Coronavirus: updated advice on shielding

From 1 August, the Government advice for those shielding in England changed. We look at what these changes mean for you if you have been told to shield.
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Last updated 3 August 2020

Changes to shielding advice

From 1 August 2020 

The guidance for the clinically extremely vulnerable is that shielding has been paused. This means:

  • you do not need to follow previous shielding advice
  • you can go to work as long as the workplace is Covid-secure, but should carry on working from home wherever possible
  • clinically extremely vulnerable children should attend education settings in line with the wider guidance on reopening of schools and guidance for full opening: special schools and other specialist settings
  • you can go outside as much as you like but you should still try to keep your overall social interactions low
  • you can visit businesses, such as supermarkets, pubs and shops, while keeping 2 metres away from others wherever possible or 1 metre, plus other precautions
  • you should continue to wash your hands carefully and more frequently than usual and that you maintain thorough cleaning of frequently touched areas in your home and/or workspace
  • you will no longer receive free food parcels, medicine deliveries and basic care from the National Shielding Service

What support will I be able to access as a 'shielder'?

You will still be able to get:

  • local volunteer support by contacting your local authority
  • prescriptions, essential items and food you buy delivered by NHS Volunteer Responders
  • priority slots for supermarket deliveries (if you previously registered for free food parcels)

Go to the government's advice on shielding

Am I still classed as ‘clinically extremely vulnerable? 

Yes. The categorisation of ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ will remain in place and people in this group should continue to follow their specific guidance, available here

You should have been written to about these changes. If you haven’t been contacted, please contact your GP. 

Will I be told to shield again? 

After 1 August the Government will continue to maintain the Shielded Patient List. The Government will monitor the virus continuously over coming months and if it spreads too much, you may be advised to shield again. 

Shielding guidance has been and continues to be advisory. 

Why is the advice changing? 

All Government decisions on shielding advice are led by the latest scientific evidence.  

The latest evidence shows that the chance of encountering Coronavirus in the community has continued to decline. Four weeks ago, around one person in 500 had the virus. Last week it was even lower with less than one in 1,700 people having the virus.  

As a result, the Government believes that advice to people that are shielding can be relaxed.  

More information

If you need further information, please read the Government guidance in full.

Find out more

How do I get food and medication if I'm shielding? 

Ask family, friends and neighbours to support you and use online services. The Government has also set up a dedicated website and helpline where you can go for wider support. Please register now if you have received the letter so that the Government can start putting in place people to help: 

0800 028 8327 

This service can help answer any questions you may have, such as: 

  • How do I get food shopping? 

  • How do I buy medicine? 

  • How do I pick up prescriptions?

I haven’t been contacted, but I think I am in the high-risk group – what should I do? 

If you have not received a letter or been contacted by your GP or hospital consultant, but feel you are within the high-risk category, you should contact your GP practice or hospital team. If you are unsure, check the list on the Gov.uk website to see if you are in the most at risk/ extremely vulnerable group. 

I'm worried that shielding is going to affect my mental health - what do I do?

Try to stay in touch with those around you over the phone, by post or online. Let people know how you would like to stay in touch and build that into your routine. This is important in looking after your mental wellbeing and you may find it helpful to talk to them about how you are feeling if you want to.

Remember, it is okay to share your concerns with others you trust and in doing so you may end up providing support to them too. Or you might want to try an NHS recommended helpline.

We've also put together some advice on how to look after your mental health during this time. 

Read more

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