The government in England updated its guidance for clinically extremely vulnerable people on 20 September, when the shielding programme in England officially ended. This is because the risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 is lower than it was, partly due to the vaccination programme but also due to new treatments that are becoming available.
If you were previously on the shielding list, you should have received a letter from the Department of Health and Social Care telling you about the end of the shielding programme and outlining steps you can take to keep yourself as safe as possible.
If you are clinically extremely vulnerable, you should continue to follow the national guidance that applies to everybody in England. In addition, there are extra precautions you might want to consider to reduce your risk of infection.
- Follow any advice your
- Have both doses of COVID-19 vaccine and, if you are eligible, book your third primary dose or booster jab when you are offered it.
- If you choose to meet other people, think about precautions you might want to take.
- Think about the number of people you choose to see. The fewer people you interact with, and the shorter you keep your interactions, the lower your risk.
- It is up to you whether or not to keep a distance from other people. If you choose to, you might find our 'distance aware' badge a helpful reminder to everyone to give you space when possible.
- Think about the risks of close contact when you meet family and friends. If you feel uncomfortable with close contact, let them know.
- Consider asking friends and family to take a lateral flow test before meeting up with you, and to wear a face covering during your meeting.
- Consider whether you and the people you are meeting have been vaccinated. You might want to wait until 14 days after your second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine before being in close contact with others.
- Meet other people outside if you can, where the risk of infection is lower.
- If you choose to meet indoors, try to avoid crowded places. Keep windows and doors open to let plenty of fresh air inside.
- Do not meet up with anybody who has symptoms of COVID-19 (high temperature and/or a new, continuous cough and/or a loss of or change in sense of taste or smell) or who is self-isolating.
- The government in England is no longer instructing people to work from home. It is expected that a return to the workplace will happen gradually.
- Your employer has a legal responsibility to protect you from risks to your health and safety. If you are returning to your workplace, speak to your employer about the measures in place to reduce your risk of infection. Some workplaces may offer regular coronavirus testing.
- If you need support to work safely at home or in the workplace, you might be able to get help from Access to Work.
- You can also get advice from ACAS (including information about hybrid working - a combination of working from home and at your usual workplace), the Health and Safety Executive and Citizens Advice.
- If you are experiencing financial difficulties or you are unable to work for health reasons, you may be able to claim statutory sick pay employment support allowance or universal credit.
- Consider wearing a face covering in crowded places (such as shops or on public transport) or when you come into contact with people you don’t usually meet.
- You can go to the shops if you choose, but you might prefer to shop online or ask friends or family to shop for you. If you go to the shops, try to go at a quiet time of day.
- Wash your hands often using soap and water, or use hand sanitiser if hand-washing facilities aren’t available.
- Self-isolate and get tested if you have any symptoms of COVID-19.
- Continue to go to hospital or GP appointments unless your doctor tells you otherwise. Some appointments might be carried out remotely (for example, by phone or online). NHS Health at home has more information on accessing healthcare remotely. In-person appointments are still happening when they are needed. Healthcare settings are still required to have appropriate measures in place to reduce the risk of infection, including social distancing and mandatory face coverings.
- The NHS volunteer responders scheme is still available if you need help getting food or medicine, or for help with transport to and from medical appointments. Contact them by phone on 0808 196 3646.
We appreciate that this might be a worrying time. If you’d like to talk, contact our Helpline Services on freephone 0808 808 5555 from 10am to 3pm, Monday to Friday, or via Live Chat through our website. You can also email us at email@example.com.
You might find some of our other resources helpful:
- Keeping yourself as safe as you can
- Tips to help manage change as COVID-19 restrictions end
- Returning to the workplace?