As infection rates drop and shielding guidance is relaxed across much of the UK, most clinically extremely vulnerable people will no longer have to follow the strict shielding guidance because the chances of coming into contact with Covid-19 is considered to be low.
However, local ‘spikes’ in the virus transmission rate can occur, meaning that the chance of coming into contact with the disease increases. This recently happened in Leicester when the city accounted for 10% of all positive cases in England during the week commencing 29th June.
To protect the most vulnerable to Covid-19, the UK Government is keeping a ‘shielding list’. The list includes the names of everyone who was advised to shield during lockdown. If there is a significant rise in the infection rate locally or nationally, the people on this list will be contacted (in Leicester this was via text message and a letter) and could be advised to shield again.
The letter will act as evidence for employers to show that people shielding cannot work outside the home until the advice changes, including for statutory sick pay purposes.
Guidance for each local lockdown could be different. For example, the new advice could be:
- you are strongly advised to stay at home as much as possible and keep visits outside to a minimum;
- if you wish to spend time outdoors this can be with members of your own household or, if you live alone, you may choose to spend time outdoors with one person from another household (ideally the same person each time). You should maintain social distancing and avoiding gatherings of any size;
- you are advised not to be part of a support bubble with another household.
What if I’m not on the shielding list?
In a local lockdown, you should follow the general advice for people in your area provided by the Government and local council. If you aren’t on the shielding list but think you should be, you should talk to your doctor or medical team.
You might like to read our blog about how it’s decided who should be on the shielding list and assessing your own level of risk.
What support will I get if I’m advised to shield again?
If you’re advised to shield again, the support you receive may vary slightly depending on where you live.
People in Leicester who received free government food boxes, medicine deliveries or care through the national shielding service, are continuing to receive this support while they are shielding again. You can register for the shielding service online at gov.uk or call 0800 028 8327.
In Leicester, seven supermarkets have given people shielding access to priority supermarket delivery slots, and these will continue beyond the end of July for those already signed up for support.
If you’re advised to shield again and you urgently need food or care, you should contact your local council for support. You can also contact the NHS Volunteer Responder scheme for help collecting shopping, medicine or other essential supplies that you need delivered to your home, or for someone to check in with you if you would like a chat. You can call them for free on 0808 1963646.
If you are struggling as a result of coronavirus, please visit gov.uk/find-coronavirus-support.
Mental health support
If you’re feeling anxious or feel low, you can go to nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters and gov.uk for advice and practical steps that you can take to support your wellbeing. If you’re still struggling to cope you can also speak to a GP.
What if I have symptoms of Covid-19?
Remember, whether you’re shielding or not, if you have any of the symptoms of Covid-19 (a new continuous cough, a high temperature, or a loss of, or change in, your sense of taste or smell), you must self-isolate at home and arrange to have a test – go to nhs.uk/ask-for-a-coronavirus-test to book a test or phone NHS 119 if you do not have internet access.