Most clinically extremely vulnerable people in England will not be asked to shield again as the UK enters the second wave of coronavirus.
The government announced today that it will release advice for those at risk from coronavirus on how to protect themselves, but this group will not be asked to follow “restrictive shielding guidance”.
The new advice will be tied into the new Local Covid Alert Levels framework, meaning that those at the highest risk of serious illness from the virus will receive specific guidance, depending on the level of risk in their local area.
Those in exceptionally high-risk areas may still be advised to adopt formal shielding in the future, including staying at home and not going to work. But Ministers said shielding advice will not automatically be triggered by an area going into alert level of ‘Very High’.
The government said it will write to people in these areas if they are advised to adopt formal shielding again.
If shielding advice is reintroduced in their area, they will also be eligible for a support package – including food access support, medicines deliveries and any additional care or support required. They may also be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay or Employment and Support Allowance.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England Dr Jenny Harries said: “Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen a sharp increase in the prevalence of the virus across the country and we know those who are clinically extremely vulnerable are looking for practical advice on how they can carry on their lives while the virus remains in our communities.
“The new system will provide clarity on how best those in this group can keep themselves as safe as possible depending on the rates of transmission in their local area. Whilst advisory, I would urge all those affected to follow the guidance wherever they can and to continue to access health services for their medical conditions.
“We will continue to monitor the evidence closely and fine-tune this approach to make sure everyone in this group is clear about the safest way to go about their daily lives, particularly over the coming winter months.”
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “With coronavirus rates continuing to increase, now is the time to take action and ensure we protect the most vulnerable in our society.
“Today’s announcement will mean every person most at risk from serious outcomes from the virus will have specific advice targeted to local levels, which they can follow to keep themselves as safe as possible, while ensuring they can also keep as much normality in their lives as possible.”