Coronavirus - your questions answered

Here are the answers to your questions about how coronavirus is affecting our services across the county.

Will it affect registration of births, marriages and deaths?

Please check our service updates page for the latest information.

I’ve got a wedding with your registrar, will it be cancelled? How will I get money back?

Please check our service updates page for the latest information.

What support is available for businesses?

The government has announced a variety of measures and financial support for businesses affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak:

  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
  • deferring VAT and Self-Assessment payments
  • a Self-employment Income Support Scheme
  • a Statutory Sick Pay relief package for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs)
  • a 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery businesses in England
  • small business grant funding of £10,000 for all businesses in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
  • grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  • the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank
  • a new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans
  • the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme.

For more information on Government schemes, visit the support for businesses page on GOV.UK.

What about KCC business loan schemes?

Kent businesses who have taken advantage of the KCC loans scheme and are eligible have been granted a 12 month interest-free repayment holiday from 28 March. If you are in receipt of one of these KCC business loans, you will have received details directly of this offer.

My business provides services to KCC but we're in financial distress, what should I do?

If you are experiencing difficulties continuing to provide services to us due to the financial distress caused by the outbreak, send your contact details to one of the following email addresses and we will be in touch to discuss the help that may be available as soon as possible.

If you supply:

We would also recommend for other types of business support and advice to contact the Covid Business Support Helpline (details below).

Where can I get advice and support for my business?

If you’re a Kent-based business looking for advice and support and don’t know where to get help, our partners :

Are providers staying open for the children of key workers?

Parents can request childcare even if only one parent is a key worker. However, there is strong guidance from government that where possible children are to stay at home so if the other primary carer is not a key worker and is able to, they should be encouraged to stay at home. Childminders can offer support to key workers if they are not self-isolating and have capacity to do so.

Who is defined as a key worker?

People working in health and social care, education and childcare, key public services, local and national government, food and other necessary goods, public safety and national security, transport, utilities, communication and financial services. The full list is available on the Department for Education website.

Who is a vulnerable child?

Vulnerable children include 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 Plans (EHCPs).

I am a childcare worker and therefore a key worker, will I be able to take my children to work with me?

You would need to check with your provision whether this is possible to meet the needs and age range of your children.

Will a nursery be open if it is on a school site?

A nursery on a school site can open and provide places for key worker children.

I am not a key worker but my child’s setting is saying it will stay open for parents like me?

No. Guidance is clear that social distancing must be a priority to protect the elderly and vulnerable, therefore parents of non-key workers must care for their children at home.

Will I still pay my nursery fees?

This depends on the contract you have signed with your provider.

What happens if my child has to attend a setting that is not their usual provider, for example if my child has already been funded at another setting for a Free Early Education place?

If your child is only accessing a Free Early Education place, funding should already be in place with the new provider. Any hours that you access outside of your Free Early Education place will have to be paid for. If you normally access 15 or 30 hours a week over 38 weeks of the year, you may be offered a place at a setting that is open all year round and ‘stretches’ the funding across more than 38 weeks. If this is the case, you will only receive 12 or 24 hours free and may have to pay for the additional hours. Please speak to your provider for clarification and/or if you have any questions.

Full guidance on transitions from one provider to another, including continuity of care, will be available for providers.

If my usual setting is closed, how will I know what other settings are available?

You can contact the Kent Children and Families Information Service (CFIS) on 03000 41 23 23 or search childcare listings for providers who will be open.

Am I able to increase the hours I access with my provider in order to work longer hours or to cover childcare normally provided by family members?

This may be possible but please speak directly to your childcare provider.

If I have to move my child to another setting, will I still be able to access the Special Educational Needs Inclusion Fund (SENIF), Early Years Pupil Premium (EYPP) and Disability Access Fund (DAF)?

Yes, the provider will continue to access this funding on your behalf, through the usual processes.

If my child was due to start nursery after Easter and I am a key worker, what happens if my nursery is closed?

You will need to contact Kent Children and Families Information Service (CFIS) on 03000 41 23 23 or search for childcare to find out which providers are open in order to secure a place.

My child normally attends a before and after school club, will these still run?

