FOUR million people in England will need to follow new Covid rules from tomorrow.
As of Thursday, 3.8 million people who were told to shield during the pandemic will have more freedoms to mix with friends and family.
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Along with the rest of the country, extremely clinically vulnerable people are allowed to meet in groups of six outdoors.
However, the Government has warned the coronavirus still poses a threat despite case numbers coming down.
As a result, those who are most vulnerable need to continue being extra wary.
- Keep social contact low
The rules from April 1 say shielders should still keep social contacts to a minimum.
A letter sent said: “Until the social distancing rules are eased more widely, it is important that you continue to keep the number of social interactions that you have low and try to reduce the amount of time you spend in settings where you are unable to maintain social distancing.”
2. Keep using online shopping services
While they no longer need to avoid going to the shops, shielders may wish to continue using online delivery for food or to rely on family and friends.
Priority access to supermarket delivery slots will continue until June 21.
The Government advises that if they do go out to the shops or pharmacy, consider going at quieter times of the day.
3. Work from home where possible
“Everyone is advised to continue to work from home where possible, but if you cannot work from home you should now attend your workplace,” the letter says.
Employers are required by law to make workplaces Covid secure.
From April 1, shielders will no longer be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) unless they are sick and incapable of work.
4. Return to school
Clinically extremely vulnerable students should return to their school or other educational setting from 1 April.
Kids who live with vulnerable adults should also have returned to school on March 8.
An initial list of 2.2 million clinically extremely vulnerable people were advised to take the measures to avoid potential infection, and 1.7 million more were added to the list in February.
Shielding will come to an end in England and Wales on April 1, while plans for Scotland and Northern Ireland have not yet been finalised.
Earlier this month, Dr Jenny Harries, the deputy chief medical officer for England, said: “With the prevalence of the virus in the community continuing to decrease, now is the right time for people to start thinking about easing up on these more rigid guidelines.
“We will continue to monitor all of the evidence and adjust this advice should there be any changes in infection rates.”
More than 30 million people in the UK have had their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccination and more than three million both shots.
It includes more than nine in ten clinically extremely vulnerable people.
However, it’s important to continue following rules even if you have received your first vaccine dose.
And after a second dose, the vaccine is still not 100 per cent effective and therefore gives no absolute guarantee that you will not become ill from Covid.
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Who is on the shielding list?
- solid organ transplant recipients
- people with cancer who are having chemo
- people with lung cancer having radical radiotherapy
- people with blood cancers – leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma – at any stage of treatment
- patients having immunotherapy or other antibody treatments for cancer
- those having targeted cancer treatments that affect the immune system – protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors for example
- people who’ve had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last six months or who are taking immunosuppression drugs
- people with severe respiratory conditions like cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and COPD
- people with rare diseases and inborn errors of the metabolism that increase the risk of infections – SCID or homozygous sickle cell for example
- people on immunosuppression therapies that increase the risk of infection
- women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired