July 2021 update
From 19 July 2021, the advice from Westminster covering COVID-19 is changing and includes:
- reducing the restrictions on social activity
- further opening of businesses such as retail and hospitality
- lifting legal requirements for wearing face masks
The four UK nations are each adopting slightly different policies that best manage the COVID-19 pandemic in their areas, not least because case numbers vary across the countries.
The official guidance now means that, as a clinically vulnerable person, you are no longer being advised to remain at home.
A large percentage of the UK’s adult population has now been vaccinated against COVID-19 and the impact of this on infection rates is being closely monitored, as is the rate of hospital admissions of people more seriously affected.
The COVID-19 virus is able to change, or “mutate”, and can alter how it is able to spread and infect people. The “Delta variant”, which you may have heard about in the news, is an example of this. Further variants are possible, even likely, and this situation is being closely monitored, not least because of the possible impact a new variant may have on people who are clinically vulnerable.
Each devolved nation has detailed information about the changes in shielding guidance and what it means for you:
The guidance may have eased social distancing and face mask rules, but if you are clinically vulnerable, you are still recommended to exercise extra caution.
For example, you may wish to continue to restrict the number of people in your group when you socialise and work from home if that is possible. Washing your hands, maintaining social distance and meeting outdoors or in well ventilated spaces may still feel safer.
It is still recommended, though not mandatory, to wear face coverings in crowded places, such as public transport. If you are exempt from covering your face for a medical reason, this is unchanged.
If you have any concerns about safety in your working environment, you can speak to employer. The job retention scheme has been extended and may still be available to you if you have been furloughed.
Wales is moving into Alert level 1. The advice for those who are clinically vulnerable can be found here:
Scotland will move into Level 0 guidance. The advice for those who are clinically vulnerable can be found here:
You may see the relaxation of restrictions as a positive step and be happy to have more regular, close contact with friends and family. It may also feel like the right time to plan some activity away from your home, travelling further than you have for many months.
On the other hand, you may look back on this long period of shielding as a challenging but very important and welcome way to keep yourself safe. Your sense of risk from covid-19 may remain strong.
Think about which options feel right for you now. As the guidance changes, adjust what you do in a way that keeps you physically and mentally healthy. Do not feel pressured by others if you feel uncomfortable with additional contacts and activities.
What feels right will vary from person to person. Some people may want to think about currently receiving treatment, how isolated they feel and the current infection rates in their area.
Clinically vulnerable people will be considered for any vaccination boosters this autumn, alongside the annual ‘flu vaccination programme.