We are currently waiting for information on this. Additionally, it is possible that childminders may be able and willing to provide this kind of ‘wrap around’ childcare.

My parents usually provide childcare for my children but they are now in the vulnerable group so I am looking for a childcare provider, but cannot afford the fees.

If your child is two and you are on a low income, you may be entitled to free childcare for 2 year olds. If your child is 3 or 4, you will be entitled to 15 hours of free early education and childcare and (if you are working) may also be entitled to an additional 15 hours, up to 30 hours in total. Our free childcare page gives further details. For younger children you can visit to find out what help is available for childcare costs.

When will school be closed for my child?

The decision to close schools for most children has been made centrally by the government, which announced all schools will close for most children until further notice from the end of Friday 20 March.

Schools will remain open for those children of key workers and the most vulnerable.

The government has said key workers included NHS staff, the police and delivery drivers whilst children who are vulnerable include children with education, health and care plans.

Will my child’s school be readmitting pupils in Years R, 1 and 6 from 1 June 2020?

Schools are communicating directly with parents/carers to inform them of their arrangements for reopening to a wider cohort of pupils.

If you have a child in Years R, 1 or 6 and have not received communication from their school you should contact the school in the first instance.

If you are unable to get in contact with the school, or your child is eligible to attend school but your child’s school is closed and you have not been informed of alternative arrangements, you can contact us on 03000 41 21 21 or email

What will happen with my child’s GCSEs/ A levels/other exams?

We are not responsible for school exams in Kent. Ofqual sets out details for schools, colleges, students, parents and carers on how GCSEs and A levels will be awarded following the cancellation of this year's exams. This also includes any children who are homeschooled or privately educated.

For more information visit the government website.

My child is ill, should they be off?

Yes. If your child is not well for any reason then as normal, they should not attend school.  If they are ill with COVID-19 symptoms, then they should not attend school, and all members of the household should self-isolate for 14 days as per the government guidance.

Will I get fined if my child is off school?

If your child is unwell, or is required to self-isolate for reasons that are in accordance with government guidance, then no, you would not be fined.

If schools close for my child and I am unable to work because I have to look after them, will I get compensation?

If the government orders a national school closure, then the responsibility for this sort of issue would lie with the government.

Who will sort out work for my child to do if the school is closed to them?

It will be for your child’s school to arrange appropriate work for your child during any closedown situation.  This might be sent to your home or arranged remotely over the internet depending on what arrangements the school has made. We have written to all schools asking them to make arrangements to provide some learning activity in the event that the government instructs that all schools should close for most children.

Will self-isolation affect attendance records at school?

If a child has COVID-19 symptoms, or is required to self-isolate for reasons that are in accordance with government guidance, then the attendance register is coded in such a way that your child would not have any non-attendance recorded against them.  If there are no appropriate reasons for non-attendance, then the child could be recorded as an unauthorised absence, but this would be unlikely in the face of the current guidance from government about self-isolation.

What will happen to the Kent Test for entry into Kent grammar schools in September 2021?

Applications for the Kent Test do not open until the beginning of June 2020. Parents will be informed closer to the time if any adjustments need to be made.

Will I still find out what primary/infant/junior school my child will be offered for next year on 16 April 2020?

Yes. Schools have already completed all the necessary tasks to ensure we can make primary school offers available on 16 April.

For more information visit our primary school offer day page.

My child’s name is on the waiting list for a school for September 2020, will you still inform me if a place becomes available?

Yes. We are working with schools to ensure that offers can be made from waiting lists on 22 April for secondary schools and 10 June 2020 for primary, infant and junior schools.

I have lodged an appeal for a school for September 2020, will it still take place?

We are currently awaiting further advice from the Department for Education. In the meantime, we would encourage anyone who still wishes to appeal to do so in the way described in their offer letter.

Can my child still receive free school meals?

Please check our service updates page for the latest information.

Why aren’t you testing everyone?

We are not responsible for testing.

Visit the Public Health England website for more information.

How many confirmed cases of coronavirus are there in Kent?

The latest information about confirmed cases of coronavirus in Kent is also published on our Media Hub.

