Covid-19: rules and guidance

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On 1 April, the government moved into a new phase of its Covid-19 response: ‘living with Covid’. 

As a result, the Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak guidance has now been withdrawn, with providers now directed to the broader . 

In line with this, we have removed our previous Covid-19 FAQs and replaced them with the following general guidance.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact  

What are the current main symptoms of Covid-19? 

Current NHS guidance states that symptoms of Covid-19 can include: 

  • a high temperature or shivering (chills) – a high temperature means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature) 
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours 
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste 
  • shortness of breath 
  • feeling tired or exhausted 
  • an aching body 
  • a headache 
  • a sore throat 
  • a blocked or runny nose 
  • loss of appetite 
  • diarrhoea 
  • feeling sick or being sick.

What should I do if I am experiencing Covid-19 symptoms? 

Government guidance states that you should try to stay home and avoid contact with other people if you have Covid-19 and in addition, either have a temperature or don’t feel well enough to go to work or do your normal activities. It adds that: “You can go back to your normal activities when you feel better or do not have a high temperature.” 

If a child is experiencing Covid-19 symptoms, can they attend their early years setting? 

Government guidance states that a child should try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people if they have symptoms of COVID-19 and they either: 

  • have a high temperature 
  • do not feel well enough to go to school, college or childcare, or do their normal activities.

It adds that: “They can go back to school, college or childcare when they feel better or do not have a high temperature.” 

The guidance additionally clarifies that If a child “has mild symptoms such as a runny nose, sore throat or mild cough, and they feel well enough, they can go to school, college or childcare”. 

If someone has tested positive for Covid-19, do they have to isolate? 

While free Covid-19 testing has now ended for most people in England, tests are available to buy from some pharmacies and retailers, and so it is still possible to test positive for Covid-19. 

The legal requirement to isolate following a positive Covid-19 test has now ended. However, the government recommends that if an adult tests positive, they should: 

  • try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for 5 days 
  • avoiding meeting people at higher risk from COVID-19 for 10 days, especially if their immune system means they’re at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19, even if they’ve had a COVID-19 vaccine.

For children and young people under 18, the advice is “try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for 3 days” starting from the day after the positive test. Government guidance states that: “Children and young people tend to be infectious to others for less time than adults. If they’re well and do not have a temperature after 3 days, there’s a much lower risk that they’ll pass on COVID-19 to others.” 

If I suspect a child has Covid-19, can I ask their parent to keep them home? 

The action you can take regarding a child who you suspect may have Covid-19 is likely to depend on your policies on infectious conditions, and your setting’s terms and conditions. Further advice on this is available for 91ɫƵ members via our 24-hour legal helpline Law-Call, and in the Law-Call FAQs in the Members’ Area of the My EYA Portal. 

If we are short-staffed due to illness, how should we prioritise which children can attend?

Government guidance states that if high levels of workforce absence mean you need to temporarily prioritise places in your setting (for example, where a setting is unable to operate at full capacity), you should give priority to children of critical workers and vulnerable children, and then three and four-year-olds, in particular those who will be transitioning to Reception, followed by younger age groups.  

The definitions of vulnerable children and critical workers is available in Annex A and B of . 



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