Advisory guidance to be eased for 2.2 million clinically extremely vulnerable people across England, as virus infection rates continue to fall
- From Monday 6 July, those shielding from coronavirus can gather in groups of up to six people outdoors and form a ‘support bubble’ with another household
- Government shielding support package will remain in place until the end of July when people will no longer be advised to shield.
Millions of people shielding from coronavirus will be advised they can spend more time outside their homes from Monday 6 July, the Health Secretary announced today (Monday 22 June).
Hailing the resilience of those who have been shielding, the Health Secretary confirmed from Monday 6 July they will be able to spend time outdoors in a group of up to six people including those outside of their household, while maintaining social distancing.
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 comes as the latest scientific evidence shows the chances of encountering the virus in the community continue to decline, but the Government is committed to continuing with the unprecedented package of support until the end of July to give those shielding time to adjust to these changes.
From Saturday 1 August, the guidance will then be relaxed so 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.
Whilst this group of clinically extremely vulnerable people 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.
From 1 August, those who need to work and cannot do so from home will be able to return to work as long as their workplace is COVID secure, adhering to the guidance available.
The rates of the virus are now low enough to allow for our advice to be carefully and safely eased, as on average less than 1 in 1,700 in our communities are estimated to have the virus, down from 1 in 500 four weeks ago.
Those identified as clinically extremely vulnerable should 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.
We recognise 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 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, we recommend they speak with their employer to understand their specific policies in relation to COVID-19. We advise they discuss their situation, agree a plan for returning to work and adjustments that may be needed before they return.
The NHS will maintain the Shielded Patient List to ensure we continue to provide the best advice to those identified as clinically extremely vulnerable. 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.