Changes to shielding guidance in England
Guidance for people in England who have been shielding during the coronavirus pandemic will change on a staggered basis in the coming weeks, the UK Government has announced.
A two-staged relaxation of shielding guidance for those who are clinically extremely vulnerable will mean that:
From Monday 6 July:
- Those shielding can meet in a group of up to six people – including people from different households should they wish to, though strict social distancing must be maintained at all times.
- Social distancing will no longer be required with other members of a person’s own household.
- If you live alone (or are a lone adult with dependent children under 18), you will be able to form a support bubble with another household, enabling you to spend time together inside each other’s home without needing to socially distance.
Then, from Saturday 1 August:
- Strict social distancing measures can be adopted instead of full shielding. This means that people can visit more places and see others, though particular care should be taken to minimise contact with others outside a household or support bubble.
- People can return to their workplace providing it is COVID-safe, if they’re not able to work from home. They can also go outside to buy food, to visit places of worship and for exercise.
The Government has given assurances that all shielding decisions are led by the latest scientific evidence, which shows the chance of encountering coronavirus has continued to decline.
Genevieve Edwards, Chief Executive at Bowel Cancer UK, said: “Around 268,000 people living in the UK today have been diagnosed with bowel cancer, and many of those affected by the disease will have now been shielding for over three months to avoid catching coronavirus.
“These are huge steps which we know will come as a welcome relief to many. But for others, the new guidance is likely to cause anxiety, particularly about returning to work. This may involve the need to travel on public transport and to mix more frequently with others, leaving workers forced to choose between their work and their health.
“We urge all employers to implement government guidance and take every measure available to allow those shielding to continue to work from home; and where this isn’t possible to ensure a safe, socially distanced working environment is in place for their return.”
Food and medicine boxes from the National Shielding Service will stop for those who have been shielding from 1 August. Priority supermarket delivery slots and the NHS Volunteers Scheme will still be in place, but anybody who’s concerned about support should contact their local authority.
Everybody in the ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ category should expect to receive a letter shortly outlining these steps. Coronavirus continues to pose a very real risk of severe illness, so wherever possible, caution should be exercised and strict social distancing should be followed at all times.
Anybody with concerns or questions about what this means for them should contact their GP or clinical team. This information is new for people in England, and advice is slightly different for those in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. More information on our website here.