Novel Coronavirus – COVID 19 – advice hub

There are currently no restrictions on travel to or from the Isle of Wight. As with every region in the UK, we’re following Government advice and suggest that you make your plans in line with the latest advice. We’ve listed trusted sources of information below and will include official updates as they appear.

A list of official websites with advice can be found at the bottom of this page:

26 March –

The UK Government has announced support for self-employed people, who can claim 80% of lost earnings (up to a value of £2500 per month). This scheme is only open to those who are already self-employed and have a self-assessment tax return for 2019 and will apply to those with trading profits up to £50,000 a year. The UK Govt hopes that people will be able to access the scheme no later than June.

23 March

The main points of the UK Government’s announcement this evening at 8.30pm regarding stricter measures are as follows:

·        From tonight, people in Britain will be allowed to leave their homes for only “very limited purposes” – shopping for basic necessities; for one form of exercise a day; for any medical need; and to travel to and from work when “absolutely necessary”

·        People are warned not to meet friends or family members who they do not live with

·        Shopping is only permitted for essentials like food and medicine, and people are advised to do it “as little as you can”

·        Police have powers to enforce the rules, including through fines and dispersing gatherings

·        All shops selling non-essential goods, such as clothing and electronic stores, are ordered to close

·        Libraries, playgrounds, outdoor gyms and places of worship are to close

·        All gatherings of more than two people in public – excluding people you live with – are banned

·        All social events, including weddings and baptisms are banned

·        Funerals are not included in the new restrictions

·        Parks will remain open for exercise but gatherings will be dispersed

·        Restrictions “under constant review” and will be checked again in three weeks. They will be relaxed “if the evidence shows we are able to”

23 March

Wightlink and Red Funnel announce reduced sailings

Red Funnel revises timetable to protect lifeline support to the Isle of Wight

From Red Funnel

Red Funnel Ferries has today announced it is making changes to its planned timetable in order to protect lifeline services to the Isle of Wight and ensure a reliable and resilient schedule for all customers.

Following reduced demand for crossings and the government’s advice regarding non-essential travel and homeworking, Red Funnel’s hi-speed Red Jet service will be reduced to an hourly service, instead of its usual half-hourly rotations. The reduced Red Jet schedule will come into effect until further notice, beginning this Wednesday 25th March with services departing at XX:45 from Southampton and XX:15 from West Cowes, 7 days a week.

The first Red Jet sailings will depart at 05:45 from Southampton and 06:15 from West Cowes Monday to Saturday, and 06:45 from Southampton and 07:15 from West Cowes on Sundays. The last Red Jet sailings will depart at 20:45 from Southampton and 21:15 from West Cowes daily.

Customers with season tickets will be contacted and invited to “freeze” their ticket until which time they wish to reactivate it.

In addition, Red Funnel will continue to maintain its current timetable on its vehicle ferries for the foreseeable future. The cross-Solent ferry operator had planned to switch to its summer timetable, offering more sailings throughout the peak spring and summer season, from 4th April; however, given the unprecedented circumstances and reduced demand, Red Funnel has confirmed that the additional sailings are not currently required. 

These changes, which will remain in effect until further notice, are being put in place to ensure Red Funnel’s service is reliable and resilient in maintaining the lifeline link to and from the island, whilst doing everything it can to maintain the health, wellbeing and safety of all staff.

All customers with forward bookings impacted by the change will be contacted with information about their new sailing time (where applicable). Bookings will be moved to the next nearest crossing time, and Red Funnel is currently busy making these adjustments and politely requests that customers be patient as call volumes are currently high.

In line with government advice, Red Funnel is also suspending its food services at all terminals until further notice. Coffee, bottled beverages and pre-packaged food will remain on sale on board, however selection and availability may vary.

