03 Aug 2020

The further relaxing of shielding guidance came into effect on Saturday 1 August with shielding now officially paused.

From this date, the government is advising that shielded patients adopt strict social distancing rather than full shielding measures - taking particular care to minimise contact with others outside your household or support bubble. In practice this means that from 1 August:

  • 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 and 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
  • 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 main changes are as follows:

Food delivery – from 1 August, the weekly national food delivery to shielding residents will end. This will mean that residents will need to make arrangements for food delivery via friends / family /neighbours or to plan how to safely undertake shopping visits. If you have received priority for a supermarket delivery – this will remain in place. However, for those who have not used this option previously it is unfortunately too late to register for this.
If you are concerned about how you will access food after this time you can call Contact Cares on 01744 676767.

Medicines delivery – some pharmacies have been delivering prescription medicines to residents who are shielding. If you are concerned about the collection and delivery of your prescription medication, please call Contact Cares on 01744 676767 for advice. It may also be that a friend / family member or neighbour can help with this.

Practical Support – during the initial response to the pandemic, a number of organisations have come together to develop our approach to supporting each other during this difficult time under the umbrella of St Helens Together. Despite the pausing of the shielding programme, there is still local support available – please call Contact Cares on 01744 676767.

Wellbeing – if you are feeling anxious following the changes to the programme and would like some further support, contact the St Helens Wellbeing Service: via their website, www.sthelenswellbeing.org.uk, telephone 01744 371111, or email chcp.sthelens@nhs.net

Although the shielding programme is being ‘paused’ the government has asked GPs and hospital consultants to maintain a list of all those who are shielding. The reason for this is that if shielding or some aspect of shielding needs to be reintroduced this can be done quickly.


Is this safe?

The guidance has been updated in line with the latest scientific and medical advice and with the safety and welfare of the clinically extremely vulnerable in mind. Current scientific evidence indicates that average incidence rates across the country are lower now than when the decision was made to pause shielding

We will monitor the virus continuously over coming months and if it spreads too much, we may need to advise you to shield again. Your name will be kept on the Shielded Patient List held by NHS Digital so the Government can write to you if this happens. 


Returning to work

You should continue to work from home if you can. If this is not possible, your employer should take steps to make your workplace Covid-secure. You can find out more about safety measures in your workplace by searching here, for example if you work in a supermarket, you can read the ‘Shops and branches’ guidance.

If your employer cannot make your workplace Covid-secure, they can access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for those who have been furloughed for a three-week period prior to 30 June, until the end of October.

If you are concerned about your safety at work, talk to your employer and look to come to an agreement. For example, you could discuss staggered working times or taking on a different role. You can get advice on your specific situation and employment rights by visiting the Acas website or calling the Acas helpline, 0300 123 1100

If you are still concerned and need help, you should contact your local authority. You can also find out what support services are available in your area by using this search tool: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus-local-help


If there are local measures in your area

If you are clinically extremely vulnerable and live in an area where there are enhanced public health measures, you should follow the guidance on the council website: www.sthelens.gov.uk

If the enhanced measures require you to resume shielding, the government will write to you with detailed guidance.  This guidance will always be advisory.