbers through European airports could plunge by 187 million this year.

If there is a rapid rise in Covid-19 cases here, other countries could advise against all but essential travel to the UK.

Pubs and hotels

Advice to work from home has hit trade in city centre pubs, with the number of drinkers down up to 30% in some areas.

UK Hospitality said “it’s as if somebody flipped a switch”, with once buzzing bars now deserted.

But while high street pubs suffer, locals are getting trade from remote workers who head to the corner boozer for a pint rather than travel to town.

And bookings for events, conferences and hotel rooms have slumped by 50% for the next two to three weeks as people avoid large gatherings.

Should the virus spread, pubs may be forced to impose a 3ft exclusion zone between drinkers and have last orders at 6pm. And there could be a ban on screening live sports to keep numbers down.

Hotels are riding the storm but want emergency measures such as a VAT cut or a business rates holiday of up to six months for security.

Care homes

As yet, just one care home has closed its doors to visitors.

Sunningdale in Tamworth, Staffs, acted after a case of coronavirus was confirmed at a nearby school.

Fears of a significant number of workers having to self-isolate has led to talks between the Government and care home bosses over how they could fill the void.

There are around 1.5 million carers in Britain and a major outbreak could put 220,000 in self-isolation.

The Department of Health is looking into suggestions that background checks for workers who have close physical contact with vulnerable people be relaxed.

This could extend to those who have left care work or retired being drafted back in without the usual lengthy wait for approval.

Care homes are already asking relatives to think twice about visiting and urging families to stay in touch with their loved ones by phone.

But all visits could be banned if the outbreak escalates.

Supermarkets

Tesco has already imposed rationing on certain items, with shoppers limited to five packs of baked beans, pasta, longlife milk, tinned veg and bleach.

It is the only chain to ration food but rivals are restricting shoppers to how many toiletries they can buy.

The Co-op has a limit of three on packs of loo rolls, hand sanitiser, antibacterial soap and hand and surface wipes.

Aldi has clamped down on loo rolls, allowing one pack per person, and is also rationing hand sanitisers, as are Boots, Asda, Iceland and Waitrose.

Morrisons is limiting us to six bottles of bleach and Sainsbury’s has a three-pack limit on soap, handwash and tissues.

With shoppers ignoring advice and stockpiling staples, the Government has lifted the late-night curfew on delivery lorries. And supermarkets are urging friends, family and neighbours of vulnerable, elderly folk who have to self-isolate to help do their shopping.  

Sport

Sporting events are currently unaffected by restrictions here, although away European footie clashes are to be played behind closed doors.

Bayern Munich and Chelsea’s Champions League match will be played without fans, as will Manchester United ’s Europa League tie with LASK.

There is talk of banning over-70s – the biggest risk group – from football matches, which could hit Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson, pictured, who is 72.

England’s friendly against Italy at Wembley on March 27 is at risk and while there are no plans to cancel Wimbledon, tennis bosses will offer refunds if it is affected.

Cheltenham is still on but the racing festival is not a sell-out.

All domestic sport has been banned in Italy until April 3 and top-flight French football is to be played behind closed doors or no more than 1,000 spectators.

If the Government follows suit and bans crowds at sporting events, pay-to-view broadcasters could be asked to screen live matches or highlights for free.

Religion

Churches, synagogues and mosques are telling worshippers to follow Government advice on “good hygiene practice”.

The Church of England said communion would only be banned in areas where there were high cases of infection.

Peace handshakes and the laying on of hands would also be suspended. All churches have been urged to install hand sanitisers.

Synagogues have banned handshakes and kissing the holy book, and are asking worshippers to set up “telephone trees” to keep tabs on each other – with eight people phoning eight others and so on.

Those with health conditions are being urged to stay away from funerals.

London’s Central Synagogue said numbers were down by a third, week on week.

And London Central Mosque said while numbers were not hit, worshippers are urged to be hygiene- conscious.

Major religious events could be live-streamed.

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