Fran Collins, CEO of Red Funnel Ferries, said: “As we continue to adapt our operations in response to the COVID-19 situation to ensure a reliable service to and from the island, it is more important than ever that we do our utmost to safeguard our customers, crew and front-line staff on board our ferries, and at our terminals. Following the government’s advice about non-essential travel, self-isolating and social distancing we are seeing reduced customer demand, and by running fewer services and maintaining staff levels, we have significantly increased vessel and colleague resilience in the interest of doing all that we can to ensure uninterrupted service for critical travel and freight in these unprecedented times.  

“We hope our customers can appreciate that having the people to physically run our fleet and terminal services is fundamental to maintain the resilience of our operation and, as a result, we have taken the decision to run our Red Jet service against a new temporary timetable while maintaining our current timetable on our vehicle ferry services. This puts us in the best possible position to serve our customers as frequently and reliably as we can throughout this exceptional situation.”

Red Funnel will also be adding additional sailings to its dedicated freight service via Red Kestrel, in order to provide further space on vehicle ferry sailings, and to ensure the ferry company is doing all that it can to maintain the vital movement of goods and supplies to the Island.

Fran Collins continued: “We will continue to assess the situation in the coming days and weeks and will continue to keep our customers informed of any further changes. We thank our customers for their understanding as our teams work hard to continue our services during these extraordinary times, and I would also like to thank all of our staff for their commitment to keeping the Island connected.”

Keep up to date with the latest developments as to how Red Funnel is responding to Covid-19 here:

Wightlink announce reduced sailings timetable

from Wightlink

The Coronavirus outbreak has had a significant impact on the numbers of people who want to travel to and from the Isle of Wight. Far fewer people than usual want to cross the Solent at present and the Government has advised against non-essential travel.

This change to passenger volumes has affected all cross-Solent operators and is not sustainable as this crisis is likely to last for many weeks. Wightlink has therefore decided, following discussions with Isle of Wight Council, and in accord with other operators, to bring in a reduced timetable with fewer sailings during this emergency.

Wightlink will be prioritising essential freight supplies to the Island including food and fuel as well as assisting the NHS and emergency services. But there will be plenty of sailings that individuals can book if needed.

It will mean a two-hourly service on the Lymington-Yarmouth service and hourly sailings on the  Portsmouth-Fishbourne car ferry and FastCat passenger routes.  Please see the Wightlink website or mobile app for details of sailings.

Wightlink Chief Executive Keith Greenfield says: “We need to take this action and know it will affect the travel plans of some of our customers. However, bringing essential supplies to the Isle of Wight is our key priority at present, together with supporting the NHS and emergency services.”

“This new timetable will also allow greater resilience to cope with increased levels of staff absence due to self-isolations”.

All information about the new timetable can be found on Wightlink’s Contact Centre and ticket office teams have all the details, too. Customers who want to amend their bookings can do so for free online.

Safety of customers and colleagues continues to be Wightlink’s highest priority. Crew members are continually cleaning vessels and passenger terminals. All of Wightlink’s ships are well-ventilated with fresh air, not recycled air, and passengers can choose to travel on the outside decks of car ferries and passenger FastCats if conditions permit.

Wightlink now allows customers to stay in their vehicles, following detailed discussions and agreement with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

The Portsmouth to Fishbourne car ferry, St Clare, is now reserved for people who wish to do this. St Clare sails on the even hour from Portsmouth (06:00, 08:00 etc) and the odd hour from Fishbourne (07:00, 09:00 etc). All other services (both Portsmouth to Fishbourne and Lymington to Yarmouth) will operate in the usual way with all customers leaving their vehicles after embarkation and spending the crossing in passenger lounges.  

For more information, visit

23 March

Hospitality Action have released an emergency grant scheme for employees in the hospitality sector

COVID-19 Emergency Grant.

Hospitality Action have announce they have secured enough funds to launch an emergency Covid-19 grant scheme providing an emergency one-off grant to support eligible hospitality workers impacted by the coronavirus.

This grant will be a one-off payment of £250 per household and you can access the application form further down this page.

