Shielding and protecting vulnerable people

The government has updated its guidance for people who are shielding taking into account that COVID-19 disease levels have decreased over the last few weeks.

People who are shielding remain vulnerable and should continue to take precautions but can now leave their home if they wish, as long as they are able to maintain strict social distancing. If you choose to spend time outdoors, this can be with members of your own household. If you live alone, you can spend time outdoors with one person from another household. Ideally, this should be the same person each time. If you do go out, you should take extra care to minimise contact with others by keeping 2 metres apart. You may also choose to remain in your own home at all times if you do not feel comfortable with any form of contact with others. However, careful time outside in the fresh air is likely to make you feel better in yourself.

People classed as clinically extremely vulnerable are advised to take additional action to prevent themselves from coming into contact with the virus. If you’re clinically extremely vulnerable, you’re strongly advised to stay at home as much as possible and keep visits outside to a minimum (for instance once per day).

This is called ‘shielding’ and the advice is now updated:

  1. If you wish to spend time outdoors (though not in other buildings, households, or enclosed spaces) you should take extra care to minimise contact with others by keeping 2 metres apart.
  2. If you choose to spend time outdoors, this can be with members of your own household. If you live alone, you can spend time outdoors with one person from another household (ideally the same person each time).
  3. You should stay alert when leaving home: washing your hands regularly, maintaining social distance and avoiding gatherings of any size.
  4. You should not attend any gatherings, including gatherings of friends and families in private spaces, for example, parties, weddings and religious services.
  5. You should strictly avoid contact with anyone who is displaying symptoms of COVID-19 (a new continuous cough, a high temperature, or a loss of, or change in, your sense of taste or smell).

If you’re clinically extremely vulnerable you should have received a letter from the NHS asking you to self isolate. The letter tells you how to register on a government website or an automated helpline for support to get essential food supplies if friends or family cannot help you.

If you’ve received this letter and have registered as having no means of getting food:

  • you’ll be eligible for a government food parcel to be delivered to your home
  • Defra will pass your details to supermarkets

If you think you should have received a letter but have not had one, you should contact your GP.

If you’re clinically extremely vulnerable you should have received a letter from the NHS asking you to self isolate. The letter tells you how to register on a government website or an automated helpline for support to get essential food supplies if friends or family cannot help you.

If you’ve received this letter and have registered as having no means of getting food:

  • you’ll be eligible for a government food parcel to be delivered to your home
  • Defra will pass your details to supermarkets

If you think you should have received a letter but have not had one, you should contact your GP.

Shopping for others

Consider offering to shop for people you know who are self-isolating and unable to get to the shops.

If you’ve signed up for the NHS Volunteer Responders programme, you can volunteer to support those in your community other than family and friends.

If you’re shopping for someone else, most of the major supermarkets have ways that you can pay on behalf of others, such as e-vouchers and gift cards. The person you’re shopping for can buy these online and you can use them in store. Local convenience stores may also have options available, so check what is on offer.

Further guidance on shielding and support  can be found here.