Plans underway to ease guidance for over 2million shielding
23 June 2020
Millions of people shielding from Coronavirus (COVID-19) will be advised they can spend more time outside their homes from Monday 6 July, the Health and Social Care Secretary has announced.
The Health and Social Care Secretary has confirmed that from Monday 6 July people who are shielding will be able to spend time outdoors in a group of up to six people including those outside of their household, while maintaining social distancing.
Those who are shielding and live alone, or are single parents with children, will also be able to create a ‘support bubble’ with one other household of any size, following the same rules already in place for the wider population.
This comes as the latest scientific evidence shows the chances of encountering the virus in the community continue to decline, but the government says it is committed to continuing with the unprecedented package of support until the end of July to give those shielding time to adjust to these changes.
From Saturday 1 August, the guidance will then be relaxed so clinically extremely vulnerable people will no longer be advised to shield, but support will remain available from NHS volunteers and local councils. People will retain their priority for supermarket delivery slots, and still be able to access help with shopping, medication, phone calls and transport to medical appointments.
While this group of clinically extremely vulnerable people should continue to follow strict social distancing measures, they will be able to participate in more activities such as visiting shops and places of worship.
From 1 August, those who need to work and cannot do so from home will be able to return to work as long as their workplace is COVID secure, adhering to the guidance available.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Jenny Harries, said: "Shielding was introduced to safeguard those who, at the start of the epidemic in the UK, were thought to be most clinically vulnerable in our communities. We know how difficult this period has been and the impact shielding has had on many people’s mental health.
"The prevalence of the virus in the community is now lower and chances of getting infected are reduced, so we believe it is the right time to relax some of the advice so people can start to regain a degree of normality once more in their daily lives.
"People should continue to follow social distancing guidance when outside their homes, as well as frequently washing their hands, to minimise the risk of becoming infected. We will continue to monitor the evidence closely and adjust the advice accordingly if there are any changes in the rates of infection that could impact on this group."