Over the weekend, the government announced sudden changes to the shielding guidance. Previously, they stated that those on the shielding list were strongly advised to stay at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact, until at least the end of June. As of Monday 1st June, the government have advised that those shielding are allowed outdoors. Please note at the time of writing, this only applies to England and Wales (see the end of this article for updates from Scotland and Northern Ireland).
Below are the key points:
- You can venture outdoors with members of your household
- If you live alone you can venture outdoors with one person from another household but it is advised that it is the same person each time
- There is no time limit to the amount of time you can spend outdoors
- You should continue to abide by strict social distancing and hygiene advice
- Avoid crowds and crowded areas
The government have stated that this change comes as they believe there is a lower level of transmission now compared to when lockdown was first introduced. We hope to see a more tailored review of shielding guidance before the end of June.
The freedom to go outdoors is a personal choice for those shielding and their families, and will depend on how they feel about managing risk. Some may feel comfortable and decide it is needed to reduce isolation and the impact on emotional wellbeing of those who have not left the house since March. Others may not feel comfortable at this stage to be around others or go outside. There is no right or wrong answer. It is important that if you do venture outdoors you are cautious and continue to take all precautions and hygiene measures into account.
You may wish to contact your specialist team if you require further advice.
Click on the links below for full updated shielding guidance:
Scotland: First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, announced that shielding for those in Scotland has been extended to 31st July. There has been further easing advice in Scotland from 17 July. Update 23.07.2020 From 24th July more easing has been announced for those still shielding. The Scottish government has also detailed new resources that will be provided to help people stay safe once shielding lifts from 1st August, including a Covid forecasting service for shielding. More information on this and the most up-to-date guidance is published here.
Northern Ireland (Update 05.06.2020): Vulnerable people in Northern Ireland advised to shield during the coronavirus lockdown are able to go outdoors again from Monday 8 June. They are able to go out with members of their household or if living alone can meet one person from another household whilst keeping to social distancing rules, hygiene precautions and avoiding crowded areas. Find out more here. Update 19.06.2020: Northern Ireland Executive have announced that shielding will pause from 31st July. Letters will be sent to those affected. Read more here. Update: 23.06.2020: People shielding and living alone will be able to form a support bubble with one other household from 6 July and meet outside in a group of six with social distancing. For the most up-to-date guidance for Northern Ireland click here.