How can I look after my mental health during time?

There is a lot of support available if you need information and advice.

Visit our looking after your mental health page.

What is the Kent Together helpline?

In every district and borough throughout Kent there has been an incredible and heartening response to the coronavirus pandemic, and we have a huge army of remarkable, public-spirited volunteers who are ready and willing to help each other through these challenging times.

We need to make sure that these vital resources are directed to where they are most needed. The Kent Together helpline will link to community hubs across the county and ensure that we are effectively working hand in hand with the amazing teams out in the heart of communities in every part of Kent.

Requests for help made through the Kent Together helpline will be automatically directed to the relevant district or borough council.

The government's shielding guidance comes to an end on 31 July and this could bring big changes to daily life for the many people in Kent told to stay indoors to protect themselves from the virus.

Find out more about the changes and what to if you are worried about how they may affect you.

Who runs the helpline?

We are coordinating the Kent Together helpline which will feed the information through district and borough council teams to ensure people get the support they need, when they need it. People’s needs will be assessed and staff will liaise with community hubs in the districts to prioritise those who need urgent help. The 12 district and borough councils are:

  • Ashford Borough Council
  • Canterbury City Council
  • Dartford Borough Council
  • Dover District Council
  • Folkestone and Hythe District Council
  • Gravesham Borough Council
  • Maidstone Borough Council
  • Sevenoaks District Council
  • Swale District Council
  • Thanet District Council
  • Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council
  • Tunbridge Wells Borough Council.

Does it include Medway?

Medway residents should visit the Medway Council food and shopping support webpage for further information on how to request support. If Medway residents request support using the Kent Together helpline, we will pass these onto our colleagues in Medway Council.

What sort of support is available?

The Kent Together helpline has been set up to help residents in Kent with:

  • making sure you have enough food and other general supplies to cover a few days
  • walking your dog
  • picking up a prescription
  • putting out the bins
  • taking in a parcel
  • phoning, Skyping or Facetiming you to see a friendly face
  • checking if any planned appointments have been cancelled before you travel
  • making sure you have some simple recipes to hand
  • preparing meals for the freezer.

Please note: not all types of help are available in all areas.

The helpline should not be used to request social care services. If you think you have any care and support needs, you can contact us to ask for a free assessment.

If you are concerned about someone’s safety, please report a concern.

Who can get help?

Support coordinated through the Kent Together helpline is only available to people who live in the Kent County Council administrative area. This excludes Medway and the bordering London boroughs. You can check whether Kent County Council is your local authority using GOV.UK's find your local council tool.

What will happen when I submit a form?

When you complete an online form, the information you provide is sent to your district or borough council. We use the postcode and address information you provide to determine which district or borough council to send your request onto. They will then get in touch by phone or email to find out more or to arrange support with you.

How long will I be waiting for help?

Your local community hub will do everything they can to get you the help that you need as quickly as possible. However they will have to prioritise calls for assistance depending on how urgent they are. If you do not hear from them or receive the help and support that you need then you can call the Kent Together helpline.

Do I have to let people into my home?

No, you should definitely not let anyone into your home, no matter who they say they are or where they say they are from. Sadly there have been cases in Kent of heartless criminals pretending to be offering help to the vulnerable and self-isolating, so it’s vital that you do not let anybody into your house. Volunteer groups and community hubs will knock on your door and leave your supplies or medication on your doorstep, at all times maintaining a safe distance in line with public health advice.

Find out more about the latest public protection advice.

How do I pay people who bring me food/medicine?

The main priority of community hubs is to get you the support and supplies that you need as quickly as possible. At the moment, to keep people safe and protect them from the virus, it is not advised that you pay anyone with cash if at all possible. It is best to ask your local community hub how they are arranging payment for supplies.

Will my personal information be safe?

Yes. We will use the information you provide to process a request for support. We will share the information you provide with district and borough councils in Kent and other agencies and organisations involved in providing or administering community support. We aim to protect people’s privacy and confidentiality and will only share personal information where necessary to provide support or comply with the law. For more information read our Kent Together privacy notice.

Why do you ask for my date of birth?

