Great Britain

Ask the Medic: 'What is the guidance for people shielding?'

Q. What is the guidance for people shielding?

A. The Government has updated its guidance for people who are shielding, taking into account that coronavirus (COVID-19) infection rates have decreased significantly over the last few weeks. This guidance remains advisory.

People who are shielding remain vulnerable and should continue to take precautions but may now choose to leave their home, as long as they are able to maintain strict social distancing.

If you choose to spend time outdoors, you may do so 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 two metres apart. This guidance will be kept under regular review.

The Government has now set out a series of steps for further relaxing shielding guidance which will come into effect on July 6 and August 1.

From July 6, the Government will be advising: that you may, if you wish, meet in a group of up to six people outdoors, including people from different households, while maintaining strict social distancing; that you no longer need to observe social distancing with other members of your household 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; that 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.

Q. So what will be in place from August 1?

A. From August 1 the Government will be advising that shielding 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.

In practice, this means that from August 1: you can go to work, if you cannot work from home, as long as the business is COVID-safe; 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); you can go outside to buy food, to places of worship and for exercise but you should maintain strict social distancing; 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.

The guidance for the clinically extremely vulnerable group remains advisory. More detailed advice will be updated in this guidance as the changes in advice come into effect on July 6 and August 1.

Unless we see a significant rise in cases we expect the shielding programme to be paused on July 31.

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