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Shielding guidance updated in England

Monday 22nd June 2020

The government has announced new guidance on shielding in England at the Downing Street press conference.

Secretary of State for Health Matt Hancock said that the shielding guidance will be relaxed in stages, subject to clinical evidence.

The key points in the new guidance are:

From 6 July:

  1. You may, if you wish, meet in a group of up to 6 people outdoors, including people from different households, while maintaining strict social distancing; 
  2. You no longer need to observe social distancing with other members of your household;
  3. In line with the wider guidance for single adult households (either an adult living alone or with dependent children under 18) in the general population, you may from this date, if you wish, also form a 'support bubble' with one other household. All those in a support bubble will be able to spend time together inside each other's homes, including overnight, without needing to socially distance. This is a small advisory change that brings those affected a step nearer others in their communities. However, all the other current shielding advice will remain unchanged at this time. 
  4. The guidance for the clinically extremely vulnerable will be relaxed to allow shielded individuals to meet up to 5 people from other households outdoors, socially distanced, and to form support bubbles if they live alone or are a lone adult with a dependent under 18.

From 1 August:

  1. The advice to 'shield' will be paused. From this date, the Government is advising you to adopt strict social distancing rather than full shielding measures. Strict social distancing means you may wish to go out to more places and see more people but you should take particular care to minimise contact with others outside your household or support bubble. 
  2. You can go to work, if you cannot work from home, as long as the business is COVID-safe;
  3. Children who are clinically extremely vulnerable can return to their education settings if they are eligible and in line with their peers. Where possible children should practise frequent hand washing and social distancing;
  4. You can go outside to buy food, to places of worship and for exercise but you should maintain strict social distancing; and
  5. You should remain cautious as you are still at risk of severe illness if you catch Coronavirus, so the advice is to stay at home where possible and, if you do go out, follow strict social distancing.
  6. The food and medicine boxes facilitated by the National Shielding Service will stop as of 1 August as individuals are advised they can visit shops and pharmacies. However, other forms of support - such as priority supermarket delivery slots and the NHS Volunteers Scheme, amongst a range of local volunteer schemes - will continue. If an individual is concerned about support after 1 August, they should contact their local authority.

Contact's response to updated shielding guidance

Amanda Batten, Chief Executive of Contact, said; "We know that some families with disabled children are concerned about the change of guidance around shielding. They need confidence that it really is safe for them to come out of lockdown and that will only work with specific detailed advice.

"Families want to know more about how respite and day services are going to open safely. They want to understand how schools, and special schools will open to more children with special educational needs. Many children with disabilities need help with toileting, feeding and personal care at school, so have schools got enough PPE and enough staff to look after children safely? 

"We need reassurance that families who choose not to send their child to school, will not be penalised and will still get support with home learning. And we are keen to see the full EHCP support back in place as soon as possible.

"It is really worrying that the pause of shielding will trigger the end of vital support services that families we support rely on, such as protected food deliveries. I urge the Government to continue with this additional help through the summer until we know more about infection rates. This will give families a chance to gain confidence for this next phase without this additional worry."

If you live in Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales

In Northern Ireland, from 6 July anyone shielding can form a support bubble with another household. And from 31 July, people will be told they no longer need to shield.

In Scotland, shielding guidance remains in place until at least 31 July.

In Wales, existing guidance continues until at least 16 August.