Help is not restricted to people in certain age groups, but we ask for your date of birth to help match requests against:

  • existing customers
  • those identified by central government as being “shielded”.

I’m okay, but I’m worried about someone else – what should I do?

You can complete the form on behalf of someone else, such as a relative or neighbour, but it’s best to let them know that you have requested support on their behalf. The request will be directed to the district or borough council covering the address of the person in need of support, not the person who has requested it.

How can I volunteer to help?

Support for voluntary groups and individuals is being offered by district and borough councils across Kent communities. To find out you can get involved, contact your local district or borough council.

What is #KentTogether?

#KentTogether is a hashtag used on social media as part of a digital campaign launched in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. It aims to share and showcase the incredible community spirit and acknowledge the amazing contribution of different people communities and organisations as the county responds to the situation. Created by Kent Fire and Rescue Service, the campaign has been adopted by all our Kent Resilience Forum partners (Kent County Council, all district and borough councils, Kent Police and Health services).

Are libraries closing?

Libraries closed at the end of the day on Friday 20 March to minimise social contact for staff and customers. W

For more information about Kent Libraries check our service updates page.

Will I get fined if I can’t return my library book?

We will ensure all loan periods are extended for all customers until the end of June. If you need further extensions after June, please let us know via email, social media or call us on 03000 41 31 31. Some of these changes may take time to implement so please bear with us while we work through them.

Are public rights of way (footpaths and bridleways and byways) still open?

The updated position regarding public paths in England is as follows:

  • The public rights of way network in England is open and available.
  • The government’s priority is to save lives and the best way to protect yourself and others from illness is to follow government advice.
  • However, exercise is important for people’s physical and mental wellbeing, so the government has said people can leave their homes for exercise as often as they wish. Read government advice on what you can do, and what you can't do.
  • The public rights of way network is a great place to take exercise, there is a low risk of the type of overcrowding which has led to the closure of other open spaces and, provided users follow guidance about keeping a safe distance from others, it is unlikely to present a problem at this time.
  • However be aware of and avoid routes that pass through or are close to popular areas such as coastal areas, wild animal parks and other places of interest. Some sites are gridlocked and social distancing is impossible.
  • We are increasingly receiving reports of people wandering across private land and fields. Please respect the people and animals that live there and keep to the marked paths
  • Remember your actions can affect peoples’ lives and livelihoods
  • You may see signs requesting you follow a small diversion around the perimeter of a property away from buildings and residents and/or polite notices asking users to consider using another route if residents are self-isolating. Please, as a matter of courtesy, follow these alternative routes.

When in the countryside, follow the Countryside Code. You can do this by:

  • leaving no trace of your visit and taking all of your litter home
  • not using barbecues as they risk causing wildfires
  • keeping dogs under effective control and on a lead when you are around farm animals
  • leaving gates as you find them and following instructions on signs
  • keeping to footpaths and following signs where they suggest alternative routes

Watch a Countryside Code explainer video on Twitter.

What can I do if a public right of way crosses my land?

The guidance is the same as the above. With this additional information regarding public paths in England:

  • The public rights of way network in England is open. Public Rights of Way must not be closed to the public. There has been no change in the law and KCC has no new powers to close them.
  • It is recognised that some paths are busier than others, are narrow and enclosed or pass close to property where people live or work, but there are some measures that landowners may take to keep themselves safe:
    • Clearly mark paths to lessen the chance of users wandering off it.
    • You may wish to consider tying gates open if it is safe to do so, so that walkers do not need to touch the gate.
    • Where there is a genuine case of a public right of way running close to a property (including its garden) containing a person who is vulnerable and/or self-isolating you may wish to provide a signed alternative route on land in the same ownership. The public right of way must however remain open. View suggested wording for signs (PDF, 121.7 KB)

Are school transport services running?

For the time being, we have asked all operators to provide services until we understand which schools are fully closed and which children still need to travel. Some services may have to change where operators are struggling for drivers. Please check with your operator for details.

If my child continues to attend school because I am a key worker or they are vulnerable, will transport be provided?

