Vulnerable Isle of Wight residents who have been ‘shielding’ for the last three months due to the Covid-19 pandemic, have today received some encouraging news.
The Deputy Chief Medival Officer, Jenny Harries, who was alongside the Health Secretary of State Matt Hancock at today’s coronavirus briefing, has set out a roadmap for the future of shielding. She said: “Shielding guidance will be relaxed in stages, subject to clinical evidence. The new advice to patients will now be:
“From 6 July you may, if you wish, meet in a group of up to six people outdoors, including people from different households, while maintaining strict social distancing;
“You no longer need to observe social distancing with other members of your household;
“In line with the wider guidance for single adult households (either an adult living alone or with dependent children under 18) in the general population, you may from this date, if you wish, also form a ‘support bubble’ with one other household. All those in a support bubble will be able to spend time together inside each other’s homes, including overnight, without needing to socially distance. This is a small advisory change that brings those affected a step nearer others in their communities. However, all the other current shielding advice will remain unchanged at this time. the guidance for the clinically extremely vulnerable will be relaxed to allow shielded individuals to meet up to 5 people from other households outdoors, socially distanced, and to form support bubbles if they live alone or are a lone adult with a dependent under 18.”
She continued: “From 1 August the advice to ‘shield’ will be paused. From this date, the Government is advising you to adopt strict social distancing rather than full shielding measures. Strict social distancing means you may wish to go out to more places and see more people but you should take particular care to minimise contact with others outside your household or support bubble.
You can go to work, if you cannot work from home, as long as the business is COVID-safe.
“Children who are clinically extremely vulnerable can return to their education settings if they are eligible and in line with their peers. Where possible children should practise frequent hand washing and social distancing;
“You can go outside to buy food, to places of worship and for exercise but you should maintain strict social distancing; and
“You should remain cautious as you are still at risk of severe illness if you catch Coronavirus, so the advice is to stay at home where possible and, if you do go out, follow strict social distancing.
“The food and medicine boxes facilitated by the National Shielding Service will stop as of August 1 as individuals are advised they can visit shops and pharmacies. However, other forms of support – such as priority supermarket delivery slots and the NHS Volunteers Scheme, amongst a range of local volunteer schemes – will continue. If an individual is concerned about support after 1 August, they should contact their local authority.
“The categorisation of ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ will remain in place and people in this cohort should continue to follow the guidance specific to them, available here. After August 1 we will continue to maintain the Shielded Patient List. We will monitor the virus continuously over coming months and if it spreads too much, we may need to advise this group to shield again.”
Shielding guidance has been and continues to be advisory. Everybody in the ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ categorisation will be written to from today outlining these steps.”