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.
From 10 July, if you are shielding, you can:
• stop physically distancing from the people you live with
• we still advise that you meet in groups of only 8 people, and don’t meet any more than two households each day, and only outdoors
• if you are visiting another household’s outdoor space you can use their toilet
• travel further than 5 miles from your house, as far as you want
• book places to stay, such as self-catering accommodation, or travel to a second home, provided neither has shared facilities. It is advised this is only done with your household or extended household
• form an extended household – that means, if you’re living alone, or living only with other people who are under 18 years of age (single-parent household), you can join another household. You and the members of that extended household do not need to physically distance from each other, and you can stay the night in each other’s houses if you choose. Households must partner exclusively – you can only form an extended household with one other household and them with you.
• Children under the age of 12 in a household with someone who is shielding no longer need to distance from other children outside as long as those other children are not shielding.
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.