We are working with schools and transport providers to identify children that will continue to require help in getting to school. If your child has already been assessed as eligible for free school transport, this will continue to be provided. It may not be possible to provide the same vehicle or driver that your child is used to travelling with and there may be some changes to public bus networks that impact your child’s usual travel arrangements. It is also possible that there may be some unavoidable short term interruptions in transport while these changes are organised. We will work to keep these disruptions to a minimum.

If your child is not currently eligible for free school transport, you will need to apply and transport will be provided if they meet our transport criteria (PDF, 517.0 KB).

If I am currently provided with transport and do not use it and then want it again, what can I do?

If you are entitled to free transport to school then this will not be changed because you are not travelling. We will not run transport once we have identified that it is no longer needed so you will need to let us know if you are intending to return to school.

Will I get any money back for my Kent Travel Saver pass?

We have now released information about how parents will be compensated for the months that their child has not been able to use their pass as a result of the partial closure of schools. For more information visit our pages about:

Can I visit my elderly relative in a care home?

Currently we are advising anyone thinking of visiting a relative or loved one in a care home or accompanying them to a day care centre to follow Public Health England and national government guidelines, particularly those people who fall into the at risk categories.

Privately owned and run care homes

Care home visiting arrangements are decided at the discretion of each care home manager so please contact the care home if it is privately owned and run.

Will care homes be closing following quarantine for over 70s?

We have no plans to close any of our care homes at the moment and we are in daily contact with the marketplace to ensure they are able to keep facilities open. We have established a direct email helpline to deal with urgent queries.

How are you ensuring that your care homes and care providers have the necessary equipment and supplies to deal safely with vulnerable people?

We are working with Public Health England to ensure our staff and providers have the right equipment to ensure continuity of service in a safe way for both our staff and service users.  We have been assured that supplies of this equipment will remain available.

Will adult disability centres and day care centres close?

We currently have no plans to close any of our centres, but we are looking at the impact of the current social distancing advice and may change the activities being run within the centres.  We will keep the situation under review.

What about meals on wheels – will they still be delivered?

Yes – there are no plans to stop meals on wheels deliveries.

How will KCC support voluntary and community groups who are caring for vulnerable residents?

We will make sure people and groups who are in receipt of grants and funds will continue to receive the money.  We are looking to ensure we have good communications between our services and the voluntary and community groups at a local level to provide any support that is required.

If care home workers and social workers are off sick, who will step into their roles and manage their workloads?

We have well tried and test business continuity plans which are being implemented and which take account of the most important front line services.  We will maximise the use of measures such as telephone assessments and stop non urgent work to divert staff to our front-line services.

I care for my disabled son.  What happens to him if I catch COVID-19?

We would need to look at all such situations on a case by case basis.  If there is no alternative care that can be delivered temporarily by friends or family and the carer is too unwell to provide care, we will be able to offer a range of respite care or temporary care at home. We can provide daily “safe and well” checks if the carer is able to continue the care which will enable us to monitor the situation alongside the carer.

Have we identified the most vulnerable people in our care and/or in the community?

Yes, we have. We know there are many vulnerable people across Kent who require extra care and support in the current situation. We will work with care providers, voluntary sector agencies, care navigators and other partners, including Community Wardens, to ensure a coordinated response to sharing information and providing support to vulnerable people.

Will we prioritise these people in terms of ongoing service provision or if we need to provide new help to them?

Our focus will remain of providing good practice across our service. This involves carrying out robust risk assessments to ensure that our services are directed to those most at risk, whether they are self funding clients or not.

If providers have to pay for additional staff (in the event mutual aid isn’t possible) and their cash flow is impacted, what are the plans to help them, if any?

We have submitted an initial bid for additional funding from central government to support our response to COVID 19. This includes potentially paying providers additional money to support their cash flow and additional expenses to keep them sustainable.

What arrangements are being put in place if care providers have to pay their staff SSP from day one to ease any impact on their cash?

We have submitted an initial bid for additional funding from central government to support our response to COVID 19. This includes potentially paying providers additional money to support their cash flow and additional expenses to keep them sustainable.

What will happen if staff shortages affect KCC processing direct payments for people’s care?

