UPDATED 03.06.20

The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak presents specific risks to people experiencing homelessness. People rough sleeping or living in temporary accommodation are in a high risk group, many with long term conditions, that mean becoming infected with the virus could have severe consequences.

This resource article is regularly updated with practical information regarding COVID-19.

UK Government response

The Government has issued general advice regarding this virus and has published guidance for hostels and day centres. Hostels and day centres are currently advised to stay open and take precautions broadly in line with those for the general public.

The Government also

Pathway response

Pathway has been deeply worried that the Government’s general guidance failed to address many of the practical concerns raised by specialist homeless clinicians and the homeless charity sector across the country. This was our response.

Our charity, and many in the homeless charity sector, advocate the advice given by Dr Al Story at our Homelessness and Inclusion Health conference – it’s imperative to Test, Triage, Cohort, Care – here with COVID-19 clearly explained by Prof Andrew Hayward links to both presentations here. 

Pathway also published an OPEN LETTER from London Clinicians COVID-19 calling on NHS England, Public Health England and the Mayor of London, to help support a rapid COVID-19 response for vulnerable homeless patients.

The open letter was published alongside a COVID19 Homeless Sector Plan produced by Dr Al Story, Clinical Lead Find & Treat and Prof Andrew Hayward UCL Professor of Epidemiology and Inclusion Health. A further, revised version of that plan, updated on 14 April is now published here. We expect further revisions shortly, particularly to reflect the gradual improvement in the national situation with regard to testing.

Discussions have also begun with national partners about how the homeless sector will need to respond to COVID-19 management more long term. To feed into some of this thinking, Pathway carried out a health needs assessment of clients at two of the London Prevent hotels: Brief HNA Limehouse and City – 22 May 20.


Clinical protocols

Palliative Care and End of Life Care

Other organisations also calling for action and offering practical support:


  • Crisis is calling for emergency measures to accommodate and protect the homeless population, regardless of legal barrier and published an open letter to the Prime Minister, seeking facilities and support for people facing homelessness to be able to self-isolate and protect themselves from COVID-19. Crisis has also created an online open-access COVID-19 toolkit.



  • Homeless Link has also responded to the government guidance on COVID-19 for hostel and day centre services for people experiencing rough sleeping, and also has a useful COVID-19 resources page that is regularly updated.



  • FEANTSA, the European Federation of National Organisations Working with the homeless, an umbrella group working with NGOs committed to combatting homelessness in Europe, has organised self isolation spaces for people experiencing homelessness diagnosed with COVID-19 in 15 locations.



  • Maternity Action have highlighted the particular impact of COVID-19 on pregnant women in a letter to the Chancellor. Their website hosts a range of useful information, including the telephone number of their advice line which offers help to women at risk of exclusion.


  • Groundswellhave developed resources to support people experiencing homelessness during the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.



  • Medact has drawn up a petition calling on all party leaders and all MPs to radically rethink public health and work together to ensure legislation is passed that protects everyone’s wellbeing now and through the duration of the COVID-19 crisis. You can sign the petition here.




  • RCGP elearning is making its entire eLearning content freely available to support all returning GPs and primary healthcare professionals during the COVID-19 crisis. It has a useful resources hub.


  • The King’s Fund is producing materials and guides to help health and care leaders through COVID19.



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