Guidance on shielding and protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19.
In this section
- definition of clinically extremely vulnerable
- who is this advice is for?
- what has changed?
- additional guidance
- advice for clinically extremely vulnerable during the Christmas period
People who are defined as clinically extremely vulnerable are at very high risk of severe illness from COVID-19. There are 2 ways you may be identified as clinically extremely vulnerable:
- you have one or more of the conditions listed on the Government website, Website: Definition of clinically extremely vulnerable groups from GOV.UK (opens in a new window)
- your hospital clinician or GP has added you to the Shielded patients list from NHS (opens in a new window) because, based on their clinical judgement, they deem you to be at higher risk of serious illness if you catch the virus.
If you do not fall into either of these categories and have not been informed that you are on the Shielded patients list, follow the new National Restrictions from 2.
This guidance is for everyone who has been identified as clinically extremely vulnerable. If you are in this group, you will previously have received a letter from the NHS or from your GP telling you this. You may have been advised to shield in the past.
On 2 December the country has moved back to a tiered system of local restrictions.
This guidance offers additional advice to the clinically extremely vulnerable over and above the rules for the tiers, which apply to everyone.
In the future, the government will only reintroduce formal shielding advice in the very worst affected local areas and for a limited period of time. This will only apply to some, but not all, Tier 3 areas and will be based on advice from the Chief Medical Officer. The government will write to you separately to inform you if you are advised to shield. You are not advised to follow formal shielding advice again unless you receive a new shielding notification advising you to do so.
In tier 2 the additional advice for clinically extremely vulnerable people is that you keep the number of different people you meet with consistently low. The fewer people you meet, the less likely you are to catch COVID-19
You are encouraged to continue to go outside because of the benefits of exercise. If you do choose to meet other households outside of your support bubble, this must be outside, must be in groups of less than 6 people and you are advised to keep the numbers low
The more you socially distance from others, including your own household, the less likely you are to catch COVID-19. You should always stay at least 2 metres away from other people visiting your home.
Everyone is currently advised to work from home where possible. As a general principle, working from home reduces the chance of you being exposed to the virus.
If you cannot work from home, you can still go to work in all tiers.
Consider how to get to and from work. If you need to use public transport, you must wear a face covering unless you are exempt. Consider travelling outside peak hours to reduce the number of people with whom you come into contact.
If you need support to work at home or in the workplace you can apply for Access to Work (opens in a new window). Access to Work will provide support for the disability-related extra costs of working that are beyond standard reasonable adjustments an employer must provide.
If you cannot make alternative arrangements, your employer may be able to furlough you under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (opens in a new window), which has been extended until the end of March 2021. You should have a conversation with your employer about whether this is possible.
The UK Chief Medical Officers have issued a statement on schools and childcare reopening which states that there is a very low rate of severe disease in children and young people from COVID-19. Schools have their own measures in place to limit the risk of transmission which can be found in guidance on reopening of schools.
All pupils and students should continue to attend education settings at all local tiers unless they are one of the very small number of pupils or students under paediatric or other NHS care and have been advised by their GP or clinician not to attend an education setting. Children and young people whose parents or carers are clinically extremely vulnerable can also continue to go to school.
Clinically extremely vulnerable people are advised to avoid travel where possible except for going to work, school, or for essential shopping
If you need to travel, walk or cycle if you can. If this is not possible, travelling in a private car is generally lower risk than public transport because you are likely to come into contact with fewer people. You should avoid sharing a car, especially with people outside of your immediate household or support bubble.
You are advised to reduce the number of shopping trips you make. If you do go to the shops including pharmacies, consider doing so at quieter times of the day.
Consider using online delivery slots for food shopping or ask friends and family to help deliver shopping or collect medicines for you.
If you do not have friends or family to help and need further assistance with food shopping or medicine collection contact Here2Help who may be able to link you to a volunteer or arrange a priority shopping slot at Tesco or Iceland.
You should continue to receive care at home, either from professional social care and medical professionals, or from friends and family within your support bubble
You should continue to access the NHS services that you need, and you should contact the NHS if you have an urgent or emergency care need
From 23 to 27 December, the Government will be changing some restrictions on social contact. This allows you to form a ‘Christmas bubble’ in which you can spend time indoors and outdoors with people from up to three households, including your own. You can choose to be part of a Christmas bubble if you are clinically extremely vulnerable, but it does involve greater risks for you as you will be increasing the number of people you have contact with.
If you do decide to form a Christmas bubble it is advised that you maintain social distance from those you don’t normally live with at all times, avoiding physical contact.
Everyone should wash their hands regularly and it is important to keep the space where you spend time with those you don’t normally live with well ventilated and to clean touch points regularly, such as door handles and surfaces.
You may want to think about who you sit next to, including during meals, and also consider wearing a face covering indoors where social distancing may be difficult as well as encouraging others to do the same.
If you don’t feel comfortable spending time with other people indoors, think of other ways that you can safely spend time together, for example on walks outdoors or supported by technology, and how you can make that time feel different and special. Going outdoors carefully for exercise is also encouraged. It is important that you do not feel pressured to celebrate Christmas in an environment that makes you anxious.
Once the Christmas bubble period ends on 27 December, you should follow the guidance that was in place before Christmas, in line with the restrictions for your local area.