We are looking at all options to enable social care providers to maintain levels of service delivery. This includes how we manage direct payments and we are taking steps to ensure these are paid in a timely manner, working closely with our providers.

Will my bins still be collected?

Whilst this is a matter for your local district or borough council which run the collection services, we provide the final disposal of waste. At this early stage there is no effect on our operations.

Contact your local borough or district council to find out when they will collect your rubbish and recycling.

If KCC staff shortages result in tips and transfer stations being closed, what provision do you have in place to dispose of rubbish?

If contractors experience staff shortages they will consider employing temporary staff and whether individual sites are still safe to be operated. In emergency situations, the movement and disposal of kerbside collected waste is the priority, contractors may divert personnel to transfer to waste transfer station as appropriate.

Will staff at the household waste recycling centres (HWRCs) help me with my waste, or can I bring someone to help me?

To reduce the risk of infection, staff will not be helping people to dispose of waste. This means that you will need to manage waste yourself on site.

You can bring one other person with you from your own household to assist with unloading all waste types. Please follow site staff instructions.

If you have no option but to bring children with you, they must remain in the vehicle at all times.

Have you told staff to work from home?

We have reviewed the actions and activities we need to take over the coming days and weeks to minimise social contact and where possible, facilitate home working. We have made the decision to close all KCC buildings to the public unless you have an appointment as part of business-critical activity. Staff that are able to work from home have been advised to do so.

Are you cancelling KCC meetings?

Yes, we have reluctantly decided to suspend all council committee meetings until further notice. We are advised that the government is proposing legislation that will allow us to conduct meetings virtually and without the need for members to be physically present. Once we have sight of the legislation, we will be working hard to design governance and technical solutions to allow us to get up and running with these meetings as soon as possible.

Are you cancelling any events?

Some events have been cancelled in line with social distancing guidance. Events planned for later in the year remain in place, though this remains under review pending further government advice.

Are you closing County Hall?

County Hall and all other Kent County Council buildings, is closed to the public unless you have an appointment as part of business-critical activity. Only essential staff (critical or key workers) who cannot work from home will be able to access KCC buildings.

Are gateways closing?

For Gateway closures, please check the service updates page for more information.

Have you applied for any additional funding to support your response to Covid-19 (like Brexit)?

Yes, we are working with government to look at the additional costs that will be incurred in maintaining our services to Kent residents at this unprecedented time.

What is the response time for freedom of information requests and subject access requests?

We are facing unprecedented challenges during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Whilst we take our statutory duties very seriously we ask for your understanding that we are unlikely to be able to respond to your freedom of information request and/or subject access request within the statutory timescale as we prioritise our resources in dealing with the pandemic.

Thank you for your cooperation. We will provide a response at the earliest opportunity.

Visit the Information Commissioner's website for their position regarding the coronavirus pandemic.

How long will it take you to respond to my complaint/comments?

It may take us longer to respond to your complaints and comments during this period, but where possible we will keep you informed. We would like to reassure you that we remain committed to delivering the best service we can. Thank you for your patience.

Where possible please submit your enquiry or complaint online, by email or by telephone. Please also consider supplying us with an email address or telephone number, so that we can avoid further delays in responding to you.

In line with government guidance, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman is not currently accepting new complaints. They will accept complaints again when the situation improves and government guidance changes. You can find the most up-to-date information by visiting the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman website or by listening to the recorded message on 0300 061 0614.

Can we report breaches of self isolation to you?

If you wish to report a self isolation breach of either an individual, group or a business you can contact Kent Police. You can report any breaches on the Kent Police website.

Community wardens

What will community wardens be doing during this time?

Community Wardens will be continuing to work in the community and in particular, in identifying and supporting older vulnerable people to live safely and independently in their own homes (this includes support for those vulnerable people who are self-isolated). They will be looking at ways to help community-based initiatives which utilise volunteers in supporting vulnerable people during this time. And Community Wardens will of course, continue signpost issues and concerns to the appropriate authorities and provide advice accordingly.

Self isolation

Can you help with my energy supply while I'm self isolating?

Ofgem have provided advice and answers to questions you may have on managing your energy supply during the outbreak. Please visit the Ofgem website for more information.