Shielded friends and family take first steps back out into their communities

Published Friday, 31st July 2020

From this weekend, if you have been identified as clinically extremely vulnerable, you no longer need shield yourself at home. 

This means that you can take the first steps to begin to get back to normal life. Although you are advised to take particular care when out of your home, and strictly maintain social distancing.

From this Saturday, 1st August, Government advice for people who have been shielding is changing and you are no longer advised to stay at home. 

What do we mean by shielding? 

Until now if you have been identified as clinically extremely vulnerable, you will have been strongly advised to stay at home to avoid contracting the disease, as there was an increased risk of needing hospital treatment if you became unwell. 

Why is the guidance changing? 

As the transmission of COVID-19 in communities has reduced, the government has now updated its guidance for people who are shielding, and the risk is considered lower. 

This means:

• The government will be no longer advising you to shield by staying at home. 

• The National Shielding Service of free food parcels, medicine deliveries and care made available for the last few months will have final deliveries this week

• NHS Volunteer Responders will carry on delivering the food, prescriptions and essential items bought by shielded people if it is still needed

• People who have been shielding will still be eligible for priority supermarket slots (if you have registered by 17th July) and you may be able to arrange for continued medicine deliveries with your local pharmacy.

• If you still need support getting food and essentials, and have no family or friends, our Here2Help portal is still available on www.worcestershire.gov.uk/here2help

What does this mean for me? 

If you feel able to, you can now to return to work, as long as the workplace is COVID-secure, which means that your employer has taken the necessary steps and risk assessments to reduce the risk of infection for employees. You may also be able to work from home, you can discuss this with your employer. You can go outside to buy food, to places of worship and for exercise, always keeping 2 metres away from other people wherever possible.

Does this apply to children?

Children will only be removed from the shielding list by their GP or specialist doctor after discussions with the child and their family. If your child is no longer required to shield, they can return to nursery or re-join their classmates for a new school year.

Dr Kathryn Cobain, Director for Public Health in Worcestershire said: “We are aware of how hard it has been in recent months, for those who are shielding. Shielding has protected you and others and the health and social care system, and we are very grateful to everyone who has played their part in keeping us all safer. The relaxation of the rules means that people who have shielded can plan to spend time with wider family and friends and be more active, however, there are still things you should do to keep yourself and others safe. 

People with serious underlying health conditions should follow social distancing recommendations, keeping 2 meters away from other people outside your home and, whenever possible, limit the number of people you meet, shops you visit, and non-essential journeys. 

It is still your choice to decide if you are comfortable to start going out - you may still want to spend a lot of time at home.”

Councillor John Smith, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing added: “These latest changes will be a relief for many people who are keen to participate in their communities again, especially those who live alone. 

But not everyone will be so confident about returning to normal, so I’d encourage anyone shielding, to only make the changes if they feel comfortable doing so.”

Around 2.2 million people fall within this category in the UK and includes both children and adults of all ages. 

In Worcestershire approximately 20,000 people have been shielding. 

The updated guidance can be viewed in full at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19 

ENDS

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