Hospitality Action won’t be able to help everyone who applies but we will aim to reach as many people as the fund allows.  If you have any questions please call the Hospitality Action 24/7 helpline on 0808 802 0282 or if you are a member of the Hospitality Action Employee Assistance Programme please call 0808 802 2111.

For more information, please go to

22 March – UK Government have reiterated that non-essential travel includes ‘second homes, caravan parks, campsites or similar’

20 March – UK Government announce that as of tonight, all pubs, bars, cafes, restaurants and clubs are to close. The Government has said that they will pay 80% of the salary of retained staff. The latest Government information is available from this link

20 March – Visit Britain

Advice for tourism and event businesses affected by COVID-19 on our Business Advice Hub

Guidance for employees, employers and businesses, including information on healthcare advice for employers and support for businesses

Government updates affecting the Tourism Industry  

19 March – The Tourism Industry Response Group, for which VisitBritain provides the secretariat, has been meeting regularly to feed in industry concerns and industry impact to Government. The Minister for Tourism attended the most recent meeting on Thursday 19 March at which he was keen to understand the impacts on the sector, following the Chancellor’s announcement earlier that week, and to understand what the Government could do to support further.

There were three key themes that were identified as crucial for the next stage:

  • A clear and inclusive definition of the business types that make up the tourism industry so that Government reliefs/schemes are available to all constituents of the sector
  • Increased measures to alleviate as much of the cost burden to businesses as possible, including support for wage costs
  • Provision of clarity on the details of the support for businesses and when it will be available in future announcements.

20 March – Isle of Wight Council Leader Cllr Dave Stewart has spoken in this video about Isle of Wight Council advice – in addition, this page has been created by the IW Council for businesses and employers

19 March – Hovertravel have introduced changes to their procedures to allow flexibility with bookings:

19 March

Business Support

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has issued an update on the support available to businesses and the mechanisms for delivery. It provides more details but not complete clarity on which businesses are eligible which we are still seeking answers on.  You can view this here.

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS)

ACAS are holding two sessions for businesses on how to handle the impacts of Coronavirus – a live Twitter Q&A and a Webinar.

Live Twitter Q&A session – Friday 20 March. 10.30am. If you have questions or concerns about time off work, pay, remote working and what steps you can take to reduce the spread of the virus, join Acas experts this Friday to chat live on Twitter.  Send your questions in advance to @acasorguk #AskAcas.

Coronavirus, an advisory webinar for employers – Tuesday March 31 between 1-2, Thursday April 2 between 10.30 and 11.30 or Tuesday April 7 between 10.30 and 11.30 
 Register to attend.  This free webinar will provide practical advice for employers to help manage the impact of Coronavirus in the workplace. It includes:

– steps that can help reduce the spread of the virus 
– effective ways of communicating with employees 
– self-isolating, time off, sickness certification and sick pay 
– altering working hours, shift patterns and working arrangements 
– remote working and the use of technology 

The Federation of Small Businesses are offering this webinar too – you don’t have to be a member to take part, it is open to all! It starts at 11am on Friday March 20.

19 March – Isle of Wight Council have released a document outlining the Government support for the self-employed, employees and small business owners – view it here:

18 March – A message to Isle of Wight businesses from Will Myles, Managing Director at Visit Isle of Wight

18 March – Red Funnel and Wightlink are now allowing passengers to stay in their vehicles on selected crossings from March 19.


From Thursday 19 March 2020, all drivers and their passengers sailing on St Clare will remain in their vehicles during the crossings. St Clare sails on the even hour from Portsmouth (06:00, 08:00 etc) and the odd hour from Fishbourne (07:00, 09:00 etc). No foot passengers will be carried on these sailings, passenger lounges will be closed and shops and cafés will not be open. There will also be no access to onboard toilets from the vehicle deck so customers are advised to use the facilities provided at Portsmouth and Fishbourne terminals before departure.

· All other services will operate as normal.

Red Funnel:

Until further notice, the following vehicle ferry crossings will be restricted to “vehicle deck only” crossings, whereby the main passenger accommodation areas will be closed, and all passengers must remain in their vehicles. 

