- Advisory guidance is to be eased for 2.2 million clinically extremely vulnerable people across England, as virus infection rates continue to fall
- From Monday July 6th, those shielding from coronavirus can gather in groups of up to six people outdoors and form a ‘support bubble’ with another household, however whilst still observing social distancing
- Government shielding support package will remain in place until the end of July when people will no longer be advised to shield
- Also, those who are shielding and live alone or are single parents with children will also be able to create a ‘support bubble’ with one other household of any size, following the same rules already in place for the wider population.
This advice comes as the latest scientific evidence shows the chances of encountering the virus in the community continue to decline but, most importantly, the Government is committed to continuing with the unprecedented package of support until the end of July to allow those shielding to adjust to these changes.
Saturday August 1st will be a key date . . .
From Saturday August 1st, the above guidance will then be relaxed, so that clinically extremely vulnerable people will no longer be advised to shield, but support will remain available from NHS volunteers and local councils. People will retain their priority for supermarket delivery slots, and still be able to access help with shopping, medication, phone calls and transport to medical appointments.
While this group should continue to follow strict social distancing measures, they will be able to participate in more activities such as visiting shops and places of worship. They should however continue to remain at home as much as possible, taking particular care to minimise contact with others outside their household and practise good, frequent handwashing.
From the same date, those who need to work yet cannot do so from home will be able to return to work as long as their workplace is COVID-19 secure, adhering to the guidance available.
It is now generally thought that the rates of the virus are now low enough to allow for Government advice to be carefully and safely eased, as on average less than 1 in 1,700 throughout UK communities are estimated to have the virus, down from 1 in 500 4 weeks ago.
It is also recognised that individuals unable to work from home may feel uncertain about returning to work. Mindful of this, the Government is asking employers to ease the transition for their clinically extremely vulnerable employees, ensuring that robust measures are put in place for those currently shielding to return to work when they are able to do so.
For anyone concerned about returning to work once the guidance has eased, it is recommended they speak with their employer to understand their specific policies in relation to COVID-19, and also to discuss their situation, plans for returning to work, and adjustments that may be needed before they return.
The NHS will maintain the Shielded Patient List to ensure that the best advice to those identified as clinically extremely vulnerable will continue. However, should the level of the disease in the community rise in the future, it may be necessary to advise that more restrictive measures should be taken in order for those at highest risk to keep themselves safe.
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