The government has updated its guidance for people who are shielding taking into account that COVID-19 disease levels are substantially lower now than when shielding was first introduced.
People who are shielding remain vulnerable and should continue to take precautions but can now leave their home if they wish, as long as they are able to maintain strict social distancing. If you choose to spend time outdoors, this can be 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 2 metres apart. This guidance will be kept under regular review.
Who this guidance is for
This guidance is for people including children who are clinically extremely vulnerable. It’s also for their family, friends and carers.
People who are clinically extremely vulnerable are at high risk of getting seriously ill from coronavirus (COVID-19). They should have received a letter advising them to shield or have been told by their GP or hospital clinician. This includes clinically extremely vulnerable people living in long-term care facilities for the elderly or people with special needs. If you have been told that you’re clinically extremely vulnerable, you should:
- follow the advice in this guidance
- register online for support even if you do not need additional support right now
This guidance is still advisory. You will not be fined or sanctioned if you prefer to follow the guidance on staying alert and safe (social distancing). You may also choose to remain in your own home at all times if you do not feel comfortable with any form of contact with others. However, careful time outside in the fresh air is likely to make you feel better in yourself.
Clinically extremely vulnerable groups
Expert doctors in England have identified specific medical conditions that, based on what we know about the virus so far, place some people at greatest risk of severe illness from coronavirus. Disease severity, history or treatment levels will also affect who is in this group.
Clinically extremely vulnerable people may include:
- Solid organ transplant recipients.
- People with specific cancers:
- people with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy
- people with lung cancer who are undergoing radical radiotherapy
- people with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment
- people having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
- people having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors
- people who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs
- People with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
- People with rare diseases that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), homozygous sickle cell).
- People on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection.
- Women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired.
- Other people have also been classed as clinically extremely vulnerable, based on clinical judgement and an assessment of their needs. GPs and hospital clinicians have been provided with guidance to support these decisions.
More information about who has been classed as clinically extremely vulnerable is available on the NHS Digital website.
If you’re still concerned, you should discuss your concerns with your GP or hospital clinician.
Check this is the right guidance for you
You are not clinically extremely vulnerable if:
- you do not have any of the conditions that make you clinically extremely vulnerable
- you have not been told by your GP or specialist that you are clinically extremely vulnerable or received a letter
If you are not clinically extremely vulnerable you should follow the guidance on staying alert and safe (social distancing).