Pausing of shielding guidance from Saturday 1st August

Posted on: 1st August 2020

Shielding guidance is being paused across the UK. In England, Scotland and Northern Ireland the guidance is being paused on Saturday 1st August, and in Wales, it is being paused on Sunday 16th August.  A summary of these changes are listed by the four nations below.

Local lockdown
The changes below do not apply to you if you are living in an area which has been advised to go into ‘local lockdown‘.

This is currently the case in Leicester, Luton and Blackburn. All clinically extremely vulnerable people should receive a text and/or a letter if their area is going into local lockdown.

On 31st  July, an outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) has been identified in parts of Greater Manchester, East Lancashire, and West Yorkshire. The government and relevant local authorities are acting together to control the spread of the virus and to stop transmission from increasing further.  Please refer to the guidance on the Government’s website

England 

From 1 August, the government will pause shielding unless the transmission of COVID-19 in the community starts to rise significantly.

This means:

  • the government will no longer be advising you to shield
  • the support from the National Shielding Service of free food parcels, medicine deliveries and care will stop
  • NHS Volunteer Responders will carry on delivering the food you buy, prescriptions and essential items to you if you need it
  • you will still be eligible for priority supermarket slots (if you have registered by 17 July)

You may still be at risk of severe illness if you catch coronavirus, so stay at home as much as you can and continue to take precautions when you do go out. You can do this by washing your hands regularly, avoiding touching your face and keeping 2 metres away from people outside of your household or bubble wherever possible.

From 1 August, you’ll be advised you could go out to more places and see more people, for example, the advice is:

  • you can go to work, as long as the workplace is COVID-secure – but carry on working from home if you can
  • children who are clinically extremely vulnerable can go back to school (when the rest of their class goes back)
  • you can go outside to buy food, to places of worship and for exercise – keeping 2 metres away wherever possible

Is it safe?

The guidance has been updated in line with the latest scientific and medical advice and with the safety and welfare of the clinically extremely vulnerable in mind. Current scientific evidence indicates that average incidence rates across the country are lower now than when the decision was made to pause shielding

We will monitor the virus continuously over coming months and if it spreads too much, we may need to advise you to shield again. Your name will be kept on the Shielded Patient List held by NHS Digital so the Government can write to you if this happens.

Returning to work

You should continue to work from home if you can. If this is not possible, your employer should take steps to make your workplace Covid-secure. You can find out more about safety measures in your workplace by searching here, for example if you work in a supermarket, you can read the ‘Shops and branches’ guidance.

 If your employer cannot make your workplace Covid-secure, they can access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for those who have been furloughed for a three-week period prior to 30 June, until the end of October.

 If you are concerned about your safety at work, talk to your employer and look to come to an agreement. For example, you could discuss staggered working times or taking on a different role. You can get advice on your specific situation and employment rights by visiting the Acas website or calling the Acas helpline, 0300 123 1100.

You can take part in the Distance Aware campaign by downloading free posters or ordering a lanyard to wear at work.

Support 

In line with what was announced on Monday 22 June, the Government-provided food boxes and medicine deliveries have now stopped. However, there are a number of ways you can still access support.

Supermarkets and other retailers are continuing to offer priority delivery slots for the clinically extremely vulnerable, as well as telephone ordering and food boxes to help the most vulnerable shop for themselves.

The NHS Volunteer Responders Programme will continue providing support with food, prescriptions and essential items to those who are self-isolating for any reason. You can contact them by calling 0808 196 3646 or by going online here.

If you are still concerned and need help, you should contact your local authority. You can also find out what support services are available in your area by using this search tool: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus-local-help

If there are local measures in your area

 If you are clinically extremely vulnerable and live in an area where there are enhanced public health measures, you should follow the guidance on your local council’s website. If you don’t know what your local council is, you can check here.

If the enhanced measures require you to resume shielding, the government will write to you with detailed guidance.

This guidance will always be advisory.

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Scotland 

The Scottish government will be pausing shielding advice from 1 August.

This will mean that you can follow the same guidance as the rest of Scotland. To stay safe, you should strictly follow physical distancing and hygiene measures.

The number people in Scotland who are infectious is now very low. The latest estimate shows that from 31 July there will be approximately 1 in 18,160 people who are infectious.

We now know that the risks from being outside and catching coronavirus are very low. There is evidence that daylight outdoors kills the virus within minutes.

The main way that coronavirus spreads is by droplets from an infected person when they cough. Evidence shows that the risk of catching the virus is very small if you are 2 metres or more away. This is because the droplets will have fallen to the ground. This is why our advice is to stay 2 metres away from people outwith your household.

As we keep improving our knowledge about the virus, we will also review the evidence for who needs to shield. If this should mean any change to our advice, we will contact you to let you know.

To support people return to their daily activities, including returning to work and school, we have produced a number of resources:

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Wales

The Chief Medical Officer for Wales Dr Frank Atherton has confirmed people in Wales who are shielding will no longer need to do so after 16 August.

Around 130,000 people in Wales have been advised to take shielding measures since the start of the pandemic because they are at high risk of developing serious illness if they contract coronavirus.

The change in the advice means that, from 16 August, people in the shielding group can go to work or to school and go shopping but they should continue to take steps to protect themselves from coronavirus by keeping a 2m distance from others and washing their hands frequently.

The Chief Medical Officer has previously advised all those shielding can take unlimited exercise outdoors and meet with members of one other household outdoors. People who are shielding can also form part of an extended household.

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Northern Ireland

Shielding will be paused from 31 July 2020. Pausing, rather than stopping shielding is just a precaution and there are no plans for it to restart at the moment. The pause is indefinite, but it remains possible that it will need to reactivate the guidance if the risk increases in the future

 

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