  • Departing Southampton: 18:00 & 21:00
  • Departing East Cowes: 19:30 & 22:30 

Red Funnel anticipate being able to extend this service in the coming days and will update their website accordingly.

17 March – The Government has announced a £330 billion financial rescue package to support and protect businesses affected by COVID-19, including those in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors. This includes:

  • £330 billion of government-backed loans and guarantees that will be available from next week 
  • All retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England will receive a 100% business rates holiday for the next 12 months.
  • Confirmation that government advice to avoid pubs, clubs and theatres etc. is sufficient for businesses to claim on their insurance where they have appropriate business interruption cover for pandemics in place.
  • There will be a £25k cash grant per retail and leisure business for those without specific pandemic insurance.
  • Increase in grants to small businesses eligible for Small Business Rate Relief from £3,000 to £10,000.
  • Further £25,000 grants to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value over £15,000 and below £51,000.
  • Relaxation in planning regulations to allow pubs and restaurants to start providing takeaways without a planning application.
  • Support for liquidity amongst large firms, with a major new scheme being launched by the Bank of England to help them bridge COVID-19 disruption to their cash flows through loans.
  • Increasing the amount businesses can borrow through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme from £1.2 million to £5 million, and ensuring businesses can access the first 6 months of that finance interest-free, as Government will cover the first 6 months of interest payments.
  • The Bank of England scheme and business interruption loan scheme will be available from the beginning of next week.
  • A package of support for airports and airlines to be announced soon
  • There will also be strengthened support for people – in addition to the measures in the budget, mortgage lenders will offer a three-month “mortgage holiday” for those in financial difficulty due to the COVID-19 outbreak. It was also noted that the next measures to be announced will focus on ‘people and individuals’

Full details can be found on Chancellor announces additional support to protect businesses 

In addition, information on the Coronavirus Bill (which will be pushed through the house this week) was published. This guidance outlines the powers the government will receive.

17 March – UK Government has published guidance on social distancing and vulnerable people and guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection.

16 March – The UK Government asks public to stop ‘unnecessary travel and non-essential contact’ for around 12 weeks.

Current situation and advice

The UK Government’s action plan for COVID 19 virus is a very good source of information about the disease and outlines the phased approach that Government is advocating.

Essentially the key phases are to Contain, Delay, and Mitigate any outbreak, using scientific Research to inform policy development.


‘We are following up with the Treasury urgently on the details of the scheme. We fully understand the urgency of this for businesses across the tourism sector, many who have already exhausted their reserves and are in need of urgent support in the next 1-2 weeks rather than in a few weeks. I will keep you posted as soon as we get more information.  In the meantime please continue to share any information regarding whether companies are at imminent risk of collapse due to cash flow issues, so I can ensure BEIS [Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy], HMT [Her Majesty’s Treasury] and our ministers are aware’.

Department of Culture, Media and Sport

Risk level

Based on the World Health Organization’s declaration that this is a public health emergency of international concern, the UK Chief Medical Officers have raised the risk to the UK from low to moderate. The Chief Medical Officers said: “This does not mean that we think the risk to individuals in the UK has changed at this stage, but that government should plan for all eventualities.”


According to the NHS, the best way to slow the spread of Coronavirus is to wash your hands more regularly than normal, for at least 20 seconds using soap or hand sanitizer.


The NHS website says: “Most people can continue to go to work, school and other public places. You only need to stay away from public places (self-isolate) if advised to by the NHS 111 online coronavirus service or a medical professional.”

If you are unsure about your travel plans, you should speak to your travel agent, accommodation provider or ferry operator, and to your travel insurance provider or credit card.

Business and Employers

Advice for businesses and employers from the UK Government

Visit Britain information and the latest advice for businesses

Useful links

About Coronavirus:

Isle of Wight travel:

Here’s a handy guide to washing your hands, should you wish to print and display it for your guests.,